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Do You Need to Be Disillusioned?

By Mark D. Roberts | Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Part 3 of series: Sharing Laity Lodge
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At a recent retreat at Laity Lodge, I participated in an early morning devotional led by Steven Purcell, my colleague who is the Director of Laity Lodge. He began by saying that he went through a period of time in his life when he experienced a lot of disillusionment. Then he added, almost as an afterthought, “Of course it isn’t necessarily bad to be disillusioned. After all, doesn’t the word mean ‘getting free from illusions’? Perhaps dis-illusionment is a necessary part of growing in the truth.” (Photo: Steven Purcell)

I’d never thought of that before, though I’ve probably used the word “disillusioned” or one of its cousins a hundred times. (A Google search of my website turns up two uses of “disillusioned.”) If I am fooled by an illusion, if I embrace as true something that isn’t, then disillusionment might be painful, but it is a necessary step on the road to truth and health.

I wonder what illusions I need to be set free from? Where do I need disillusionment? When it comes, will I accept it as a tough but gracious teacher, or will I cling to my illusions?

Do we need to be disillusioned when it comes to God? Many in our time of history do, because it’s ever so popular for people to form their own theologies on the basis of their wishful thinking about God, not on the solid foundation of God’s own self-revelation in history. But even those of us who know God through Jesus Christ, and who derive our core theology from Scripture, do often believe things that aren’t true about God. For us, God may be a big ol’ friend who is there to give us everything we want . . . hardly the biblical God. Or perhaps our “God” is harsh and severe, rather than gracious and merciful. To some extent, we all need to be disillusioned when it comes to God, so that we might embrace the truth of God’s nature as revealed to us through Christ and through Scripture. (Photo: a scene from Laity Lodge a few days ago. This brilliant tree was no illusion.)

In your next time of prayer, you might ask the Lord where, if at all, you’re in need of theological disillusionment. But don’t stop there. Ask that God reveal Himself to You in the fullness of truth. Give up the illusion, the partial truth, the confusion, and know God in the truth of His revelation.

Topics: Sharing Laity Lodge |

6 Responses to “Do You Need to Be Disillusioned?”

  1. Ken Mann Says:
    November 14th, 2007 at 11:47 am

    What about being disillusioned with the Church itself? That is to say the way theology, worship, cliques, interpersonal politics are conflated into an experience that is supposedly essential to the Christian life and yet terribly frustrating and painful.

  2. dave Says:
    November 14th, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Bonhoeffer in “Life Together” — “Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community.”

  3. Do You Need to Be Disillusioned? Says:
    November 14th, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    […] The News is | The News is added an interesting post today on Do You Need to Be Disillusioned? […]

  4. Mark D. Roberts Says:
    November 14th, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Ken and Dave: Yes, indeed. Thanks for the comments. Ken’s question is right on, as is Dave’s answer (or Bonhoeffer’s answer).

  5. Quick Takes - 11/17/2007 at Ray Fowler .org Says:
    November 18th, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    […] Purcell reflects on the positive side of disillusionment. “Of course it isn’t necessarily bad to be disillusioned. After all, doesn’t the word […]

  6. real live preacher Says:
    November 19th, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I think disillusionment is probably a necessary step for a lot of people. Not everyone. But it is also a thing that cannot be planned for. Not that Steven Purcell was suggesting that. It is one of those things that happens when it happens, I guess.


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