Self Piety and Easy Pickings in the Church

This is a quote from the book "No Place for Truth" by David F. Wells:

     "The sort of Christian faith that is conceived in the womb of the self is quite different from the historic Christian faith. It is a smaller thing, shrunken in its ability to understand the world and to stand up in it. The self is a canvas too narrow, too cramped, to contain the largeness of Christian truth. Where the self circumscribes the significance of Christian faith, good and evil are reduced to a sense of well-being or its absence, God's place in the world is reduced to the domain of private consciousness, his external acts of redemption are trimmed to fit the experience of personal salvation, his providence in the world diminishes to whatever is necessary to ensure one's having a good day, his Word becomes intuition, and conviction fades into evanescent opinion. Theology becomes therapy, and all the telltale symptoms of the therapeutic model of faith begin to surface. The biblical interest in righteousness is replaced by a search for happiness, holiness by wholeness, truth by feelings, ethics by feeling good about one's self. The world shrinks to the range of personal circumstances; the community of faith shrinks to a circle of personal friends. The past recedes. The Church recedes. The world recedes. All that remains is the self.

     What remains is, in fact, a paltry thing. But what is being destroyed is not paltry and insignificant at all. Simply put, the psychologizing of faith is destroying the Christian mind. It is destroying Christian habits of thought because it is destroying the capacity to think about life in a Christian fashion. It is as if the topsoil were being washed away, leaving the land barren and incapable of being cultivated. It can no longer sustain the bountiful harvest of being able to discern between good and evil, to think about all of life in terms of God and his purposes, to construct a way of being that accords with his Word, and to contest the norms of cultural plausibility. All is lost. 

     And when people are no longer compelled by God's truth, they can be compelled by anything, the more so if it has the sheen of excitement or the lure of the novel or the illicit about it. The heretics of old, one suspects, would be sick with envy if they knew of the easy pickings that can now be had in the Church."  

(This amazing book was written in 1993)