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A Wounded Spirit Who Can Bear?

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By EWMI - Posted on 18 April 2006

by Albert Persohn
Solomon seemed to have some experiences dealing with people who have wounded spirits. Think for a moment about the ugliness that oozes from a natural wound that fails to heal properly. Consider also how a wound in the physical realm can influence one’s priorities. So too a spiritual wound. Have you been tormented or impacted by someone with a wounded spirit?
Solomon seemed to have some experiences dealing with people who have wounded spirits. Think for a moment about the ugliness that oozes from a natural wound that fails to heal properly. Consider also how a wound in the physical realm can influence one’s priorities. So too a spiritual wound. Have you been tormented or impacted by someone with a wounded spirit?
"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?" (Proverbs 18:14).

It is probably fair to say that everyone carries some sort of internal wound or scar. For the most part, like old physical injuries, they do little to hinder us. Not all are so free however. There are some people who carry deep wounds that are the products of offence and unforgiveness. Psychologists and councilors have identified some classic behavior patterns, which may help identify wounded individuals.

Preoccupation With The Past

A general rule seems to apply here. Have you ever noticed adults who at times behave like 10 year olds? Do a little digging and you may well find that around the age of 10 this one suffered an emotional crisis that branded or wounded him. Their emotional and spiritual growth was stunted at that time. They return there when the pressure comes. We often consider them to be immature or childish.

Negative Mind Set

There are few genuine optimists with wounded spirits. Think again of the natural. There are few athletes with physical wounds. The negative mindset of the wounded always sees things whether good bad or neutral in intent as having a negative impact on them.

Feeling the Victim

You can’t help this one. No really, you can’t. Even the good stuff you do will be misinterpreted as something evil. He likes it when you see that he feels like he is being victimized. He lives on Misery Street in the city of Whyamihated in the country of Victimstan. He wears his citizenship certificate around his neck for all to see!

Blaming Others

A wound of the spirit, once established, creates a sense of negativity and self-righteousness that stretches its icy grip to those nearby. “I am a victim” he reasons, “Nothing good ever comes my way, people always try to hurt me” he concludes. The wounded cannot easily take responsibility for, in his reckoning, he has always been badly treated.

Associates With Other Wounded Individuals

As we shall see later a person with a wounded spirit connects with other wounded. I believe the force that draws two wounded spirits together is as strong as the force that repels a wounded from a healthy person. In a church situation you can see it coming. You have clearly identified Bill who has a wounded spirit in the congregation. As he grows in Christ and in commitment to others he gradually begins to experience healing. Then along comes wounded Jack. You can’t send Jack away but you really don’t want him to discover Bill until you can get your head around Jacks’ problems. Like magnets the two men are drawn into a friendship that may be mutually damaging.

Wounded Mannerisms

The spiritually wounded often display their damaged inner man with sighs and groans. It can affect their posture and their diet. They regularly generate dark brooding looks. Make no mistake about it, they are wounded and they have pain.

Is There A Master Key?

While there are many things that cause pain at a spiritual level I propose that one factor more than any other lies at the core of this malady.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Offence!

Offence is taken not given. Jerry may insult, demean or intimidate Kevin continually but only Kevin can take offence. How could Jesus have prayed “Lord forgive them for they know not what they do” if he had taken offence? Scripture is clear that He was not helpless at the cross as He could have called a legion of angels. The point is that He chose to humble Himself and not reply with strength.

In contrast the offence taken by Absalom was so deep and profound it took him to dark depravity. David was attracted to the mother of Absalom’s replacement while she bathed on her rooftop in the king’s view. The young and desperate Absalom, who would be King, mounted his final challenge to David by having sex with Davids’ women on a rooftop. The depths of his wound led him to behavior that would finish him. (2 Samuel 16)

By observing the story of Absalom we see the wounded spirit in action. Absalom had a genuine problem with David. He let anger mature in his heart until it became a festering wound. This root of bitterness had grown up and would defile many, in this case an entire nation. A person with a badly wounded spirit will, out of confusion, attach himself to the first friend who comes along. Usually another wounded spirit! In this case Ahithofel the bitter grandfather of Bathsheba becomes friends with Absalom. Notice how misery loves company. Notice as well that it was Ahithofel who counseled Absalom to sin against David in the same manner that David sinned against Bathseba and Uriah.

Offence is a sin you commit against yourself.

The Wounded Preterist?

