Biblical Counseling and Mental Health Crises: Does it Always Work?

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I have been seeing a lot of response online regarding the death of Matthew Warren last week.

As you are probably aware, Matthew, age 27, was the youngest son of Pastor Rick Warren, and last Friday after many years of depression and despair, he ended his own life.

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A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!  Psalm 130: 1-2
 
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DESPAIR

photo credit: fakelvis via photopin cc

Read an excerpt from Rick Warren’s e-mail he sent to his staff which was taken from this CNN article:

You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.

But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.

Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said ” Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” but he kept going for another decade.

 

Rick Warren has handled this family crisis with such strength and dignity and sensitivity.  He has a very public ministry and has been very transparent with his grief and expressions of sorry.

Today, I came across this tweet:

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 7.09.56 AM

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I am wondering about this, too.  When I read that Heath Lambert thinks SBTS has the answers I of course was intrigued, so I clicked on the link.   At the website was information about a two-day counseling course put on by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) Alumni Academy.   Heath Lambert is teaching this class along with Stuart Scott.   Read the description:

Counseling the Hard Cases
August 1-2, 2013

Join Drs. Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert as they teach Counseling the Hard Cases on August 1-2, 2013 for one of our forthcoming Alumni Academy courses. This class will flow from their recently published work Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of Gods Resources in Scripture.

The class will be a study of the sufficiency of the Bible as a resource for handling counseling problems.  Scott and Lambert will demonstrate Scripture’s competency to speak to the most difficult and complex counseling problems, which are theological at heart.  Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry.  Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.

Heath Lambert is Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling; Department Coordinator, Biblical Counseling.  He was recently named Executive Director of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC).

Stuart Scott also will teach this 2-day class.  Here is part of his bio from the website:

Dr. Scott comes to Southern Seminary with over twenty-five years of experience in counseling and pastoral ministry, including ten years as associate pastor of family ministries and counseling at Grace Community Church in the Los Angeles area with Pastor John MacArthur. Prior to joining the faculty at Southern Seminary/Boyce College, Dr. Scott served on the faculty of The Master’s College and Seminary in the area of biblical counseling. He is a Fellow and member of the board of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) and a member of the Association of Biblical Counselors.

 

How would SBTS and other biblical counselors deal with cases like Matthew’s?

Read this again:  Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry.  Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.

And once again:  Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry.  

This is implying that we need nothing else except the Bible for counseling, is it not?  They are specifically referring to “even the most difficult issues of life.”  So what they are saying is that pastors using the Bible should be able to handle all cases  – including hard cases.  Even Matthew’s case?

A big focus on this kind of counseling (NANC) is to work on the sin in one’s life.  In general, this does work.  However, what about abuse cases?  What about war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?  Pastors should be able to handle that, right?   Do war veterans and abuse victims suffer as a result of their sin?  What about postpartum depression in which a woman is hormonally imbalanced?   What about when there are other medical conditions going on resulting in depression?  What about when someone is in so much physical pain, they cannot sleep and the lack of sleep is making them go in a downward spiral.  Is Biblical counseling the answer?

Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors and my former pastor thought that they should be able to handle sex abuse cases within the church without notifying civil authorities.   In a similar fashion, many pastors believe that the Bible has given them all the answers they need to help people with mental health issues – all mental health issues and crises.  I am not so convinced.  I have seen people slip through the cracks.  It sounds as if Matthew Warren’s parents realized that their son’s despair was beyond their control and sought medical assistance for him for many years.  They did everything they knew.  He still died.  Many Christians will judge that harshly.  Some hateful “Christians” might even say that he died because he didn’t get true Biblical counseling.  Yes, I’ve seen some of those comments around social media and they disgust me.

While I believe the Bible does have the answer to so many of life’s problems, I think there is an appropriate time to seek additional help.  I do not believe the lines are as black and white as many of our pastors have led us to believe.  In fact, I believe many of those black/white pastors are putting people in harm’s way because they are ill-equipped to handle the serious cases many experience in a mental health crisis.

