Monday, November 26, 2012

Therapeutic Gospel, Part 1

The following is part of an article written by David Powlison in 2007. His writing is so insightful, no commentary is needed. Over this next week, portions of that article will appear here.

The Therapeutic Gospel
by David Powlison
The appeal of a “therapeutic gospel” drives the action in the most famous chapter in all of western literature.
In his chapter, “The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoevsky imagines Jesus returning to sixteenth century Spain (The Brothers Karamazov, II:5:v). But Jesus is not welcomed by church authorities. The cardinal of Seville, head of the Inquisition, arrests and imprisons Jesus, condemning Him to die. Why? The church has shifted course. It has decided to meet instinctual human cravings, rather than call men to repentance. It has decided to bend its message to ‘felt needs’, rather than call forth the high, holy, and difficult freedom of faith working through love. Jesus’ example and message are deemed too hard for weak souls. The church has decided to make it easy.
The Grand Inquisitor interrogates Jesus in His prison cell, posing the three questions the Tempter put to Jesus in the wilderness centuries before. He criticizes Jesus’ answers. The church will give earthly bread instead of the bread of heaven. It will offer religious magic and miracles instead of faith in the Word of God. It will exert temporal power and authority instead of serving the call to freedom. “We have corrected Your work,” the inquisitor says to Jesus.
The Inquisitor’s gospel is a therapeutic gospel. It’s structured to give people what they want, not to change what they want. It makes people feel better. It centers exclusively around the welfare of man and temporal happiness. It discards the glory of God in Christ. It forfeits the narrow, difficult road that brings deep human flourishing and eternal joy. This therapeutic gospel accepts and covers for human weaknesses, seeking to ameliorate the most obvious symptoms of distress. It takes human nature as a given, because human nature is too hard to change. It does not want the King of Heaven to come down. It does not attempt to change people into lovers of God who embrace the truth of who Jesus is, what He is like, what He does.[1]

[1] Powlison, D. (2007). The Therapeutic Gospel. In The Journal of Biblical Counseling: Volume 25, Number 3, Summer 2007 (2). Glenside, PA: The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

No comments:

Post a Comment