Monday, October 1, 2007
This is a short exchange from an episode of the White Horse Inn which is one of the best podcasts/radio shows that has ever existed called "What Shall We Then Preach?". Here, Michael Horton, the show's host, and Bishop C. Fitzsimmons Allison talk about how the modern "church" seeks to change the doctrine of justification by faith to three other doctrinal forms of justification. Here, they discuss "justification" by self-esteem. I believe it epitomizes what is wrong with the "Evangelical Christendom". I know of at least one person who will, after reading this post, will say, "Yes! That nails it!"
Horton: Bishop Allison, you talk about the secularization of justification: "Justification" by self-esteem, "justification" by victimization, and "justification" by acceptance. Can you walk through each of these starting with "justification" by self-esteem? How does the yeast of the Sadducees (which deny angels, spirts, and the resurrection) turn (true) justification into "justification" by self-esteem?
Allison: Well, I think human-beings being made in the image of God have a built in need for righteousness, for justice. We can see it in children who say, "It's not fair!" In Parade magazine some years ago, they pointed out that the average adolescent says, "It's not fair!" nineteen times a week. That is part of our very nature to demand righteousness, and when (Sadducees think) there is no transcendent righteousness ie. "There's nothing after the grave.", then that naturally "comes back in my lap" that "I must be righteous." So (one ends up thinking that) the way to be righteous is to "think well of one self", and self-esteem has become a kind of "justification" as a result of the yeast of the Sadducees.
Horton: You say this leads to a nation of sociopaths.
Allison: Well, the last thing in the world self-esteem can stand is guilt, and guilt is regarded almost universally in our culture as some neurotic (affected with emotional disorder) thing whereas the Scriptures sees guilt as a great friend. Romans 3:18-19 says "Let every mouth be stopped and all the world become guilty before God." Guilt is a discrepancy between where we are and where we ought to be. Since we are made in the image of God and we are far gone from that original intention, guilt is not something terrible and bad; true authentic and responsible guilt, that is, is not something bad, it is a good and hopeful indication that "eye has not seen nor ear heard nor the heart of man conceived" what God has prepared (for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose). Guilt is the very thing which sociopaths lack. I remember talking with a therapist at a parish in New York City, and she said that if she could ever find guilt in some child that had been abused, it was great and good news. It was something that she could build on then. It was something she could straighten out. There was a lot of false guilt there, of course, but true guilt is what most sociopaths are never able to come up with.
Horton: So facing our guilt is a sign of sanity...
Allison: Absolutely! ...And hope!