Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Self-help Books

22 Jun

This is almost one of those “just a thought” posts.

I can say in one paragraph, or maybe in one sentence, why I don’t believe in Christian self-help books.  

That sentence, actually a question, is “Well, which way is it?”

Either we are able to help ourselves out of our own difficulties, just by applying the proper methods with the proper amount of determination, or we are not.

If we are not, and I say that is the case, then heaping self-help kudoes on a stuck sinner only produces a stuck sinner who feels mighty guilty that he can’t break free!

I believe that Jesus did not come to give us a list of principles for pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  Jesus came to give us Holy Spirit power to revolutionize our existence.  

The Holy Spirit, by divine power, breaks the hold of sin over us.  We don’t do it by our own will, grit, or determination.  

If we don’t understand that, we can’t help stuck sinners get unstuck.  We will try to clean them up under our own power (and theirs) rather than realize that the source of power, like a bolt of lightning, exists totally outside of us before we are saved.

Then, when we are saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us and internalizes His power in us.  

But it is still His power.  We have to remember that. If not, we end up worshipping the power more than the One who gives it!

Yes, I am starting to categorically reject any Christian book where I see that you could remove Christ from the text and still teach the same principles.

Dale Carnegie is a cool writer and his secular texts have principles for interpersonal relationships that are based on natural law.  They work.  

But if someone writes a Christian version of a Dale Carnegie text, claiming that his principles, based on natural law, are a checklist for our spiritual growth, I reject that claim.

Natural law is great, but there is nothing natural about the Holy Spirit of God.  

He is out of this world.  And His work in our lives is bringing dead sinners alive, not taking people who are already pretty good and making them better.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that there are natural things and there are spiritual things.  They can resemble each other, but they are not the same.  

Let’s remember to keep them separate.  When the Holy Spirit raises a dead sinner to life, His work is nothing short of miraculous.

Praise God!


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