The Rise and Triumph of Therapeutic Theology

“Rather than conform thoughts, feelings, and actions to objective reality, man’s inner life itself becomes the sources of truth.”
– Ryan T. Anderson (President, Ethics and Public Policy Center)

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Modern man psychologizes everything. We’ve witnessed the rise and triumph of Therapeutic Theology.

Many preachers and theologians psychologize scripture today. As a result, the Word of God is no longer authoritative and the standard of truth. We now see our individual experiences and emotions as authoritative and the source of truth. In other words, what we feel must indicate what is true. Therefore, anything that threatens or disrupts our individual psychological wellbeing must be false and bad.

I just said the quiet part out loud.

Carl Trueman puts it this way, “Any attempt to express disapproval is therefore a blow not simply against particular ways of behaving but against the right of that person to be whoever they wish to be.”

The Therapeutic Gospel is the new prosperity Gospel. People today don’t care as much about money as they do about feeling good, or at least feeling better. Anxiety and depression levels in America are at all-time highs. As such, people want to hear sermons that make them feel better. Many pastors are willing to shift away from a God-centered exposition of Scripture to a man-centered eisegesis.

Imposing my ideas on the Bible… making it mean what I want it to mean.

Eisegesis is interpretation whereby the reader imposes his own ideas and biases onto the biblical text rather than interpreting the intended meaning of the text. A growing number of pastors use a psychological lens to interpret scripture resulting in therapeutic remedies. Eisegesis allows one to make the Bible mean whatever he wants it to mean. It’s man-centered theology dressed up in biblical-sounding language.

I’ve seen brothers and sisters lulled into a spiritual daze through therapeutic preaching. The preacher weeps on cue and whispers soothing words of inner well-being and feelings. The sharp, two edged sword that is the Word of God is quietly set aside. A hypnotic anesthetic is administered from the pulpit, tickling the ears and silencing God’s Word.

Many Sunday morning sermons are therapy sessions centered around our feelings and experiences. Rather than a clear call to repentance and faith, and submission to the Word of God, we are fed pablum. We hear how Jesus cares more about our feelings than our faith. The Word of God is preached in such a way as to assuage our sinful fears and makes us feel better. After all, God wants us to feel good, right?

Wrong. When we feel the conviction, shame, and consequences of sin, it doesn’t feel good. Otherwise, no one would repent and believe the Gospel. That said, the Bible speaks to human emotions, psychology, and experiences. But, those are not primary… they are not even secondary matters. Truth is of first order.

The Father is the fountainhead of truth, not Freud. (Hebrews 6:18)

Jesus Christ came into this world to bear witness to the truth. (John 18:37)

The Church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

Therapeutic Theology is not just another form of Christian theology, it’s a Christian heresy. Sitting under it is giving approval to it. Sit under therapeutic preaching long enough, it will warp your theology and lead you away from truth… whether you or your pastor realize it or not.

The solution to therapeutic theology is a return to biblical faith and good theology, sound doctrine, and expositional preaching. While pastors counsel people and speak to emotions, they are truth-tellers and shepherds first.

Keep the main things the main things.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.” (1 Timothy 6:3-4)

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

 Resources:

“Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self” by Carl Trueman

“Strange New World” by Carl Trueman

“The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud” by Philip Rieff

“A Secular Age” by Charles Taylor

“Marks of a Healthy Church” by Mark Dever

Related Blog Post:

“Is Your Church Going Liberal?” by Lance Cashion

“Most Pastors Don’t Have A Biblical Worldview and It’s a Problem” – by Lance Cashion 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

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PREVIOUS POST

The Anti-Pastor

It appears the modern business-growth mindset and pragmatic philosophy tend to attract and cultivate what I can only describe as the “anti-pastor” personality. We must retrieve a biblical foundation for pastoral and elder leadership.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

From my perspective, the corporatization of the church as an institution and professionalization of the minister / pastor class as a career path feed worldly and fleshly desires for prestige and power.

This is not to say that ALL ministers end up in a bad place.

It appears the modern business-growth mindset and pragmatic philosophy tend to attract and cultivate what I can only describe as the “anti-pastor” personality. Basically, this mindset rewards men who do exactly the opposite of what the Bible describes as a pastor, elder, or deacon. Meanwhile, men who exhibit the true marks of a pastor, elder, etc. are not rewarded, or worse punished for their faithfulness. Maybe their congregations are small or they are seen as too rigid? You get the point.

This anti-pastor mindset results in the inability of some pastors to even comprehend the unbiblical nature of their behavior (driven by a set of beliefs) or their lack of theological convictions. This does not excuse sin or responsibility. But, it creates the conditions for bad thinking and self deception to occur. Furthermore, it becomes an environment of theological darkness where error can grow undetected.

In many ways, pastors are products of our culture. Unseen forces shape our thought life, passions, doctrine, theology, and practices. This is why scriptural critique is vital to the life of the pastor and the church. We all need it.

Os Guinness wrote, “The purpose of critique is restoration, not dismissal. The prophets’ messages were special calls to bring God’s people back to the original calling from which they had fallen away.

Faithfulness begets faithfulness, just like dysfunction begets dysfunction. Faithfulness will never emerge from dysfunction. This is why true repentance is absolutely necessary in the life of the Christian.

I’m convinced as we teach biblical worldview to others, the foundation of repentance and faith must be established and taught as first principles. We must retrieve a biblical foundation for pastors and elders.

Below, I share the qualifications and the marks of a Pastor / Elder (Overseer), and a post about repentance.

Qualifications (Pastor, Elder, Overseers)

“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” – Titus 1:6–9

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” – 1 Tim 3:1-7

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 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.”” – 1 Peter 5:1-5

Blog Post: “Repentance” 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

FORGE ROOM FOUNDATION
Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

Worldview Knowledge
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PREVIOUS POST

The Creed of a Nation

“If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky…”

(Steve Turner)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

The darkness and chaos in our nation is a direct result of an ill-equipped and disengaged church.

I’m preaching to myself here as well.

In order understand how the church must respond to the spirit of the age (zeitgeist), we must understand what our culture worships. What is the creed of our nation?

British journalist and author, Steve Turner captures our American cultural moment with great precision and masterful wit. He diagnoses the problem. Read it and reflect on it…

“Creed” by Steve Turner

“We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.

We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
and you can prove anything with evidence.
We believe there’s something in horoscopes
UFO’s and bent spoons.

Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.
We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors.
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.

We believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear…..
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshipping his maker.”

Turner’s insights are staggering.

It has been said, “the church is the conscience of a nation.”

