Does Jesus make me whole?

Alois Alzheimer's patient Auguste Deter in 1902. Hers was the first described case of what became known as Alzheimer's disease. (Wikipedia)

One of my long-term projects that I have hardly begun to work on (OK dreams rather than “projects”) is to address the theology of aging. As far as I can see no work has been done on the part the process of aging and decay plays in the divine economy. Having long sat at the back of my consciousness I’ve recently begun to think I might actually get to work on this next year.

So it was with great interest that I read ‘s excellent post: I’m Sorry but Jesus Does Not Make Anybody Whole, in which he points out that perhaps through popular worship songs and hymns (because “whole” rhymes with “soul”?) the claim  that Jesus makes us whole has entered our theological vocabulary.1 It is simply not true, as Joseph Black says, indeed the opposite is true, God makes us unwhole, we decay. The longer we live (on average) the worse we decay, body first and then the mind. At least in this life Jesus does not make us whole, life is not about becoming whole, but perhaps (as he says in the post2 ) it is about learning to love despite our brokenness.

  1. He may be correct in his implied claim that this is just an Evangelical and Pentecostal heresy, but I have not the evidence to evaluate the claim. []
  2. Do read it, even if you don’t subscribe to the excellent blog. []

5 comments on “Does Jesus make me whole?

  1. Bob MacDonald

    will ya still need me, will ya still feed me, when I’m 64?
    Psalm 71 deals with the aged

    and even to old age and grey haired
    O God do not forsake me
    till I have made known your arm to a generation
    to all who come, your valour

  2. Tim

    Indeed, for me the Beatles pose a question that is somewhat urgent, since that will be my next birthday, and by then I will be “retired” ;)

    On Psalm 71 it is interesting to a modern Western reader how little Scripture says about aging, perhaps because it was rare for people to achieve their three score and ten, let alone four score! But I will be looking for what help I can…

  3. jonathan robinson

    don’t you also have the issue that for us aging is seen as a negative thing, something to be combatted through purchasing creams and hair dye (for women) and cars and hair dye (for men) whereas in scripture it is positive to be old, a sign of blessing? Those writing scripture probably saw little need to address the issue, because for them it wasn’t an issue!

  4. Tim

    To some extent I agree with you, yet there are episodes in e.g. David’s story where his aging is a problem, when Ishbi-benob threatens him and his men are worried he can no longer defend himself, not to mention poor Abishag, and I am not convinced Ecclesiastes ends on a note of “Isn’t age a blessing!”. Nor has aging got a neat simple theological solution (like death has) in the fall, since I don’t see anywhere in Scripture the (now) common teaching that aging is a consequence of the fall. God did not say to Adam “amid entropy you shall labour and you own life will feel its force” but rather cites an example of local reversed entropy (the growth of thistkles and thorns) as a consequence ;)

  5. Andrea Candy

    My grandmother lived to the age of 96 and spent more than half her life as a widow. She often used to reflect, rather wistfully, that Jesus may have shared the human condition but he never experienced old age, having died as a young man. Perhaps your theology of aging could examine the “tempted in all points like as we are” with reference to the particular challenges of old age.
    By the way, the Selwyn Foundation explores some of these issues through its Centre for Ageing and Spirituality http://www.selwyncare.org.nz/10/the-selwyn-centre-for-ageing-and-spirituality