Finishing the revolution


David Tyler's God's Funeral decries psychology's hijacking of Christianity. This is a not a new insight, of course. Jay Adams first awakened us to it in the 1970s---the idea that just as we take our truth about how to get saved from God's Word, we should also take from it our truth about who man is and how to counsel him. Why go to God for the one and defer to secular gurus for the other? It seems so obvious now. How blind we were that this should have been a revolution!

But Tyler's book is puzzling to me. It reads like it could have been written 40 years ago. I expected advance, a more thoroughgoing application of the whole Word of God to the whole of man.

Tyler says we should not blame our fathers, our genes, our hormones, and our stars. We should not uncritically adopt the language of "self-esteem," "orientations," "disorders," "needs," "psychoses" We should not describe ourselves as "emotionally scarred" or "vulnerable" or "stressed" or "traumatized" or wanting "closure" without continuously checking these notions against the Bible's own language. Our categories of reality should be the Bible's own categories, as we aim to conform our minds to the mind of Christ.

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That's all right as far as it goes. But the problem is, that's as far as it goes. From cover to cover the book names "sin" as the etiology of all man's malaise, with no hint of the role of demonic forces. Worse, there is no development (or even a sense of awareness!) of the Bible's teaching on the authority the believer wields as he is now positioned in Christ. In much of Christ's Church, such practice is either taboo or unknown.

Books like Tyler's that once seemed so radical to me now seem weak indeed. It is ironic that a work whose burden is to warn of encroaching secular interpretations falls prey to it in the end.

I witnessed the same failure of nerve in a recent article about Haiti. Titled "The Devil and Pat Robertson: Re-Examining Our Secular Assumptions," the piece was written to defend supernaturalists against the vituperative attacks of those who will brook no explanation for Haiti than the geological. Stan Guthrie, an editor at large for Christianity Today, takes sides, for paragraph after paragraph, with a supernatural interpretation of cosmic events---and then blinks with this comment:

"While I believe some of these assumptions---and what Robertson said about a satanic 'curse'---are too animistic and give the devil more than his due (since God rules over our fallen world), they are closer to the mark than we might like to admit."

Huh? Satanic curses "animistic"? Giving the devil "more than his due"? And where in the Bible is the sovereignty of God mutually exclusive with the machinations of the devil?

This is still the hybrid Christianity that both Tyler and Guthrie thought to reject. The revolution is not finished.

To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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