Many of you will have noticed that a new article has been added to the Latigo site [latigo214.info
]. As always, some really interesting points are made, but I would like to add my own thoughts about one point that Latigo has not particularly covered. That is the insight into the nature of the speaker herself.
The sermon quoted makes a number of statements about human nature including:
“every human being seeks to find another category of people to whom they are superior that they can look down on”
“the pride and arrogance that abides in the human heart”
“there is this thing within the human heat that wants to dominate”
Now, I am no student of psychology, but one thing is clear. In stating that EVERY human being has these characteristics, the speaker is including herself, so is admitting to exactly these traits. Interesting, and something I will return to in a moment.
First, let me state that I cannot believe that any student of human nature would conclude that all human beings have the same characteristics or desires. I do not believe that "there is this thing in the human heart that wants to dominate". I am sure that will exist in some people, but it will certainly not exist in all. There are many people in history who have put others first, from famous martyrs to quiet mothers who sacrifice their own health for their children. To treat all humanity as having the same characteristics, personality and motivations is naive to the point of absurdity.
If you prefer to come at it from a Biblical point of view, you will reach the same conclusion. “The man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12 v 3) and David was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13 v 22 and 1 Sam 13 v 13-14). If David was a man after God’s own heart, and the Stuthers leadership sees the human heart as described in the quotes above, we come to a very interesting conclusion about how they see the heart of God. (If this is their distorted view of God, it would however explain a few things.)
I want to return to the point above however, that the speaker clearly admits that the desire to dominate, to look down on others and to be proud and arrogant are characteristics of every heart - and hence specifically of her own heart. If these statements do not, according to scriptures and elementary psychology, apply to the whole human race, why does the speaker identify with them so much? The leaders only have three things to base this conclusion on (1) the own experience of their own heart, (2) the experience of others who study human nature and (3) Divine revelation.
It is clearly not some sort of Divine revelation that leads to their conclusions, as the message contradicts what scripture says. Neither is it the view of others, as it does not reflect accepted wisdom, and the leaders would not listen to them anyway. So what does that leave? Ah, their experience of their own heart. Now that is revealing. Could this whole sermon perhaps be classic displacement activity - attributing the speaker’s own characteristics to others?
The more I look back on my own experience in Struthers, the more I see that a great deal of my time was spent trying to correct these "characteristics of the human heart" which didn't really have particular relevance to me. Not that I was -or am- perfect, but it seems to me now that all the talk of arrogance and pride (or of desires or selfishness, or anything else) was just another example of the leaders pretending they knew something about me that wasn't actually true. Most of the members of the congregation are not full of arrogance and pride, but are actually quite humble - which is why they are willing to listen to someone being so critical of them.
The leaders are not aware of this however. Since they do not actually listen to others, they naively think that what is in their heart is also in everyone else's heart. It might be interesting to hear more of these sermons about "the human heart", as I think they are in fact very revealing in terms of the nature of the speakers.
I do feel sorry for the congregation however. If you are part of the congregation and are reading this, please do recognise that most ex-members do not see you are full of pride, arrogance and a wish to dominate, but as fellow-human beings who have faults and failings, but also have a desire to find a loving God. When you listen to the words of the leaders, recognise instead that they are, without knowing it, revealing more about themselves than they are about you.