Anxiety In The Church: Moving The Goalposts

If you desire to keep a new convert permanently off-balance and uncertain of where he stands in the drama of salvation, which will make him easier to manipulate and tempt him to buy Holy Hardware at your shop, the best method is to keep moving the goalposts. Instead of the criteria for salvation being absolutely fixed in Works or strictly limited to Faith, or even a comprehensible blend of the two, you should oscillate straight from one to another, on the time-honoured principle of Heads We Win, Tails You Lose. You can greatly increase the uncertainty and anxiety of the new convert by blurring the concepts of conversion and sanctification. To the two explicit ideas of Faith and Works you may add an implicit third, which we might call Quality of Surrender.

Evangelicals are very fond of human-agent phrases such as “Let Jesus into Your Life”, “Make a Decision for Christ”, and “Give Your Life (or Heart) to the Lord”. Funnily enough, considering their insistence on the Word of God, none of these phrases actually appear in the Bible. On the whole, the scriptures use God-centred language more than the crossroads-decision language beloved of the revivalists. Now, when conversion is presented as an action, the question can always be raised how well the target has performed it. And the answer will be always provisional. It is never possible to say whether the act has been done properly or not. But if the answer is always provisional, the convert’s salvation is always revocable.

“Moving the goalposts”, therefore, consists in continually changing the criteria of proper, true or adequate conversion in such a way that whenever the target thinks he has met them, he finds there is another criterion ahead of him. But this is only by implication: if he comes right out and asks a church leader if you are saved, he will never be told that no, he’s not (they would lose a paying customer if they did that). He is thus given the conflicting messages that make for anxiety. The actual criteria-switching is done by misapplication of sanctification doctrines and by psychological games.

Posted on January 3, 2010 at 09:38 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, The Soulbusters

Leave a Reply