A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse… But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (p. 52).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This has to be one (among so many) of the greatest C.S. Lewis quotes. Blogging on this quote is like preaching on John 3:16. You begin to wonder, “What is left to be said?”
But I will begin by holding my own guild (Christian counseling) responsible for another modern revisiting of these concepts. I believe Christian counseling, as much as any other segment of Christendom, is tempted to reduce Jesus to merely a “great moral teacher.”
If we are not careful we will reduce counseling to “giving good advice,” and then reduce Jesus to the “ultimate good advice giver” whom we try to model. Even as I’m typing these words, (at one level) it doesn’t sound that bad to me. After all, I want my counsel to sound like something Jesus would say when helping someone in a similar situation.
However, I also believe that approach is very dangerous to the personal faith of the counselor and the counselee. The more I allow myself to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John through those lenses, the more I begin to read the Bible like I would read other books (just elevating it as “superior in content, breadth, or timelessness”).
“What is wrong with that?” you might ask. The problem is that I would be neglecting the authority of Scripture implied by the word, “Lord.” Jesus does not give good advice. Jesus teaches the way of life and deviation from that way is inevitable death, pain, suffering, and misery.
My advice as a counselor is not like the teaching (“teaching” here used as a stronger word than “advice”) of Jesus. If my counsel is of any value, it is merely a modern application of what “the way of life” looks like in an individual’s circumstance.
I strive to model that same humble, compassionate character of Jesus so that my presence and presentation do not distort or make unappealing the content of Jesus’ teaching. But again, the imitation is out of reverence for the exclusive “way of life” that is being presented.
With that being said, I ask you, “How do you read the Bible? Do you read it like you read other books? How do the questions you are asking (of yourself and the text) change when you read the Bible and other books?”
I would also ask you, “How do you present the Bible to others when you reference it in conversation? How do you honor it’s authority while modeling the character of the ‘Word made flesh?’”