Chapter 1 Therapy and Salvation: The Dimensions of Human Need
To bring salvation to the human spirit is the goal of all Christian ministry and pastoral care. In this first chapter we consider the relation between the meaning of salvation in the Christian faith and the healing of the ills of body and mind. That there is a relation has always been affirmed in the Christian Church. Salvation is itself a kind of healing. We speak of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Great Physician who in his earthly ministry, and in the continuing ministry of his Church, is concerned for sick bodies and minds. In the twentieth century a new turn in the “care of souls” has given additional sharpness to our need for a clear view of therapy and salvation. Modern psychological understanding has come as a revolutionary force. So pervasive is its influence that in theological education the analysis of pastoral care has been focused increasingly upon problems of psychotherapeutic counseling, and upon new modes of understanding the pastoral task through the insights of group therapy and group dynamics. It is clear that the movement initiated by Freud has become a broad stream affecting every aspect of religious life.
Some see a danger that a sectarian gospel of psychological healing will be substituted for the Christian message of salvation through God’s grace. Others fear that technical preoccupation with methods of counseling will destroy the depth of personal relationship if “souls” become “cases.” At this critical juncture it is essential that we in the Christian churches re-examine our theological assumptions in pastoral care. We must know what we are about when we try to see mental and physical illness in relation to human sin and to God’s action through which we are forgiven and offered a new life in Jesus Christ.
I. Christian Faith And Knowledge
It is necessary at the Outset to state my presuppositions concerning the relation of Christian faith to empirical knowledge. I shall affirm two main propositions:
First, the Christian faith arises out of the concrete historical experience of the Hebrew community and the first communities of disciples of Jesus, later called Christians. The faith which gave rise to the Christian community was expressed in the story of Jesus told as the disclosure of God’s will to save mankind from the threat of a meaningless, sinful existence. Christian theology is a continuing interpretation of this faith in relation to all human thought and experience.
My second presupposition is that the work of interpreting the Christian faith is never finished. Christ is the Logos, the integrating meaning of our existence. Every aspect of experience therefore presents a challenge to the Christian to learn more of God and his purpose. It is God who is the absolute truth, not theology. No theologian should regard any hypothesis which may possibly lead to new knowledge in a spirit of condescension. He may have something to learn about Christ from any human experience. He holds every particular truth to be subject to examination in the light of tile ultimate truth which is given to us — but not possessed by us — in Jesus Christ.
In seeking the integrity of the Christian witness as it bears upon the significance of the pastor’s task, we recognize that we need all possible scientific and humanistic understanding of human beings and the way they live with one another. We also know that we need the core of personal knowledge which comes only through response to the redemptive love offered in Jesus. The key to pastoral care lies in the Christological center of our faith, for we understand Christ as bringing the disclosure of our full humanity in its destiny under God.
If we find that some psychological perspectives upon human nature lack a full awareness of Christian values — and we certainly shall — we should also remember that in the Church we have had to learn some painful lessons about the inadequacies of much well-intentioned pastoral work. Every human relationship embodies a mystery, and our Christian ministry participates in the deepest mystery of all, the life of the soul before God. We need both the light of faith and the patiently acquired light of empirical understanding if we are to serve God as ministers of his Church.
II. Salvation And Healing
As we set out to analyze the Christian conception of the care of souls, we must say what we mean by salvation. It can be defined as fulfillment for man in a new relationship to God and his neighbor in which the threats of death, of meaninglessness, of unrelieved guilt, are overcome. To be saved is to know that one’s life belongs with God and has a fulfillment in him for eternity. This is life eternal, says the Fourth Gospel, to “know the one true God.” And the Westminster Confession is echoing this message of the Gospel when it says that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”
The concept of salvation raises many questions. Must every ill of man’s flesh or mind be overcome before we can say he is truly saved? When is a person genuinely healthy and fulfilling his intended being? Does the ultimate fulfillment promised in the Gospel lie in a different dimension from the immediate goals of psychological adjustment? If these are related, how are they related? How far does a theological understanding of man tell us anything about the sources of neurotic anxiety and the self-frustration which besets our human life? Is the saved man able to solve more of his problems from day to day, or does he rather learn to live with insoluble problems?
