It's only proof texting if you disagree.
Well, when I speak of proof texting, I am speaking of the process of taking a scripture out of context and taking liberties to poor meaning into the passage for the purpose of advancing a position that is foreign to the central theme of the original biblical book.
Cloud and Townsend do this frequently enough that even a friendly
reviewer picks up on it.
Matthew Hodge, blogger at “The Relentless Pursuit of Cold Shivers wrote:
The only real concern I have with the book is that, being written by Christian psychologists, they are trying to emphasis the Christian part as much as possible by putting lots of Scripture references in the book. I’m not against Scripture references, but often the book feels like it’s trying to stretch Bible verses to fit their boundaries model, rather than fitting the model to the Scriptures.
Of course, I think this is done in all sincerity – if I was to ask Cloud and Townsend, I’m sure they, in all seriousness, think they’ve handled the Scriptures correctly. I’m not so sure.
With many of these books written by psychologists that you can pick up at Koorong or Word, I’d be more happy if they just said, “Look, these principles aren’t strictly found in the pages of the Bible. But we’re comfortable that they don’t disagree with the Bible, and they’ll provide a useful framework for how you can relate to others.”
But that aside, I think the advice in this book is great, and will affect many, many portions of your life. Pretty much, if you answer “yes” to either of these questions: Do I always feel like I’m giving and I’m resenting it? or Do I have trouble saying no to people and it’s overwhelming me? then I can guarantee you’re going to get a lot out of this book.
(You can find the full review here.
When someone who genuinely likes the book can notice that they are contorting scriptures to fit their model rather than bend their model around the scriptures, then I think its pretty easy to see that there is a proof-texting problem with the book.
This reviewer agrees with Cloud and Townsend's approach, and yet still thinks Cloud and Townsend are proof-texting.
Leah wrote:I want to say one thing more to address what you say, notaugustine. My experience of almost 40 years in evangelical churches is that there is a lot of manipulation and control with phrases like, "If you were really a Christian," "You don't really care about the things of God if..." stuff like that. People end up worn out, over programmed, and undertaught. The environment generally is not safe enough to share the nitty gritty of life.
A few comments. First, I'm not claiming that each and every evangelical church has a better approach to handling relationship issues. I am sure there are some approaches that make Cloud and Townsend's approach look wonderful. I am also sure there are evangelical churches that manipulate and control, and I don't doubt that you have heard those phrases in some contexts in which they probably should not have been spoken. One can't help but feel for you. I won't try to defend that church (or those churches). Nevertheless, evangelicalism is made up of more churches than you could have ever sampled in 40 years so I respectfully submit that it is a little unfair to characterize all of evangelicalism based solely on your own negative experiences. For every church that is manipulative and controlling there is another that is life giving and freeing. For every attender of an evangelical church that is worn out, over programmed and under-taught, there is likely one attender who is energized, enthusiastic and growing in the word. For every person who has found a church that is generally not safe enough to share the nitty gritty of life there is someone who has found a church that bears one another's burdens and a church in which someone has found how to deal with the nitty gritty of life in the context of a life giving relationship with Christ and His body.
Whatever else we may think of “the church.” We must acknowledge that it is Christ's bride and it is the only
body that Christ established. Furthermore, whether we want to be or not, if we are in Christ we are a part of “the church.”
Her warts are our warts.
Second, lets presume for the sake of discussion that the institution is broken. The book is not. God's word is still God breathed and the Holy Spirit still uses it to change lives, heal relationships, and love one another. God's word teaches us what to say "yes" to and what to say "no" to. And I will argue that it doesn't need Bowen or Munichin's help in doing so.
Third, I'm a little unclear as to how the church's warts somehow legitimizes Boundaries. There are bad churches in evangelicalism. That fact is acknowledged. I'm just not so sure that this in any way makes the use of scripture by Cloud and Townsend more responsible or how it makes their theory any less dependent on the secular principles of Family Systems Theory. Perhaps what you are trying to get at is that reading Boundaries help you to navigate unhealthy churches a little easier as your further comments suggest.
Leah wrote:I don't want to overstate the benefit of Boundaries, but I find it a lot easier to function in a church environment now that I have learned to filter out the garbage and harmful messages in the church. I am a lot more comfortable now that I don't stress over the externals that were a form of bondage. "No" is not a dirty word. Staying home is not bad. Walking away from gossip is good...
First, filter away. Paul praised the Berean's for their discernment. Check what you hear against the scriptures. I only wish that Christians would approach the advise of the mental health therapists with the same degree of caution and discernment as they approach the Sunday sermon.
Second, I am glad that you don't stress over externals. Permit me to suggest that one does not need Cloud and Townsend to find this stress relief or come to the conclusion that externals are vacuous. One doesn't even need to read farther than the book of Matthew to find this relief or reach their conclusions (see Matthew 11:29-30 and Matthew 23:25). No is not a dirty word, but it does depend on what you say no to and to “whom” you say no. I have had to counsel at least one marriage where someone got a copy of Boundaries
and used it to substantiate long term sexual refusal.
Third, staying home once in awhile is not bad insofar as we do not “forsake the gathering of ourselves together”...(Hebrews 10:24)
Fifth, walking away from gossip is good. Obeying Galatians 6:1 and gently walking a gossip through repentance is better.
Leah wrote: I do a lot better in studying Scripture now that I have some freedom and healing from control and manipulation.
No one should begrudge you for finding freedom and healing from control and manipulation. I am sure that you have found some things that Cloud and Townsend have written to be very helpful to you. I am not arguing that every word in their book is rank heresy or complete falsehood. Every theory that survives the first few waves of criticism has some “truth” to it. No theory, psychological or otherwise, can survive with some “truth.” It would be meaningless babble without it. The question, at least in my own mind is, “Is there a more complete way to frame relationship issues than the one Cloud and Townsend present given their dependence upon secular Family Systems Theory?”
Ultimately I arrive at a “yes” answer. And that yes answer is predicated on the assumption that if you want a thoroughly “biblical” approach to solving relationship issues - and I would also argue that the church should
want a thoroughly "biblical" approach, then you should start with the bible and go from there
rather than start with a secular theory and hope that peppering that theory with a few biblical references will suffice.
Others may disagree. They are, of course, free to do so.