Darrow Miller and Friends

Whatever Became of Compassion?

Dr. and Mrs. Karl Menninger

When I was in college I read Dr. Karl Menninger’s book Whatever Became of Sin? Menninger was one of the world’s leading psychiatrists and founder of the world-famous Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. He wrote the book because he became convinced that mental health was connected to moral health. He pointed out that the word “sin” was disappearing from the American vocabulary. With the loss of the word came the loss of the concept of real moral guilt.

At the founding of the United States, theology was the language of discourse. American affirmed the Creator. They lived in a moral universe in which human beings are separated from God by sin. This broken relationship led to all sorts of brokenness within each individual, among humans, and between human beings and the rest of creation. The concept of sinfulness influenced society’s understanding of human health in every dimension: moral, psychological, physical and social.

With the Western worldview shift from Biblical to Atheist, we have lost the concept of a moral universe, sin or moral health. For Menninger, to lose the concept of sin is to lose the potential of restored relationships and restored health.

As a culture’s worldview shifts, so too does its language and life. (For a vivid example of this effect, see Scott Allen’s powerful blogs on marriage, The Power of Words: Redefining Marriage Part 1 and Part 2.)

Menninger’s title evokes a parallel question: Whatever became of compassion? In the months ahead I hope to reflect on this question. Many of the readers of this blog are thoughtful global Christians interested in the twin activities of reflection and action. Our posts on Social Justice generated significant attention. I hope that future reflections on compassion will likewise be challenging and an encouragement.

– Darrow Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).

1 Comment

  1. Jon Davis Jr.

    March 27, 2012 - 2:26 am

    I’m looking forward to it! 🙂