Absolutely not. However, is McDonalds responsible because I spilled coffee on myself?
Are you comparing the Church to McDonalds?
I remember many years ago a very heated argument between two men during a Parish Council meeting in which the Priest asked one of the men to calm down and stop berating the other man, to which the man replied: "But he has to learn! this is the way of the world Father!"
The Priest stood up calmly and said: "I have failed here and the Church has failed here if you all think the Church is here to learn from the world how to live, and not the other way around."
He then walked out.
I would say even in the crazy situations you brought up above taking responsibility is THERAPEUTIC in many ways. For example, if an orphaned and traumatized kid takes responsibility which means they realize that they had nothing to do with their problems and its not "their fault" but rather they are the authors of their own lives, and take the RESPONSIBILITY upon themselves to make better lives...how is this wrong?
Absolutely, but the point I was making was about who had responsibility for the children's trauma and psychic pain. As you say, certainly not the Children. Those who traumatized them must take the responsibility for the children's pain. If I hurt my brother's feelings, I
am responsible for that, not he for "not being man enough" to take it.
I would never go so far as to say that a person's feelings are TOTALLY their responsibility, however there is a LARGE portion of this. If I never take responsibility for who I am and what I do then I can just throw out the whole Old Testament.
Again, I'm not talking about responsibility for who I am, I'm talking about responsibility for what I'm feeling. No human being can live and grow unless they feel loved and understood. No one comes to Christ because of rational arguments, and if they do, they don't stay long, they just rationalize Him out of their lives again. People come to Christ because they have experienced Him in another human being, and have been loved by Him through another human being.
I like making people jumpstart and get out of their ruts. I like to call people out for being Baptised Christians and not believing in Christ. I like to show people that they are at the gutter of faith.
How do I do this? By being blunt and to the point. Why should I dilly dally and try to play the PC game? If you are spiritually killing yourself, shouldn't I tell you? I would expect nothing less for myself.
And what if someone doesn't have the psychosocial and emotional resources to cope with your bluntness? What if they lose their Faith because they perceive that a follower of Christ has offended them? In a way, you are right, that we need to learn to deal with offenses, and grow thick skins if we want to be Saints, but should a Christian be the cause
of offenses to others? Christ, Who also aknowledges that offenses must exist in the world says "No". A Christian must never be a source of offence to others:"But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!(Matthew 18:6-7)
Are you going to tie that millstone around your neck and throw yourself into the sea if you offend someone who believes in Christ by your bluntness?
I know that we are supposed to be pastoral in our approach. If you can give me one form of "pastoral" i'll give you a medal.
OK. I will give you an example of the "pastoral" approach below, using your own metaphor of amputation of a gangenous leg. If you accept my example as worthy, I would like a medal of St. George blessed by your Priest and sent to me (I'll pm you my address).
But the truth should always be told.
And, as all things in the case of Christianity, this too has a qualifier. We are commanded to speak the truth in love
In the hospital sometimes you need to cut the gangrenes leg in order to keep the body whole. No amount of preparation can really prepare you for something like this. So we can talk to these people until we're blue in the face. But in the end the hatchet is gona come down, because the HATCHET is the remedy. What do you think about this?
And now for the example of the pastoral approach.
As you probably know, the first "modern" surgeons were in fact barbers, and in Henry VIII's time, a surgeon had to be a memebr of the guild known as the Great Company of Barbers and Surgeons
. This is why the barber's pole has a red and white stripe, it represents a bandaged bleeding limb. These barber-sugeons trained in apprenticships, and their practice was considered a craft of low status. The reason for this was simple- it was because most of their patients died. Surgery was the last resort sought when the situation was lifethreatening. If you were going to die anyway, you might as well risk the slight chance that surgery might help, but most of the time, it didn't.
The barber-surgeon's patients died from two main causes:
1) Shock, and
Shock is basically a lack of oxygen to the brain, and can have several causes. In Cardiac Shock, the pumping system of the blood fails and thus oxygen rich blood fails to reach the brain. In Hypervolemic Shock, there is not enough blood to get to the brain, and this is caused by bleeding, or the shunting of blood to the vital organs, or vasodilation (the expanding of the blood vessels due to the sympatheic nervous system going in to overdrive. In the case of the barber surgeons, there were two reasons their patients went into shock: blood loss and pain. Working without anaesthetics, the extreme pain caused by the surgery sent the patient in to shock, which was further compounded by the blood loss caused by the surgery itself. To relieve the pain, the barber surgeons sometimes got their patients drunk, but this, in fact worsened the problem. Alcohol actually causes hypovolemic shock by causing exessive fluid loss (via urination), dilation of the blood vessels (which is why you get flushed when you drink) and it also inhibits blood clotting (making the bleeding worse).
On October 16, 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren, Senior Surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital, successfully removed a congenital vascular malformation from 20 year-old Edward Gilbert Abbott's neck while the patient was under ether anaesthesia administered by Dr. W.T.G. Morton, a dentist from Boston. This was the first demonstrated use of ether as an aneasthetic for surgery, and it's success in preventing shock made it standard practice. With the discovery of a successful anaesthetic, the mortality rate of limb amputation dropped from 95% to 45%.
However, the other problem remained, and that was the mortality of patients due to infection of their surgical wounds. 15 years after the successful use of anaesthesia, Louis Pasteur demonstrated the existence of microorganisms and their being cause of fermentation.Three years later, Joseph Lister applied Pasteur's discovery to the treatment of surgical wounds by realising that fermentation and wound infection are the same thing, so he used carbolic acid to prevent wounds from becoming infected. With Lister's discovery, the mortality rate from amputation dropped further from 45% to 15%. Later in the 19th century, more techniques were employed to prevent infection (handwashing, sterile gowns caps and masks etc) and the mortality rate of amputation patients dropped to just over 5%. With the discovery of penecillin, the mortality rate dropped to less than 2%.
So you see, the mortality rate from limb amputation dropped from 95% to less than 2% by the application of two principles:
1) Pain Control, and
2) Infection Control.
So if you wish to apply the metaphor of surgery to the treatment of spiritual ills, then you should learn from what surgery has learned- prevent pain, and prevent cross infection.
We prevent pain by "speaking the truth in love". Without love, we are as useless as "resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." as the Apostle says. Even our Faith, he goes on to say, is pointless if we do not have Love. The Apostle then goes on to explain how Love works:"Love is longsuffering and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)
If we are to "speak the truth in love", we must do so by being longsuffering, kind, never rude, never thinking evil of anyone, never judging, enduring everything including insults.
If you can speak the truth to your brother while doing all this, then go right ahead.
The other practice we need to apply from the surgery metaphor is Infection Control. How do we infect someone spiritually? With our own sin. We need to be sure that there is no way that our own sin will infect the person we are spiritually treating. No surgeon worth his salt would dream of attempting surgery while he himself has a virulent, infectious diease, and neither should the pastor attempt to do so to his spiritual patient. So either, you have to be sterile (which is impossible in the spiritual case, because the instant you believe you are completely free from sin, you have sinned), or the pastor needs to be able to recognise when his own sin may be a cause of infection to his patient. Or to put it as Christ put it:"Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Luke 6:47-32)
Do I get my medal?