In this post I will offer a critique of Rick Warren’s “8 Steps to Recovery”, which I mentioned in my last post. As I stated, these steps were part of a brochure I stumbled upon the other day concerning a program being offered at a local Methodist church where people of the community are invited to attend group “therapy” sessions, courtesy of some truly abominable theological/philosophical assumptions. Assumptions which, rather than offering the freedom which Jesus spoke of, which is “free(dom) indeed”, would see men and women inexorably bound to their struggles, without hope or light or help, relying only upon the plethora of logical dilemmas of wholly destructive ideas which ultimately serve nothing more than the collectivist power structure of pretty much ALL of “orthodox” Protestantism. Which, incidentally, inherited its wicked Platonist philosophy from its Catholic parents. Which means that the apple indeed did not fall far from the tree. Truth be told, the apple never fell off the tree at all. For all of the whole bloody spectacle, the Reformation did nothing to offer any markedly different interpretive approach to Christianity and life in general than did the Catholic heresy. Both operate under the root doctrinal assumption that the DEATH of man, and the notion of a SELF which is NOT (meaning, you must sacrifice to God the idea that you even exist at all, but are nothing more than some functional extension of God’s all-determining power) is the key to holy living and “righteousness”.
Well, sure. If man is destroyed, then he can’t do anything wrong. Makes pretty good fucking sense to me.
Anyway, this impossible notion, unfounded and wholly indefensible (which is why faith is utterly blind in Christianity today…there is no one there to see anything, by doctrinal definition), is also the key to “recovery”, as expressed by Rick Warren’s eight step program.
Keeping this in mind–that is, the idea that YOU never get to be YOU according to the theology–here are the eight steps stripped bare of their frilly dress and farcical compassion:
(NOTE: As requested by commenter Bridget, I have included the meaningless scripture verses (no disrespect to Bridget). However, I will not comment upon them in the post…the ploy of the proof-text being far too obvious to warrant any criticism except to say what I’ve already said: they do nothing to support the point in question, but are pure deception, being wholly without context because they have been stripped from the overall body of work as a limb is torn from the tortured by the torturer. As always, feel free to discuss them in the comments section. I appreciate the commentary from and perspectives of my readers immensely!)
* REALIZE I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.
“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3
“Realize I’m not God.”
The implicit assumption is that because you are not God, you have no power to do…well, anything at all. Since God is wholly in control of every event, thought, and action, man’s existence is irrelevant. This is why, if you are Reformed, even being a “believer” is an exercise in futility. YOU cannot be saved because YOU don’t even have the power to freely choose to accept Christ. YOU are an extension of God’s sovereign will, nothing more. Ultimately then, whether you do good or evil is of no matter at all, for the notions of “evil” and “good” are well beyond your pay grade, and are qualifications reserved only for God, which your total depravity qua your existence separates you from completely. Indeed, the practical intellectual application of Reformed theology is nothing more than constantly inventing new and creative ways to equivocate the massive logical fallacies involved in the contradictions of a sovereign God who is also somehow absolved from sin; and man who exists, but in light of God’s absolute sovereignty, cannot think or act autonomously and thus has no rational definition of SELF.
The reason Reformed/neo-Calvinist churches are so creative in their deception and propaganda, and rely more upon histrionics and the seasoned lure and saturating bias of “traditional values”, is because their theology runs headlong into God’s determinism at every doctrinal turn; it is why the objective of these messages is emotionalism and subjective “spiritual” experience. It is also why Christianity always, as even a cursory glance at history reveals, dissolves into disputes over who has the right to own man; that is, who has the right to rule absolutely the collective which exists to serve its very human authorities. Since humanity lacks any efficacious definition of SELF, and since whatever happens, according to the doctrine of the preeminence of absolute divine Will, MUST be what God wanted to happen, human beings are little more than a means to an end. That end, of course, being the appetite of the ruling ecclesiastical class. Nowhere is this seen to a greater extent than in the current American neo-Calvinist movement, where stories of abuse, blackmail, oppression, threatening, stalking, violence, discrimination and vitriolic bigotry seem to empty the spools of ticker tape. Even worse, there are now on most Sundays, almost ubiquitously heard, outright and blatant demands that congregations and even the culture at large submit to the “authority” of those “leaders” whom God has “called”.
