Just today I read the farewell address of James Dobson, famed and respected author and (Christian) psychologist who has by many accounts been adamant in his quest to restore Christianity to what had begun as a Christian nation.
“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.” Said Dr. Dobson and although these words seem to imply acquiescence to the American “status quo” (Vermont is considering legislation that will legalize “sexting” between consenting teenagers. “We don’t want them labeled as “sex offenders,” said a member of the house), I can’t help but want to encourage those of you who may now be fearful of the days in which we live.
Although brother Dobson may be applauded for his tenacity and good intentions, all the years I’ve listened to him (although my attention to his theology/psychology has waned over the years due to his largely secular ideology as he embraced psychology more than theology), I have grieved for those millions who have thrown their theological “hat in the ring with his teachings” and thrown their bibles overboard in the process.
Why am I seemingly so harsh in the wake of his surrender to the “powers that be?” First of all, there’s a tremendous difference between being harsh and being true to the scriptures as I’ve watched, heard and seen multitudes of believers who no longer lived for the “there and then” of our eternal home; heaven, and began to strive for happiness in the “here and now.”
I marveled that a man, any man, regardless of how well renowned or however obscure an individual he may be could read Jesus words that days like this were coming and then set out to try and reverse a prophesied fact. It was the proverbial “pushing a rope” endeavor and one, based on Jesus’ guarantee, of certain failure. James Dobson, like so many of his followers, has not lost the war; it is one that could never be won.
When the psychological aspect of man is emphasized over the spiritual nature of man then it stands to scriptural reason that only 1/3 (at least and at best) of man which is being ministered to. The only (il) logical result can be exactly what it has been and those who have declared the gospel of psychology over spirituality have in many cases spent a large part of their lives waging war on a front where there has been no enemy. How the god of this world surely delights in our puny attempts to “fix ourselves, bible in hand” and basically try and “wash our own garments in the water of word” and Jesus has become the byline.
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, rejoicing over Mr. Dobson’s declaration of defeat. He would have served his brothers and sisters better years ago had he not waged warfare on the psychological level at all and instead had “made disciples” who had seen and heard Jesus say that we may “watch and pray” knowing that our adversary can’t be “psychologized,” analyzed and brought under control.
Even Jesus says that Satan is, not might be, not wants to be, but is “the god of this world.” Why try and take back a planet when time is better spent taking captives away from this world and assuring them that undoubtedly we are about to be taken away to a “place prepared for you” and tell them they have been invited?
When Jesus said that there would come that “great falling away,” where did we get the notion that legislation on any level could prevent it? It would be easier to stop a 100 mile wide meteor from hitting the earth than it would be to prevent the foretold lapse into the lawlessness which is literally marching across the face of the earth now.
Am I suggesting that we do nothing at all? Yes and no. If we take a man’s word on any issue and don’t make it a matter of prayer, seeking the Father as the Bereans did to see if “these things be so” then we are at risk of placing our faith in a man rather than the Creator.
Our God is more than willing and certainly able to either confirm or refute our most exalted teachers, pastors and any man who errantly assumes an MD, or some other doctorate or degree as sufficient proof of the truth of his words. In the case of Focus on the Family, I’d dismissed long ago the truthfulness of their theology but applauded their determination. (Simon Peter was determined but as a result of his determination, the servant of the high priest had to be healed)
How is any of what I’ve said encouraging when it appears as if I’ve done nothing more than “diss’ a venerable ministry? Because our theology, no matter how high or how noble, lofty or groundbreaking must fail if and when we don’t set our sights on Jesus, heaven and the reality of our being born again.
Much of the doctrine of so many ministries born from or through the intrusion of psychology into what are spiritual matters have done little more than add more to the crowd the “woman with the issue of blood” has to push through just to get to Jesus. In short, the simplicity of the gospel had been buried under a mountain of self help books and mummified; a nice relic of a grand and glorious kingdom, but little more than that.
All too often and especially in the past few years I’ve heard a lot more psychology and less theology. I’ve been to church services where the bible wasn’t opened at all.
Why am I rejoicing? Because as ministries admit defeat, they only serve to remind me that there is only One who will be magnified, exalted and glorified and none of us, individually or part of some large ministry, are not that one.
Our best attempts to “make ourselves better people/Christians” must fail, because I’ve never seen a piece of pottery able to better itself by itself, but I’ve also seen incredible works of art emerge from the potter’s wheel when there didn’t appear to be any one in the room.
Why spend a lifetime, or at least a large part of one, trying to prevent what Jesus has said will happen?
Rather than weep because any ministry has raised the “white flag” of surrender, shouldn’t we be setting our sights just a bit higher and instead of looking at a man, look for Him who is coming in the clouds but rather than waving a white flag He is robed in white, as are we and our salvation has nothing to do with our having been a good Christian or a better one (a notion I wholeheartedly dismiss as I’ve never seen biblical mention of any man being good; a label even Jesus rejected.)
If there is one aspect of this article that seems to be at odds with Dobson’s farewell address it is the hopelessness and despair he’s injected into the hearts and minds of his followers. Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” and if any one should know this, say this and believe this I would it at least expect it from an exalted and seemingly knowledgeable man as he.
It wasn’t the “look at how we’ve failed” as much as his not saying “Our Father told us these days would come and they are here, look up, for our salvation draws near.” How is Jesus return to take us home to be considered, a battle lost?
The only ones who will lose the battle between good and evil are those who are still chained to the god of this world and rather than sit around and lament our failures, wouldn’t it be better to begin what should have been begun decades ago and simply proclaim the Gospel?
Mr. Dobson’s admission of defeat is hardly good news and more than that, it has given our enemy cause to rejoice that we don’t even know for ourselves that the battle has been won and the name of our Lord and Savior (not psychologist) has been defamed by any man’s surrender. I don’t care if it’s James Dobson or Joe the Plumber.
This battle, if lost, has been lost because it’s been warfare waged on the wrong front and shame on the man who dares to admit defeat while marching beneath the banner of the coming King. Who dares to now follow a King who claims victory when his subjects claim defeat? The unsaved world may not have heard the recitation of the “terms of surrender” but rest assured that the god of this world will make absolutely sure they do.
May we remember to remember that the war is above and beyond the realm of psychology and waged in a realm where only prayer and God’s love for us has prevailed by virtue of His shed blood and His overwhelming and eternal defeat of the forces of darkness.
We haven’t lost the battle between good and evil. Only the lost can make this claim and sadly, they are right. We’ve lost nothing and trying to keep a planet set for destruction may be the item we, from now on, erase from our calendars and simply spend our remaining days looking up, not around and cause the lost to ask “What are you looking at?”
“I’m looking at Jesus and I’m “focused on the family” there in heaven. But, none as clearly as I’m looking at Him who made it possible for me to see our Father too.”
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