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WHI-1213 | Faith and Mental Illness

Posted by on in 2014 Show Archive
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Are today's churches prepared to handle issues related to mental illness? How should Christians help those struggling with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and various types of learning disabilities? On this program, I'll discuss these important yet often avoided topics with Amy Simpson, an editor at Christianity Today and the author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission.Are today's churches prepared to handle issues related to mental illness? How should Christians help those struggling with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and various types of learning disabilities? On this program, I'll discuss these important yet often avoided topics with Amy Simpson, an editor at Christianity Today and the author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission.


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  • Guest - Bill

    I have not been on this website in a while. But I was a tad bit disappointed by this. We seemed to trust physicians more than the Great Physician (Jesus) when it comes to healing.From reading the gospels of Matthew, mark, and Luke I believe that Jesus does not draw a clear distinction between illness, demon possession, and sin. Jesus healed and forgave sins. The two can not be separated from each other. So even though there is room for modern medicine in health issues, antibiotics or surgery in cases like apendicitis for example are certainly more effective than prayer, yet we can not minimize the power of the gospel to heal. And there is no doubt in my mind that the gospel is an antidote against mental illness. The best drugs can do so much against depression, but the gospel can cure depression, once a sinner is converted his view on life will change. he will understand that what happens in this world is due to sin, and that our hope in not in this world. This change of the mind, this renewing daily of the mind by meditating on the good news of the New Testament can do more against depression that all drugs and Doctors combined. So let us not ditch medicine, but at the same time let us give God the proper credit for healing people through faith in Jesus Christ. As Brian pointed out earlier secular mental health professionals are sure going to fail in curing mental illness, where the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope to battle mental illness.

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  • Guest - Bill

    Actually I'd go as far as saying that the fruit of the spirit 5:22-25 is the definition of mental health. And Galatians 5:19-20 (the works of the flesh) defines mental illness. Here's the thing as I said before you can not separate believing the gospel from mental health. This is why as I mentioned in my post above, Matthew, Mark, and Luke practically may no differentiation between, illness and unbelief. Christ came to cure both, Christ is the only remedy for mental illness and unbelief which can not be separated from one another.

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  • Guest - Bill

    In my last post I was referring to Galatians 5:22-25 when I wrote 5:22-25 as the fruit of the spirit. And further thinking it overnight I came to the conclusion that mental health is nothing else than sanctification or the fruit of the spirit as I called it yesterday. So we can not separate mental health from the gospel. We should not allow secular Doctors to define mental health which from a biblical perspective equals the renewing of the mind that results from believing the gospel. Medicine as well as bodily discipline (exercise and diet) certainly are most important in physical health. But when it comes to mental health it is the gospel alone that produces mental health. Paul calls mental health or the healing of mental illness "renewing of the mind" and clearly associates it with the work of the holy spirit.

    So as a Christian I have to disagree 100% with the conclusions Amy Simpson.

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  • Guest - Mark

    Similar to Bill I am surprised the role of the Devil has been excluded from this debate. In the reformed tradition the Devil and his devices were once understood. (For example, Thomas Brooks' "Precious remedies against Satan's devices".) I fear Paul could not write "2 Corinthians 2:11" to many churches today. Throughout the Rev. William Still's ministry (Minister of the Church of Scotland, Gilcomstom South Parish, Aberdeen,1945-1997) he often said when you see the word "evil" in the Bible put a "D" in front of it. He was lambasted for such a view of course saying he found the Devil everywhere! Martyn Lloyd-Jones had a similar view though... here's a Q&A session from 1971 where the Doctor speaks to practicing Christian medics about the Devil in the believer's life http://www.mljtrust.org/sermons/questions-and-answers-on-healing-and-demon-possession/ This topic is extremely important and it demands, (to echo Lloyd-Jones) a right diagnosis of the problem or else the treatment will be ineffective. Mental illness and depression are real in this fallen world. Understanding the cause is surely key in getting the treatment right!