The Scripture appears to take a double attitude toward the healing of disease. God is concerned with the health of man, and the divine power brings healing. At the same time, the biblical man of faith looks beyond present suffering, and assumes a certain indifference toward the immediate ills of life as he anticipates a final fulfillment. It is in the relationship between these two aspects of biblical faith that a theology of salvation and healing must move.
In Old Testament religion, disease and sickness come from the hand of God, as do all the fortunes and circumstances of life (Deut. 29:22; II Chron. 21:18-19). But God is also the healer of diseases. This theme occurs frequently in the Psalms and was the basis of one temple cult. In Psalm 103 the healing of diseases is spoken of in the same breath with God’s forgiveness of the sinner, and disease here, as elsewhere in the Old Testament, is to be taken in the literal and physical sense. The same language of healing also appears in the expression of faith in salvation. In Hosea 7:1 God’s will to restore his people is declared as his will to heal them. We need a full study of the place of disease and its healing in the Hebrew faith.1
The work of healing occupies a large place in the record of Jesus’ ministry. However he interpreted healing, as a sign of the Kingdom or as service to men whose heavenly father knows their earthly needs, it must be acknowledged as an essential element in the meaning of his ministry.
In the New Testament faith, as in the Old, the language of salvation and the language of healing are interwoven. H. Wheeler Robinson has pointed out in the analysis of the meaning of salvation (soteria, sozo) that in the New Testament in one hundred and fifty-one occurrences of the noun or the verb, sixteen refer to deliverance from disease or demon possession and over forty to deliverance from physical death.2 To be made whole is to enjoy the restoration of vital health or function. It is said of the withered hand in Matthew 12:13, “It was restored whole [apokatastethe] like the other.” Jesus says to the woman healed (Mark 5:34), “Daughter, your faith has made you well [sesoken], go in peace and be made whole [hygies]”; and Luke reports the ironic rebuke to the Pharisees, “Those who are well [hygiainontes] have no need of a physician” (Luke 5:51).
The concern for healing springs naturally from concern for the neighbor. The Christian faith has always recognized the obligation to “feed the hungry and clothe the naked,” to visit those sick and in prison. But it is the subtle connection between the natural health of man and the soul’s need for salvation which leads to the deeper concerns in the Christian understanding of salvation. The healing miracles in the New Testament appear often as signs of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ power to heal manifests the divine power which restores all of life, Thus the natural desire to be relieved of mortal suffering is transmuted into the question about the meaning of life, and the search for a right relationship to God. It is because of this complex and mysterious relationship between part and whole, natural need and ultimate fulfillment, that Christian theology requires a clear view of the nature of man, and his creature-needs in relation to his destiny under God.
III. In Search of Essential Humanity
A Christian theology of salvation requires a doctrine of essential humanity. From the story of creation to the appearance of the new being in Jesus Christ, the Bible has in view God’s intention for his creation and especially his purpose for man, his creature who bears the divine image. Man is intended for fullness of life upon the terms set by his nature as it comes from the hands of God. But the actual state of man is one of estrangement from God, which means a distortion of his essential being. He has not only lost the full life for which he is created, but he has lost in part his capacity to achieve a clear view of what that life is. In our doctrine of man, therefore, we have to respect two elements. First, since man is finite there are limitations to his knowledge of himself and his world which are given with his creaturely state. Man is in process, both in his individual and his collective life. He literally does not know what he is becoming. Even a perfect creature would have to define essential existence in terms which allowed for the limits of creaturely knowledge.
