Jesus Creed

Many evangelical Christians emphasize what is called the doctrine of assurance, the conviction that one is saved and destined/elected for eternal blessedness. But, what happens to the person who, once fully assured and confident and joyous, discovers that assurance has been snatched from her or his hands? In other words, once you accept the sovereignty of God what happens if you come to the view that you might be — or in fact are — not one of the elect? Matt Rogers, in a vulnerable narrative of his own experience, explores that question — a question he himself experienced. His story can be found in Losing God: Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression

What are your thoughts about “assurance of salvation”?

He writes of the turmoil of wondering about his redemption: “If I wasn’t sleeping to fend off the fear, I was sitting at the desk in my old room, flipping aimlessly through Scripture, looking for any words that would speak comfort to me” (41). “I spent,” he reveals, “the rest of fall break under the promise of eternal pain, with the prophecy of Amos [5:18, 20] replaying in my head again and again” (42; those lines speak of the Day of the Lord’s wrath). Listening during Thanksgiving to some TV about the end times … “The weight of the despair bent me to the floor, and there, in a near fetal position, I lay sobbing the whole afternoon.” He came to this question: “Has God himself hardened me that he might show his wrath in me?”

Matt took a course in psychology but came to the view that his problem was either all spiritual or all mental. He thought perhaps his mental condition was the result of his spiritual condition, so he avoided thinking medications for depression might help.

He began to explore this question: Is mental illness an illness or is it a weakness, a moral religious weakness? His inclination was for the latter option. A woman named “Kris” helped Matt discover his own story, his own struggle with depression. A pastor, Jeff Long, helped him see that his “theological problem” was connected to a mental problem: depression.

He finds a Christian community — New Life Christian Fellowship in Blacksburg VA. He found friends and mentors and … “Healing came slowly, like a sunrise… .” Matt was enveloped by the dark clouds of depression for four years. The extreme ends of the Calvinist-Arminian debate was resolved in a third way, a both-and, a mystery to the human mind.

This is a good book — a tale of how a young man walked through the darkness of depression and came out the other end in chastened light. 

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