Paul's Passing Thoughts

Gut Check for Evangelicalism: Control, Despair, and Fear IS the Specific Protestant Orthodoxy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 10, 2015

51nAtlMzT7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOne of the memories burned into my psyche is the big picture narrative book that my dad bought me when I was a young boy about the NFL titled, “The First 50 Years.” One of the subtitles in the book is, “Pain and Injuries are in the Contract.” Of course, those who love the game know that’s one of the downsides of the game, but hardly the focal point. In boxing, pain and injury is obviously the focal point; the objective is to knock the opponent unconscious.

Here is what “Christians” need to start considering: Protestantism is boxing, not football, and that’s in the contract.

There is a book recently written by Dr. Marlene Winell titled, “Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion” wherein she coins the term “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS). In the book, she writes, “I think we can acknowledge we have a subculture now – a group of people who were once religious but have left and are reclaiming their lives. This group is special and identifiable. It’s not just exChristian; it’s exMormon, exMuslim, ex-Jehovah-Witness, ex-cult, and ex-authoritarian.” And, “Religious indoctrination can be hugely damaging, and making the break from an authoritarian kind of religion can definitely be traumatic. It involves a complete upheaval of a person’s construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, the future, everything. People unfamiliar with it, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create and the recovery needed.”

There is perhaps something that Dr. Winell herself does not understand: these very symptoms (at least in regard to Protestantism) qualify these people to be religionists par excellence. Fear, pain, and misery are in the contract. And here is something else many understand not: cultism is defined by authority and subsequent control. Ironically, most people think of cults as loosey-goosey splinter groups lacking authority structure when the opposite is true; cultism and authority ALWAYS walk together. At any rate, a pity so many leave the institutional church when they have finally come to where the church wants them: on the verge of a nervous breakdown or in the spectrum of personality disorders born of orthodoxy. Obviously, they misunderstood orthodoxy from the very beginning.

Protestant orthodoxy states in no uncertain terms that RTS is a description of the perfect Christian. This religion is one of the largest in the world, and fundamentally representative of most, especially regarding the authority issue. The founding doctrinal statement of the Protestant Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation, insists that all life meaning must be found in suffering and death. I would cite specific theses among the forty, but every thesis in the document states such. As with most of us, it might escape Dr. Winell that the paramount icon of the Christian faith is an instrument of death and torture, the cross. The Heidelberg Disputation’s major theme gave birth to this icon for the ages as Christianity’s foremost representation. But somehow, we find the results profound in some way and in need of much research.

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion articulated the Heidelberg Disputation. In that work, Calvin stated that constant fear of condemnation was efficacious to remaining saved and growing in one’s salvation (3.3.3-7). Furthermore, according to Calvin, if one has assurance of salvation, such fear is of no necessity and puts one’s soul in peril (3.24.6). For both Martin Luther (the author of the Heidelberg Disputation) and Calvin, the redeeming trump card is periodic experiences of joy gifted to us by God for recognizing our depravity, but both warned that these joyful experiences should not give one affirmation of future glory. This is the official Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification. You do the math.

Yes, there is a mass exodus taking place from the institutional church because many misunderstand the premise of their faith…

…fear and pain are in the contract. And it is not just a downside, it is the name of the game.

paul

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One Response

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  1. Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 10, 2015 at 5:22 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

    Like


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