I am interested in hearing any stories you might have regarding counseling at church.  This is a sensitive subject.   Feel free to use a pseudonym if that makes you feel more comfortable.  I’m also working on sharing a personal story with regard to mental health.  I want to share my experiences with Biblical counseling.  Stay tuned for that.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.  Psalm 40:1-3
 
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60 comments on “Biblical Counseling and Mental Health Crises: Does it Always Work?

  1. Back in the day at my SGM church, which went by PDI, formerly People of Destiny, the entire church, through the caregroups was assigned the first level materials put out by the Biblical Counseling Foundation, BCF, which at the time was headed up by some pretty big names in the evangelical world and CJ Mahaney was cozying up to them. We ALL had to do the “Self-Confrontation” portion of the curriculum. (http://www.bcfministries.org/ ) I remember, this was when I had recently lost a baby and also discovered my husband’s affair and porn addiction and that we were in so much debt we were going to lose our house. Well, back then, the Self-Confrontation materials taught that depression was the sin of unbelief and self-indulgence. So, when I began to have insomnia and depression, I had a whole church full of “friends” lovingly telling me that I needed to trust God and that would fix everything, and even if nothing else in my life was OK I would sleep like a baby. Of course, I was in sin for being depressed and taking anti-depressants was considered a cop out so you didn’t want to take those. Right. This is about the point I nearly went crazy and left the church. Well, actually, this is the point I was driven to a breakdown and left the church.

    I remember an example in the curriculum called “Mary’s husband has left her.” Mary’s husband has left her and she is do depressed that she doesn’t want to get out of bed. What is a Christian brother or sister to tell her? That she is is committing the sin of self-focus. Not kidding. It was a brutal time at my SGM church.

    Biblical Counseling that professes to be all-sufficient is very dangerous. There is no One-size-fits-all when it comes to mental health because we are all individuals wired differently.

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  2. Lisa!!! I have 2 copies of that book on my shelf. I’m going to have to take a look. I took a BCF course years ago and haven’t looked at those books since. It me so sad to think about people going for help (which is a huge step in and of itself) and then get further into despair because of this kind of teaching.

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  3. Eric – – Someone else sent me those 2 links. I skimmed through them but need to take a closer look. I’ve wondered about that connection with Calvinism/therapy. It didn’t make sense that it could work together.

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  4. Sergius – That does not surprise me. Before I was served with the lawsuit, I contacted Grace Community’s volunteer pastor of the day asking about whether he knew if my pastor had contacted them. In that conversation, the pastor turned the conversation to my family life and marriage. I found it interesting that both this pastor and Pastor Bill Shannon seemed to think I was out of line for speaking out – – asking where my husband was in all of this, as if I don’t have a mind or voice of my own. This has been a common thread I have seen among these folks. Evidently, a woman cannot be an independent identity in a marriage. To speak out about a problem “underneath” her husband implies a big marriage problem. There’s only a legitimate problem if the husband identifies it.

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  5. First of all let me ask the obvious. If the Bible contains everything we need for healing mental illness then why do we need Scott and Lambert? Their claim is, in my view, irresponsible. It’s akin to the claim that the Bible has everything we need to treat cancer. A responsible pastor doesn’t try to treat cancer and shouldn’t try to treat mental illness. A pastor can and should pray, love, listen and minister but must have the humility to recognize when more is needed. By the way, nouthetic counseling owes as much to the work of Glasser (reality therapy) as it does to the Bible.

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  6. JA, I hope they also recommended Richard’s book Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality .

    There are volumes of insight into the psychology of exclusion in Christian churches and lives. I’d have to say it’s my favorite book of the past decade.

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  7. Julie Anne, to answer your question No, it doesn’t always work, it takes a lifetime imho to heal. And many do not heal, not on this side. I don’t what these so called experts say. I am just a tad fired up- Bear with my rant please!

