The Secret to a Sincere Apology

The Secret to a Sincere Apology May 11, 2018

A Tale of Two Apologies

On May 3, 2018, prominent Bible teacher Beth Moore published an open letter detailing the bigotry and misogyny she has experienced over the years of her ministry. Within hours, a widely-praised apology appeared on The Gospel Coalition site, in which pastor responded to many of Beth’s points in a moving, repentant manner.

Within days, old sermons of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) president Paige Patterson emerged online. His questionable advice to an abused wife years ago outraged many, likely due to the current #metoo, abuse-sensitive culture. Other, more recent objectionable statements about girls and women, along with his well-documented theological position of the lesser role of women in the church, combined to create an increasing outcry from faith leaders. Two letters from leaders in the SBC—the first from women, the second from men—called for Patterson to apologize, step down from his office, and let his denomination heal without his divisive presence.

Patterson first refused to apologize “for what I didn’t do wrong.” But after his denomination rose up in protest, he offered this apology. Thus far, reactions are mixed. At this writing, his future at SWBTS remains unclear, pending a trustees meeting later in May. His apology does not mention any plans to step down.

If you haven’t already, read them both and consider the difference in tone, specificity, remorse, and intent. They do not address precisely the same issues (though misogyny is an element in both conflicts), so we aren’t comparing their contents point-by-point. Yet the contrast between Patterson’s apology and that of Anyabwile could not be more stark. Together they present Exhibits A and B on how and how not to apologize.

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