Prescription for Ill Communication

Prescription meds

“Spiritually ill theologians produce sick theology. How can they get well?” Christopher Hall in Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, p. 20

Hall is exploring an article by William J. Abraham, and he goes on to note that Abraham’s primary medication is humility. I agree with him.

Too much of our theological communication is Pharisaical. There remains a kind of elitism in the theological community, of the kind that suggests “the unwashed masses aren’t ready to know what we can tell them.”

The humility that’s required isn’t all that different from acknowledging our own illness whenever we speak to those who are ill. Our pastor spoke about Matthew’s calling and subsequent party this Sunday. He highlighted Jesus’ response: “I’m not here for the healthy but for the sick. I’m calling unrighteous people to repent, not righteous ones.”

It’s easy for us to dilute that hard message into something easy to swallow. But Jesus was challenging them on their own sinfulness, sickness, unrighteousness. I feel him looking at me when he says those words, because in essence, he seems to say, “If you don’t recognize your own illness, how can I heal you?”

We are all ill, all unrighteous. But for the mercy of Christ, we would be lost. For a particularly chilling reminder of this fact, listen to Sufjan Stevens’ song “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” from Illinoise. The last few lines are:

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid


One thought on “Prescription for Ill Communication”

  1. I think humility is essential in rightly understanding the Bible. After all, it is just not words we are entering into, it is a relationship. And any good relationship will require humility on both parts. He has shown us his humility. He washed his disciples feet. He died on a cross. I am inspired by this humility and love. How do I respond? He said, “As I have done, you do also.” Amen.

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