By Elizabeth Prata
I was saved as a 40-something adult, never having attended church or had been involved in religion or ‘churchy’ things. I spent 18 months following Joel Osteen then rejected him when I actually got a Bible and began comparing his teachings to it. I moved to Georgia and began listening to Woodrow Kroll in “Back to the Bible”, Adrian Rogers, then John MacArthur. Solid men. I was grateful for this time of firming up my faith before I started attending church, because when I got there…
The first ‘Bible study’ I was exposed to in church was “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. I was told “It will completely change me…” “Powerful…” and all the hype. Nope. Here is a good review of that ‘study’ from Critical Issues Commentary. Blackaby was the one who in modern times of the Southern Baptist Convention church (SBC) set the course toward mysticism and contemplative prayer. I praised the Lord he had given me time & space to develop discernment before I was thrust into the soup of rotten Bible studies.
The second one was a Kay Arthur inductive study which at the time (2007-2008) was good. But the next one I was exposed to, heavily and pressingly, almost forced, was Beth Moore. I was attending a SBC church and at the time (2010-onward) Moore was reaching Everest heights of popularity. There was no escaping her studies, books, simulcasts, retreats, and conversations about the latest thing she said or did or taught. She was everywhere. Like Blackaby, Moore’s studies focused on self.
I was surprised and dismayed by the constant emphasis on self by Moore and Blackaby, and other studies I saw people doing or did myself. I’d spent 42 years before salvation studying myself and I was thoroughly sick of myself. I wanted to know about Jesus.
Along with the emphasis on self, as time went on, these studies inevitably drew a focus on our injured self. Sin was described as ‘messiness’, not sin. We know messes can be cleaned up by ourselves. Maybe that was why the term caught on. Sin needs repenting to God for, but if I’m a mess, or my life is a mess, or I’m in a mess, just clean it up, no Jesus needed.
And further away from the Godly terms of sin and repentance, we went not only in studies but also in conversation, from messiness to victim. My life is a mess because I’m a victim, not a sinner. It’s all someone else’s problem, not my fault! You see how the drift away from Biblical standards of behavior, from commonly understood terms, and from His commands to stay close to the word have gone from ‘mortifying sin’, to ‘my life’s a mess because I’m a victim.’
Here is one example of the victimhood mentality from recent days. Lysa TerKeurst wrote-
@LysaTerKeurst: “Your heart is much too beautiful of a place for bitterness. They made choices that hurt you. And chances are, those choices are an indication of their brokenness, not yours. Remember, it should be God’s words, not their words, that reveal the truth of who we are.”
The heart is not beautiful. Mark 7:21-23 says
or from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Meg Basham commented on TerKeurst’s tweet, saying: “The heart is deceitful above all things, & desperately sick; who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart’” Jer. 17:9-10 Bitterness is bad, but so is soft-focus spiritualism that teaches women to see themselves only as victims, only as sinned-against rather than sinners.
I don’t know TerKeurst’s work well at all, but quick perusal of recent posts showed many in same vein—women’s great struggle is dealing with pain others are inflicting ON them. Hence my comment. Only one post in 2022 about dealing with your own sin. Only one the year before…
thinking further, if you’re gonna weight these things for general audience, how much should focus be on teaching how to deal with sins in our own lives vs how to react to other people’s sins hurting us? Because for Christian women’s books, breakdown seems 75% their sin, 25% mine. –end @MegBasham
So these days, a commonly understood state of woman, even after conversion, is not having to constantly deal with our own sin, but rather its watered down definition-change to messiness. This diminishes sin’s potency. Then the word changed to victimhood, meaning other people are the problem, not us. Then enter the latest iteration- misogyny, defined as dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. The mentality now is we are the way we are due to everyone else’s hatred of us.
If you listen to these modern women who craft Bible studies, you soon get the idea that all men hate all women and all institutions are prejudiced against the female sex. That, it’s everywhere. And every time you encounter something distasteful against you, just call it “misogyny” and it’s the reason you’ve been hard put by- rather than probably your OWN sin nature as the root cause of your current issue.
It never occurs to these women Bible teachers who teach soft victimhood, that everyone is hard put by at some point in our lives. Everyone has something happen to them that is distasteful or worse, a crime. Everyone has something they can claim victim status about. Sadly these days, many women do claim it, whether it’s real, exaggerated, or sadly, just made-up.
That is because everyone is a sinner. Sometimes what happens to us is our own sin being reaped against ourselves. If you’re disobedient at work, or fail to produce, or a rule-breaker, you’ll be fired. That’s not misogyny, that’s the natural consequence of your own sin. Other times it’s pure injustice for no reason. A drunk driver rammed your car and someone died. It’s an injustice but nothing to do with anything you did or chose or said. That’s the world- it’s evil. It’s under the temporary dominion of the evil one. (2 Corinthians 4:4).
But if you have a victim mentality, you will see your entire life through a perspective that things constantly happen ‘to’ you. Victimisation is thus a combination of seeing most things in life as negative, beyond your control, and as something you should be given sympathy for experiencing as you ‘deserve’ better. At its heart, a victim mentality is actually a way to avoid taking any responsibility for yourself or your life. By believing you have no power then you don’t have to take action.
If you believe you’re a victim, then you think you don’t have to take action. If don’t have to take action, you don’t have take Godly actions like resisting temptation, repenting, pursuing holiness, and the like.
No, resist the victim mentality and avoid ministries that focus on the ‘something bad’ that happened to you. You’re not a victim. You are a trophy of grace, a person made in the image of God who has been given the gift of mercy because you’re saved from His wrath against your sin.
We are all sinners. We all have a past, we all do wrong things, and we’re all totally depraved. Once we are born again, all those sins are forgiven AND they are forgotten by Jesus.
A Bible study is not an extended therapy session about yourself, your wounds, the ‘toxic relationships’ holding you back. It is an opportunity to learn more about the triumph of Jesus on the cross and His ongoing gracious ministry to His people.