Preachers are Theologians not Therapists

Following on from yesterday’s post, I found the following quote quite insightful:

The rise of therapeutic concerns within the culture means that many pastors, and many of heir church members, believe that the pastoral calling is best understood as a “helping profession.”  As such, the pastor is seen as someone who functions in a therapeutic role in which theology is often seen as more of a problem than a solution.

This is from Al Mohler’s book, He is Not Silent, p108.  This is a helpful distinction.  Have we fallen into thinking of our function as primarily therapeutic?  Cambridge Dictionary defines therapeutic as “causing someone to feel happier and more relaxed or to be more healthy.”  Yes, in the final element our task does involve promoting spiritual health.  However, not every sermon will make listeners feel happier or relaxed.  Sometimes our task is a discomforting one.

I notice particularly Mohler’s observation about theology.  If preaching and pastoral work is about therapy, then theology is often seen as more problem than solution.  Is this why so many churches promote unity at all costs, avoiding key biblical and theological areas in order to keep everyone happy?  If you were to take the theological pulse of your congregation, what teaching of Scripture would be deficient?  If that were less than comfortable to address, would you still do it?  Later Mohler states that “when truth is denied, therapy remains.” (p121)  May it never be true of us that we pander to the yearnings of our age and only offer therapy to a self-centric people.

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2 thoughts on “Preachers are Theologians not Therapists

  1. hmmm…

    Theology is indeed the solution not the problem.

    So then what responce do we want in our congregations?

    Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control?

    Rejoice in the LORD, again I say REJOICE.

    If I had all those I’d be pretty happy and relaxed and healthy, don’t you think?

    The problem is not in pandering to the yearnings of our age and offering therapy, our problem is not pandering to the real yearnings and not offering deep enough therapy.

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