Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An insufficient Gospel

The greatest plague on the earth today is a church that no longer believes in its message, and a mass of Christians who are unwilling to throw themselves fully into the hands of their so-called savior. And if the lights were to be thrown on, all would see an army of ministers leaning on everything but God. Do you ever wonder why psychologists are being added to pastoral teams at an ever-increasing rate? Do you ever wonder why your pastors bookshelves are full of self-help books, sold under the guise of Christian living? The answer, I fear, is that we have lost our faith in the Gospel's ability to address our deepest, most urgent needs.

Pastoral care classes have taught us to always have a specialist on speed-dial. We have specialists in every field, from eating disorders to alcoholism. Meanwhile, the only thing we pastors specialize in are referrals. We have become the quacks of the healing profession. Why? Because our medicine, the Gospel, has rarely been proven. It's rarely been proven because it's rarely been tried. Ministers now-a-days are trained as administrators and delagators, and we have largely forsaken our primary tasks of prayer and the proclamation of truth. As a result, we have come to believe more in the power of psychiatry than in the power of prayer. We seem unaware that most systems of psychology have little in common with the Gospel. Self-actualization and self-sufficiency have no resonance with the message of sanctification.

Our faith in Christ continues to weaken because we have given it little to stand on. We have become peddlers of secular humanism, urging our people to manage their sin rather than repent of it. When we do use scripture, we often treat it as a sort of inanimate object that we can grasp and manipulate to meet our own perceived needs. In this way and others, we have placed our religion at the mercy of science. As it stands, we have essentially said to our most hurting people, " Oh I'm sorry, you need real help, and all I have to offer is the Gospel."