Katie Souza and Selfish Repentance

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret,
whereas worldly grief produces death. 
- 2 Corinthians 7:10

When we as chaplains find copies of Katie Souza's The Key to Your Expected End floating around the jail, we kindly try to replace them with something better.  Anything.  And then we file them in our special file.

Not an actual copy of Key, but a good idea.
Why?  Perhaps the most damning aspect of this book is that, while it is aimed at inmates, it encourages a false, Word-Faith approach to their cases.  In short, Souza tells detainees to ignore legal counsel and simply believe God for victory.

That's more than a minor issue, and it's more than a minor point in the book.

For instance, chapter eight is called, "Just Say You're Sorry."  That's not a bad start, and Souza talks about the need to quit fooling around, admit one's crimes, and repent.  The problem starts to enter when she says that, when she repented, God "began to move" and "upheld" her "cause in court by taking seven years off" her sentence (54).

Okay.  God is gracious and, as she rightly points out, has shortened periods of chastisement for the repentant.

BUT, that isn't a promise that He will always do so, and Souza teaches that it is.  She writes, "Do yourself a favor - make Daniel's prayer [in Daniel 9] your own. ... Daniel's prayer of confession and repentance changed Israel's entire future. It can change yours too!" (56).

We could talk about the proper exegesis of the Babylonian Captivity and whether it correctly corresponds to incarceration for crimes.  Yet, consider the heart motivation here: confession and repentance can change your entire future with the justice system.

Properly stated, confession and repentance of sin against God are the marks of a soul now justified in Christ and regenerated to new life in the Spirit.  This soul would begin to bear fruit of repentance, leading to a completely different view and interaction with the world, including the justice system.  Even so, Souza closes her chapter on repentance by writing these words:
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.  Go before Him seeking His forgiveness for your crimes.  Ask Him for the grace to repent. Believe that once you do this, you will experience more of God, and His mighty hand will move on your behalf!
By shifting the focus from "sin" to "crimes," the reader thinks of this from a worldly perspective.  In other words, we can fully expect inmates to read this chapter, "Repent to get a shorter sentence."  That is the definition of worldly repentance, and those desperate enough to lessen their earthly punishment will buy it.

If we could only get that key...
Inmates first told me about this book, specifically chapter eight.  They told me, “This repentance stuff really works… she got seven years knocked off her sentence!”  They accepted Souza saying, “Attack in the Appeals Court and win! God wants you to understand the revelation” (143). They understood what she was saying: Pray for God’s forgiveness so you can get out of jail sooner, which is a prayer of worldly sorrow (cf. 2 Cor 7:10).   Anyone want to wager a guess as to how they fared once they applied this teaching and lost?

As I noted in my review of the full book, even though the book will be read by mostly unbelievers, she falls short of ever presenting a clear gospel message. She invests no significant ink volume to justification before the Judge of the earth, to substitution of Christ, or to salvation in Him by grace through faith. No chapter truly endeavors evangelistically. The repentance her book talks about, then, lacks a turning to Jesus Christ. 

"Just say you're sorry" is the first thing an unrepentant child learns to curtail punishment. Instead, we need to teach people about godly grief that leads to true repentance.

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