Friday, 15 April 2016

The Perfect Apology

A new scientific study has come up with the elements of a perfect apology. The study, led by Professor Roy Lewicki and published in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, suggests that the most effective apologies contain these six elements:

1.    Expression of regret
2.  Explanation of what went wrong
3.  Acknowledgment of responsibility
4.  Declaration of repentance
5.  Offer of repair
6.  Request for forgiveness

The study also suggests that some of these elements are more effective than the others. The most important element of an effective apology is acknowledging your responsibility. If something is your fault, say that it is. The second most important element is your offer of repair. If you say that you want to fix things, and explain how, your apology will go a lot further.

The least effective element was the request for forgiveness.

( – edited)

Interesting on a number of fronts, especially if we compare it to our apologies to God, i.e. confession of sin, both private and publicly in worship.

True confession does not excuse our sin; it acknowledges our sin and our personal responsibility for it.  True confession also includes the element of making things better by reparative action.  Our forgiveness is not based on our promise of reparation, but it certainly leads to an active effort to put things right.

The study even uses the term “repentance”, although that is not defined in the summary. (Sorry, the actual article would cost $6 to read online, so I am just going with the reported summaries.)

However, the really intriguing element was that asking for forgiveness was the least effective element in a good apology. It seems that fallen humans are just not good at forgiving.  What a contrast with the God of all grace and mercy:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity… ( Psalm 103)

I thought it would be useful to compare the scientific study with the traditional Reformed teaching on repentance as expressed in the Larger Catechism, (Modern Language Edition) I think that we can see all 6 elements of a perfect apology in this biblical based definition:

Larger Catechism
Q. 76. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace worked in the hearts of sinners by the Spirit and the word of God. By it sinners recognize not only how dangerous it is to commit sins but also how filthy and hateful they are to God. Understanding that in Christ God is merciful to those who repent, sinners suffer such deep sorrow for and hate their sins so much that they turn away from all of them and turn to God, attempting to walk continually with him according to this new obedience in every way.

Our apologies to those against whom we sin should, in some measure, be modeled on our apologies to God. If they are, we might find that they are more effective than the vacuous and generic “Sorry” that really is just a reflex reaction to the fact that our misdeeds have caused us hurt and we are forced to issue an insincere apology.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

“Gay row minister fined over crash that injured pensioner.”

“Gay row minister fined over crash that injured pensioner.”

Probably a new low here for the Herald:

A retired minister, aged 69, was involved in a serious accident and found guilty of dangerous driving.  As the Herald reports it: “A CHURCH of Scotland minister who opposed a gay man’s appointment as a minister has been fined £500 and had his licence endorsed after he caused a car crash that left a pensioner with serious injuries.”

A number of questions need to be asked here.  Is the event newsworthy? Probably.  Is the headline in any way related to the case?  Absolutely not.  It seems that in 2009 the minister opposed the ordination of the first openly gay minister in a civil partnership and had the temerity to say at the General Assembly that there was ““a danger that we will make a decision about homosexuality in the ministry based on the prevailing culture of our time”.

How in any way does the fact that a retired minister opposed homosexual conduct mark him out as worthy of denigration?  It is only the fact that the Herald is engaged in a pro-homosexual propaganda campaign that causes this particular headline to be written.  Why was the headline not “Bible believing minister who upholds the traditional Christian ethic on sex and marriage fined over crash that injured pensioner”?  Is it now the case that the minority of Church of Scotland ministers who hold to orthodox theology and ethics are to be marked out for such contemptuous treatment?

The logical fallacy of association, or more popularly “guilt by association”, is so basic that any novice journalist should be aware of it.  However, as with all informal logical fallacies, it can be knowingly used to tarnish an opponent’s position. This is exactly what the Herald is trying to do – all ministers who oppose sodomy or homosexual practices in members of the church are disreputable characters, the kind of characters who will drive dangerously.

I should make clear that I am making no comment on the actual issue of the traffic accident, on whether the driver lost concentration or fell asleep at the wheel. What I am commenting on is that ministers who hold to a biblical position can now be pejoratively dismissed in the popular press.

The Herald has not allowed comment on this article.  This may be because of some legal issue of which I am not aware, or it may be because they do not wish to have their shoddy journalistic standards exposed.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Can you Trust a Liberal? Questions for Church of Scotland Evangelicals?

Can you Trust a Liberal?
Questions for Church of Scotland Evangelicals?

Evangelicals are suckers; they are naive fools who are too ready to believe the empty promises of liberals that if only same sex marriage is allowed for office-bearers the conscience of evangelicals will be respected.

I have two counter-examples.  One is the promise given to the na├»ve evangelicals in the sixties who believed that the introduction of woman’s ordination was simply permissive legislation and no church or individual would be forced to conform to this practice.  Well, at least we can say that they waited 25 years before they reneged on this promise.

Liberals it seems are no longer as patient.  No sooner does the PCUSA allow the ordination of candidates in same sex relations, than it reneges on all its promises to the dumb evangelicals who believed the nonsense of reconciled diversity, mutual toleration and forbearance, and broad church co-operation.  How long did it take?  Five years!

This is so blatant that even some of the more moderate liberals are appalled. Read the testimony of one of them:

“BREACH OF FAITH: Why the Apology Overture is So Wrong by Barbara G. Wheeler”

Now of course the Church of Scotland evangelicals will say that this is the USA and our home-grown liberals are models of integrity who would never do such a terrible thing.  As I say, “Suckers!”, or to use the more biblical term, “Fools!”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  (Proverbs 1:7)