I would add the church is also the immune system of a nation. It is time for the Church to emerge from our tin-pot little kingdoms and shine like lights in a cruel, lost, and crooked generation. We are to be salt and light. We are to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead conquering sin and death, winning a people (a bride) of His own. He will return. Therefore, we command people of all nations to repent and believe, lest they remain under God’s wrath. Our private faith must be transformed into a public proclamation and public witness in every facet of life and every sphere of human activity. Because Christ is risen and He is Lord over all.

The Church must return to our ancient creeds. They are all founded on the powerful truth, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one holy catholic (1) and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

(1) The word “catholic” refers to the universal church.

He who has ears, let him hear!

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

Learn more and give here…

Solar Eclipse Hysteria

Hysteria: ​”a state of extreme excitement, fear or anger in which a person, or a group of people, loses control of their emotions… an extremely excited and exaggerated way of behaving or reacting to an event.” (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

It seems like we find things to get hysterical about. Media and some in government are happy to feed our appetite for hysteria and fear.

Hysteria: ​”a state of extreme excitement, fear or anger in which a person, or a group of people, loses control of their emotions… an extremely excited and exaggerated way of behaving or reacting to an event.” (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary)

The moon is going to pass between the earth and the sun. Oh my gosh! (Just like it has for thousands of years before)

Solar Eclipse Hysteria is the flavor of the month. And many are getting whipped up like a meringue pie topping about it. We are living in an age of hysteria. However, cool heads prevail and always have… in the long term.

A man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Proverbs 17:27).

The problem for the ‘cool heads’ is when the ‘hot heads’ instigate or buy into hysteria on a large scale – perhaps a national scale? This leads to a chain reaction of hysteria. A string of preventative actions are taken and potentially bad decisions are made. Admittedly, nefarious actors could take advantage of the hysteria (never letting a good crisis go to waste).

Post-COVID, we have the “in the interest of an abundance of caution” crowd finding things to be cautious about.

TXDOT has issued a restriction for trucks, “Special Eclipse Size and Weight Permit Route Restrictions for April 8, 2024.” This runs from midnight to midnight along the eclipse corridor.

In Bell County, Judge David Blackburn issued a state of emergency disaster declaration: “In order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of both residents and visitors, Bell County has determined that extraordinary measures must be taken in the form of a local disaster declaration” States and municipalities are issuing similar declarations.

Don’t make emotional decisions…

Whether these are good ideas or not is subjective. We’ll see. However, be careful when the media and influencers on social media attempt to get you whipped up like said meringue topping. Emotional decisions are not wise decisions.

At the end of the day, the ‘cool heads’ are ready for actual crisis like natural disasters or manufactured crisis caused by hysteria. Be ready! Always be prepared spiritually! Then, prepare mentally and physically.

Remember, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…” (Hebrews 13:8-9)

Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!

It will probably be cloudy on Monday during the eclipse by God’s providence.

If not, enjoy the music of the spheres!

“This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.” (Maltbie D. Babcock)

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.”
(Psalm 19:1-2)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

Learn more and give here…

Most Pastors Don’t Have A Biblical Worldview and It’s a Problem

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”

Matthew 15:8-9

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

If the Apostle Paul attended a Sunday service today would he recognize the American church as the Church he help found? Probably not.

George Barna and Arizona Christian University published an alarming study in 2022. Here is a direct quote from the American Worldview Inventory 2022:

“Among all Christian pastors in the United States, slightly more than one out of every three (37%) possesses a biblical worldview

 

Among Senior Pastors, four out of 10 (41%) have a biblical worldview—the highest incidence among any of the five pastoral positions studied. Next highest was the 28% among Associate Pastors. Less than half as many Teaching Pastors (13%) and Children’s and Youth Pastors (12%) have a biblical worldview. The lowest level of biblical worldview was among Executive Pastors—only 4% have consistently biblical beliefs and behaviors.

 

Much like other Americans, the pastors who do not have a biblical worldview are unlikely to fully embrace a competing worldview (such as Secular Humanism, Marxism, or others). In fact, less than 1% of pastors embody a worldview other than Biblical Theism (i.e., the biblical worldview).

 

Instead, their prevailing worldview is best described as Syncretism, the blending of ideas and applications from a variety of holistic worldviews into a unique but inconsistent combination that represents their personal preferences. More than six out of 10 pastors (62%) have a predominantly syncretistic worldview.” (1)

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” – Matthew 15:8-9

What price will our children and grandchildren pay for this drift? What must you speak up about today that if you don’t, you will regret tomorrow?

Eric Metaxas said, “It is far easier to ignore God’s call than to acknowledge it and rise to fulfill it, but it is more difficult and painful than anything to live with the results of ignoring God’s call. Let the reader understand…”

Diagnosing the Problem

As individuals and the church, we are prone to place blame and responsibility for our failures, problems and weaknesses outside ourselves. Just as we face significant challenges and threats from the outside, we fail to realize most problems and failures begin on the inside. On the same note, we are the solution (Christ being the ultimate solution). As faithful Christians, we must be sober-minded and honest about our weakness and sin. As the Church we should remove the log from our own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God…” – 1 Peter 4:17a

As I survey the landscape of the American evangelical church, I am grieved and disgusted. The church is cowering in the fear of man. Preachers and theologians dress up their cowardice using a camouflage of thin theological justifications and proof-texts (albeit out-of-context). “Leave theology and interpretation of scripture to the experts!” is the cry from comfortable ivory towers far above the burning cities. This is gnosticism in new garb. The professional ministerial class is over-confident in their seminary degrees and under-informed about the realities of the world around them.

Church Inc. Business

A modern Tower of Babel has been constructed through empire-building and marketing of religious goods and services (entertainment and programs). This feeds Christian consumerism. It seems like many churches have been transformed into businesses.

Institutionalism, elitism, pragmatism, moralism, and pretension have overtaken the original mission of the church. The incremental secularization of the church combined with pragmatism and a focus on church growth over Kingdom growth have resulted in a consumer-focused mission over a Christ-focused one.

The clarion call of the modern American evangelical church is, “Let us make a brand for ourselves, create more parking, and more views on YouTube! Lest we become irrelevant!”

When a church behaves like a business, preachers and pastors are replaced by a specialized managerial class of administrators that embrace a business mindset over a biblical mindset. Many of these administrators and executive pastors have specialized administrative degrees from seminaries. The problem is that seminaries are poor at teaching business administration, it’s not their purpose. If you want to run a business, get an MBA from a University not a D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry) from a seminary.

