Cosmetic Theology (by David Ravenhill)

February 4th, 2012 by

One of the fastest growing segments of medical science is the increasingly popular trend of cosmetic surgery. Tens of thousands of women, as well as men, are flocking to these gifted surgeons every year to undergo some form of plastic surgery.

What began as a means of helping those disfigured by war, fire, or accident, has now broadened to the removal or correction of something that these people feel hinders their overall appearance or well being.

Listed under the heading of cosmetic surgery you will find the following: liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, face lift, tummy tuck, forehead lift, collagen injections etc. The list is almost endless. Ask anyone who has had this type of surgery and they will tell you how much better they feel about themselves. Surgery had removed for them their ‘problem’ and given them the appearance and acceptance they always wanted.

While I don’t begrudge these people this luxury, I’m more concerned with the spiritual counterpart that I see happening in the Body of Christ. I’m referring to what I call ‘cosmetic theology’.

There is a new generation of believers who seem to think that God is too old and decrepit, and therefore greatly in need of a ‘facelift’ to enhance His image. They reason that in order to ‘sell’ God to the masses He needs to shed a few pounds, remove a few wrinkles, and adopt a more positive image.

One of the blemishes that these ‘plastic theologians’ have tried to remove is the occasional scowl they see on God’s face. Nobody likes to be around someone who gets angry, jealous, or revengeful. After all, everybody knows that a smile will win you , but a frown will put people off. A ‘god’ that would send someone to hell is just not marketable. Neither is a ‘god’ of absolutes. Who wants a ‘god’ that doesn’t compromise or bend a little? If we can do away with the moral Law, and substitute it with ‘grace’ instead, perhaps then ‘god’ will be a little more appealing. Have you noticed the recent ‘Botox’ injection? God is increasingly being referred to these days as ‘Papa’. Now I don’t have a problem with God as our Father, but He is also the Judge of all the earth, as well as the King of Kings. Papas are loving, playful, and fun to hang around. Kings and Judges on the other hand are not so endearing. You get my point.

This type of cosmetic theology has been taking place for some time now without us even being aware of what has been happening. We tend to focus on all the so called positive attributes of God, and avoid anything that we deem negative. I remember as a child people having promise boxes, from which they would draw a promise from the Scriptures. Like fortune cookies, they always had something good to say to the reader. This is like Moses reading only the blessings of God to His people, but never the curses that resulted from their disobedience.

Yes, I too love verses like Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and hope’ But God also warns His people what will happen to them if they disobey Him – ‘For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “As my anger and my wrath have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you will become a curse, an object of horror…” Jeremiah 42:18.

The leader of the nation’s largest ‘church’ openly admits he is not called to preach against sin but rather to encourage people. We all love ice cream, but a good preacher, like a good parent, will make us eat our spinach too.

Well, you get my point. God isn’t in need of our help. He’s not looking for a new PR firm to help Him bolster His image. He is perfect in all His ways, and therefore, has no need for plastic surgery!

David Ravenhill is a guest writer for VOR and has served the Body of Christ as a Pastor and Teacher for more than four decades. Find out more about him here:

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