Second, man the sinner has a distorted understanding of his being and of the meaning of his fulfillment. As man searches for his essential self, he corrupts his definition of his humanity. Consider the ideals of humanity which have governed civilizations and see how they are full of the pride of race and class, the selfishness of individuals, and the resentments of finitude and death. Man’s search for wholeness can lead him to destruction. So the question of what the real human needs are becomes a theological problem because our ultimate perspective on the meaning of our existence is involved.
In the Christian faith it might appear that the problem has been solved for us by the revelation of our restored humanity in Jesus Christ. He is the archetype of essential humanity. Here is the foundation of the Christian care of souls. We have a guide and criterion for the goal to be sought in every human relationship. But when we ask what this criterion means in actual life, we encounter two special characteristics of the Christian approach to human nature and its fulfillment which are at once the key to insight and the source of perplexity in the pastoral task.
Love is the center of Christ’s disclosure of our humanity. God has shown his love for us in the action which reveals his purpose, and that action is told in the Christian story of Jesus. To love then, in the New Testament sense, means to participate in this action. Our action is a response — in ways appropriate to our situation — to what God has done for us. Thus Paul enjoins the Christian community, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus — who took upon him the form of a servant [doulos]” (Phil. 2:5 ff). And this surely is the foundation of Luther’s daring statement that we are to become Christ for one another.
So far then we have the basis of all care of souls. It is an action in love which makes concrete the spirit of ministry we know in Christ. But there is a strangeness about such love. It is spirit, never mere form. To love means to conform our action to the concrete needs of the neighbor. Our human need is involved with our guilt, so God’s love is expressed as forgiveness. Our need is for hope in the midst of estrangement, so God has to bear with us in our suffering. To know, therefore, that we are to love our neighbor does not tell us what we are to do, until we discover our neighbor’s need and learn what we can do. Love becomes incarnate in the acts of persons who seek one another in a spirit which opens the way to a deeper relationship. Adoration, forgiveness, sacrifice, mutuality, are all themes of love, but none of these allows arbitrary boundaries to its creative power. Love comes to know itself only in responding to the call of the neighbor.
There are indeed special dimensions of love in the varied relationships of life: brotherly love, sexual love, love of work and play, love of country, love of adventure. None of these falls wholly outside the meaning of the agape of God made known in Christ, yet in none of them can there be a mere imitation of Jesus as pattern. The imitation of Christ is either a creative response in freedom or it is a false and arbitrary imposition of law upon life. All the loves of human existence may be affirmed in the spirit of agape, yet agape transcends them all. It gathers human energies together in the service of the saving action of God who wills to redeem every human life from its self-imposed futility.
A second aspect of the Christian criterion of the soul’s health takes us a further step in the consideration of the meaning of love in the Gospel. We have said that love conforms itself to the need to be met. This means that we encounter our neighbor, as God has encountered us, not in the innocence of a development toward perfections but in the distortion and suffering of estrangement. In Tillich’s way of expressing this fact, Christ reveals our essential humanity under the conditions of estrangement.3 This means that the Christian revelation does not give us a picture of a new life, with all problems solved, all perplexity put away. We see in Christ the way in which love bears with our human situation, taking its burdens into the new life. Fulfillment is promised, hope is restored, and a new way opened, but with no setting aside of the conditions of the human pilgrimage. The restoration of our essential humanity as declared in the New Testament is in a sense proleptic. We know what we are intended to be. We know love as spirit breaking through and overcoming the darkness of life, but not banishing it. In his great book on the atonement, J. McLeod Campbell said Christ revealed the love of God by trusting it. 4 The trust was declared in the midst of the pain and sin. The resurrection is a sign of the victory which is beginning, but which is not yet consummated.
Therefore, Christian faith has a double aspect in its understanding of what the soul needs. On one hand, every person should be built up into the Body of Christ, the Church. Each is to become in his own way the new man, as God intended. At the same time the concrete decisions in life are to be made in love and trust, allowing the spirit of love and specific circumstance to open the way.
