Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The “Shrinking” of the Church

Last week I read an article by Os Guinness about the “therapeutic revolution” in American. And he made reference to a book called “The Shrinking of America.” Guinness went on to say that the most egregious effect of psychology on the church has been the re-defining of sin.

There is something about our human nature that makes us want to excuse our sin. Sin sounds so old-fashioned—and so harsh. The word “mistake” or "lapse in judgment” is so much easier to swallow.

This also facilitates our being able to explain it away, e.g. the old familiar "everyone else was doing it;" or the fail-safe "I didn't think anyone would get hurt." But the worst kind of sin-excuse is the now-common "it wasn't my fault; I’m a victim.” All this is the result of therapy’s re-designation of sin. But here's the real danger: if there is no sin, then there is no need for salvation. If there are only mistakes, there is only a need to do better. Translated into therapeutic language: your problem is poor self-esteem. But the self-esteem construct denies original sin, saying “there are no bad people; just people who believe bad things about themselves.” Conclusion: we don’t need to be saved; we just need to recover.

Last year, we visited a church that 20 years ago had been a model of expository teaching. But as I perused the bulletin, I was stuck by the fact that where there used to be mid-week Bible Studies, there were now recovery groups and book clubs. Beware! Psychology’s effect on the church is to replace self-denial with self-improvement. Is this not what Paul calls “another gospel?”
(Galatians 1:7)


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