From Last week: a gospel built on promises of a great life now
What is the “Therapeutic” gospel
What is the “Therapeutic” gospel
Self-Help gospel is closely connected.
The gospel and the bible become guide-books and principles for the creation of the “life I’ve always wanted”
Moralistic, Feelings Based, “spiritual” without necessarily being Christian.
needs, feelings, my general happiness and how my life is defined.
“up and to the right” Jesus and Paul both experienced a down and to the left, so to speak.
what is the therapeutic gospel:
this is my terminology for a ‘gospel’ that is predicated on fixing my life as i need it to be;
emotionally, physically, and perhaps financially but overall it is ME_ the ultra personalized gospel that CONFORMS to my preferences rather than expecting me to CONFORM my life, practices adn even appetites into those of Christ
It is gospel without self denial, a gospel that sees suffering as an inconvenience to be dispatched as soon as possible.
A gospel that values triumphant living and rejects suffering, failure and bad outcomes as the consequences of “lacking faith” rather than seeing: what if hardship, trial, suffering, loss and pain are precisely those items that create in me a DEEP LONGING FOR SOMETHING BETTER AND DRIVE ME TO THE ARMS OF MY GOD.
What kinds of things might characterize this ‘gospel’
1: focus on comfort and ‘blessing’ especially emotional well-being
Barnes adn Noble shelves are filled with Christian self-help books that masquerade as ‘biblical’ but are dramatically watered down and in fact “pander” to Americans need to feel good about themselves regardless of how they are living, or what sins we have in our lives.
2: sees pain and suffering as things to be avoided at all costs, and as a sign that something is wrong with our faith.
(fails to understand the divine intent and purpose of hardship that this is the METHOD God uses to shape us into divine beings.
3: “up and to the right” this used to be labeled “triumphalism” in older times.
The ideas that Gods idea for his people is literal freedom from the travails of this life.
4: It misunderstands human fallenness and what God intends to do with that
It is self-centered and weak
It is not based on real life, that does contain suffering, terrible news, deep injustice and harm and takes advantage of the weak and unfortunate.
5: Faith is primarily ‘medicinal’ not redemptive and goal is pain relief FROM suffering, rather than redemption THROUGH suffering.
THE CONTEMPORARY THERAPEUTIC GOSPEL
The most obvious, instinctual felt needs of twenty-first century, middle-class Americans are different from the felt needs that Dostoevsky tapped into.
We take food supply and political stability for granted.
We find our miracle-substitute in the wonders of technology.
Middle-class felt needs are less primal.
They express a more luxurious, more refined sense of self-interest:
I want to feel loved for who I am, to be pitied for what I’ve gone through, to feel intimately understood, to be accepted unconditionally;
I want to experience a sense of personal significance and meaningfulness, to be successful in my career, to know my life matters, to have an impact;
I want to gain self-esteem, to affirm that I am okay, to be able to assert my opinions and desires;
I want to be entertained, to feel pleasure in the endless stream of performances that delight my eyes and tickle my ears;
I want a sense of adventure, excitement, action, and passion so that I experience life as thrilling and moving.
Look at the social media feed of a typical American teenager with a church background and this is what you will see.
Teenager today lack the language to talk about God in a meaningful way with adults.
What words to we use?
Jargon does not help, it has to be real language that speaks about real things, not just church-things.
The modern, middle-class version of therapeutic gospel
takes its cues from this particular family of desires.
We might say that the target audience consists of psychological felt needs, rather than the physical felt needs that typically arise in difficult social conditions.
“In this new gospel, the great “evils” to be redressed do not call for any fundamental change of direction in the human heart.
Instead, the problem lies in my sense of rejection from others; in my corrosive experience of life’s vanity; in my nervous sense of self-condemnation and diffidence; in the imminent threat of boredom if my music is turned off; in my fussy complaints when a long, hard road lies ahead.
These are today’s significant felt needs that the gospel is bent to serve.
Jesus and the church exist to make you feel loved, significant, validated, entertained, and charged up.
This gospel ameliorates distressing symptoms.
It makes you feel better.
The logic of this therapeutic gospel is a jesus-for-Me who meets individual desires and assuages psychic aches.”
How does God change humans into his image?
How does the bible describe the process?
and to some degree ‘other humans’
Picture of a Magic Wand?
I carry Jesus in My Body
God intended to use our brokenness for glory
Your name is Mud!
I dont always remember this, I have to stop and ponder it, to be reminded, to meditate on that reality so that it sinks in.
I must “practice” my faith.
I must try and try and think and meditate, and get help, and read my bible, and pray adn try and .....keep at it, learn , be a student of Jesus in this way.
not just complain adn wish it away.
Dont wish away suffering and challenges.
They are gifts of love and learning IF we
This is not a description of the easy, mentally safe, emotionally benign life, but it is a life of Glory!
Because I am surrounded....let me run, like the wind.
God made me for a purpose, for China, but he also made me fast, and when I run...I feel his pleasure.
Has my faith made me bleed?
Have I forgotten the word of encouragement?
YES, sometimes I have.
in order that the life, in order that the power, in order that the grace that grace
the weight of Glory....even if the outer....the inner....
“The Son of God suffered unto the death,
not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.”
Unspoken Sermons, First Series1
“I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
1 Lewis, C. S. (2001).
The Problem of Pain (p.