Cynicism is a Cop-Out

Erik Cooper —  August 18, 2011 — 2 Comments

Last week, my friend Danny shared a story of miraculous healing. After 20 years of wrestling with the painful, and at times debilitating, effects of severe Coeliac Disease, God undeniably and radically touched his body.

As he shared each stunning nuance of his supernatural encounter at our weekly pastors’ group meeting, the mood in the room notably shifted. I’d like to tell you that eight faith-filled spiritual leaders worshiped God in celebration of Danny’s physical renewal, but that lie would be equally un-pastoral.

In reality, we (led by me) launched into 90 minutes of cynicism-laced venom about our own encounters with false prophets, fake healings, and “charismania” abuses.

I’m ashamed.

At the end of our time together, we did find the courage to repent and thank God for what He had so beautifully done in Danny’s life. Ahhh, the wonder of cynicism.

Cynicism is quietly admired. In fact, I’d almost say it’s a sought-after character trait in our culture today. Perhaps even more so in Christian circles. But in our (right and understandable) desire to sidestep institutional, emotional, and spiritual abuse, has crass criticism and mass distrust become our new energizing mechanism of choice?

Is that necessarily bad?

  • The Reformation built holy momentum by calling out the institutional fallacies of it’s time.
  • If MLK hadn’t found the courage to criticize the accepted evils of the status quo, African Americans would still be sitting on the backs of buses and drinking from separate water fountains.
  • Heck, even Jesus Himself knew how to throw down on some abusive religious hierarchy.

We need honesty. We need clarity. We need courage. We need leaders who can refocus the truth. But sometimes, I think we embrace cynicism as a cowardly sidestep to real transformation. Real leadership.

Cynicism is a cop-out. It dismisses categorically. Strains out truth along with the perversion. It keeps us from having to step into the tension of uncomfortable, mysterious, messy situations. It feeds on fear and past abuse. It’s a cheap (and tempting) power grab.

So how do we negotiate these waters? How do we remain shrewd, wise, truthful, and yet avoid this type of broad-scoped judgment and condemnation? Is cynicism always wrong? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What makes you cynical?

2 responses to Cynicism is a Cop-Out

  1. Erik,
    I love hearing about God healing those he loves! The Lord healed a man in our congregation of a brain tumor. There is much more healing that still remain to take place (vision, stability, strength, etc). Our God is good, and he DOES forgive our sins and heal our diseases!

    Side note: I believe miraculous healing often leads to repentance (by the one being healed AND those witness the healing). God’s kindness leads us to repentance, and his kindness is often in the form of healing. Witnessing his compassion for people often reveals our own pride and arrogance when we’re surrounded by sick and broken people.

    Please share more stories of healing as they come. Praise our LORD!

  2. I’m not cynical about God. I know what He says, and I trust it. But I am often cynical about what “worldly” authorities/experts say and always try to check it with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word before forming my conclusions.

    When I know a lie is being promoted as true, it makes me feel really angry. Or, if some redeeming truths are advertised, but as a whole, it is misleading, that upsets me too. (Like for example, a juice might say 100% vitamin C, but have no actual fruit in it, but the Mom chooses it because she thinks that it is healthy…..or a product is full of toxic and dangerous things but points out that it has “cocoa butter”, or whatever good, so people grab it…I always feel like protecting those people. I hate when people try to trick and misdirect other people’s sincere intentions.) Just call it like it is. If something is junk, just be upfront about it and then let people choose. There will always be people who still choose junk and foolish things but then the ones who are looking for truth and wisdom are led to a safe and REAL thing.

    🙂 I think something is wrong when miraculous healings and happenings are not a regular part of our walk in life and our impartation to others. I think walking regularly in God’s blessing in such a measure that crisis delivering “miracles” are unnecessary because the entire ebb and flow of our life is full of miracles large and small is best, but regardless, it really makes me sad when I see people have more faith that the letter they sent this morning will arrive than the Word of God.

    This isn’t condemnation for struggles in believing, it’s just a call for the church to get her act together. Are we full of the truth or a bunch of unfruitful engagement? Because we need more than a tingle during worship and the occasional breakthrough, we need the freedom and promises that God provides in overflowing measure so we leak everywhere.

    Gee, I hijacked your comment space again. Erik, you know you hit those places, as my friend Tara Wagner says, the places that hit you back! I am really triggered by some of your posts, but not in a bad way! In a very clarifying and call to action way. Much love!

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