November 29, 2006

Therapeutic Image of God

In an article in the current issue of Christianity Today, Agnieszka Tennant draws attention to an area of women's ministry that has, for the most part, escaped scrutiny. In "Dating Jesus," she asks
We can see God draw near...But does all of this mean that Jesus is the personal boyfriend of Christian women? That God is my fiance? That the First and the Last is my husband? That he and I are dating?
Apparently some popular books written for women are promoting such images. I haven't read these books yet, but I have heard plenty of this devotional language....everything from Jesus is our husband, boyfriend, or similarly - God the Father is our daddy.

Have we extrapolated too far in an effort to wrap our minds around "personal Lord and Savior?" As much as God loves his creation, and loves each of us individually, doesn't this kind of posturing in women's books seek to eliminate some of the transcendance that makes God a beautiful mystery?

I don't believe that the motivation for these concepts of God as boyfriend, husband, daddy, or date is a desire to withhold reverence for God - though I do believe that to be a consequence. Though not particularly sinister, I believe this to be very serious. These concepts are symptomatic of the therapeutic culture that the society, the church, and especially women's ministry, have been all too willing to embrace. I hear pastors speak of their women's events as a time for "encouragement." When is an event for women ever edifying or educational? When was the last time you heard it said of a men's breakfast or a Wednesday night prayer meeting, that it will be "encouraging?" I hear this role off of pastor's tongues as if they've been trained at the Oprah School of Women's Ministry, guest lectured by Dr. Phil, of course. Visit the millions of women's ministry websites on the internet and you will see how this therapeutic image of God drives the mission and activities of these groups.

Human beings need a personal Savior because human beings are personally responsible. But as Christmas approaches and we remember the Incarnation, we must not forget about the attributes that make us different from God, because it is in his holiness that he could become God incarnate in the first place. We must not reduce God entirely to a we run the risk of losing knowledge of God entirely.

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