Monday, April 15, 2013

God is not our therapist, and why is there suffering and evil?

T.M. Luhrmann wrote an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times Sunday. It is called, "When God Is Your Therapist." It is a devastating indictment on our faith from someone who is actually not trying to be devastating.

Apparently Ms Luhrmann spends time in a couple of Protestant churches, trying to make sense of it all. She has attended long enough as a curious outsider to have formed some opinions about what Christians are all about, who God is to us, and why. None of her opinions are correct if looking at the bible. All of her opinions are correct based on who the emergent, therapeutic, touchy-feely, 'God is your boyfriend'  crowd presents to the world. It is so, so, so, so sad.

All Ms Luhrmann wants to know are the same things that have haunted people for eons: why is there evil? Why does God allow it? Why do bad things happen to good people? She wrote,
"I saw the same thing at another church, where a young couple lost a child in a late miscarriage. Some months later I spent several hours with them. Clearly numbed, they told me they did not understand why God had allowed the child to die. But they never gave a theological explanation for what happened."
Those questions can be answered theologically, and that is what she wanted. She did not want an emotional answer. She is perplexed by the constant references to emotion when talking about God. Hence the name of the piece, God as therapist.

Relying on God as therapist does NOT equip us to answer the question as to why these things happen. Relying on God as therapist does NOT equip us enough to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit to grow in truth. We see the deficiencies of such a limited relationship when things like the bombings at the Boston Marathon happen.

Her editorial comes at a precise time when we ask those series of questions again. The US has seen horrifying violence such as the Aurora CO movie shootings and the Sandy Hook CT kindergarten shootings. Today, there were bombings in Boston and many are injured and several have been killed. After Aurora, Pastor Lee Strobel delivered a sermon titled--

Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?

There IS a theological answer. Christians whose go-to position is 'feel God' instead of 'know God' do an eternal disservice to people like Luhrmann and others who want solid answers to these questions. That is why we need to be able to give an answer to all who ask for the reason that we have this hope inside us. (1 Peter 3:15).

Strobel said in his sermon, which is once again sadly applicable to today given the bombings in Boston,

"That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why all of this if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Strobel continues with five 'points of light' in explaining why there is suffering in general. I encourage you to read his sermon after today's events, especially.

We do our unsaved neighbors such a disservice by changing Yahweh into a therapist. He is not there to talk to when we feel low and need a pick me up, or to 'hang out with' as one of Luhrmann's pastors said. He revealed Himself in the bible and it is important for us to read it so we know of Whom we speak when giving an answer to those who ask.

Yes, I do feel better when I pray or I read the word but that is not because God is a therapy I go to in order to sort out my feelings. It is because I know of Him enough to know He is sovereign and in control and works all to the good for those who love Him. I know His attributes by having read of Him in His revelation. I want to know God as God and not as a tool in my ever-enlarging toolbox of pick-me-ups. God is not the same as a comedy show or chocolate.

Please read your bible. Get into a good church. Plan to study with someone more mature than yourself. In any way, engage with God as God, not as therapy. The more you study Him the more you will know him. The more you know Him the more you will want to share Him with others. I hope Ms Luhrmann gets the answers she is looking for and I hope the people in her church do too, even though they are not looking. Stay away from the God as your therapist, and learn about the the real Jesus, the Jesus you can't ignore.

1 comment:

  1. This is so sad. It is a testament to the lack of sound doctrinal teaching in the modern church. Where is the hope, the trust that God has a larger purpose and plan than what we can see? Where is the faith that this child is with the Lord and they will one day see him again? Our family was looking for a new church to attend because we were so disappointed in the lack of sound teaching at our last church. The first Sunday we attended this church, the youth pastor stood up and spoke to the congregation. He and his wife had announced a few weeks prior that they were expecting their first child. This day he announced that they had lost the baby. Yet there was no despair in his face. He said he knew where his child was and that the Lord saw fit to have their child with Him. He knew he would see this child again one day. The faith and trust he displayed spoke volumes. Was this couple grieving? Absolutely. But you could see where their trust lay. They trusted in God's plan and purpose. In their grief they still gave God the glory, which is what we are all called to do.

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Kay Cude poetry, Used with permission. Click to enlarge. It gets really big.