Those of us who struggle with cynicism toward and within the church tend to assume that once we have been disillusioned with the way the church acts and thinks, then we are excluded from church service.  The opposite may actually be true.  In an earlier post, I wrote about how disillusionment is a gift.  It is the dispersal of illusions.  We do not need illusory people leading and serving in our churches.  We need folks who have had their illusions exposed as false and who are living in the sobering realm of reality.

It is not disillusionment that disqualifies us from church service.  It is the bitterness that often comes along with that disillusionment.  Cynicism is disqualifying because the enlightenment is too bound to pain and anger.  If, however, cynics can seek healing and restoration from their spiritual wounds, then they will be of immense service to the church.

Unfortunately, cynics-in-recovery (or, cynic-saints, if you will) lack invitation from the church to lead and to serve.  Also lacking are the active promotion of models for how the disillusioned (or, the painfully enlightened, if you will) can be valuable members of the church body.  If we can all agree that the church is in need of reform, then the non-cynics among us need to welcome the voices of cynic-saints who have so much wisdom to offer, and the cynic-saints need to embrace their vocation of constructive service to the church.  The second half of my book provides biblical models for how disillusioned “saints” in the Bible were powerfully used to edify and reform God’s people.  I would love to hear more thoughts from out there as to how cynic-saints can embrace fresh new vocations among us not as dissenters or jaded critics but as prophets, sages, and tragic poets….

 

 

8 thoughts on “Cynic-Saint: How disillusionment qualifies us for ministry, not disqualifies us

  1. Well said, Andrew. It rings true to me as a recovering optimist who has found over the years that easy answers disappoint as they lack both reality and the struggle of clear-eyed faith.

    Thanks, and I look forward to the book.
    Josiah

    PS Any relation to David?

    1. Thanks, Josiah! And no, I do not believe I am related to David. Used to work for Cahaba Lumber, though, strangely enough!

  2. Andrew,
    I am one of those cynics-on-the-way-to recovery (or I should hope so), and I’m very glad I stumbled on your blog.
    My adventures / isolation brought me (and my family) to the UK, and I’m now re-loading whilst studying Int’l Development. All this is to say, thank you for this blog and welcome to the UK. I’ll be following your blog.

    1. Thanks for the comment last week on this post! I hope the process of “re-loading” proves to be fruitful. Do let me know if you are ever going to be around Durham….

  3. Andrew I am in the process of reading your book. I have felt so out of place in my church body and in my own skin as I struggle with cynicism. The sad part of too many church bodies is they reject us and don’t want to deal with us. I am broken and just wish eventhough I have accepted Christ years ago my wounds are still in need of healing. Deconstruction is a process and I have had a hard time trying to find people within the body that understand that. I so want to be close to God, honor and make Him happy. Discovery of truth and ourselves in relation to God is pretty painful at times. Thank you for being a voice and assuring me I’m not alone Andrew.

      1. Thank you for the prayer. I need as many as I can get. I look forward to journey through the book and relating to the Word. Thank you again for giving some attention to this subject. Please keep it in the light and I hope you will bring this to the attention of church leadership everywhere. I’m in the North East part of SC. Would love to hear you lecture in our area some time.

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