    I had demons of anger cast out of me several times, it didn’t do a lot good. Left that church only to get into one where the leaders didn’t cast out demons, but said depression was a sin, and taking meds was undermining Christ & the sufficiency of the scriptures…
    I saw several different therapists through the years, each one helping me to a degree to unpack my childhood trauma. The worst were the rigid biblical ones. This is how my X pastor responded when I poured out my story to him I was 37 years old.

    He said to me: “Well, I don’t know anyone who has suffered more than *Sally* in her childhood, and she is fine” (Which I knew Sally & her horrific story and she wasn’t fine, she was cutting herself in places that I will not name here) She had placed her trust in me with her story so I couldn’t point it out to him how sick she was. Then he finished up with the all too familiar message about the Word, prayer & me learning to submit myself to authority and Trust in the Lord.

    I was in my 50′s when I asked my husbands doctor to refer me to a support group for people who cared for spouses that had chronic illness, my husband had been in a wheelchair for a year after several surgeries & I was worn out. She referred me to a Psychiatrist who specialized in working with the disabled and their spouses. It only took about 5 sessions & my telling her about my recurring nightmares, that she explained that I suffered from PTSD… (My darling husband will tell you how I scared the crap out of him many times, standing up in my sleep in our bed screaming & trying to run) Poor guy, he has had his hands full with me.

    Please to all who who suffer from ptsd or serious depression, please don’t read the following if you are easily triggered. This is in a nut shell..

    ****TRIGGER ALERT – CHILD ABUSE*****
    Watching your mother repeatedly get thrown down the basement stairs, getting beat with a strap on a bare bottom, being chased with my siblings a couple of times by dad with a gun saying he was going to kill us, have a creepy ass uncle rape your little sister, and mess with me sexually later, yet I was the the one who held her as she cried, because Mom was drunk, and then the straw that broke this little girls back was seeing your best friends twin find your dad’s gun under seat in station wagon, think it is a toy & accidentally shots his brother in the head while I sat next to them. And my poor mother who was in shock, cried out to me a 8 year old: “Gail, why didn’t you tell me he had your dad’s gun?

    I want to add my father was a well respected business man who owned a drug store, he was Pharmacist. He had a legitimate reason to have a hand gun because our store was a pay station for utility payments and the deposits he took to the bank at night were huge. He had been robbed once. I am not letting him off the hook here, I am pointing out how crazy-making it was for me – everyone loved my dad, his customers thought he walked on water. I was scared to death of him. But, when you are little, you- precious innocent- you think something is wrong with you, that if only you could be better, smarter then maybe daddy will love me…

    And to be told by the church that I had demons. And to be told that depression was a sin. That I tried to put my past in the past, pretend that Jesus had made me whole, that I played by their rules makes me sick today. I spent many many years in what felt like a dark night of the soul.

    This old gal is really steamed up because I am now realizing something that I never put my finger on before: I blamed myself, I was a mess internally when I became a Christian, still am, who the heck wouldn’t be spending the first 18 years of their lives with a Dad who called them a G.D. idiot and asked them repeatedly if you had a brain inside of that blonde head…

    I thought the reason I didn’t have joy unspeakable and full of glory was because I was so sinful, I had anger issues- yep, duh, it took a lot of years till Jesus mended that tear in the fabric of my personality. That church crushed the love of Jesus right out of me. But I thought it was because I didn’t pray, memorize enough scripture blamed myself for not being submission enough or holy, or perfect. Bull****. I am so over that. I bet Jesus is mad as a hatter at these fake well- respected pastors who lord it over hurting people…

