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Restoration in a Transformational Community 12: Unlearning False Truths

Learning to restore those who fall has to start with unlearning what you may think you know now. So much of what I see practiced with people in need of restoration is based on beliefs not necessarily informed by the Spirit. These beliefs are not necessarily wrong as often as they are overinflated. They are often applied to spiritual situations in which they have no bearing. It’s like having only a hammer in your toolbox, so that every issue must be a nail.

But unlearning is much more challenging than admitting you have only one tool. Unlearning requires an acknowledgement that what I think about this tool is wrong, that I have been misled by perhaps powerful voices into believing this tool really is the answer. I remember chatting briefly with a man who had overheard a conversation I was having about how God healed me from being an angry man. He stopped me and asked how that had happened. I quickly sketched out my day before the Lord, how He spoke truth into my life and how I had surrendered the hurt of my heart to Him that day. Apparently I forgot to say the magic words he was waiting for. He immediately launched into telling me how he counseled many people over the internet by teaching them Scripture. His counterpoint was that only with a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Bible are people really helped. I recognized that, in his eyes, my pathway to freedom from anger was suspect until I admitted the real way to healing was his way.

Many sincere people are like that. Ted Haggard wrote a blog sharing his sympathy with several pastors who lost their sons to suicide. He suggested he understood the treachery of inner turmoil because his own broke his life and destroyed his ministry. Yet it was not through the care of the supporting leaders he discovered God’s healing. He spoke of seeking out help that allowed him to discover past trauma from his early life (hurt of the heart). Once identified and addressed, he found God able to heal this wound and deliver him out the powerful grasp of sin. But this was not the pathway his restoration team was advocating. They told him that when he was done with counseling and ready for the demons to be cast out of him, his marriage and life would be restored.

You have to face this. Sometimes our best tools are inadequate to breathe spiritual health back into a broken life. In our pursuit after God, we have created theological dead ends we worship without question. Or we buy into our own inadequacy and believe the psychological professional really has the goods for restoration. I see this by the number of pastors I know and love who are pursuing masters in counseling degrees. This is not a slam on theology or psychology. Those are merely tools which are either given too much credit or applied in ways they were not meant to be used. Recognizing this is true is the first step to unlearning so you can learn to be part of a Galatians 6:1 community.

Steve Smith