Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The reverse psychology of preaching the gospel

At least in certain ages subjects like God’s wrath, divine justice and human culpability received far more positive air time from the pulpit and elsewhere. Christians knew they were divinely, gloriously created but also profoundly and radically fallen. And God both loved and judged. And Christians then seemed to cope. I also do a great deal of listening to the voices of 2007. Many of these are Christian voices, evangelical Christian voices. And their churches are ones which rarely if ever preach on sin, hell and judgement – those topics are so antiquated and negative, after all! - and yet the people I listen to now have never felt so judged, flawed, inadequate or profoundly bad about themselves. Most are encumbered with dysfunctionalities of various forms. It is almost as if reverse psychology is at work here. It seems to me that the less we speak honestly of the human condition in all its splendour and all its squalour, the more we actually disservice those we are trying to help. The truth, the whole truth, does set us free, that is, if we have the courage to embrace it.
This from a Dr Lisa Severine Nolland offering a pastoral response to Bishop Tom Wright following his tirade against the writers of Pierced For Our Transgressions. (The writers themselves have responded here, albeit in the tiny text size of their website.)

3 comments:

Jon said...

How can you call that a tirade?

And surely the exact thing you're condemning him for you're now doing yourself...

I felt he was wrong on a couple of things... But it was hardly a tirade...

étrangère said...

Perhaps tirade was too strong - in the brief post I had one noun to use so chose that one. His tone switches noticeably however, from addressing Jeffrey John's theology (with which he disagrees) to addressing the theology of the authors of PFOT (with which he also disagrees). From NTW we expect an academic and usually gracious tone. Yet while he employs this in regard to his colleague 'Dr John', he loses it when speaking of the PFOT authors, not even acknowledging Mike Ovey's doctorate. Now that's a trivial point - but he seems to aim his sharpest rhetoric at PFOT while being most careful to be most generous in his disagreement with 'Dr John'. I think it comes across as 'tirade' in the stylistic context of academic anglicanism! I read your last post and would agree with your assessment of the reasons / feel behind his critique of PFOT.

adrian reynolds said...

Thanks for the helpful links - though I did have to cut and paste and enlarge to read the response. It was very very small...