Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Troy Bronsink: Lost & Broken vs. Totally Depraved
Perhaps being at a relatively liberal reformed seminary myself and listening in to their discussions about the effect of sin on human nature is why I resonated so much with my friend Troy Bronsink's reflections on the subject. In an Emergent Village Cohort Leaders Discussion he offered the following thoughts:

It's wierd. In the liberal reformed seminary i went to the difference is between Barth (we are desperately unable to reach God without his interrupting revelation) and Tillich (we are created as beloved, co-creators with God, called to have the courage to return to our ground of being). But now I see it less either-or. At Neighbors Abbey last night we were reading Luke 5 when jesus says "its the sick that need a doctor." and I was surprised to hear myself reflect that i'd rather be a collection of the sick, the lost, and the blind, than a group who "has no need of a doctor" "has been found" or "now can see comprehensively and objectively." Even the zen/integrationist-est in
our group agreed that following a LIberator-Jesus includes knowing we stand in need, queued up for liberation.

So I still say that I'm over the "you're shit until you meet Jesus" pitch, while maintaining that meeting God in Christ gives us courage to be lost, blind, broken with the rest of the God-loved-world.

Right-on man! I agree that we're all created good, and in God's image, and nothing sin can do will ultimately destroy that. Nonetheless, there is something desperately missing if you only ever focus on human goodness. There needs to be room for lost, broken, messed up people to say so and find healing. Maybe the difference from a pastoral perspective, is between telling people they're screwed up, and giving them the freedom to admit when they feel like they are and offering them love, grace and healing anyway. And quite honestly, I too would prefer to be part of a humble community of the broken who know they need help than a self-righteous community that thinks they already have enough of the Spirit (or the divine-spark or whatever) that they don't need any more.


posted by Mike Clawson at 10:09 AM | Permalink |


At 1/13/2009 04:58:00 PM, Blogger Jason

I heard Henry Cloud use a metaphor recently that resonated. He said, historically the church has been about doctrine. "Believe this and that" and you're in (which usually includes that I'm a depraved sinner). He believes the church should be much more like a 12 step support group that requires one to first admit that you're a mess (hi. i'm jason and i'm an alcoholic) and everyone agrees to a process of "getting better." The church is much more known, in some circles, for being about doctrine than a commitment to "get better." Doctrine requires one to meet a certain criteria before acceptance. The other requires admitting that you can't meet any criteria yet.


At 1/19/2009 09:25:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

Jerry Root, a professor I believe Mike had at Wheaton, often makes much the same point as Jason, including the recovery group analogy. We are too often afraid to be authentic with each other - about our doubts, our brokenness, our insecurities, our hidden shames or fears. Yet it was that very authenticity that Jesus invited and almost automatically evoked in the broken sinners who flocked to him - those who "knew they needed a doctor."

Every heart has the great longing to be truly known, and yet loved. But we can be so conditional with each other, and so afraid (often with good reason) that being authentic will result in the withdrawal or withholding of love.


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