As one reads the New Testament the wonder grows that in spite of the fact that the first Christians were overwhelmed by the assurance that they had seen in Christ the new Adam, man restored and fulfilled, they refused to make Christ a new law. He is himself the fulfillment of the law.5 Throughout the Gospel runs the theme that there is yet more to be known of the riches of God’s purpose. “Greater things than these will ye do,” says the Christ of the Fourth Gospel to his disciples. “It doth not yet appear what ye shall be,” says the Johannine writer (I John 3:2). And Paul returns always to this theme: “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” “We wait for the redemption of our body, for we are saved by hope” (Rom. 8:19, 28-24).
What then does it mean to be saved? It means to have one’s life in all its good and evil, its hope and its brokenness, restored to participation in the love of God, which is the meaning of all existence. This participation is not simply the enjoyment of a legal status; it is a new relationship of personal faith. It is the broken man becoming whole. There is a present and positive renewal in the life of faith. It is not only being rescued from evil, it is the discovery of the wonder of the good world and the glorious goodness of the creation. To be saved is to be led out of self-centered concern to a joyful and active vocation, serving God in his world.
Salvation contains a dimension of expectation. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be” (I John 3:2). Thus the Christian conception of eternal life unites the present experience of God’s abiding grace with the expectation of a life with him which neither suffering nor death nor anything else can destroy. It involves a task to be accomplished and a glory to be celebrated. And these belong together.
IV. Suffering and Salvation
When we recognize that salvation for the Christian has its definition in the story of Jesus and at the same time that the Gospel raises our eyes to an infinite horizon which stretches beyond all our knowledge of what human life may become, we recognize two consequences for the way in which we understand the Christian ministry to people.
The first of these is that there is always more to learn about human needs, and the way they should be met. Such learning involves both the gathering of objective knowledge and the practice of personal ministry. There is much we can know about man only through the patient fact-gathering and experimentation of the sciences. Physiology, biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, indeed even physics and chemistry, are making continual discoveries which are relevant to our knowledge of man. Man is incredibly complex, and that fact is critically important for the task of pastoral care. This is not to say that we need to have complete scientific knowledge about a person before we can communicate the essential message of salvation. But the spirit of ministry to another human being leads us to respect and use all the knowledge we do have. Even the spirit of agape, by itself, will not necessarily protect us from dangerous errors which may lead to the hurt and even the destruction of others. The pastor who seeks to help a paranoid by sympathy alone or by offering only the consolation of prayer and religious assurance is not really feeding the hungry person or giving the cup of cold water. Love requires intelligence in action.
We know, however, that we can add up all the objective knowledge we derive from the sciences and still miss the kind of knowledge which comes only from personal participation with others in man’s search for reality. One of the genuine services of psychology to Christian ministry in our day has been the recovery of the insight that this element of personal participation in relationship is vital to our discovery both of the other person and of ourselves. It has also been a contribution of the psychological sciences to show that such knowledge is not contradictory to scientific objectivity. The I-Thou relationship is not an esoteric experience separated from all the other structures of human existence. It is rather the center of a process which has many structural elements, and in which objective knowledge has its very important place. Those who emphasize personal relationship and acceptance often forget the discipline and preparation which have gone into the experience of the counselor or pastor who has developed the habits, insights, and skills which open the way to fruitful personal meeting.
The Christian understanding of salvation, we conclude, requires a continuing dialogue between Christian believers and the sciences of man. It excludes dogmatism on either side. William Ernest Hocking reminds us that most of our conscious life is engaged in trying to find out what we really desire.6 Even in the new life of faith in which desire is being transformed, we must still ask for the meaning of our new existence in its concrete implications.
