Self Help vs The Gospel

by Seth Troutt, VI Worship Director

American middle class culture (aka the culture at ASU) has always been endowed the ‘American dream mentality”. The American Dream has been around for hundreds of years and most commonly could be described as a promise of prosperity and success via your personal hard work. Capitalism. I’m not going to argue with this mentality in its regards to materialistic foundations, but, what concerns me are the ways in which the American Dream, in this postmodern era, has moved beyond capitalism and material issues and has begun to infect Christianity and spiritual issues.  This ‘spiritual capitalism’ is what is commonly referred to as Self-Help.

The fundamental problem with Self-Help lies in its very definition. The contradiction with the truth of the Gospel is evident…

Self-Help says that we need help. The Gospel says we need salvation.

Self-Help says you are the instrument of your help. The Gospel says that Jesus is the only way.

Self-Help attempts to meet your needs as you define them. The Gospel defines our needs as sinners and doesn’t merely meet needs but is the power of God’s salvation.

Self-Help is self-focused. The Gospel is the holistic story of the Creator of all things.

The subtle danger here is when Self-Help bleeds into Christianity and perverts the word of God. I call this ‘Christian-Self-Help’.

In ‘Christian Self-Help’ Jesus and His cross are used by the individual to solve self-defined problems meet self-defined goals.

Christian Self-Help reduces the Gospel to a psychological process, rather than The True Story that defines and transforms the entire being of the regenerated Christian.

Essentially in Christian-Self-Help God’s Word becomes adulterated in that the proclaiming follower of Christ whores the Word by fitting it into his life as he pleases rather than placing himself under the authority of the spoken word of the Creator.

Let us not rely on our own religious efforts but rather let us seek to define ourselves by the Gospel of our murdered savior Jesus.


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