There are many tricks the devils uses in the church to promote false teaching. Here begins a series of posts exposing them. The first trick is sentimentalism. Sentimentalism appeals to the good and natural human feelings of compassion, care and concern. The sentimentalist is driven by compassionate concern for others and does not want anyone to be hurt in any way.
Tricks of the Trade – 1
While compassion and concern and care for others is admirable, false sentimentalism raises this concern to be the only criteria for discernment and action. For the sentimentalist no one must be hurt in any way at any time no matter what. Like every heresy, sentimentalism is not wrong in itself. It is wrong when it becomes the only, or predominant and determinant virtue. Heresy is the emphasis of one truth to the exclusion of all others.
So the sentimentalist will dislike statements of truth that seem to be ‘hurtful’ to others or to ‘exclude’ others. No matter if the person teaching the truth does so in an objective and even compassionate manner. If it seems to exclude in any way, then the sentimentalist objects. The sentimentalist will usually hold an overly optimistic opinion of human nature and believe that discipline is ‘authoritarian’, ‘harsh’ and ‘cruel’. The sentimentalist often believes that the faults in his fellow human beings (and himself too) are the fault of his environment, his socio economic background, his dysfunctional family or those in his world who are ‘harsh’, ‘cruel’, ‘judgemental’ or ‘legalistic’.
It is easy to see that such a view would never work in any real human enterprise. What athlete would win a prize if he avoided pain and suffering at all costs? What doctor would save a life if his primary aim was to avoid all pain and suffering at all costs? What marriage would succeed, what scholar would discover new truths, what business would thrive without pain and difficulty and discipline and hard work. Which of these would succeed without criticism and hard truth telling and right judgement and admonitions from mentors?
The sentimentalist is therefore too easy on his fellow human beings and most terribly, he is too easy on himself. His compassion, concern and care too often become complacency, carelessness and casualness. He doesn’t see it, but by putting sentimentality above truth he has put himself on the broad, downward path, and by spreading his heresy he takes others with him.
The admirable virtues of compassion, care and concern for others must be subject to the higher virtue of truth. Truth contains and directs compassion and concern, and a love for the truth and a love for souls must sometimes hurt. It’s simple: Humankind cannot bear very much reality. Truth hurts.
But when truth is put first compassion, concern and care for others blossom into their true and noble selves. As a doctor prescribes medicine he knows will have painful side effects, so the doctor of souls will sometimes speak a truth that causes pain. He does so, not to cause pain, but to save a soul.