On this blog I’ve mentioned numerous times that words matter. The words we use within the faith to express things do matter a lot. “Our” words should not be changed, or ‘updated’. This is because the faith is born in the mind, kept in the mind, and fought in the mind. Words reflect our understanding of concepts, and when satan attempts to change those words, it changes our understanding of the concept. Therefore, sin is no longer sin, but a mistake. Faith is no longer faith, but following. We’re missional instead of disciples, and we have conversations around the truth rather than proclaim the truth. We’re authentic and on a journey rather than evangelists standing our ground.
Another word that is emerging to change our common understanding of the faith, is ‘broken’ or ‘brokenness’. Over time, the faith has been feminized from Paul’s descriptions of a gritty spiritual war, to a romantic fling with a heroic boyfriend. We’re not, as Paul said, athletes pressing on for the prize, nor are we soldiers fighting for the faith, but we are gentle doves with broken wings looking for someone to fix us.
An example of the prevalence of this word and its concept is author Ann Voskamp of One Thousand Gifts. She has written a new book which was released last week. Its title is, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life. Rick Warren’s wife Kay added her blurb to the review of Voskamp’s new book, describing it thusly,
In The Broken Way, a deeply personal revelation, Ann Voskamp leads us on a journey toward embracing and celebrating the brokenness in each of us. The passionate words that pour from her soul will make you weep and shout hallelujah at the same time. (Kay Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California)
Let’s take a look at what is at the root of this move toward the concept of brokenness.
You might have heard of the doctrine of ‘total depravity’. This does not mean that all humans are totally as bad as they could be. There is such a thing as benevolence in the world, people who help. Total depravity means that humans are born with a total inability to be pleasing to Christ. It is the biblical doctrine that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful as a result of the Fall. Our sin-nature drenches us from head to toe, and there is not one spot, corner, or area of our nature that contains what Christ deems as goodness.
The doctrine understands the Bible to teach that, as a consequence of the the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation. Theopedia.
Total depravity, or total inability, is based on numerous verses. Here are two:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23).
Because we cannot please God in any way of our own works, we need something or someone external to the human condition to resolve this devastating status of our inherent nature. That is why God in heaven sent His Son Jesus from heaven to live the perfectly holy life required to please God, and die on the cross while absorbing His wrath, punishing sinless Jesus for our sins. Satisfied with this sacrifice, God raised Jesus to life and imputes Jesus’ righteousness onto those humans who are called to believe. We become wrath-free and righteous in His eyes.
To the point of this essay, we become a new creation. This change in condition is my all-important point.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15).
Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3).
Brokenness bespeaks of fixing, not of being made new. By its own definition, it means the creature retains some inherent worth, and simply needs a fix in some area or other. To say ‘we are broken’ is to say that we are not totally depraved, not totally unable to please God, do not require anything more than a fix-up in one area or another of this body before becoming pleasing to Jesus.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We are familiar with the hymn Rock of Ages. In the third stanza, we sing- “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling;”
When we are born again, humans retain nothing, absolutely nothing we can reuse in service to the Savior. We are made new, we are a new creation. Teaching about our brokenness is an idea that undermines the critical doctrine of this truth of our position in Christ.
Moreover, when by grace we are saved, we are made whole. Colossians 2:10 says that when we are made a new creation, we have been made complete, full. Other verses speak to this-
Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. (John 16:24)
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)
We begin our lives completely unable, offering nothing of use to Jesus, and when we’re saved, we become a new creation and are completely able to please Him. There is nothing about our lives before or after salvation that is “broken”. Our lives entering through the narrow gate is one of submission and humility. Our lives after entering the gate as we proceed on the path of sanctification include repentance and strength. We go from complete depravity to complete righteousness.
Voskamp’s book and Warrens’ exultation advising us to embrace the brokenness in us is wrong. To do this demeans the Spirit’s ministry which completed us in Christ and is sanctifying us for life. It ignores the verses such as the ones below which advise us to cast away those weights which hinder us in the task of worshiping God and pursuing holiness. I’m not picking solely on Voskamp’s book but any and all teachings so common today which tell women to wallow in brokenness. Hebrews 12:1b-2 advises us to-
lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lay aside the weight of our initial sin which hindered us, a hindrance which we lost at entering His gates. Lay aside accumulated broken feelings after salvation which weigh us down. We have the joy of Jesus. (John 15:11).
Women, you’re not helpless doves waiting to be fixed, you’re gracefully saved spiritual soldiers marching in truth toward glory.
Now, I understand the female notion of teaching to the emotions. I know it’s easier to teach that way, and it’s a basis for a study that will be better received by the students of it. This is because we’re all hurt in some way. Life on earth hurts. We are maligned and rejected. We accumulate a broken heart full of wounds. Our job may break us. Boot camp may break us. We may feel broken as a grieving surviving spouse, overcome by sadness or despairing in some way. Remember the old days when divorced couples were known as having a “broken marriage”? Or children of divorce were from a “broken home”? I understand that sometimes we feel broken. It’s a useful word that describes a temporary emotional state. But it has nothing to do with the permanence of our status before Christ.
Those are emotions, surface, temporal and fleeting. Our basic conditions as humans is either-or. We are either totally unable or we are totally righteous (in His eyes). When we are saved we come with a knowledge that there is nothing fixable in us, we leave with Him our entire nature as depraved sinners and enter His gates with joy, knowing His righteousness is now imputed to us. Nothing of the old is left.
The issue is, are we broken, or depraved?
photo by Sparrows-love-the-snow
Christian wholeness is a doctrine that exalts Jesus. That and “brokenness” are irreconcilable and contradictory. Every Christian should fully appreciate everything that Jesus has done for us to make us whole in every way. Even though some Christians may temporarily feel broken in some areas of their life, no Christian should be content in remaining broken nor should we seek to become broken. We definitely do not pursue brokenness, as Ann Voskamp’s book teaches, and Kay Warren exults! It’s not pious to do so. It’s sinful because it rejects Jesus’s work which made us into a new creation.
The Holy Spirit who resides in us does comfort us. He helps us. He restores relationships. He is not a fix-it guy of “broken” people, He is God who loves and manifests His glory when He is faithful to His promises to us to comfort, help, and restore.
You might think it’s picky to pick on the word brokenness. But you saw at the start of this essay the words that have already been co-opted and redefined by liberals. It’s important for believers to retain each word describing a foundational faith-concept. Understood, it is the yarn that knits us together into the tapestry of believers comprising the worldwide church. If you pull one yarn the sweater is soon corrupted. Protect our words, they are ours. What they mean communicate important information from God’s mind to fellow believers. They even mean something to unbelievers who hear and see us using them. Ladies, don’t wallow in brokenness, rejoice, because He has made us whole!
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Matthew 9:22)
The fluidity of word use and their meanings is rife in the world, that’s just the way it is.Yet Christ’s word is eternal, and the meanings of the words of faith should remain so. George Carlin was a hilarious but profane atheistic comedian who died a few years ago. His incisive and accurate observations on many topics became well-known over his long career. Here is one riff from a comedy set he used to perform regarding how the secular world is unaware of changes in meanings of words. It’s a long and funny set, but too profane in its entirety to post a video of. I post instead a cleaned up excerpt from a transcript. It’s a useful little exercise in tracking word meaning changes over time.
Read the following and you’ll see just how many words have changed. (If you’re as old as I am, that is, lol.)
One of the reasons is because we were using that soft language. That language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I’ll give you another example. Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn’t notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy became partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest-room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity.