Thursday, January 5, 2012

sickening misapplication

During those desperate days, they went to visit their pastor for counsel and encouragement. While praying for them, the pastor received a promise from God. He jotted Isaiah 59:21 on a sticky note and handed it to them.

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants — from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

The pastor shut his Bible and said, “I guess that settles it. Your child will talk.”

Zondervan, (2011-12-13). The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Kindle Locations 1311-1317). Zondervan. Kindle Edition, Mark Batterson

What this pastor did was sickening.

Isaiah 59
11We roar all like bears, and moan sore
like doves: we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far
off from us. 12For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our
sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our
iniquities, we know them: 13transgressing and denying Jehovah, and
turning away from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14And justice is
turned away backward, and righteousness standeth afar off; for truth is
fallen in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. 15Yea, truth is lacking;
and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. And Jehovah saw
it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
16And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no
intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him; and his
righteousness, it upheld him. 17And he put on righteousness as a
breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on
garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a mantle.
18According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, wrath to his
adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay
recompense. 19So shall they fear the name of Jehovah from the west, and
his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come as a rushing stream,
which the breath of Jehovah driveth. 20And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith Jehovah. 21And
as for me, this is my covenant with them, saith Jehovah: my Spirit that is
upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart
out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth
of thy seed’s seed, saith Jehovah, from henceforth and for ever.

Batterson in his book explains that the couple have a son who while very young stopped communicating, no reason is given in the book. Such a thing understandably was upsetting to the parents, and as the excerpt says they went to their pastor for help.

And this what that pastor gave them, an out-of-context verse to give them false hope.

For the past ten years, their prayers have been hyperlinked to that promise. In that moment, John and Heidi said “a wall came crashing down” and “a promise came rushing in.” It was the most naturally supernatural moment of their lives. Has it been clear sailing since then? No. Have they experienced disappointments? Yes. But that promise is circled in their Bible. “God gave us a promise, and no matter how many times we have to keep circling, it’s settled.”
(Kindle Locations 1317-1321)

As someone who has fought his own speech problems over the years, even though it was never as bad a situation as it seems this child suffers from, I can't think of many things more cruel than to take a biblical verse like this out of context, and use it to give false hope and comfort.

Shall we take that verse, go to a speech therapy center, and tell it to the people there, or the parents of the children in those places? Shall we go the parents of a child that is severely mentally handicapped, one barely able to communicate at all, and tell them that by this verse their child will talk normally someday?

Can you see now how what this pastor did was not comfort, but cruelty?

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