Thursday, June 5, 2008

Superficial Healing

We are on vacation, visiting family near Orlando, Florida. I write this from Panera Bread in Altamonte Springs, having escaped the family for a few hours. I know most coffee experts would sneer at my urbane tastes, but I recommend the Café blend. It reminds me of the Costa Rican Peaberry that I used to get from Gevalia, when I thought I was wealthier than I am.

On Sunday evening I drove into Sanford to attend St. Andrews Chapel. Burk Parsons, St. Andrews’ minister of worship and congregational life, brought an exposition of Is. 26: 1-6. Burk is an excellent preacher who is probably often overshadowed by R.C. Sproul, St. Andrews’ popular senior pastor. However, I could sense his love and care for the people at St. Andrews as he spoke from Scripture. Someone once said that the most difficult instrument to master is “second fiddle.” If this is true, then Parsons is a virtuoso.

During his message, he made reference to Jer. 6:14. To set the context, the Lord warns His people through Jeremiah that the city will be swept away by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar who become God’s instrument of judgment for their wickedness. As Jeremiah prophesies judgment, other prophets deliver a different message. They say something like “We are God’s chosen people. Surely He will not give us over to these uncircumcised Gentile idolaters.” They were crying “peace” when judgment and catastrophe were imminent. Jer. 6:14 says, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”

Parsons said that the word “lightly,” also translated “slightly” in some versions, can mean “superficially.” I could not help but make the connection to the modern evangelical world. Read the paper or watch the news – or go to the mall, for that matter – and it becomes apparent that there is a fatal wound in the human condition. Theologians call this human depravity. Scripture says that men are “dead in trespasses and sins.” However, if you visit any book store’s religious section you will discover that the message that sells the most ink is one that offers a superficial healing of the mortal wound of sin.

In fact, one would be hard pressed to find the right diagnosis, not to mention the proper remedy. Are people “messed up,” are homes “dysfunctional,” do we have “issues?” Yes, but this is the result of something deeper, something that the superficial ointment of positive thinking cannot cure. The problem is sin. The sooner we (meaning evangelicals) return to that, the sooner we will rediscover the only sure “treatment” – the Cross of Jesus.

I know that in some minds this makes me a raving fundamentalist. It puts me (and you if you agree) in the company of those dour Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, other throwbacks to a bygone era (not bad company, by the way). I read of an itinerant preacher in Palestine whose assessment of current events led him to proclaim “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:1-5). He wouldn’t pack a stadium with that kind of talk.


jerry said...


I have been checking your blog everyday...even though you are on vacation...I knew it was only a matter of time!!

Interesting comment on second fiddle, btw!!

Excellent post! as you know, we are teaching in Romans 3 (since you wrote the curriculum) and look at the diagnosis given there!

I am so thankful for people like yourself who have helped me see myself rightly...because that helps me to see our Savior rightly!!

Enjoy the rest of your vacation!!

nevertheless said...

In, what I refer to as Henry Blackaby's seminal work, "Experiencing God" he makes the case that God speaks to His people through the Word, prayer, circumstance and the Body. When you hear the same message from each of the above sources, within days of each other, you just may have had an encounter with God.

Ron, your message from St. Andrews puts my encounter over the top! Now I must be vigilant for the invitation which carries with it an impending crisis in faith which requires faith and action. Yeee Ha!! (a corruption of hallelujah!)

All that to say Houston we have a problem!

We miss you and are saving all the fun stuff for when you return!

Anonymous said...

Great article! It actually fits in perfectly behind "The God Who Demands" writing, because isn't that what the emerging church is attempting to do with their 'no absolute truth" philosophy?? They are offering a superficial healing for sin by presenting a different Gospel...Gal 1:6 and II Cor. 11:4
thanks! Keep writing, teaching and sharpening us!