The D.Min. was created in the 1970’s and marketed by seminaries to those seeking upward mobility but did not have time, commitment, or resources to obtain a Ph.D. David Wells wrote, “This is the old market mechanism at work. In the 1970’s many seminaries were hard pressed financially, and the D.Min. was a lucrative new product to sell. At the same time, many ministers were hard-pressed psychologically as they sensed the decline in their profession…” (2)

Should it surprise anyone that, “The lowest level of biblical worldview was among Executive Pastors—only 4% have consistently biblical beliefs and behaviors?” (3)

Professional administrators have replaced called and committed pastors as the business of Church Inc. has replaced the ministry and witness of the Church. As a result, the goal is to use marketing strategies to entice people to come to a church ‘worship experience.’ As such, many evangelical pulpits promote therapeutic moralistic deism over biblical faith. Think of a rock concert and a TED talk followed by a therapeutic message making sinners feel better about their sin and a God who winks at sin. Aaron Renn, says it’s a “curious blend of moral posturing and play-it-safe proclamations” which are becoming the dominant evangelical perspective today.

It seems like the modern evangelical worship service is built around entertainment and performance for the experience of attendees. It begs the question, exactly who is the worship experience for? What is the purpose of worship? Can we entertain the lost into the Kingdom? Perhaps we can get everyone emotionally riled up and feeling good or watching online? Is the tithe just a tip or a transaction in the eyes of most Christians? Consumers demand, “Entertain me, make me feel good, and in return I’ll throw some cash in the offering plate. But, keep the sermon short, I have a 1:00pm tee-time.”

The Reality

We’re a preference-driven society… Don’t like how the preacher looks? Leave! Don’t like the sermon? Leave! Don’t like the music? Leave! After all, there are thousands of worship experiences at your fingertips. Don’t forget we have an espresso bar serving hot Lattes in the back of the sanctuary for your worship enjoyment.

If “sightly more than one out of every three (37%) pastors possesses a biblical worldview” then, our churches will look like the world and use the tactics of the world to be accepted by the world.

Here’s an idea that Chuck Colson put forth, “It’s time for the church to be THE Church” and stop being like the world. This is going to require a multigenerational recovery of a biblical worldview among those who are called to ministry. That recovery must begin now.

“You may be able to articulate a biblical worldview but if your biblical worldview doesn’t arise from the deep and growing love of Jesus Christ and the love for others (particularly sinners – just like us) then, you may have a biblical worldview but it doesn’t have you?”

– Dr. Bill Brown, Ph.D. (Colson Center for Christian Worldview)

 

Footnotes:
(1) https://www.arizonachristian.edu/2022/05/12/shocking-lack-of-biblical-worldview-among-american-pastors/
(2) Wells, David F. “No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology” (1993)
(3) https://www.arizonachristian.edu/2022/05/12/shocking-lack-of-biblical-worldview-among-american-pastors/

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

Learn more and give here…

Video: Why the Church Abandoned the Culture with Michael Craven

Live Webinar and Q&A with Michael Craven 3/4/2024

The Christian faith has gone from being a public truth to a private experience. The role of the Church in the broader culture has waned over the past 100 years. As faith has receded from society, dark ideologies have set up residence in the cultural domains vacated by Christians. Little wonder our families, communities, institutions, and even churches are in decay. What would our churches, families, communities, and nation look like when Christians invade all of culture with the truth and light of Jesus Christ? Lance Cashion is joined by special guest, Michael Craven, Vice President of Equipping & Mobilization at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

Did Christians lose a ‘culture war’? Or did we abandon the cultural domains God commanded us to steward?
Where do we go from here?

You will have a better understanding of why the church is in its current state in America. You’ll also be equipped to help your local church recover its rightful role in society. You will be encouraged and hopeful for the future as you live boldly for Christ in this generation.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

Learn more and give here…

He Gets Us? Don’t Take the Bait!

HE GETS US? DON'T TAKE THE BAIT!

Think biblically and employ the theological resources provided in scripture. Use discernment and logic when viewing all media, including emotionally manipulative Super Bowl commercials that claim to convey a biblical message.
ALL Christians must develop theological precision and clarity.
It’s time for Christians to think critically from a biblical worldview perspective.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Thesis: The entire He Gets Us enterprise is nothing more than repackaged liberal theology wrapped in identity politics.

I believe the message conveyed by the He Gets Us Super Bowl commercial must be analyzed. It was viewed by millions of people. (You can view it here). It is a composition of images of people washing the feet of other people to a rendition of a song by INXS entitled, “Never Tear Us Apart.” The video ends with the message, “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.

I’m going to analyze and critique the He Gets Us commercial as well as their overall messaging from a biblical worldview perspective, identify a few significant theological problems, and suggest biblical solutions.

At the conclusion of this article, you can watch an alternative to the He Gets Us commercial called, “He Saves Us” by Jamie Bambrick. Compare them for yourself, use what you have learned, and decide which one is closer to biblical Christianity.

While I think there are significant problems with the commercial, I believe the conversations and even controversy surrounding it are a good thing. This is a teachable moment for Christians and should be seen as an opportunity to wrestle with ideas and exercise discernment and wisdom. Someone might say, “How can public debate among Christians over a sixty second commercial be a good thing for the church? This is a huge waste of time and damages the witness of the church to a lost world.”

Dealing with issues in the public sphere is rooted in scripture and Christian tradition. Jesus confronted the hypocrisy and sin of the Pharisees on numerous occasions. Paul confronted the error of religious and political leaders as well. The creeds and confessions throughout church history were responses to heretical ideas, controversies, and false teaching. Keep in mind, that heresy and false teaching are not always blatantly obvious. One must use wisdom, discernment, and good theology to reveal them. Many Christian sounding sentiments and slogans, are in fact not biblical at all.

“He (the serpent) said to the woman, “Did God actually say…?”” (Genesis 3:1b)

Falsehood and heresy are far more damaging to the Christian witness than open debate and confrontation of bad theology and bad ideas.

If dealing with bad ideas publicly wasn’t a waste of time for Jesus, Paul, the church fathers, and reformers then it is not a waste of time for Christians of any era, including our own. This conversation and debate is good for the church.

The people who created the He Gets Us commercial are using bad hermeneutics that distort Jesus Christ and biblical faith.

Biblical hermeneutics is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:15 commands believers to be involved in hermeneutics: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who . . . correctly handles the word of truth.” The purpose of biblical hermeneutics is to help us to know how to properly interpret, understand, and apply the Bible.”(1)  Poor interpretation of scripture will result in a distorted understanding and faulty application.

