Thoughts about the residential school issue have been on my mind lately as it has been for many in Canada over the past few months. What really happened back there? Were all residential schools really evil? I am going to share my perspective and maybe it will help someone.
First, I want to share that, unfortunately, religions—even Christian religions—can be sources of evil. Religions have promoted some of the worst evils in history and have harboured some of the worst of evil people in history. When our Lord Jesus Christ was on earth, he confronted evil in religion. In fact, he was crucified by religious people. They were the ones who cried out, partly because they were afraid, “Crucify him, crucify him.” They thought Jesus was going to cause the government of the day to bring down its wrath on them. They thought because Jesus was getting so popular and so many people were following him that the Roman government was going to bring the military hammer down on them. That hammer did fall in 70 A.D.
John 11:47: Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? For this man does many miracles. V.48: If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
What they did not realize is that, if they had accepted Jesus Christ as their leader, King and Messiah, the Romans would never have bothered them. It is a mystery of the biblical offer of Christ as Messiah to the Jewish people.
Whenever Christian religions do not embrace true biblical authority and the new birth to their religion, they head down a path of evil. History proves this to be true. When Christian religions leave the authority of Scripture and replace it with the church or a man, it is headed for big trouble, irrespective of the denomination. The Christian church was designed as a gift of God to the world for people to learn the Scriptures and experience the life, joy and salvation that it brings. When we leave the authority of Scripture teachings about absolutes, rights and wrongs, we drift into the dangerous zone of replacing them with man-made traditions and religion that does not offer life or help to anyone and actually traps its own people in a sort of religious prison or death.
When Jesus was involved in public ministry on earth, his harshest words were to the religious leaders of his day. The religion in his time had become corrupt and filled with evil leaders who were in it for themselves and not for the glory of God or His truth and purpose. Jesus warned and taught his followers to watch out for them here:
Matthew 23:1-5, 9, 13-15: Verse 1 Then spoke Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, v 2 saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: v 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not you after their works: for they say, and do not. v 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. v 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries [religious clothing], and enlarge the borders of their garments, v 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for One is your Father, which is in heaven. v 13 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither allow you them that are entering to go in. v 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widow’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: therefore, you shall receive the greater damnation. v 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Jesus used his words and twice drove religious leaders out of the temple who were abusing their authority in their religious roles. No one hates religious evil more than God himself.
Years later, the Apostle Paul, in one of his letters, warned about what men could do to the Christian religion: Beware lest any man spoil [ruin] you [and your church] through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8). This was a warning to a church in a Roman city to watch out for this type of religious evil. Now, Christ had been resurrected and was in heaven for at least 30 years when this was written and yet it said and not after Christ. “After Christ” means the teachings of Christ and the scriptures. If you do not follow them and replace them with the traditions of men you are headed for trouble.
John 1:1-3, 14: Verse 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. v 2 The same was in the beginning with God. v 3 All things were made by him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. v 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
In this scripture, the Apostle John calls Christ the Word. The Word was in eternity with God but came to this earth, was made flesh, or became man. He lived here as a holy man and died here to provide a way of salvation for mankind. He provided for the Church. Not a man-made church but a Christ-made church. If you want to know Christ you must do it through the Word of God. When man or churches deviate from that they are headed for evil.
Why do religions become corrupt? Why do they allow evil like some of the things that happened in the residential schools? The reason is because all men are evil and if you do not deal with evil it only grows worse. God gave us the solution for evil. John 1:12 is helpful here: “But as many as received Him [Christ], to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” When we receive Christ and believe on his name, we are forgiven of our sins, transformed by his power into a son (and daughter) of God and given strength to live above evil and sin.
I want to end this on a positive note. I used to fly people into northern Saskatchewan from different organizations in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina. I recall one charter flight where I had two ladies on board who had attended the residential school in Prince Albert. Both of these ladies shared with me that the residential school was good for them. They said they would not have the jobs they had if it were not the training they acquired in the residential school. One said, “Maybe we were in a good one but I have nothing but fond memories of the nuns who dedicated their lives to teach us things like sowing, how to be organized and how to accomplish our education.” “It was at times difficult and hard,” both said, “with all the rules –but some rules are good for us!” They spoke further, “One reason our prisons are so full today is because too many children are being brought up without rules.” If we do not grow up learning to rule ourselves then something or someone else will. Residential schools or any other institution will become corrupted and evil if the leaders are not accountable and responsible to a higher authority. Jesus Christ and the Word of God have the cured in the church real cure for evil in or out of the church. I pray each of us will make it a priority to find the cure for ours.
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The content of this article is solely the personal opinions of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Prince Albert Shopper.