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  8. The topic of Biblical counseling is one of interest to me because my wife is currently working on her master’s degree to be a marriage and family therapist and community counselor. She is working on her degree from a reputable and well known Christian university. We have had some pretty in depth chats with one another about this idea that the Bible is the only thing that should be used for counseling, and that no Christian should ever see a therapist, because they use the evil subject of psychology. We had both grown up hearing various people, sometimes family members, sometimes pastors or other people in church, claim that all psychology was inherently wrong and was not only useless for real counseling, but also harmful, and would urge people in such therapy situations to drop out and see a “Biblical Counselor” instead. Most recently the topic came up when I read another blogger take this position (I won’t name the blog). Somewhat ironically, a large portion of this blogger’s writing dealt with spiritual abuse. I felt that their stance on this particular issue itself constituted a type of spiritual abuse.

    There is certainly nothing wrong with using the Bible to counsel people. It should be used in fact. Ultimately what everybody needs is the love, grace, compassion, and hope of God. This does not mean that it must be the only thing used however. A common argument is that all knowledge as it relates to philosophy and how we should handle various issues are found in the Bible, so to learn psychology is useless at best, and sinful at worst. What they so often fail to realize, however, is that while the Bible does contain all truth, it is not a step by step manual. It does not necessarily spell things out, or put things in plain, easy to understand terms.

    The careful study of psychology can help us to flesh these things out. (Please note, I am not advocating all of psychology. There are certainly harmful and unbiblical psychological theories out there. We must be careful.) A great and simple example of this would be the stages of grief. The Bible does speak of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It may not necessarily use those terms though, and I can think of nowhere in the Bible where it speaks of people going through these stages when they are grieving. This is something that we have learned through psychological study, which is nothing more than the study of how people think and act. By learning these stages, counselors can more effectively help their patients cope with their grief, and can better tailor the hope and help they give depending on the stage that the person is in at that time.

    Furthermore, the idea that sadness, depression, or bad things happening in your life as a direct result of sin is unbiblical. That is a principle more similar to the Buddhist philosophy of karma. Yes, sometimes when we sin their are negative consequences that we must deal with. Yes, sometimes God disciplines us by allowing us to go through problems in order to bring us back to him. To automattically jump to the conclusion that someone is depressed or going through troubles as a result of some sort of sin though is dangerous. If you read the Bible, typically the ones being shown as the most righteous are the ones who suffer the most. Read the Book of Job for example.

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  9. If that was confusing, I apologize- what I meant to say is: I was spiritually abused. That is what I am putting my finger on. I couldn’t say that a few months ago- it sounded too dramatic. Though I was a victim of childhood abuse, I have come so far in my journey that I don’t feel like a victim anymore. But I am putting pieces together like never before, so at this point I would like to introduce myself: Hello grace filled people, my name is Gail and I am a recovering (just starting) victim who was spiritually abused. It wont be my identity, but I need to name it.

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  10. I knew that name sounded familiar, and I went to my internet archive account. Sure enough I remember him doing a sermon on abuse. He called it Worse Case Scenarios. It was awful.

    http://archive.org/details/WorseCaseScenarios

    Quotes:

    He tells wives to look for the sin they did that influenced their husbands to sin against. “I can tell you this: I have never in my life — whether as a pastor, as a counselor or just as a human being that knows people — I have never met a victimized spouse who responded perfectly to their spouse’s sin against them, who’s always been righteous in their response, who’s never sinned in their response to the sin of the spouse. I’ve never met that person.”

    So as he states no one is perfect, and so since that is the case you need to learn to endure the suffering of abuse.

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  11. Julie Anne,

    Seeking guidance from the right kind of spiritual counselors in by itself is tough. Sometimes I remind my kids they are in charge of themselves and are accountable to God.

    Another way of putting it is, I can’t live their lives for them, but I’m there for them out of Love but God is always there for them.

    I think for most seeking guidance from a church, one might need to consider before pouring your heart out. What are the counseling credentials of that counselor?
    Is the Christian Counselor a Licensed Counselor.