Someone may be thinking that I’m being too technical and all this theological jargon is confusing and creates division.

For a Christian, theology is more than just the study of God or knowing things about God. At the core of Christian theology is knowing God Himself.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

The question is, “How can we know God?” We personally know God primarily through Scripture (His special revelation to man about Himself and the world we inhabit).

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

We can know a few things about God through His general revelation via the created order as well.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.”
(Psalm 19:1-2)

The poor hermeneutics and bad theology employed by He Gets Us leads people away from orthodoxy (right belief) into heterodoxy (heresy). Misinterpretation will lead to misunderstanding and misapplication of scripture. This needs to be confronted, stopped, and corrected.

Missing from the He Gets Us campaign is a biblical hermeneutic and understanding of the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.

The lens we use when approaching scripture and culture will have massive ramifications on our theology and how we live.

First, Christians must understand the hermeneutic used by He Gets Us. This can be found on their website:

“We look at the biography of Jesus through a modern lens to find new relevance in often overlooked moments and themes from his life.”(2)

That statement is problematic and tells us everything we need to know. He Gets Us chose to interpret scripture using a non-biblical framework. This means that everything, including their conclusions, will shift away from the Bible. 

Second, Christians must adhere to a biblical interpretation found in the Bible itself. The Bible is the lens through which we understand Christ and culture. Interpreting scripture and the life and ministry of Jesus Christ through a ‘modern lens’ is not biblical. In fact it’s a poor hermeneutical approach. It will eventually lead one away from biblical truth into falsehood and destruction.

“For the Christian, the Bible is not merely a book to be looked at, it is also a lens to be looked through.”(3)

Third, Christians must understand the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. Can we make the Bible say whatever we want it to say? Am I at liberty to infuse my own meaning and experience into the biblical text? What is the standard? Is man the standard? Or is God’s word the standard?

Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text. The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.”(4)

Someone will say that getting into the weeds of theological interpretation methods gets in the way of winning people to Christ with a winsome message.

However, truth contained in the message is vastly more important than winsomeness of the message.

The He Gets Us marketers and consultants miss the point and miss the mark. In doing so, they confuse Christians and non-Christians alike. When a so-called “Christian” commercial confuses Christians, you know there is a problem.

If so-called “Christians” resort to misrepresenting scripture and manipulating emotions as a means of making Jesus more appealing, they are employing falsehood to bring about righteousness. That is at best unbiblical and at worst, evil.

“How can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.” (Romans 3:7-8 NLT)

Christians should use the Bible as the lens through which to see and understand culture, not the other way around.

The He Gets Us commercial attempts to answer the worldview question: “What is wrong with the world and how do we fix it?”

Watch the commercial carefully and investigate their website. You’ll discover they locate the problem with the world outside the individual human heart and reframe it as ‘ideological differences’ that lead to disunity. The He Gets Us solution to the problem is for people to perform humble “acts of kindness.” In other words, be nice and accommodating.

The He Gets Us website states: “We began to imagine a world where ideological others were willing to set their differences aside and wash one another’s feet. How would that look? How would our contentious world change if we washed one another’s feet, not literally, but figuratively? Figurative foot washing can be as simple as giving a compliment to a co-worker or paying for a stranger’s lunch. It can also be as difficult as not responding to someone who’s criticizing you or reaching out to an estranged family member. Acts of kindness done out of humility and respect for another person could be considered the equivalent of foot washing.”(5)

Remember, the video ends with the words, “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.” Yes, Jesus did wash the feet of the disciples. That is true! But, that’s not the point. He Gets Us admit that washing feet isn’t the point on their multi-million dollar website. What is the point? (I’ll get this later). This lack of clarity and lack of theological precision begs the question…

What do you mean by that?

What do they mean when they say, “Jesus didn’t teach hate?” What did Jesus teach? What do the He Gets Us folks mean by ‘hate’? They don’t provide clear biblical definitions for anything. Again, they are making the text mean whatever they want and asking you to believe them!

The word of God does tell us what the Lord hates:

“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.”
(Proverbs 6:16-19)

“Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6)

“You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates.” (Deuteronomy 16:22)

“You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:31)

“For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16)

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

Biblically, the problem with the world is sin. The solution is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

The source of sin is located in the individual human heart. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says it best, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.”

Acts of kindness are not salvific nor transformative. Only God’s grace through Christ’s death and resurrection save sinners.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Transformed redeemed people transform their cultural environments because they live in obedience to all that Christ commands. Furthermore, “washing feet” is a demonstration of the humility and obedience of Christ (even unto death on a Roman cross), modeled for His disciples who would be transformed through faith upon His resurrection. Christians serve others by serving Christ because we’re saved by Him.

“… But emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)

Again, the entire He Gets Us enterprise is nothing more than repackaged liberal theology wrapped in identity politics. It’s not really designed to share the Gospel of the Kingdom, the forgiveness of sin, and salvation in Christ alone.

It is designed to divide the church along political lines by taking a swipe at biblical Christianity. He Gets Us is identity politics dressed up in Christian drag. They are not really interested in loving God and leading people to Christ, they have a set of political priorities.

Both the commercial and website convey messages rooted in identity politics.

“Identity politics is politics based on a particular identity, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social background, caste, and social class…
Identity politics is further described as:
(a) ethnicity as a contemporary form of politics;
(b) a form of critical pedagogy that links social structure with the insights of poststructuralism regarding the nature of subjectivity, while incorporating a Marxist commitment to politics ; and
(c) general efforts by status based movements to foster and explore the cultural identity of members. By the mid-1990s, references to identity politics as violent ethnic conflict, and nationalism more generally…”(6)

According to their website, the He Gets Us folks were attempting to convey the following message, with an upcoming election year that will be filled with division and derision, we decided to focus on one of the most important directives given by Jesus – “Love Your Neighbor.”

On the surface, this all might sound ‘good’ and Christ-like. However, liberal theology always sacrifices the greatest commandment on the alter of the second. In other words, loving the God of the universe is sacrificed on the alter of loving your neighbor. Man becomes the center, not God.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37–40)

Biblically, it is impossible to truly love your neighbor without loving God first (agape love). Love of God is the post on which love of others hangs.

When viewing the He Gets Us commercials, website, and interviews with creators in their totality, identity politics is exposed as the primary driver of their program. As such, one must recognize that Marxian political theory in the form of Critical Social Theory is the shaping force behind identity politics. Whether the He Gets Us people realize it or not, they are promoting a non-biblical worldview.

One of the easiest ways to recognize liberal theology is by identifying what is ignored, rejected, and emphasized.