This is nothing more than the message of theo-marxism, where all individual value is a direct function of the integration into the collective, which is controlled absolutely by the senior pastor. That is, HE is your proxy before God, and he is God’s proxy before you.
“I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.”
Sigh. The intellectual sloth which passes for heavenly “wisdom” in the Reformed church is downright embarrassing. I am actually ashamed of my race (human) when I see rank nonsense like this passed off without a blush of shame.
By definition, if one is UNABLE to control a specific behavior, then it isn’t a “tendency”. It is either a product of instinctive nature, or it is a physiological process which is exclusive of cognition altogether, like growing hair or digesting food. Further, if, as the Reformists would have you believe, everyone has an equal “tendency to do the wrong thing”, then you cannot possibly define that rationally as a “tendency”.
It isn’t tendency, it is a behavioral reference point. “Tendency” would be a deviation in one direction or the other from the median reference. Using “tendency” in this way is like saying that people with working eyeballs have a tendency to see, while people who are blind have a tendency not to see (where the proper use of the word “tendency” in this example would read: Bob has a tendency not to see red lights, which is why the flaky git no longer has a license).
Individuals have tendencies. The human race has characteristics. And make no mistake, Reformed theology and neo-Calvinism do not recognize the legitimacy of individual existence. When they speak of “sinful tendencies” they are speaking of the human race as a whole; which means depravity is not a tendency, it is an inexorable characteristic of ALL mankind.
So what does “I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable” even mean?
It means nothing.
It is assholery couched in euphemistic terms in order to compel agreement and behavior via deception. Warren’s declaration that we “cannot help our tendency to do the wrong thing” is an appeal to the lie of Total Depravity. The reason you cannot help your “tendency” to do the wrong thing is because you have no control because YOU are an illusion (again, you are either a function of your absolute depravity or you are a function of God’s sovereign Will…both of which are a function of God’s divine determinism). Thus, your situation isn’t a choice, or due to any specific cognition or behavior that YOU engaged in, because YOU don’t actually exist as a volitional agent. If you are in your struggles as merely a matter of determinist course, then obviously your “life” is unmanageable. There isn’t fuck all you can do to change your circumstance because there is NO YOU; and thus, no possible way for you to manage anything.
And this disaster of a point of “recovery” is the cornerstone of the rest of the list. And it motherfucking shows. The salient meaning of what follows this first point is: cross your fingers and hope God heals you; but if you hope for healing, then you have denied the “indisputable truth” that God is “in control” of all things and uses them for good.
Of course what they never mention is that that this “good” in no way involves you. Your misery is the vehicle for the “good”, and thus, to hope for healing makes you a usurper of God’s perfect will.
Get behind the fucking “recovery” list, Satan. That’s the message.
* EARNESTLY believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“EARNESTLY believe that God exists, that I matter to Him…”
The Reformed/Calvinist theology upon which this list is based utterly refutes these two claims. Man has no efficacious/rational definition of himSELF, therefore he cannot possibly have one for God. Man’s mind is utterly captive to the determinist forces of either depravity or God’s will, and so man’s assumption that he is somehow an autonomous agent capable of having distinctive thoughts, beliefs, opinions, ideas, etc. is total bullshit. There is NO such thing as choice, is the real message, and this is due to man’s epistemological failure as a direct extension of his nebulous metaphysic. Indeed, this is the foundational epistemological premise–that man cannot know anything because he is nothing–which under-girds ALL of Protestant orthodoxy. And this being the case, man cannot believe God exists, nor that he matters to Him. Further, the third claim, that “God has the power to heal me”, also cannot be known with any degree of certainty. Man’s mind is as totally depraved/enslaved to God’s will as his body, so he cannot know anything, by definition. There is no HE to know, because man has no rational metaphysic.
“…and that He has the power to help me recover.”
