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Anorexic Spirituality

If you’ve spent any time talking with me over the last 5 years, you know that I am a big Jeff VanVonderen fan. And I’ve never even seen his TV show! It was VanVonderen that began to clear out the legalistic cobwebs in my own head. But I’ve said that before.

I know now why VanVonderen’s books were so offensive in my previous life — why my having that big stack of his books on my desk and giving them away as gifts was such a problem. He’s an integrationist. ::gasp:: You know, that tainted sort of person who would dare mix psychology with theology.

As if psychology were some sort of devil chord that would taint our singing praises to a supreme Being. Whatever.

Anyway, he’s got a new book out — Soul Repair — and I “just happened” to be reading it while I was working through these last few posts. And I landed on this chapter, “Anorexic Spirituality.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. This is it. This is what I got. Not in my undergraduate years at BJU, mind you, but following that. This is the most lucid description of the problem, and I can’t help but wonder if some of my other (physical) “habits” were compensating for this (spiritual) dysfunction.

I can’t even “digest” it all now. But I had to share.

On this Holy Saturday, when we all remember the Pharisees’ unbelieving conspiring to keep Christ’s body in the tomb (because those sneaky disciples might steal It), I thought it would help me to see one way we stand-off from God’s love. We think they are right. That Christ won’t come back. That He’s not the Victor. That their power overwhelms the real Power. That our needs are too cumbersome or too weak or too silly. That we don’t need nurturing. That we would be better off if we just disappeared.

But they are wrong. Their god is not-God.

VanVonderen Soul Repair

13 thoughts on “Anorexic Spirituality

  1. That is a great metaphor. I enjoyed reading the chapter.

    My beef with psychologically-integrated Christians is not their description of emotional and behavioral problems, but their prescription. This author laid out the problems well, and the faulty thinking about God that causes spiritual anorexia, but did I miss his explanation of the “cure?”

    Was it just to renew your thinking? Or maybe he talks about it in a different chapter?

  2. Well, K, I didn’t want to have too many images! 😉 It’s there — mostly the last half of the book which I just started. So I don’t know what he’ll say. At the end of this chapter, it’s a study on The Prodigal Son and how each son was standing off from the Father’s love. And a study on Jesus calling the children to Him.

  3. Oh Camille, you found me.

    Remember just a couple of threads ago, I made an illustration of a kid telling his brother, “Mommy said I could have that toy,” in the sibling dispute pretending to speak for you when in fact you never said anything close to that?

    I think I stole that story from Jeff VanVonderen!

  4. I love what he said about spiritual force-feeding turning into spiritual anorexia, which can then turn into atheism or agnosticism. Such is the sad journey of many fundamentalist youths.
    Grace, as always, is the answer. I am seeking God’s grace now! It is a longing of mine. I was brought up with a gospel that snatched people from a burning hell and I came to a place where I decided Christianity wasn’t worth it if all it meant was not going to hell.
    Didn’t Christ promise us abundant joy here and now? But you can’t experience that joy unless you are in receipt of His grace. And you can’t be in receipt of His grace if your Christian life is lived in fear of breaking the rules and not being good enough and not serving in ministry enough and not being hardcore enough and not praying enough and not reading the Bible enough.
    My journey into receiving His grace began with the repudiation of all man-made demands on my spirituality, even those which seemed Scriptural. For me, that meant going to church in casual clothes, letting myself be a pew-warmer, and not jumping into ministry or showing up for all the soulwinning times or what have you. It meant putting a full stop on scheduled Bible reading and prayer. It meant doing only those spiritual things that I wanted to do.
    Gradually by the grace of God, Philippians 2:13-14 have just started to become reality to me. As promised by my Savior, He has being causing me to will and to do of His pleasure. He has begun sanctifying me. I read the Bible now- when I want to, which is becoming more frequent as the Spirit moves me. I pray now- when I want to, as the Spirit leads.
    I can hear fundy preachers from my past railing against just doing what I feel like. But the promise of God is that He, through the Spirit, will control the “want to” so that I want to please Him. But He won’t do it if we are busy about our own devices trying to please Him on our own, because we need to understand the failure inherent in that approach.
    Camille, may a suggest the book “Grace plus Nothing” by Jeff Harkin. I found this book just recently and it describes exactly the journey I speak of.

  5. Let me also point out that if you are in a church that constantly pushes man-made demands on your spiritual life you need to find a different church, or you won’t be able to grow in grace properly. I am lucky to be attending the church I am in, one that isn’t program-oriented. Unfortunately, I still occasionally presented with a man-made demand (i.e. encouragement to have daily devotions with my wife) but it isn’t a constant feature. I think you will find this in any church to some small degree though, especially when it comes to Bible reading and prayer.

  6. I couldn’t help but notice the autolink to the reference to Php 2:13 brought up “The Message.” I am not one to knock versions but this one has the unfortunate rendering “redouble your efforts” where Paul is simply saying to continue working out your salvation. “Redouble your efforts” totally contradicts the message of grace in this passage. Yes, we continue working out our salvation, and this means to continue to allow our salvation work itself out in our lives, per v.13. NOT that we have to apply extra effort.

  7. thanks for posting this chapter! i’ll need to pick up this book. i still struggle with post-fundamentalist disorder even after being out for nearly 12 years.

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