God and His commands are ignored or de-emphasized. Christ as Savior and Lord is rejected. And man’s experience is emphasized.

David Wells said, “The liberal approach sees experience – whether of ourselves, of the natural world, of political reality, or of society or within the church – as providing the stuff out of which theology is made. It therefore always incorporates modernity into its (liberal) theology, not simply as an external pole of reference for that theology, but as its internal substance.” In other words, liberal theology is man-centered built around man’s experience. As such, man is the standard and measure of all things.

Truth, is then relocated from God’s revealed word, to man’s relativistic experiential whims.

Reductionism

The mission and message of Jesus Christ is reduced to moralism and a therapeutic social program with a political agenda. This reductionism is antithetical to biblical faith and sound theology. Furthermore, it can’t be recognized as biblical Christianity. It is something else.

He Gets Us is heretical propaganda that punches right. It is a poorly constructed ‘artful’ meme shaped more by Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance”(7) than by the Bible. It is the power dynamic applied within Christian theology. In other words, it’s just repackaged liberal theology. There is nothing new under the sun. Heresy is still heresy regardless of its therapeutic individualistic self-expressive wrapper.

Someone will say, “Heretical? Isn’t that a little harsh?” Perhaps it grates against the modern therapeutic sensibilities of liberal ‘Christians’, but my tone isn’t important. The content and truth of what I’m saying is. Because the truth of the Gospel and God’s word are what are being challenged by the He Gets Us folks.

He Gets Us is distorting the biblical historical Lord Jesus Christ and promoting a liberal political ideology with a touch of good old fashion gnosticism. The the “oppressor versus oppressed” power dynamic is portrayed visually in the commercial. When you see the power dynamic within theology, you are seeing Cultural Marxism being applied, albeit in an artful way meant to elicit an emotional response.

They’re basically saying:
“We just want people to see Jesus in a new way.”
“We want people who’ve been oppressed by the church to learn about the real Jesus that most Christians don’t know.”

My response is as follows:

As thinking and discerning Christians, we must keep in mind that something new about Jesus is most likely not true. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…” (Hebrews 13:8-9a)

In addition, when someone attempts to convince you that they possess hidden knowledge about the Bible or truth in general, they are committing a gnostic heresy. Well-meaning Christians fall for this all the time, just like first century Christians fell for gnosticism.

R.V. Young said, “The Gnostics’ teaching places the origin of evil, of pain and suffering, in the conditions of the material creation; salvation involves overcoming ignorance and escaping these external conditions by finding divinity within. . . . The Gnostic finds the beginning of the path to salvation in the realization that the world is a great imposture, a prison of pain and frustration. His escape lies in recovering the intrinsic good within himself…”

“Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plane of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.”(8)

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

Finally, don’t fall victim to He Gets Usappeal to emotion” logical fallacy. “Appeal to emotion fallacy occurs when someone tries to convince another person by evoking their feelings rather than providing evidence. With the appeal to emotion fallacy, people accept a claim as true because they react emotionally to it. As a result, they focus on factors irrelevant to the question at hand, ignoring facts and logical reasoning.”(9) To put it another way, objective truth is jettisoned by allowing subjective emotions to determine truth.

Again, don’t take the bait.

Gresham Machen was correct when he said that liberal Christianity isn’t a variation of Christianity, but an entirely different religion.

The solution is simple. Think biblically and employ the theological resources provided in scripture.

Use discernment and logic when viewing all media, including emotionally manipulative Super Bowl commercials that claim to convey a biblical message.

ALL Christians must develop theological precision and clarity. It’s time for Christians to think critically.

At the end of the day, the He Gets Us message trades a clear call for repentance from sin and faith in Christ for a feel-good social gospel with a political agenda. Nowhere in their content will you find a crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness – only an emotional appeal to people to conform to a moralistic form of identity politics.

Ask yourself these questions:
Who is the biblical historical Jesus Christ?
What did He come to accomplish?
What did He commission His ekklesia (church) to do?
What does He expect from us individually and as a church?

Here’s the message to the He Gets Us folks and all Christians.

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Don’t take the He Gets Us bait… The truth is, Jesus Christ saves us! Jesus Christ is Lord of All.

Below: The Christian Super Bowl Ad They SHOULD Have Made | He Saves Us by Jamie Bambrick

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.

Learn more and give here…

Generosity Redeemed – A Theology of Generosity

GENEROSITY REDEEMED

The way we understand and practice generosity is rooted in our theological perspective. Our theology of generosity, in turn, shapes how we use our resources, live our lives, and steward God’s blessings.

Generosity becomes clearer when we possess a theological understanding of God and His glorious riches.

Many Christians have a shallow, un-enchanted vision of generosity (I suffer from this as well). Often, generosity is a guilt-driven duty or a sentimental desire for psychological well-being or a reciprocal relationship with God, as if God needs anything from us. The deadliest perspective links giving to salvation. Reader beware, dead works will not result in eternal life (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Modern Christians, especially in America, seem to have unintentionally embraced ideas influenced by pragmatism and the Enlightenment regarding generosity. Additionally, adding a dose of moralism renders an unbiblical concoction.

The argument is commonly something like: “The Bible encourages giving as the right thing to do, promoting the expansion of God’s Kingdom while helping those in need. Tax benefits are a bonus!” While not entirely wrong, it’s incomplete and may be misguided. Some Christians use out-of-context proof-texts and persuasion tactics to motivate giving, which can be confusing or manipulative. What’s missing is a full-orbed Kingdom vision and a robust theology of generosity.

Theology, seen through a biblical lens, is more than just knowing things about God. Theology is about intimately knowing God Himself. Knowing God serves as the cornerstone of all Christian faith and activities, including stewardship and its handmaiden, generosity.

Let’s explore a biblical vision of generosity by asking questions of Holy Scripture.

In the beginning, who created?
At the cross, who died?
At the grave, who is risen?
Who is seated at the right hand of the Father?
At the conclusion of human history, who restores all things?
Who is God?
Who am I?
What are God’s purposes?
What is Jesus Christ Lord over?

Whether we realize it or not, our actions and choices in life inevitably reflect our underlying theological and worldview commitments. The way we understand and practice generosity is rooted in our theological perspective. Our theology of generosity, in turn, shapes how we use our resources, live our lives, and steward God’s blessings. Therefore, we need to make sure we have a good theology.