The second consequence of the meaning of salvation leads to some basic issues with modern views of man and with some modern psychologies, for it has to do with the attitude which Christian faith takes toward the continuing ills of life, toward the meaning of suffering, and toward the natural goal of the complete health of the well-adjusted person. Christianity, we say at once, is concerned with the life of faith as man’s discovery of how to bear with his limitations as well as how to overcome them. St. Augustine goes to the heart of the matter in his vision of the two aspects of the revelation in Christ:
He is at once above, and below; above in Himself, below in His people, above with the Father, below in us. . . . Fear Christ above, recognize him below. Have Christ above bestowing His bounty, recognize Him here in need. Here He is poor, there He is rich. . . So then Christ is rich and poor. As God He is rich, as Man poor. Yea rich now as Very Man, He hath ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; yet is He still poor here, is ahungered and athirst and naked.7
Let us illustrate what this view of Christ implies in the crucial question of guilt. There is real guilt, the consequence of a freedom exercised without love or within a self-centered love. There is a pathological “guilt-feeling” in which our sense of remorse is out of all proportion to the regretted action. There are the consequences of guilt, sometimes en-graven on our physical being, with disease resulting from the inner tension.
Now the Christian Gospel promises relief from the burden of real guilt. God’s forgiveness has been and is offered. It is effective in our midst. To believe in Jesus Christ is to know that God has crossed over to us, when we could never find our way back to him through our own effort. We have been delivered from the body of death.
Shall we describe this deliverance, then, as freedom from any continuing struggle with the isolation of guilt, and from any pathological guilt feeling, as well as from the disease which comes with inner tension? Sometimes the Gospel has been understood in this way; but it ought to be clear that there is something wrong with such a view. We should not forget that the new existence in reconciliation is given in and with the human realities of sin and estrangement. The notion that through faith we cease to be people in need of forgiveness has led to some of the most fanatical and unlovely aspects of Christian history. We may agree that Calvin’s language is subject to misunderstanding, but surely he is right when he says of the saints that “though sin ceases to reign, it continues to dwell in them, there remains in them a perpetual cause of contention, to exercise them, and not only to exercise them but also to make them better acquainted with their own infirmity”8
Calvin implies here that continuing struggle is a source of deepening knowledge to the Christian. This suggests one answer to the place of suffering in the growth of the soul. Let us examine two alternative answers which have persisted in Western culture and which reappear in some contemporary psychological interpretations of man. The first is the Stoic way. The self is guarded against threatened destruction through an inner strength which makes itself invulnerable to the assaults of outrageous fortune. The protection is partly a strength to withstand and it is partly a protective shield, for the Stoic will not let himself be moved by suffering more than he can help. What he must feel he will endure.
There is truth in the Stoic answer, and the essential element in it is not foreign to the Christian spirit. There is a necessary stoicism in the practical wisdom of life, even for those who believe that all suffering may lead to creativity. But the Christian view is never purely Stoic, for the Christian is not ultimately concerned about protecting himself from suffering. In the involvements of love we seek to share life, not immunity to its pain. Identification with the needs of the neighbor is possible only through a willingness to become vulnerable. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
The second way of dealing with suffering is the Epicurean way. Let us create for ourselves, it says, an island of harmony and satisfaction in the midst of the chaos of life. In order to distill the creative essence of life we must shun its gross evils, wall ourselves off from as much of its suffering as we can, and shape life to yield gratification of all our instincts and capabilities. It is a mistake to think of the Epicurean way as a crude affirmation of the search for pleasure. It requires a discipline in its search for the possibilities of the good life, and that is, in Epicurean terms, the satisfying life.
Both the Stoic and the Epicurean ways can be found implicit if not explicit in various psychological doctrines. A strain of the Epicurean search for self-fulfillment runs through many psychologies whose inspiration goes back to Freud’s first formulation of the pleasure principle. In the early Freudian doctrine man’s vital energy seeks nothing but its gratification. Everything must be subordinated to its release, for it will shape its own patterns of fulfillment.
