Some friends and I have been e-talking lately about the number of people who are disillusioned by church. The discussion was prompted by the book title "So you don't want to go to church anymore" written by Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman. Our interaction has included views that are sympathetic to the disillusioned and some that are ticked off by the disillusioned.
One of the lines of thought I have had is this.
Illusions are false beliefs. Illusions can lead to disappointment. To be disappointed when something proves to be false is often regarded as unfortunate but with disappointment there may be no mechanism or personal will to change the condition. To be disillusioned is the state of being free of illusion(s). This should be regarded as wholesome, shouldn’t it? Disillusionment goes beyond disappointment because it accomplishes the beneficial result of freedom from illusions, from false beliefs. To disillusion is to cause to lose naive faith and trust in something that is not true anyway. It is the act of freeing from an illusion.
Could you stretch your language appreciation enough to see disillusionment as a gift? Might it be possible that God calls some people to plant seeds of disillusionment among their peers? If your immediate reaction is a horrified NO, then indulge me for a moment or two. Our common understanding of what it means to be disillusioned, is to be cynical, indifferent, negative, and
discouraging. Since these are not qualities or attitudes that harmonize with saintly traits, we conclude disillusionment is mistaken and God would certainly not encourage it. But we misunderstand disillusionment.
What I am asking us to consider is the true meaning of disillusionment. It has received a bad rap among Christians by being lumped with moaners and protesters. If we are faithful to language, then we must concur that becoming disillusioned is essential to awakening to the truth.
Illusions or deceptions, false impressions and misapprehensions are not to be adopted by people who have been born again to be free. The truth shall set you free. Disillusionment is the process of being stripped of falsehoods no matter how comfortable or kosher or right they have seemed to be. And this may entail a tedious, continuous work and very delicate and painful when it involves the life and practices of the church. Disillusionment may irritate and disrupt the ardently defended norms of our Christian or church culture, yet if it can show that some long held ideas and claims are untrue, won’t that be a good result?