God created the world and deemed it “good.” This signified its intrinsic value because God is creator and God is the source of all good. This declaration demonstrates the richness of the potential embedded in creation, waiting to be discovered and developed. Entrusting man with dominion, God commanded the care and cultivation of Earth’s latent resources for His glory and the good of humanity. We hear echos in the greatest and second greatest commandments.

Jesus answered, “The most important (commandment) is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

Dominion

Dominion in the Bible is often overlooked or misunderstood. It is not about exploitation or oppression rather, theologically, it is stewardship, responsibility, God-given authority, and accountability to God, all directed toward His purposes. Properly understood, dominion is God-centered, not man-centered. As image-bearers, we share in God’s moral character traits, albeit as finite and fallen creatures. All humans are assigned a time and place to serve God’s purposes, exercising dominion over what God entrusts to us. In doing so, we reflect His moral character and bring His glory to the world He created and sustains. Dominion is humanity’s responsible and caring authority under God’s ultimate reign. I believe that exercising Godly dominion is a proper response to God’s grace, kindness, and goodness to us by glorifying Him and enjoying Him.

The first statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us the chief duty of man and what were created for (purpose).

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
(The Westminster Shorter Catechism)

If God is the creator of all things, it means he holds the title deed of every atom in the entire universe. There isn’t anything in all of creation that God doesn’t own, including you and me. The air you breathe, the food you eat – it all belongs to God. He is the one who enables and allows you to breathe, eat, and even understand this sentence as you read it.

A Principle v. A Person

At the foundation of a theology of generosity, you won’t find just a biblical principle; rather, you’ll encounter a person—Jesus Christ. A distinct Christian life will be shaped and guided by principles of generosity that flow from knowing Jesus Christ. Remember, theology is knowing God, not just knowing things about Him.

Only when we retrieve and recover the riches of Christian faith in Christ as the ultimate gift from God, can we undertake any real form of generosity.

The one true definition of generosity, from which all other meanings flow, is God’s definition. Jesus Christ embodies this definition—He is the living and holy reality of generosity. At the center of all reality, Jesus stands as the Truth. When we behold Jesus, we see God’s Christ, God’s Word, God’s world, and God’s spirit, all given as glorious gifts to man. You and I have nothing we didn’t receive.

I encourage you to work out the implications of this in your own life (which is a gift). Generosity flows from a fuller theological understanding of God and His glorious riches.

“Whoever is of God hears the word of God.” – John 8:47

Therefore, through our generosity, we can join the likes of the Apostle Paul and, “proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hinderance.” – Acts 28:31

God’s Generous Gift

God has given us everything we need by granting us His divine power, His great promises, and His divine nature to enable our efforts to act on the knowledge of Him (theology). We benefit, partake, and develop the gift of God’s abundant power through Christ our Lord and Savior. Our knowledge of God’s divine power and promises is a gift. So is the ability and opportunity to utilize that power. When we receive the gift of faith, God supplies His power to enable us to supplement it with virtue and knowledge.

In conclusion, one important aspect of the Christian tradition is the spiritual discipline of generosity that contributes to the believer’s sanctification. In other words, when we exercise generosity, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ’s character.

Notice, I didn’t mention money once in this post. Now, go and workout the implications of a theology of generosity in your life, watch God work and watch the world change.

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Praise God the Father who’s the source;
Praise God the Son who is the course;
Praise God the Spirit who’s the flow;
Praise God, our portion here below!”
– Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective. We have a end-of-year fundraising goal of $50,000. There is a $7,500 matching challenge in play! This will allow us to quip and mobilize people for Kingdom action. Please consider us in your year end generosity plans. Learn more and give here…

The Imagination Explained

IMAGINATION EXPLAINED

3 ways imagination is corrupted and what to do about it.

A synthesis and summary of article by Vigen Guroian in Touchstone Magazine.

Most people don’t think very deeply about the most powerful endowment God has given to his image-bearers, the Imagination!

Our imaginations can take us to some very good and joyful places, they can take us into very dark places as well. Our imaginations are more culturally relevant that we realize.

Below is a synthesis of a portion of an article by Vigen Guroian in Touchstone Magazine entitled, “Of Weed & Fairy Tales – The Idylls, Idols & Devils That Corrupt the Moral Imagination” (2020). I quote the article at length.

I hope it helps you understand the gift of the imagination, how to guard it from corruption, and how to cultivate it as God intends. I highly recommend reading Guroian’s article in its entirety.

The Purpose of Imagination

“The human imagination “reaches out and seizes likenesses and analogies” that establish relation and unity in a world of meaning. In other words, imagination is the self’s process of finding direction and purpose in life by making metaphors from remembered experiences to understand present experience. It is not an instinct but an attribute and an expression of our freedom, passion, and reason…

Wherever there are human beings, imagination exists and is exercised, much as wherever there are spiders, webs are spun. The important question is what kinds of imagination our contemporary culture encourages.” (Guroian)

Moral Imagination

The Human Power to “conceive of men and women as moral beings, i.e., as persons, not things or animals whose value is their utility. It is the process by which the self makes metaphors out of images stored in memory, which then are employed to find and suppose moral correspondences in experience.” (Guroian)

Left unprotected or uncultivated, the moral imagination decays into corruption and perversity.

Idyllic Imagination

It is escapist and utopian. “The self gripped by the idyllic imagination is escapist, not in the sense that it flees its physical surroundings so much as it shirks its civic, social, and moral responsibilities…

This is accompanied and reinforced by rejection and rebellion against old dogmas, manners, and mores. The idyllic imagination is in search of emancipation from conventional constraints. In our democratic and individualistic environment, persons justify this “liberation” in the name of self-fulfillment and self-realization, which they believe existing norms and structures inhibit or obstruct…

Quite often there is a turning to hedonistic imaginings, flagrant sensuality, and explorations of the “flesh.” These are paths that promise happiness but more often than not lead instead to boredom and ennui or, worse, physical and spiritual dissipation.” (Guroian)

The Idyllic Imagination rejects morality in pursuit of self-fulfillment. It is marked by hedonism, preoccupation with self, and sensuality. It seeks liberation from morals and results in boredom, dissatisfaction, or worse, physical and spiritual corruption and a wasted life.