In 2003 I had a wonderful telephone conversation with John Noe. We talked about the emerging Preterist movement and its many personalities. He said that there are people in Preterist circles who are here because they are rebels. John was right. Many rebels end up with wounded spirits and many people with wounded spirits become rebels. This adds to the flavor of our movement. It also adds to the tension.

The kind of people God uses to bring change are those with strength of purpose and intensity. They are usually the kind of people who do not scare easily. They are natural contenders because only contenders are able to change the status quo.

On A Raft On A Sunny Sunday

Imagine you are on a raft with some friends lazily drifting downstream towards your picnic destination. The current is strong and you are zipping along smoothly. For your party it’s a one-way trip. You won’t paddle back because you’ll take the bus! Gazing into your future you see a small ill equipped raft coming towards you. On it is a single guy furiously paddling upstream. He is tired and joyless. All his effort is tuned against the current. You discover that he is not paddling away from a disaster. He really has nowhere to head. He is paddling upstream because no one else is.

That’s the guy God calls to the cut new ground. Behold your Preterist Family :)

More Later …

(PS, this is not really very theological and the writer is no trained counselor. The thoughts above are from 25 years of trying to understand people and the ministry.)

paul's picture

Dear Pastor Albert:

You probably possess far more "counselling skills" than you give yourself credit for, Sir! What a soul-searching article which is "in our faces" in the best and most proper sense, as preterists!

My own encounters, as a grassroots workaday evangelical, has been that an indeterminate percentage of personalities in all movements react painfully bad to the necessities of being temporarily marginalized, persecuted, etc. If they ever become the majority in any otherwise solid movement, centuries of sour tastes are left for future Christians to have to deal with.

Maybe, we ought to put together some kind of "pre-preterist kit" for Christians who are thinking through these issues. Believing as we do that God closed out the Jewish Age and the New Jerusalem Wife of the Lamb came down from heaven in Century 1 does not:
1. Make everything we ever learned before preterism invalid;
2. Make all of our future-fulfillment friends devoid of spiritual insight;
3. Make anyone who challenges us into "the enemy" any more than we are the enemy to them, once they get to know us;
4. Make it a crime to joyfully connect with a local assembly of believers, most of whom cannot let themselves accept past fulfillment; and
5. Make us right to regard ourselves as "victims", in any sense of the word, just because we are, like the Hugenots, used of God to challenge some aspects of the status quo which need reform!

Thanks so much, Brother! You hit the nail on the head, for sure!!!

In the King,

Paul Richard Strange, Sr.
dadprs@hotmail.com

Virgil's picture

Al, I really enjoyed this little writeup. I must say, that I have never had any personal issues with anyone until I became a Preterist. Also, I have said this before, and I have no problem saying it again in public...Preterists are some of the rudest and meanest people I have ever seen; not all of them...but many. Preter-ism as a whole will not make headway as long as we do not first learn to reach each other properly.

I certainly agree with John Noe's assessment; there are quite a few people involved in Preterism because they want to see themselves as rebels and because they like it that way. When I hear someone that went and tried out 12 different denominations/churches and he couldn't get along with a single one of them, then maybe the problem is with the individual, not the church.

We so much miss the point - this continuous quest of grouping up only with people who agree with us is a terrible testimony as Christians, I believe, and the exact opposite of what Jesus advocated. Getting over ourselves and over our nausea for a neighbor is the beginning of a change in our hearts where we learn to love those different than us, bless our enemies and give them the clothing off our backs. We (including myself) are far from that; but the good news is that is never too late to start and work on it even more diligently.

Ozark's picture

Virgil,

Yes, there are bad apples in Preterism, but there are also some of the finest folks you will meet anywhere. I know it hurts when the people who should be thanking you slap you in the face instead. Just remember the Fellow who took more than a few slaps in the face for us a long time ago. In a way, you walk in His steps. A privilege, not a curse.

I totally agree with you. A fulfilled gospel should lead to a greater love for our neighbor not a lesser one. Maybe we should develop a preterist understanding of our neighbor. That might be a good project.

Virgil's picture

Doug, actually I've pondered doing my TruthVoice 2006 sessions on that exact topic...it's a great idea, and I think a lot of people would find it beneficial. Miroslav Volf's book "Free of Charge" is really prompting me to think in that direction a lot.

I've always said that if Preterism does not make us better Christians and better human beings then it's useless...dry theology without life-long implications is hardly something I want to be part of.

