Recently in the UK, the Archbishop of the Church of England, Right Honourable Justin Welby, declared a commitment to give £100 million pounds of Church of England money in an attempt to repair the damage to those who suffered as a result of the slave trade some 200+ years ago. This piece is not to discuss the matter specifically; there are plenty of commentaries both written and in video, if you search for them. However, this does raise the subject in general of reparations – a financial return for historic wrong-doing as perceived by some.
George Osborne, a former UK Chancellor and now a British Museum official, has offered a long-term loan of marbles that were once in the Parthenon in Greece but historically purchased by British Lord Elgin, to the Greeks once again.
This piece is about pondering: how far back does one go for reparations and is forgiveness enough?
Rather than post an opinion piece, I will draw attention to two scriptures which will raise the issue, if one is inclined to think about it.
In Genesis 47, the Egyptians during the great seven year famine, sold their land to the Pharaoh (v20) in order to receive food which he had stored. Thanks to the Hebrew Joseph, who understood Pharaoh’s dream warning of the famine, this right hand man to the Pharaoh saved and stored grain during the previous seven years of plenty so that it would be available in the famine. Fast forward to Exodus 1, and we see the descendants of Joseph, becoming enslaved by the then current Pharaoh (v13-14).
The pyramids were built by slave labour. Should reparations be made by the Egyptians now to the Jews?
Why do people seek reparation? And why do leaders or nations offer it? How much does revenge, greed or guilt play a part in these situations? We cannot undo history. How is the best way to move forward?
What is the better way? “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” (Philippians 3:12)
Taking responsibility for our wrongs is the right thing to do. Forgiveness is equally crucial to relationship and peace. Opening up history to change what cannot be changed is a human choice but is it fruitful? It seems rather to divide. Vicars and parishioners are cross with the archbishop as so many parishes have dilapidated churches and shrinking congregants, desperate for an injection of finance. The British public are divided over the issue of the Elgin marbles. It seems ‘cans of worms’ have been opened without the the authority figures recognising the consequences of their choices. Those being offered the reparations may or may not appreciate the gesture, rather instead becoming embittered all-the-more.
Whether descendants of slaves are offered reparations, or works of art are restored to their origins, such is the nature of man to try to “do the right thing” yet open historical wounds and debates which divide rather than repair relationship. We need to tread carefully when dealing with history, and consider our motive.
Motive is at the heart of every deed, be it right or wrong. Apology and forgiveness are the wisdom of GOD. I pray for more of that in society today.
5 replies on “Reparations: Jewish history and unrealistic expectations today”
I find your letter interesting Sarah. I am unaware if the issues of slavery, 200 years ago were the fault of the Anglican Church. What I find most disturbing is? The Anglican Church leaders have just agreed, not to marry same sex relationships! but they can bless them? When it’s obvious in the Bible, God says He will never except same sex relationship especially in the marital sense. He made man and woman to enjoy a marital relationship. And hates? not blesses! what modern day people call a same sex relationship as part of their marriage. Something some Anglican Bishops are pressurizing their Archbishop to alter. I would consider the Archbishop of the Church of England, Right Honourable Justin Welby, having a heart of compassion to help those who have been made slaves against their will… If he had the courage in public, not to bless that, which God calls a sin which He will not exsept? And admit in public that according to God, Justin Welby as an Archbishop nor any Christian, cannot encourage anyone to enter into an agreement, which causes them to be spiritual slaves according to Adonai and The Law of Messiah? and no amount of money can save them. If I love God with everything I am, and my neighbour as myself, then I cannot encourage or bless my neighbour to except anything which… Adonai and Jesus tell them not to. The Archbishop of the Church of England, Right Honourable Justin Welby, has said he cannot marry same sex relationships, but can bless them, according to Adonai this is an act of spiritual slavery.
I hope this Archbishop stands in agreement with Adonai one day! regarding his position. Instead of appeasing his Bishops who have publicly rejected the Will of God.
It’s a blessing and privilege to share this email letter with you Sarah.
Thanks Kenny, and i’m in FULL agreement with you. God CANNOT bless that which His Holy Word declares is an “ABOMINATION” (i.e. men having sex with men, and women with women.) Which begs the question “Who or what will be giving this so-called “blessing” to gays in churches? Answer = the Arch-Counterfeiter satan, the “Father of lies” as Christ called him, AND he will be transmitting this blessing right under the noses of church ministers = a “DOUBLE whammy!” Furthermore, this is nothing short of astep along the [ath of “gay-marriage-by-stealth.” Let’s not kid ourselves, give satan an inch, and he’ll EVENTUALLY take as many “miles” as he can get away with!
It is so good and pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity (Psalm 133). We love those who are in same sex relationships, we do not love their interaction. Hard for the world to split hairs, understand the difference. Thank you both for writing in. So refreshing to see dialogue. Shalom and GOD Bless you both.
The problem is that religion as we know it today is not the religion featured in the book of Acts….too many luke warm believers are being dragged around with political issues instead of focusing on what Apostle Paul said in Hebrews 8:13.The religion at the time under Levites was weak and useless and this begs the question about how weak and useless is the Catholic Church and Anglican Church today ?
Certainly if we don’t follow Acts and the texts then what have we got? Denomination, this or that, needs to follow the word and not the culture of the day…. In Judges, everyone “did what was right in their own eyes”, and the result was chaos. Let’s pray for breakthroughs in the hearts, in the minds of denominational leaders! Thanks for sharing, Clifton. Always appreciate your contributions