But Freud, with his realistic sense, saw that civilization cannot exist on the basis of the libido’s gratification alone. The very demand for work with its necessities of discipline makes that impossible. So Freud found a final contradiction between the nature of man and the necessities of his existence. Civilization must always rest in part on discontent. Later, Freud thought he had found in the death instinct an apparatus within the self sufficiently powerful to hold It to its work in spite of the pleasure principle. Erik Erikson sees Freud’s final doctrine as really a stoicism re-affirmed at the point of the failure of the epicurean principle. “Das Leben auszuhalten: to stand life, to hold out,” becomes the only way.9
It is noteworthy that a later Freudian, Herbert Marcuse, in his Eros and Civilization, seeks to rescue the epicurean principle on the basis that modern technology can relieve so much of the burden of painful work that man can begin to think of a completely eroticized and gratifying civilization. Even death itself may somehow be taken into the soul’s fulfillment and eros and agape become one.10
We have come here to a crucial issue between the Christian faith and these alternative styles of life. It is true that Christianity has always sought the relief of human suffering. It is concerned with bodily and mental health, and affirms the goodness of human powers and their development in strength. But that which is deepest in Christian faith moves against both stoicism and epicureanism.
The Christian ideal of life envisions something higher than freedom from anguish, or invulnerability to its ravages. Its goal cannot be the perfectly adjusted self. In the world as it is, a caring love cannot but regard such a goal as intolerably self-centered. What does it mean to be completely adjusted and at peace in a world as riddled with injustice, with the cries of the hungry, with the great unsolved questions of human living as this? We see why in the end we cannot identify therapy for specific ills with salvation for the human spirit. To live in love means to accept the risks of life and its threats to “peace of mind.” Certainly the Christian ministry to persons is concerned to relieve physical ills, anxieties, inner conflicts. But this relief of private burdens is to set the person free to assume more important and universal ones.
Erich Fromm, the neo-Freudian who has contributed greatly to the analysis of contemporary man’s psychological problems, is much less convincing when he seeks to define a philosophy of life. He proposes the conception of the free individual and rejects the Christian conception of man as the servant of God: “to live productively, to develop fully and harmoniously, — that is to become what we potentially are“11 But Fromm’s “productive personality” reflects the end product of an age so confident of techniques that it has forgotten or wants to avoid the ultimate problems of human existence. This harmonious personality enjoying the satisfactions of the “sane society” is for all his apparent psychological health still a utopian ghost unfitted even to survive in this world, let alone become genuinely productive in human relationships. The measure of man’s life is not his freedom from inner struggle, but his discovery of how the whole of life, including its dark side, can be brought into the service of growth in love.12 In this sense salvation must transcend all particular therapies.
V. The Principle of “Linkage”
We seem, then, to return to the initial question of the Christian concern for psychological and physical healing, and we have not found a full answer. Why should the ministry of healing seek a deep reconciliation between the search for health and the search for salvation?
I propose that the fundamental theological connection of salvation and therapy is found in the nature of man. There is a principle which needs to be explored in every Christian anthropology, and which is being disclosed in its full significance only with the help of modern psychology. I will call it the principle of “linkage” in human existence. Man, God’s creature, is the being who finds every part of his experience linked with every other part. This point is sometimes made with the formula that man is a “whole.” That is true, but too simply true. The real situation is that man is both whole and parts, mind and body, a flow of experiences, and a responsible, searching self. What has to be recognized is the significance of the fact that every part of his being and his experience is linked actually or potentially with every other part. There is no happening in the history of the body or mind which may not involve the whole person at the spiritual center of his existence. A trivial incident may open the way for the first time to the discovery of oneself and of God. A light illness may become the occasion for facing the ultimate issues of life. The struggle with a neurosis may become the focal point of the wrestle of the soul with God. We know that this happens. We need to know much more about why and how it happens.
We begin to see that there are two major modes in which the parts of experience affect the whole of it. In one context there are direct causal relationships between one event and the person’s reaction. A glandular deficiency produces an emotional disturbance. A successful venture produces a new sense of wonder and gratitude. A recovery from illness opens the way to reflection on the goodness of God.