MichaelB's picture

Virgil writes:
I've always said that if Preterism does not make us better Christians and better human beings then it's useless...dry theology without life-long implications is hardly something I want to be part of.

"Whats in it for me" theology. Whether it makes you better or not - it is still the truth.

I understand what you are getting at, but I think it could be worded differently Virgil.

I hope you don't take this wrong...

John 4
23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

But it seems both are important to God.

Kyle Peterson's picture

And this a great example of what I see occurring in Preterist circles.

Those seeking truth just so they have the truth.
(which described me a few years ago)

Those seeking out how the truth makes their relationship with God (and others) better.
(which I'd like to think is me now)

Steps to follow
1)And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
2)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
3)Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life
4)and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free
5)Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

Truth isn't just meant to sit in the scabbard and look pretty, it's meant to be brandished and wielded.

MichaelB's picture

Hey truth seeker Kyle...

Is that why you bash Calvinists in your blog and then make it so that only certain people can reply on your blog...is that your version of "seeking truth" to make your relationship with "others" better?

Kyle writes on his blog:
Sound familiar? It should - Calvinsts believe themselves to be (the modern) elected agents of God. It's no surprise then why they feel perfectly justified when it comes to their self-righteous behavior.

Oh the irony Kyle...

Kyle do Arminian Futurists also believe that they are the "elect" of God? Of course they do...they just think that they elected themselves.

Kyle Peterson's picture

I'm not sure what you mean by locking responses from my blog. As far as I know anyone that signs in can post in there.

I'm not understanding your irony either. I'm really not sure what Arminian Futurists believe. I'll have to ask one sometime.

MichaelB's picture

Kyle writes:
The "Elect" as mentioned in the New Testament were quite simply those elected to help bring about the New Covenant.

Really, what does this scripture say? Does it say that was what they were elected for, to "bring about the new covenant"...

2 Timothy 2
10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Kyle - can you produce 1 scripture that says they were elected to "bring about the new covenant"

Because it sure looks to me like the were "elected" to receive "salvation" that would be received in that New Covenant.

Last time I checked, Jesus brought that New Covenant and the didn't have salvation (accept by faith) prior to that covenant coming.

I didn't put "any words in your mouth", I quoted you.

Kyle Peterson's picture

Actually Mike, The scripture provided isn't proof that these people were "elected" to the sole purpose of salvation. Read closely.

MichaelB's picture

Kyle writes:
Their defense? - Moses commanded the Israelites to kill babies - Samuel hacked Agag to pieces - Elijah destroyed 450 prophets of Baal - Elisha summond bears to maul some wise-cracking youths - The Mosaic Law executed people for breaking some of its laws. What they fail to realize is the above persons were elected agents of God performing His will.

Oh really - so the elect were not just in the first century. Gosh, I have been saying this all along Kyle =)

Glad to see you agree with me.

Kyle Peterson's picture

You only disgrace yourself by putting words in my mouth.

People throughout biblical history were elected by God to perform various tasks. These elections were essential because God required people to help bring about His plan of redemption.

The "Elect" as mentioned in the New Testament were quite simply those elected to help bring about the New Covenant.

The New Covenant is here and redemption is complete - no more election needed.

Virgil's picture

Talk about totally missing the point...

Ransom's picture

"I've always said that if Preterism does not make us better Christians and better human beings then it's useless...dry theology without life-long implications is hardly something I want to be part of."

Uh oh...sounds like that insidious McLarenism to me... ;)

Virgil's picture

Uh oh...sounds like that insidious McLarenism to me... ;)

Now wait a second..I've been saying that much longer than McLaren! :)

Ransom's picture

I'm sure that's true, Virgil. This really highlights the reasons you have identified with Emergent, however. Very good reason, I'd say.

EWMI's picture

Thanks for your comments Virgil. Well, I like John Evans various articles that begin with "Towards a Preterist understanging of .....". It would be great if soon we start seeing postings by human relationship professionals with titles like: "Toward a Preterist understanding of Psychology" etc.

Virgil's picture

I know...I tried to get Duncan McKenzie to discuss that aspect of Preterism but I think he is quite busy to take on a new project.

Thanks again for a good article though...

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Thanks Albert,

There's a lot to think about there. I've experienced some very similar situations in the ministry work I'm involved with.

There is a lot of truth to your observations,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

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