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    The CRA and Assessing My Relationship With Myself

    November 20, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    First off, I must state that it is best for one to read the the first post and then the second post if one cannot recall what the CRA is or why it concerns me. Secondly, I must explain that the Relationship with Self section is the section that is {mostly} available for viewing in the sample assessment. Therefore, I will be able to make direct quotes without violating intellectual property rights, as the Center for Relationship Enrichment has already made the questions available in the public domain. I will have to be more vague for the other sections, but I still think this is a good approach to use when I am able.

    What I have decided to do is to quote a question–not all of them because there are too many–and then try to offer a contrast, such as a Bible verse or a quote from a Christian thinker. My goal is to show first that the approach of the CRA is not entirely Biblical {if it is at all Biblical}, and secondly that the Bible does have something to say about these issues.

    I feel the need to remind all readers that the assessment claims to “help you assess your relationship with the Lord, yourself, and others. Most importantly this assessment will help you better understand what difference Christ is making in your life and relationships.” The second a survey asserts that it can guage one’s relationship with Christ, one must assume that there is a certain theology embedded in the survey. If the theology is false, the survey is invalid.

    Let’s go to the questions. I will list the number and quote them entirely, in the manner in which they appear in the sample assessment. I will bold them so that one is easily able to separate the question from the commentary beneath it. My personal comments are italicized, so that they are easily distinguished from the quotes from Scripture.

     

    • 40. I can put into words what I want or need.
      And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. {Luke 9:23 & 24}
    • 41. I am able to do things as well as most other people.
      Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. {II Corinthians 10:12}For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. {II Corinthians 10:18}
    • 42. I sometimes blame others for how I feel.
      The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. {I Peter 4:7}My point here, by the way, is that though this question addresses blame-shifting, I think it is approaching the situation incorrectly. A person who is sitting around obsessing over how they feel and whose fault that might be isn’t living with the sense of urgency and Christian should have. I find it more concerning that this test assumes that one should be so hyper-aware of how everything effects one’s emotions, when the Christian life is a life lived soberly and sacrificially.
    • 43. At times, I tell myself that I shouldn’t be feeling a certain way.
      It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart…{Philippians 1:7}This question is really too vague. Maybe this person shouldn’t feel a certain way. Maybe they should. It really depends on whether or not they are being unreasonable, and whether or not the situation really merits such feelings. If one feels good about sinning, one is wrong. I do not see how this question could possibly offer assistance or insight into one’s Christian life.
    • 44. I often find myself engaged in heated arguments with the people who are close to me.
      But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. {Matthew 5:22}This is one of the better questions. Obviously, since Christians are called peacemakers, this sort of behavior would reveal an area where one is not submitting to the Spirit of Christ.
    • 47. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
      The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. {I Timothy 1:15}Paul would have failed this portion of the test, I think. But then again, he had an unconventional way of looking at life:

      For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” {I Corinthians 1:26-29}

    • 50. Sometimes I have been so angry that I have wanted to hit someone or something, or break things.
      And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. {Matthew 21:12}Sorry…I couldn’t resist.
    • 53. I take a positive attitude toward myself.
      For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. {Romans 12:3}The Bible does not encourage one to have a positive attitude about oneself. Rather, one is to think soberly and realistically about oneself.
    • 57. I understand how my feelings influence my thoughts and actions.
      Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. {Romans 12:2}I don’t want to rush past this one, because I think this is very important. Embedded in the test is the assumption that feelings dictate thoughts and actions. The question above implies that perhaps, if one is aware enough of one’s feelings and their impact, this can be controlled. But the Bible says nothing of the sort. Though the Bible does not deny the existence of feelings, it is very clear that transformed lives are born of renewed minds. This is another instance where I believe the test to be focused on the wrong issue.
    • 73. When I experience a positive emotion, I know how to make it last.
      Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. {Philippians 2:5-7}Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” …Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” … So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. {Matthew 26:38-44}

      Jesus had the ability to make his “positive emotions” last, but he chose instead to “make Himself nothing.” He likewise had the ability to avoid the excruciating pain of his death, and pled with His Father for another way, but submitted when His Father said no. Christians are called to be like Christ. The question is not whether one can make a positive emotion last, but whether one can deny oneself when it is required. Humans in their natural state are very good at grasping at pleasure. Christian maturity means a willingness to experience temporary pain for a greater cause.

    • 78. When I am faced with obstacles, I remind myself of times I faced similar obstacles and overcame them.
      Let me break this one down a bit. Who does this question credit with previous success? Myself. Who is responsible for a future success? Me again. Where is Christ in this question? Uninvited. It’s not that I don’t believe in personal responsibility. It’s just that I don’t agree with leaving a sovereign God out of the equation when one addresses facing obstacles. Si thought these verses reveal a good balance between personal responsibility and also God’s sovereign actions:Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. {Philippians 2:12-13}

      But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. {I Corinthians 15:10}

     

    Okay, I am getting tired of sifting through questions that promote self-absorption and focus primarily on how I feel about everything. I am a pregnant woman, and I can cry at touching radio commercials with the best of them, but it is really all too gooey for me, so I think I’m done.

    As I have waded through the muck of feelings and concern about me and my little, shallow life (for there is no true depth in a life focused on self), I feel the urge to leave off with a couple quotes from one of my all-time favorite authors, David Wells, from my latest favorite book, Losing Our Virtue {all added emphasis is mine}:

     

    Luther saw, as we should today, that the moral law was not given by God for human beings to become self-satisified with their moral attainments. On the contrary, the purpose of the law is to induce self-knowledge and self-despair, which come from seeing that the best human effort always results in failure before God. Such an understanding is the precondition for receiving Christ. {p. 29}

     

    It is the biblical truth about the need and nature of conversion that is normative, not the emotional experience accompanying it, and yet it is hard to escape the prospect that if God’s indictment of sin is heard, if the Cross is understood, the sinner will have at least some sense of being overcome, of being stricken, in the presence of God. This may not produce the deep foreboding of Luther, the terror of Bunyan, the lostness of Augustine, but in some fashion the doom from which the Gospel is the delivery must have registered.{p. 38}

     

    At the heart of this new reading of the parable is a rather different understanding of the self from what prevails in classical, Protestant spirituality. There, the self is not to be treated as innocent, nor is it to be indulged. Indeed, sin is defined in terms of self-love, self-centeredness, self-delusion. But here, in this stream of modern spirituality, the self is understood in terms of psychology. The self is unhappy, not so much because of sin, as a lack of realization, or an inability to adjust to the social environment. So conversion in these sermons was presented as incorporating God into the self so that the self could have more meaningful relations with others. {p.50}

     

    Here is what Scripture has to say about the subject:

     

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. {Galatians 1:6-9}

     

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