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  • Guest - Bill

    Agree Mark. While I was referring to the devil, most importantly I was also referring to the flesh. The flesh can not submit to God as Paul teaches in Galatians 5:17, it is actually contrary to the spirit. So mental illness is clearly the works of the flesh, and mental health the works of the spirit. Mental illness originates in the sinful nature of man. And even in christians the battle between the flesh and the spirit is ongoing, Romans 7. But yes, as Mark says the importance of the devil is paramount. As Luther said man is either a slave to Satan (the Prince of this world) or a slave to Christ. And believers, even thought they are slaves to God, while in this life on earth they still have the struggle between the flesh and the spirit.

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  • Guest - Bill

    Now one thing to clarify here is that there is no doubt that the physical symptoms of mental illness can be addressed by medication. But this is the most medicine can do. For example somebody that has depression, sure there are chemical symptoms in the body associated with depression, and a drug can (to a certain point address the symptoms)restore the chemical balance in the body. But this antidepressant drug that a doctor may prescribe does not cure depression, it merely addresses the chemical symptoms. The gospel on the other hand can truly cure depression, and give an individual hope which is a fruit of the spirit, and then the person will not need anti depressants any longer. Another example would be high blood pressure, let's say somebody works as an investment banker in New York 16-hour days and develops high blood pressure. All medicine can do is through drugs bring it down, but this again only addresses the symptoms and does not cure the disease. The moment the person stop taking drugs, his blood pressure goes back up again. If this guy really wants to cure the disease of high blood pressure, he may need to quit his high paying, high stress job in New York, and move to a different job that is less demanding or move to a small town and enjoy a quieter life where he has time for exercise. Basically this guy needs to get away from the rat's race, and his blood pressure would be normal and he will not need drugs any longer. Now then we can say he is cured from high blood pressure, in the sense that he does not need drugs to lower his blood pressure any longer.

    So the key thing to differentiate is what medicine can and can not do. And in the two examples I gave medicine can barely address the symptoms. It's really a band aid solution. But curing mental illness which is the cause of the physical symptoms only the gospel can do. And when we put God first and money second, as Matthew 6:24, nobody can serve two masters and you can not serve God and mammon, we are going to realize that a lot of mental illnesses disappear.

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  • Guest - Richard

    Bill,

    Your analysis sounds great, but it fails to take into account that we live in a fallen world, beset by sin. To say "the Gospel alone produces mental health" is a pretty simplistic and un-scriptural solution to a problem of this sin-cursed world. And it also has the effect of condemning our brothers and sisters in the faith who struggle with these issues. Maybe you should read the Modern Reformation issue dealing with this, and then get back to us.

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  • Guest - Bill

    Hi Richard, not sure how what I wrote is being unscriptural Of course I took pains to explain we live in a fallen world, and of course I recognize that there are many christians that struggle with mental illness. I am not condemning them but I want them to confess their sin. If we confess our sins he is faithful and forgives us. Its not different than a Christian that struggles with any other sin. Christ is the remedy, who died for the sin of mental illness. Mental illness may be a condition, but so is sin, and Christ died for all sins. Arenèt greed, gambling, anxiety disorders, addictions not examples of mental illnesses? Of course they are, and we ought to bring sin to light not hide it and pretend those suffering mental illness are not sinners and lie to them by telling them that a pill from a Doctor which addresses the symptoms and not the sin condition (mental illness) is a remedy. The latter is unchristian and unbiblical, not my position, let us make that very clear.

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  • Guest - Bill

    My concern Richard is that Amy Simpson with good intentions has gone through a slippery slope and Mike Horton has fallen. In her zeal to chastise the evangelical church that advertises Christ as a remedy for mental illness she committed a much more grievous error by telling people that a Doctor can cure mental illness. Listening to Rick Warren advertise that Christ as the solution to addictions, hang ups etc. needs to prompt us to correct him. However it is a serious mistake to go and tell people to go see a Doctor, as Amy Simpson does. The correct thing to do is to point out that what Rick Warren calls addictions and hang ups, is nothing else than sin. We hate to use the word sin today, so instead we call sin mental illness, or an addition, or a hang up. So somebody that suffers from a sexual addiction as an example, instead of calling him an adulterer that breaks Godès law, we tell him he has an addiction and according to Amy Simpson should see a Medical Doctor. Instead we ought to preach Christ for the forgiveness of his sin, instead of denying he is sinful altogether.

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  • [&] Interviews: -Faith and mental illness: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2014/07/06/whi-1213-faith-and-mental-illness/ -Darkness is my only [&]

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