Thursday, April 19, 2012

12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

Cloud, Henry & John Townsend. 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy: Relief from False AssumptionsGrand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.

Henry Cloud and John Townsend are Christian counselors.  In their practice, they found that many Christians have little knowledge of what the Bible says about their problems.  They often had been taught religious beliefs that not only were opposed the Bible, or misconstrued it, but were detrimental to their recovery.  They address a doze of these maddening traditions in 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy.

I won’t go over all twelve beliefs.  They’re all things I’ve seen or heard, or even thought myself, at some point.  You probably have run into them, too.  Some concepts recur throughout the chapters:

  • Denial of neediness,
  • Legalism,
  • Over-spiritualizing,
  • Underestimating God, and
  • Underestimating the importance of people.

In each chapter, the authors describe the a false belief.  Sometimes they show its pseudo-biblical origins.  They then present the Biblical view on the subject.  They offer advice on how to put this knowledge into practice.

The overarching theme of the book is that growth as a Christian is a process.  God can change us in an instant, but more often He changes use over time.  The secondary theme is the necessity of the church.  Most of the crazy-making beliefs lead people to isolate themselves.  This is the opposite of what God intends.  It is often through our brothers and sisters in the church that God provides for our needs, and as we mature we have the privilege of helping others, too.

It would not be appropriate to describe this book as self-help.  Cloud and Townsend never assume that we can make on our own.  We’re not made to.  First, we need God and He is the prime mover in the transformation of our lives.  Second, the church is intended to be like a body, where the various parts aid, support, help, and heal each other.  God uses people and He has probably provided what we need through the church.  Finally, some people need professional help.  Whatever you need, powering through on your own is not the way to go.

This book may be useful to Christians at any stage, especially those struggling with ongoing problems.  I wish I had had it early in my Christian life, when its lessons might have save me a lot of struggle.

It is simple to read, too.  There is no technical, psychological material to wade through.  It is written to the person seeking help, not as a textbook or reference for the counselor or other professional.

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