Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Therapeutic Gospel-A. Close

This video contains a message that is about five minutes long. He starts the message with the story of Corrie Ten Boom and the hiding of Jews during WWII. He tells how she witnessed her family being killed and still managed to forgive the man who did it. His main point from the story is that “God doesn’t give us the grace we need until we need to step on board.” He goes on to explain that “on board” refers to another story he told about a dad not giving his daughter her train ticket until she got onto the train so she didn’t lose or tamper with it. The preacher then compares the two, and explains how God will give us our “ticket” when we come upon the situation that we need it and God will be there to “help you make it through the dark valleys and still keep your head held high and your heart filled with love.” The rest of the sermon is based upon this metaphor of God giving us our “ticket” when the time comes that we need it. He concludes the message with discussing how many of those he is speaking to are not where they planned to be in life, and that God will be there in the end to help us succeed.
Wow. Doesn’t that sound encouraging? I am going to critique this sermon using Trevin Wax’s book, more specifically the chapter on the therapeutic gospel. The main point of the therapeutic counterfeit is leaving out the man portion of the gospel and not focusing on man’s sin as the reason of guilt, etc. According to Wax, The Fill’er Up Gospel deals with the focus on positive aspects of the gospel such as God will be there and not the root of the problem, which is our sin.  I believe that this clip falls right into this category. In the clip, the main point that the pastor continues to come back to is that God will be there to help us when we get to the point in life that we need Him or His grace. Nowhere does he mention that it is the sin of man that causes us to feel alone or in this dark time he talks about. He simply focuses on the positive, which is that God will be there. In Wax’s book, he tells us that “We don’t have depleted hearts in need of a fill-up; we have deceitful hearts in need of replacement.” This is the polar opposite of what the pastor teaches in his sermon. He wrongly makes it out to be that humans do not do anything for the dark times to be in their lives, but that God is a God of grace and will be there to help us (and fill us up). The latter part of the statement is accurate. God will always be there for us and never forsake us, as stated in Deuteronomy 31:6 but what he leaves out is the part that God comes into our hearts and completely changes us forever versus just filling us up temporarily when we need His grace.   The preacher turns the power of God into a sermon that doesn’t note the depravity of man that causes us to need God’s Grace.

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