Vol.XIII No.VI Pg.6
August 1976

Romantic Utopianism

Robert F. Turner

In his book, No Little People Francis Schaeffer dares to include a chapter on The weakness of Gods Servants. We try to quote enough to deal fairly with this thought mover.


I have said that sin is a serious business and we must never minimize that. But we are also being less than biblical if we slip into romanticism and utopianism... Utopianism is terribly cruel because it expects the impossible from people. These expectations are not based on reality. They stand in opposition to the genuine human possibilities afforded by the realism of the Scriptures.

Utopianism can cause harm. In the home, in the man-woman relationship, nothing is more cruel than for the wife or husband to build up a false image in his or her mind and then demand that the husband or wife measure up to this false romanticism. Nothing smashes homes more than this. Such behavior is totally contrary to the Bibles doctrine of sin. Even after redemption, we are not perfect in this present life. It is not that we avoid saying sin is sin, but we must have compassion for each other, too.

Utopianism is also harmful in the parent-child relationship. When apparent demands more from his child than the child is capable of giving, the parent destroys him as well as alienates him. But — and this is a special twentieth-century malady — the child can also expect too much of his parents. It cuts both ways. All over the world, perhaps especially in the Western world, children are expecting too much perfection from adults. And because the parent does not measure up to the childs concept of perfection, the child smashes him.... If we demand, in an of our relationships, either perfection or nothing, we will the nothing.

Utopianism enters another area to injure Christians, especially serious Christians: A Christian can build up a romantic, idealistic concept of himself and begin expecting absolute perfection from himself. This, too, is a destructive monster.... Many Christians vacillate between being permissive in regard to sin toward themselves, on the one hand, and demanding perfection from themselves, on the other. They end up battered and crushed because they do not live up to their own image of perfection. The worst part is that often this image does not have anything to do with biblical standards, with the true law and character of God.

A Christian must understand that sin is sin and yet know that he should not establish for himself a model of perfection or nothing. In other words, a Christian can defeat himself in two ways: One is to forget the holiness of God and the fact that sin is sin. The Bible calls us to an ever deeper commitment in giving ourselves to Christ for him to produce his fruit through us. The other is to allow himself to be worn out by Christians who turn Christianity into a romanticism. The realism of the Bible is that God does not excuse sin but neither is he finished with us when he finds sin in us. And for this, we should be thankful.