In the second mode the relationships between experiences are mediated by their function as symbols. A struggle to understand another person becomes a symbol of the mind’s search for understanding life itself or God himself. Loving devotion to a sick person becomes a sacrament of the spirit of God who cares for all. This is one reason why we need to learn much more about the sacramental aspects of the search for healing. The hunger of the body may become the symbolic expression of the hunger of the soul for God.
There is much we do not know about the linkage of experiences with the spiritual growth of man, and about the mutual reinforcement of what I have called the direct causal relationships and the symbolic relationships. Certainly they are intimately woven together in all human life. But once we have grasped the principle of linkage we see how meaningless a sharp distinction between therapy and salvation becomes.
To take an illustration from academic life. Every professor now and then must talk with a student who finds it impossible to get his papers written. Here is a moment of crisis which can lead to trouble or to deeper self-understanding. One can say that nothing in the student’s or the professor’s salvation depends on solving this problem. That may be true, or it may not be true. This may be the occasion for the facing of issues which go to the roots of a person’s being.
It may be that the problem is a trivial one, unconnected with any major orientation of the person, or it may be the signal of a severe mental illness or of a crisis in personal faith. We cannot know beforehand, and that is precisely the point. Given the linkage of the parts of our experience with the whole, there is no way of knowing without living through the problem with the person just what it means to him and to his relationship to God. The very process of working the problem through may create new connections. And the process of working it through may transform its meaning.
No one can say a priori how far the solution to particular problems will include an acceptance of certain limitations which must be lived with, because they will never in this life be removed. The real healing of the spirit may come just at the point where limitations are acknowledged and are taken into the person with courageous acceptance.
From a Christian point of view, then, human needs must be met on two levels. There is the obvious insistent need of the body and the mind for that which sustains and nourishes. But the immediate problem may be the door through which we walk into the arena where ultimate questions are asked and answered. The search for therapy is transmuted into the quest for salvation. Luther’s statement can stand as a paradigm for Christian experience: “I did not learn my theology all at once, but I had to search deeper for it, where my temptations took me.”13
What were Luther’s temptations? We know something about them, but not all. No one can ever know fully the experience of another. What we do know is that each of us must come to his meeting with God bearing his private burden in his own way. Those who came to Jesus found both the message of the Kingdom and healing for specific ills. The concern for therapy and the message of salvation lead us into a strangely and wonderfully ordered human existence. Psychologists and ministers face to face with the person can learn from each other and both will be humbled by the mystery before which they stand.
1. See Johannes Hempel, Heilung als Symbol und Wirklichkeit im biblischen Schrifttum (Gottingen, 1958); George Johnston, “Soul Care in the Ministry of Jesus,” Canadian Journal of Theology, Vol. V and Vol. VI, No. (1959-60); W. A. Jayne, The Healing Gods of Ancient Civilizations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1925).
2. H. Wheeler Robinson, Redemption and Revelation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1942), p. 232.
3. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), p. 93.
4. J. McLeod Campbell, The Nature of the Atonement (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1856), p. 283.
5. In Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (London: S.P.C.K., 1955), p. 149. W. D. Davies has shown that Paul regarded Jesus as the new Torah, but he makes dear that the concept of Torah transcended legalistic connotations.
6. William Ernest Hocking, Human Nature and Its Remaking (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), chap. 3.
7. Augustine, Serm. 123, iv, 4.
8. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, 3. 10.
9. Erik Erikson, Young Man Luther (New York: W. W. Norton, 1958), p. 253.
10. Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization (Boston: Beacon Press, 1956).
11. Erich Fromm, Man for Himself (New York: Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1947), p. 159. The quotation continues: “Humanistic conscience can be justly called the voice of our loving care for ourselves.“
12. Henry N. Wieman, Man’s Ultimate Commitment (Carbondale:
Southern Illinois University Press, 1958), chap. ~.
13. Martin Luther, from Tischreden, I, p. 352 (Weimar, ed.), quoted in Erikson, op. cit., p. 251.