Note the implicit assumption: God CAN heal, but there is no guarantee He will. And the reason there is no guarantee he will is due to the fact that Reformed/Calvinist theology cannot rationally claim that human suffering is a BAD thing, and this is because human life–human existence–is decidedly evil. Understand, saved or unsaved, according to the theology, man is a total metaphysical disgrace. ANY good God does for you or through you is always and ever in SPITE of you, never because you. Thus, and again, any suffering or torment or misery you endure is by default deserved; so there is little if any reason to hope God will heal you. For to heal you, as I said in my last post, makes God a hypocrite. Since there is no such thing as any suffering of man which is not a direct result of the sin of his categorical existence (“original sin”, “fall of man”, neither phrase of which exists in the Bible, by the way), God healing you in order to make you comfortable and happy presents Him with an insurmountable moral dilemma. Your suffering is the natural, divinely ordained consequence of your inevitable sin. If God heals you, then He confesses that he is NOT going to judge your sin as His righteousness demands (He will contradict His own goodness in order to give you comfort and healing as a direct consequence of your absolute depravity, which is the source of your misery); in fact, He will reward your sin with comfort.
Now, somehow this is fine for “salvation”…that is, if you are Reformed, you are forced to concede, no matter how you try to get around this, that your salvation is a direct response by God to your infinite and absolute depraved nature, thus actively and purposely rewarding sin with eternal blessing. No commitment to change is required by man because, again, man, being totally depraved, cannot change. So man is as depraved as a Christian as he was as an “unregenerate” person. This means that Christ died to excuse your sin, not to “take away your sin”, which is impossible because according to Reformed theology you ARE sin at your existential root, nor enlighten you as to how to believe in such a way that you no longer ACT in service to sin (because your flawed epistemology is a direct consequence of your failed metaphysic). Which was Jesus’s real purpose: to change people not at the level of the absolute SELF, which is impossible, but to change how people THINK. Because thinking drives behavior, and behavior either applies LIFE to man or denies it.
But according to Reformed theology/Calvinism, when it comes to asking for healing from suffering, or expecting God to grant you peace and comfort and abundant life…well, you are an asshole to ask for such a thing; and your prideful desire to be relieved of your pain when you cannot help but deserve it is more proof of your pervasive evil. Don’t you realize that your suffering is something God WANTS?! Your suffering reminds you of what a terrible reprobate you are! And telling man that he is utterly BAD is always GOOD, hence the ubiquity of the Total Depravity doctrine in every facet of Reformed theology. So, the real message is that God can heal you, but do not be surprised if He doesn’t.
Points three and four coming next.
5 thoughts on “The Eight “Christian” Steps to Psychological Recovery are Landmines Best Sidestepped”
I am so glad you are doing this. I can remember when Warren’s PDL was all the rage. People at mega’s walked around with that book as if it were Holy Scriptures.
I did not have the knowledge at the time to map it to determinism and man as puppet but I always had a very bad feeling about it in the pit of my stomach. I kept my mouth shut of course. I always felt it encouraged people to NOT take responsibility for their actions in a very subtle underhanded way.
I am glad you are finding this stuff helpful. And believe me, it is my pleasure. Nothing gratifies me more than mercilessly assaulting ideas of which the singular purpose is to torment and abuse humanity, and mock God, for no other reason ultimately than because they are EVIL.
Most people do not know that Rick Warren was using something similar to membership covenants long before anyone had heard of them. It was worded very subtly but in there among all the Christianese was not critisizing the church or the leaders. I have no idea how staunchly Saddleback required them to sign it or if they really pursued it.
The neo Cals do not like this but much of what their movement is doing was pioneered by Warren including the use of media, publishing and celebrity.
Abe Lincoln was a noted storyteller. He knew his bullshit and other peoples bulldust stories front and back. Politician of my most favourite kind. Imagine being one of these poor bastard pastors having to listen to all the bullshit con-artist stories and “true confessions” all day and everyday. You see churchianity and its system is a load of crap. Your happy middle class church with a rockband, rockstar preacher, multi-ministry fizz and bang is a pony show that would make PT Barnum cream his riding breeches. Shake the curtain.