The Gospel Coalition recently published my comments from a couple of weeks ago about how (not) to use the Bible to encourage folks during our present crisis. Here’s a selection from the introduction:
I’ve been thinking about an approach to pastoral encouragement that I’ve witnessed over the past couple of months. It’s been somewhat prominent across various social-media platforms among a certain Reformed or Reformed-adjacent type, though it doesn’t exhibit a truly Reformed approach to pastoral care.
This approach uses specific biblical exhortations to address those suffering various forms of misery caused by the pandemic: “fear not,” “do not be anxious,” and so on. Such exhortations, in many cases, are offered with great bravado, exhibiting the kind of sanctified machismo that has become strangely popular in certain corners of evangelicalism.
As the divinely inspired Word of the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3), the Bible is certainly the supreme source of consolation for Christians in times like these. However, there’s an unbiblical way of using the Bible to encourage and exhort. In fact, there are many.
The one described above seems to presuppose a certain view of the heart—the center of cognition, evaluation, and movement in human beings. My sense is that an unbiblical view of the heart underlies certain methods of using Bible verses to exhort and encourage.
You can read the whole article here.