Idolatrous Imagination

The Idolatrous Imagination cultivates the “absolutization of the relative” (Will Herberg)…
“Idolatry, in biblical terms, is the giving of one’s highest loyalties and devotions to objects and things other than God… What idolatry does is to convert its object into an absolute, thereby destroying the partial good within it and transforming it into a total evil…

Corrupted imaginations may be tracked everywhere in our culture. The media fixes on false gods whose stories replace the lives of saints and real heroes. One need only look at the popular magazines, MTV, television talk shows, and celebrity channels, to understand how pervasive is the idolatrous imagination… Even our schools and public libraries are heavily under its influence…

“What is more, the people, when they grow dissatisfied with their idols, often mercilessly turn on them and consume them with an ungodly wrath.” (Guroian)

The Idolatrous Imagination absolutizes the relative, lacking consciousness of sin, good things are given priority and devotion over God (Idolatry). A good object is converted into an absolute, making it totally evil. When the absolutized idol fails to satisfy its worshipers, they turn on it and destroy it.

Diabolical Imagination

“The coordinates that track the fall of the Western self into the diabolic imagination are the loss of the concept of sin and the rise of popular therapeutic justifications and excuses for things that were once thought perverse. Moral norms are redescribed as values relative to self or culture. Human nature is viewed as infinitely malleable and changing. Some go so far as to say it is merely a social construct or fiction. Good and evil are considered matters of perspective (opinion / sentiments)…

The Diabolic Imagination is latent within each of us, the image of the demonic imprinted by Original Sin on the human soul.” (Guroian)

The Diabolical Imagination transforms morals into relative values geared toward self. Objective good and evil do not exist outside one’s personal perspective or orientation. Sex and Violence are central. Greed and selfishness rule – revealing the sin nature within every human heart.

The Enriched Imagination

“After a child has read Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, her moral imagination is sure to have been stimulated and sharpened. The powerful images of good and evil in these stories show a child how to love through the examples of the characters she herself has come to love and admire. Such memories become the analogues that the moral imagination uses to make real-life decisions, and these memories become constitutive elements of her self-identity and character…

A well-fortified and story-enriched moral imagination helps children and adults move about in the world with moral intent and ultimately with faith, hope, and charity. As Flannery O’Connor once said, “Our response to life is different if we have been taught only a definition of faith than if we have trembled with Abraham as he held a knife over Isaac.” (Guroian)

Like a neglected vegetable garden is susceptible to weeds and pests, the human imagination left unattended, unguarded, and uncultivated will incrementally decay and succumb to evil. Therefore, we must steward and shape our imaginations well.

Recovering the Enriched Imagination

There is a reason C.S. Lewis stories of Narnia and Tolkien’s tales of hobbits and rings have captured and shaped the imaginations and lives of generations. They are not simply far-fetched fantasies. Those tales are in fact, true. Not that the characters or worlds existed in human history but their underlying frameworks are constructed on objective moral truths. These beautiful and good true stories point beyond themselves to the ultimate source of goodness, truth, and beauty – God.

“Stories not only reflect life, they shape it. It is of no small account what stories we tell and what stories we live by…”(Guroian)

Keep in mind biblical Christianity has the ultimate story on which all other stories rest – creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. It is The Story that we should tell and allow to shape our lives.

I leave you with one of my favorite G.K. Chesterton Quotes:

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Source of quotes above: “Of Weed & Fairy Tales – The Idylls, Idols & Devils That Corrupt the Moral Imagination” by Vigen Guroian (2020) www.touchstonemag.com

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective. We have a end-of-year fundraising goal of $50,000. There is a $7,500 matching challenge in play! This will allow us to quip and mobilize people for Kingdom action. Please consider us in your year end generosity plans. Learn more and give here…

LEARN ABOUT THE FORGE ROOM FOUNDATION.
TRAINING EVERYDAY CHRISTIANS TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.

Rethinking the Public Square and Marching Back Through the Institutions

The existence of the public square bears witness to God’s common grace. Recovering the public square will provide Christians an opportunity to contend for the faith and witness to the world the powerful coherence of the Christian worldview and its correspondence to reality.

1960’s radical Marxist activist Rudi Dutschke coined the phrase, “the long march through the institutions.”

He along with other Frankfurt School types believed in the infiltration and subversion of western institutions. Entertainment, government, education, media, the church and the family make up the cultural fabric of the West, particularly, America. The ‘long march’ was intended to destroy western culture from within and replace it with a Marxian vision and social program. We are living in a Marxist America with a fascist twist.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself these questions:
Who are you not allowed publicly to criticize?
What are you afraid to say that might cost you your job or get you ‘cancelled’?
What so-called “facts” reported by the media three years ago turned out blatantly false?
Why do some issues receive a lot of attention while other important issues seem to be overlooked?

Some estimate 90% of U.S. media is controlled by just six companies (1). If the past three years has taught us anything, it is the power of propaganda. I do not believe they are secretly colluding to push an agenda. However, there is a clear convergence of shared interests, philosophies, and political ideologies. Many CEOs and elites emerged from similar academic institutions and generations. They share similar worldviews. Therefore, interests will converge without deliberate collusion. Therefore, while there appears to be a variety of media choices, only a handful of conglomerates control the information we receive.

What began in the academies of higher education in the 1960s was popularized through entertainment and promoted by the media. It didn’t take long for government to succumb to Marxist ideas and put them into practice. Sixty years later, the United States of America is exporting a distinctly American form of Cultural Marxism to other nations through the US Government and Corporations. In many cases, US aid to other countries is tied to promotion of an ideology. Media and entertainment further promote the ideology.

Think about how effective the “long march through the institutions” has been in America?
Most claim, “This could never happen in America!”

Most Americans are not Marxists… Yet.

At the rate of indoctrination in our education systems from university down to elementary, we are at the threshold of a generational break away from historical American culture. The old guard is dying off and the new guard is taking its position of cultural influence and power. The younger generations are coming of age in an era where an expert class of elites exert tremendous control over society. Furthermore, there is a mood of unending crisis, uncertainty, and weakening of longstanding institutions.

Gone are the days where American society was shaped by biblical mores, moral formation, civic virtue and shared history. The worldview of the emerging generation is shaped by Critical Social Theories like Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, Third and Fourth Wave Feminism, Gender Theory, Queer Theory and Transhumanism. DEI, ESG, and SEL are the modes of indoctrination through corporations, the education system, and government institutions. The emerging generations’ allegiances are alien to the established American ethos. That ethos has been rejected and hated. They see the world divided into two groups – oppressors and the oppressed. As such, material resources, and cultural and political power are controlled by the privileged at the expense of the powerless in a zero sum game. Thus, creating a permanent victim class along intersectional lines.

Does this new dominant worldview correspond to the contours of reality? Is it coherent? The answer is ‘no’ because the Marxian worldview is built on falsehood and self-refuting presuppositions. It implodes… the human casualties number in the hundreds of millions dead.

