Revoice, Nashville, And The Therapeutic Revolution
By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at Abounding Grace Radio:
More than 50 years ago Philip Rieff alerted us to what has been called the “therapeutic revolution.” The West did not pay attention and now our broader culture is awash in therapeutic categories and rhetoric. Anyone, on most any university campus, who dares to proclaim the existence of objective truth or reality would be immediately denounced as “hurtful,” and possibly attacked physically by masked, black-clad fascist thugs (the so-called Antifa movement). When Rieff published his seminal work, The Triumph of the Therapeutic Billy Graham, for good or ill, was the nation’s de facto pastor. Today the nation’s pastor is Oprah, who rose to famous by popularizing the therapeutic revolution.
The Triumph Of The Therapeutic
Consider the way people think and speak about civil government in our time. Remember that the civil government is empowered to use physical violence to enforce its laws. It is a blunt instrument fit to accomplish a few basic tasks: collect taxes (Rom 13:6; Matt 22:21), defend the people (Rom 13:4) and to keep order (Rom 13:4). It is common, however, for people to think and speak about government in therapeutic (helping) categories so that when the magistrate does what he is called to do, to arrest criminals and prosecute them, people are genuinely shocked. We are so persuaded of validity of therapeutic categories that, when someone does something evil, we immediately turn to them to explain it: “he must be mentally ill.” Now, mental illness is a reality but so is evil and so is sin but the latter two are severely neglected in our age. Where therapeutic explanations predominate, personal responsibility shrivels.
Therapeutic ways of thinking and speaking are so common, so interwoven into the fabric of late-modern Western culture, that we are mostly unaware of how deeply we have been influenced. The result of this revolution is that how one feels is considered of much greater importance than the truth of what is said. We might speak of the triumph of the affective over the effective. To effect is to bring something about. To affect is to move one emotionally.
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