Chuckling here because I found that phrase of Pastor Wilson’s quite endearing. He writes a post called, “25 Theses on Common Grace, Natural Revelation, and Pastoral Care.”
In it he is primarily advocating in favor of biblical counseling, of soul care, of pastoral care, in a way that is sometimes, or perhaps always, going to be in opposition to the world. Do some 80 percent of us in the Western world all suffer from a compartmentalized physical affliction like OCD, ADHD, PTSD, all requiring better living through chemistry, therapy, and essential oils? Or is it possible that a good part of what ails us is actually wounding in our spirits and our souls?
You may count me in with the second group, on account of the fact that people who actually do suffer chemical imbalances, still need soul care. A good antidepressant can really help, but just the same, what’s happened to our society? Here in the land of edibles, CBD’s, opiates, Tshots, and suboxone clinics on every corner, it seems rather obvious to me that something has gone horribly awry with our approach to good mental health.
How in the world is a train wreck of a codependant like me even supposed to keep her head above water in such a place? Is anybody but me, actually just scarred by sin that chemicals just can’t fix?
So I am far more empathetic and approving of Pastor Wilson’s post, then I am against it. It is just, there is the fantasy about how we would like the world to look and then there is the reality of our delivery. The reality of our delivery just kind of stinks and people have the track marks, I mean the track record to prove it.
The Southern Baptist Convention is currently dealing with several hundred complaints about mishandled sexual abuse. The Catholic church is dealing with several hundred years of mishandled sexual abuse. In general the church can really be the very last place anyone should go seeking soul care. Alas, there are people there, and people tend to be ignorant at best, and at worst, very self-serving, protective of their institutions, and prone to hold people in condemnation, rather than holding them in the love of Christ.
I’m not trying to be unkind here, in truth I am often amused by Pastor Wilson’s concepts of “pastoral care.” Some days I’m amused with some good humored eye rolls and on other days I’m thinking, oh good grief, surely this is satire? Gag me with a spoon! I mean, what could possibly go wrong with telling a depressed woman that she just needs to submit to her husband more and learn to be content with her misery? How about telling a victim of child sexual abuse that what she has experienced is actually the result of some kind of mysterious Sixty/Forty “sin split?”
And again, I get the greater point, I can see the hints of theological truth lurking behind such ideas and I can be merciful and forgiving of such notions. There are doctors who have a beautiful understanding of medicine, it is just that their bedside manner is so appalling you wouldn’t want them anywhere near a patient. I would not blame the science itself for such delivery system errors, those are human failings, mostly related to ignorance and the condition of one’s own heart.
You can be “right” and yet be totally wrong at the same time. The bible speaks of having the tongue of men and angels and yet no love. No love and all the theology and elegant wordsmithery in the world is not going to suddenly make you “right.” I believe the bible actually calls that “having nothing,” much like a clanging gong ringing with no rhyme, reason, or harmony. Are you just making noise or is it going to be music?
I’m going to cut pastors a great deal of slack here, because actually the problem is more us, the church, the congregation. If any of us were actually loving people as the Lord commanded, there would be a whole lot more healthy souls in the world. It is our job, our responsibility, to love one another and to provide the soul care we each need.
Including soul care for our pastors. Some kind person within the church should have sat down with Pastor Wilson long, long ago and said, so, we need to help you understand better, to help you to empathize with victims, so you can more effectively provide some genuine soul care, because intentionally or not, our ignorance, blind spots, our lack of compassion, has done a whole lot of harm in the world.
Bibilical counseling actually has a tragic, appalling, horrific history. Heck, it’s even got a current, modern, horrific reputation. Part of the reason is that we set biblical counselors on a pedesatal, much like we do with pastors. You’ve now created a hierarchy and an intermediary between people and Jesus. Makes little difference whether it’s the church herself, a priest, a pastor, or a husband. It often just creates dependance in people, separation from Christ, and a lack of personal responsibility.
Also complete alienation from the church, often alienation from Christ Himself when we do get it all wrong. Religion has left a bad taste in people’s mouths for a reason and that reason is not, it’s my way or the highway and anyone who disagrees is just a pagan, heathen, apostate member of the non elect…..
I want very much to say to Pastor Wilson, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have mastered the fine art of doing what Jesus said and proceeding to love one another.” The problem being there is plenty of evidence to suggest that isn’t really true at all. So whenever there is a problem, we simply repent, flip a 180, allow the Lord to fix it, allow Him to fix us. Seem perfectly reasonable to me.
I mean, do I really need to speak of the stiff necked, “glow-brain reductionism” of the religious? That’s well documented and verifiable too.
I do so love the tale of Balaam’s donkey. I mean the man is willfully deaf, blind, and beating a dead horse, like literally, and God is like, Okay fine, if you don’t want to cooperate, I’ll just get the donkey to talk. He does that with the stones too, either make good music people, or I’ll just get the stones to cry out…..
And I’m telling you, often it’s the stones and the donkey who display better wisdom than we do.