The portion of this feature on Lauren Winner that jumps out at me is this:
“In Christianity there’s this script of, you do the right things and you will not come to that place of despair, and something is wrong with you if you do,” she said. “I didn’t feel I had an abundance of preparation for hitting that experience.”
What she describes in the first sentence is not Christianity, of course, but what passes for it in many churches and faith communities today. Do x, y, and z and no harm will come to you. This is what most of the idiots on television preach. But it is also there, mostly between the lines but often not, in the way many evangelical churches teach the Scriptures. Call it moralistic therapeutic deism, call it self-help religion, call it legalism, call it whatever you want, but don’t call it Christianity.
What Winner says in that second sentence — “I didn’t feel I had an abundance of preparation for hitting that experience.” — speaks to the utter importance of gospel-centered preaching, teaching, discipleship, counseling, community fellowship, and on and on. I didn’t have preparation for hitting the experience of despair either. I had a lot of helpful hints and tips, a treasure trove of weekly seven steps to this or that, and an abundance of Christian resources. But nothing “works” like hearing and knowing and trusting that nothing could separate me from the love of God and nothing could invalidate the approval I have from him in Christ Jesus.