THE NATURE OF ENTHUSIASM [MADNESS]
“Paul, thou art beside thyself!”
True Christians, filled with the love of God, are often said to be beside themselves… out of their minds… crazy… insane… mad. But I will tell you what true madness is like. True madness, in a religious sense, is falsely imagining the influence or inspiration of God where there is none.
I shall address three sorts of madness within Christianity.
First, there is the madness of those who imagine they have the saving grace of God when they do not. It is clear that they do not because they are unholy and unloving. But they imagine that they do because they take on the label, were baptized as infants, hold the right opinions on doctrine, attend church, receive communion, do good, etc. And since this type of madness is so common, they imagine they are sane and others crazy!
Second, there is the madness of those who imagine they have the gifting of God when they do not. They feel God will work miracles through them, speak through their every word, direct them in every particular choice of life through supernatural means… delusions of grandeur.
Third, and closely related, there is the madness of those who imagine they can attain the end (holiness) without the means of grace. All three sorts of madness lead to pride. And pride makes one stuck… stuck in madness… stuck in un-holiness. Be careful not to fall into the many-headed monster of madness.