Marxists of all eras always lie… “They lie like dead flies on a window sill.” (Douglas Wilson). As David Horowitz pointed out quoting a SDS radical student, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” In other words, the cause of a political action – whether civil rights or women’s rights – is never the real cause; women, blacks and other ‘victims’ are only instruments in the larger cause, which is power.”

Marxists always use minority groups as cannon fodder to attain power. They don’t really care about people of color, or gays, or transgenders, or women, or the poor… All those groups are manipulated, agitated, and weaponized. Once a group has depleted its usefulness, it is tossed aside or destroyed. Look how this mode has divided all sectors of society.

A quick survey of modern history has demonstrated from the French Revolution forward, that those at the top of the Marxist food chain get fat while everyone else starves to death. They are not really interested in equity, equality, diversity, peace, climate, or justice, in their original forms. Those are simply tried and true bait n’ switch tactics where words have been redefined to push the ideology (revolution). Instead, they cause division to obtain more economic, political, and cultural power. Like locusts, Marxists devour and destroy everything in their path. Name one institution in America that has not been infiltrated by ‘woke’ ideology. ‘Woke’ is American Marxism.

Is there such a thing as a ‘Woke Church?’ Perhaps in the imagination of some relevance-seeking authors. Selling books and speaking honorariums pay well.

No sir. There is only One Church and it ain’t woke. It was founded before the foundations of the world and purchased by the blood of Christ. No amount of bad theology, heretical hermeneutics, or shoddy sociology will ever be able to transform Christ and His Word into an American social program draped in Christian garb.

Christians and the Church need to re-think our approach to culture and theology. The clown show and chaos we’re experiencing is a result of Christians not taking culture seriously. The Church hasn’t been pushed out of the public square, we have abandoned it. Marxists didn’t win the ‘Culture War’. To win a war, you must defeat an opponent. There wasn’t a war. Christians simply decided to go home and abandon the institutions to the secular cult masquerading as enlightened. Midwits don’t have the moral fortitude of a blade of grass (no offense to St. Augustin or Bermuda). The problem is pulpits have been preaching pablum, promoting pragmatism, pushing entertainment programs, and over-zealous personal piety instead of robust public theology for nearly 100 years – all undergirded by an eschatology of Christian escapism.

The Church is an institution that Marxist woke-topians are relishing. They have been quite effective so far. A good compass points north, a good church points Christ-ward and truth-ward. Not all “churches” are Christ-centered and biblical. Don’t let a name like, “North Point Church” fool you. 

Rethinking the Public Square

The public square of the free exchange of ideas is a distinctly Christian social contribution. Even stupid and destructive ideas like Cultural Marxism can be allowed. But, they must be allowed to be critiqued, refuted, and buried on the trash heap of bad ideas. When Christians witness poor stewardship, disorder, or injustice within any sector of society, we have the duty to take dominion over it and work to cultivate goodness and human flourishing. The public square is not owned by anyone. Although many are attempting to own it (social media censorship). On the contrary, the public square is to be stewarded well for the good of all… even those with stupid ideas. Why? Because Christians love God and people created in His image, even people with dumb ideas. I mean, who among us has never had a dumb idea?

Christians must rethink the value and dignity of the Public Square. Because the public square is inhabited by people who may not understand God created them in His image with intrinsic value and worth. The existence of the public square bears witness to God’s common grace. Allow discourse of all types. Yes, there will be folks who share disdainful and even dangerous ideas. There is nothing new under the sun. However, recovering the open public square will provide Christians an opportunity to contend for the faith and witness to the world the powerful coherence of the Christian worldview and its correspondence to reality.

Engagement in the public square requires a public theology which includes proper institutional stewardship.

The Long March Back Through the Institutions

Entertainment, government, education, media, the church, and the family make up the cultural fabric of America. Except for small enclaves, those institutions have been decimated by Cultural Marxism. Christians rightly view the family as the center of culture creation. A mother and father will raise children who will create culture and shape society. Therefore, worldview training begins in the home. As the younger generations move into areas of cultural influence, they bring their worldviews with them. As the parents move into elder years, their children will take the cultural reigns and shape the world for their own children. Therefore, Christians must think generationally. Our enterprise is much bigger than a single lifetime, after all, we operate from an eternal perspective with an ever-present expression.

We must recover our public theology and follow Christ’s calling into all cultural domains. Cultural abandonment has proven deadly and unbiblical. Does this mean we take over cultural domains by force? Of course not. We have a ministry of faith in action. God is responsible for results. William Wilberforce didn’t end the African slave trade in England. God ended it by using Wilberforce and others willing to be obedient.

Over the next few decades, Christians must begin a long march back through the ruins of our institutions of higher education, arts, entertainment, media, and the church under the banner of Christ (who is Lord over all). We unleash the power of the Christian worldview and a deep love for those who inhabit those domains. Why? Because God loves people (John 3:16).

When biblically informed and spirit filled Christ-followers follow Christ into every sphere and corner of human existence, we are demonstrating that Colossians 1:15-20 and the words of Abraham Kuyper are true:

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!

Every Christian contributes a little leaven from Heaven into human culture. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God.

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” – Matthew 13:33

The parable sets forth the working of the Church of Christ on the world, but not in the same way as that of the Mustard Seed… Here the working is from within. It (leaven) can turn the flour into human food–this symbolism is traceable in the leavened loaves that were offered on the day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17)–can permeate the manners, feelings, and opinions of non-Christian societies until they become blessings and not curses to mankind. In the new feelings, gradually diffused, of Christendom as to slavery, prostitution, gladiatorial games–in the new reverence for childhood and womanhood, for poverty and sickness–we may trace the working of the leaven.” (2)

Based on your proximity – Where can you use your influence for the Kingdom?

1. Where can you speak truth into the public square? (Do you need to create a public square?)
– What will you contribute to the discourse?
– When will you accomplish this?

2. Beginning with your family, what institution do you have an affinity towards or a burden for?
Education, arts and entertainment, media, government, etc. are legitimate domains for Christian influence and stewardship.
– Where will you contribute your influence and care?
– When will you begin?

Pray for God’s power will be unleashed in the places and spaces where you live. Ask Him to use your gifts, talents, resources, and influence to expand His Kingdom until the knowledge of Him reaches the ends of the earth.

Reflection and Encouragement:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:7-12)

1. https://www.fool.com/investing/stock-market/market-sectors/communication/media-stocks/big-6/

2. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/matthew/13.htm

I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective. We have a end-of-year fundraising goal of $50,000. This will allow us to host more forums and seminars that quip and mobilize people for Kingdom action. Please consider us in your year end generosity plans. Learn more and give here…

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