When was the last time someone said to you, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? For some people these words have never passed their lips. Some of these people may never have made a mistake, done anything wrong, or ever needlessly ever hurt someone so they may never had an occasion where they needed to say those words. But, if you have ever had someone tell you something that they knew was untrue as if it was true, or claimed that something was a fact that you later discovered was actually not a fact — and so did they — have they ever come back to you and said, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? If this has never been your experience, it’s about to be — because I’m going to say it to you.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
We have all been wrong. We sometimes make public claims we may have believed at the time were correct, only to discover later that they were not. Some of these mistakes we make are inconsequential – a recollection of a past event that wasn’t quite accurate, a guess about what the weather would be like tomorrow, a meal choice at a restaurant. On other occasions people get things wrong because they have not tested whether their idea is accurate, or whether a claim they are repeating can be verified. This is what scientists have to do as part of their project before they can publish their claim as true. The scientific method provides some tools that any of us can use to distinguish a true claim from a false claim. We would do well before accepting whether a claim was true or not if would just take the necessary steps to verify it – or disprove it.
The first to state his case seems right, until his opponent begins to cross-examine him. Proverbs 18:17
In a moment I am going to admit that I was wrong. Why do we find it so hard to admit that were wrong? I’d be interested in your ideas if you could leave them in the comments section. I think that most of us find it difficult to admit they were wrong due to:
Pride (they are embarrassed.
The potential price (a loss of prestige, privileges, previous gains, or power).
Ignorance (they are unaware, or refuse to become aware, of being wrong).
Despite these reasons for reluctance to admit that they were wrong, I suspect that when someone does admit they were wrong – they actually win the respect of others. (This is something I will shortly test.) However, I also suspect that one of the big reasons that many find it difficult to admit they were wrong is that it usually leads to the uncomfortable need to not only say “I am sorry” but the far more profoundly difficult need to apologise. I intend to do both in just a moment.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. First John 1:9-10
Any of us might be wrong about something we have said or believed because we have been deceived. On other occasions we might be wrong because we misplaced our trust in someone whom we trusted or believed only to later find out that they were wrong. In some instances, as every high school maths-methods student can tell you, someone might make a miscalculation early in their attempt to work out the solution to a problem which eventually leads to an unrecognised wrong answer (this is a point that CS Lewis makes in Mere Christianity about how people can make mistakes about God’s existence if they start with the wrong calculations). Mistakes can be made through everyday-human-errors, or not accommodating all of the data/evidence before making a conclusion. Whether we will make a mistake or be wrong in something we say of believe is not really in question. What is in question is what do we do when we do make a mistake or say or believe something that is demonstrably wrong?
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” First Peter 5:5
I am clearly no expert in doing what you should do if you know you were wrong. But, I do have a theoretical knowledge about what should be done after you find out you were in error. Here it is:
When you know you were wrong about something you said or believed, you should admit it, say sorry, and appropriately apologise. This will take humility.
This will require a commitment to character formation. Character formation is the process of becoming a better human being. This too is grounded in a willingness to learn humility, empathy, sympathy, consideration, true justice, wisdom, and a love of the truth.
¶ For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. Second Corinthians 7:10
Near the start of the recent pandemic I did something I now regret. At the time I did with the best of pastoral intentions. Part of my motive for doing it was my trust in what medical scientists had said. I trusted the science and health officials so much that I did what I had advised others publicly and privately to do and was triple vaccinated. I now regret advising people to be vaccinated. I had believed the claim that the vaccines were “safe and effective” and that by being vaccinated it would “prevent the transmission of covid” (a claim that Pfizer has recently admitted was never proven to be true, despite Senator Katy Gallagher recently insisting that it did). After researching these various claims, I have now come to the conclusion that these claims were not scientifically verified and that the data actually show them not be true.
But the thing that I most regret most was that I stated that:
by being vaccinated people people were “loving their neighbour” in obedience to the command of Christ.
I am deeply sorry for saying this. I apologise because this statement caused hurt to those I love and was inconsiderate of many I care for who already had reasonable doubts about the vaccines and legitimate concerns over its long-term ramifications. I am sorry for using my platform and position for urging people to be vaccinated. I should have left the issue alone and let people make their own healthcare decisions without applying any pastoral pressure upon them. I apologise for the hurt that I caused for my inconsiderate statements especially to those who had strong objections to being subjected to mandatory vaccinations who even lost their jobs as a result of their objections. I had failed to verify the claims I was publicly endorsing.
My views on the “safe and effective” claims about the MRNA vaccines began to be challenged after I got covid shortly after receiving my third jab. Around this time my 85-year-old father also had his third jab and then weeks later died. Prior to this, Kim had already experienced myocarditis after each of her jabs. In addition to this, some of the interviews that former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, has done have persuaded me that I was wrong. The findings of medical researchers as reported by Dr. Moran and Dr. Aseem Malhotra have also led me to realise I was wrong.
You may have a different opinion to me about the efficacy of the MRNA vaccines and the effectiveness of masks and the mandated lockdowns. What I am going to try to do in the event that I live to see – and/or pastor through – another pandemic is to take a lot more care in evaluating the data before ever making an appeal to anyone to immediately subject themselves to experimental medicine. At this point I do not want to be misunderstood. I am clearly not an anti-vaxer per se. Neither do I lightly entertain or spread baseless speculations that sound like another unproven conspiracy. But when the United States Government Senate releases a 300-page report demonstrating the factualness of what many international government officials had previously claimed was “nonsense”, there are some theories that are no longer baseless.
But why is a pastor even commenting on such public health policy – especially now that that pandemic is officially over? The answer is two-fold: I care about people, especially those in my pastoral charge; and, secondly, I care deeply about the truth (after all, I manage a website and radio program called Finding Truth Matters).
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. First Peter 5:8-9
As Christians we understand better than most that we are engaged in a spiritual war. The late Dr. Michael Heiser wrote several excellent books on understanding just what this involved. If I might summarise what he concluded it would sound like this:
The forces of darkness war against the cause of Christ by distorting truth. Those on the side of the cause of Christ wage war against the forces of darkness by upholding and declaring the truth. Truth is our greatest weapon!
Thus, our evangelism is principally a declaration of the truth. As we stand back in bewilderment at the bewitching of our culture as it whole-heartedly embraces lies about sex, marriage, gender and babies, we are called to uphold the truth with gentleness and respect (1Pet. 3:15) and dare I say it – courage. Perhaps we can say with the apostle Paul that our mission is to –
But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen Me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:16-18
A part of my motivation for admitting that I was wrong and saying sorry is that this is precisely what I am asking those who are not yet followers of Christ to do each time I preach. How can I be qualified to ask anyone to do what I myself am unwilling to do? Thus, the next time you hear me preach and appeal to people to admit that they have been wrong about: their indifference to God, the relevance of the Bible, the identity of Jesus, and their understand about the meaning of life, I will be asking them to do what I myself have done and will, with God’s help, continue to do as the need arises. Thank you to everyone for being patient with me.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.