    @10:48 a.m. Eric posted “why Calvinist can’t be affective therapist”, hit close to home for me. If I need to know how to be a good Calvinist, then I may be in the right place.
    But if I’m seeking mental guidance from a Calvinist, he/she better have a License of Psychology and a Diploma from an accredited University with “Psychology Science” posted on their wall.

    I would like to believe the best place to get counseling would be from a church, but if that church doesn’t have a Licensed Counselor, then it might be possible that counseling or offering mental discernment, may not be the Spiritual Gift of that church.

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  12. Craig – – BRAVOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Love your comment. I wish I could communicate so succinctly. But . . . I’m a verbose woman – lol. Thank you!

    Gail – Your story is heart-wrenching and now it makes me appreciate even more how far you have come along – – and right before our very eyes. You have really given me a gift by sharing so openly. I do think about the stories I read here and just today I was telling someone about the transformation I had seen in you. Isn’t that weird – we’ve never met IRL, yet I feel I know you like we’ve been friends for years. Relationships are powerful.

    Hannah – – – I read the summary of the audio and it dawned on me that he is talking Piper-ese – – “endure abuse for a season” or whatever he said. So, women who are abused get to suffer, while men get to continue in their sin and have no consequence. I don’t quite get that. That sure says to me God hates women. Where is that in the Bible?

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  13. How would SBTS and other biblical counselors deal with cases like Matthew’s?

    Recite Bible verses over and over to them to convict them of the Secret Sin they must have? (Even the Witchfinding techniques of the Malleus Malefacarium make more sense…)

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  14. Gail, do you have a copy of the book, The Subtle Power Of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen? If not, let me know and I will get a copy to you. Julie Anne can put you in touch with me. If you have not read it, I think you would find it very helpful.

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  15. Heath Lambert genuinely scares me. Several of my loved ones, both friends and family, suffer from chronic depression. Their brains are simply hardwired differently and they lack the necessary chemicals that are conducive to a different existence. The Bible does NOT contain all things necessary for counseling my loved ones. They require trained doctors and medicine to live healthy beautiful lives. These “counselors” would surely push my loved ones over the edge. Mental health is just as serious as any other medical condition and should be treated as such. My heart breaks for all of the people who have been and will be harmed by these dangerous teachings. The Warren family has my deepest sympathies and prayers. These are such hard times to go through.

    Gail, your story…I don’t know how to respond. You are a tough woman who has seen the worst that life has to offer and yet you persevere. You and Julie Anne and Barbara are the beautiful women of this world.

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  16. Thank-You Lois,

    I just sent Julie Anne an e-mail. She will get back to you. My heart is touched that you would offer to send it to me. The kindness here is amazing.

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  17. Hi Mandy,

    Thank-You. How you responded was perfect. (Though I am not in the league of J.A. & Barbara.)
    I bet you are one of HIS beautiful women in this world. So few, understand what you captured in your comment… All of what you shared is full of mercy and wisdom and no surprise here I am with you 100% on: “Heath Lambert genuinely scares me”

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  18. Hey, if the pastor who preaches no psychological treatment — pray and study to get over it — then when he has a heart attack, it clearly represent possession and inadequate prayer and study. So hand him a bible and pray over him that the spirit of the sick heart will leave and a wholesome heart will be restored. And then see how long before he asks for an ambulance. It makes more sense to treat a “heart” attack as a spiritual matter than to treat depression as such.

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  19. I cried a little reading this post & comments…hits home.

    From Rick’s statement about Matthew: “He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.” What a beautiful quality. A quality that these guys(Lambert & Scott) will probably never have.

    Yea, I agree with Arce. ANY physiological disease or complication is the same. I’m guessing Lambert & Scott were absent for their Neuroscience and Neuroanatomy classes…IF it was even part of their curriculum. Why learn the anatomy or the disease process when you can just show them in the bible why they are sinners and have this problem?!?!?!?! What a bunch of insensitive idiots. Okay, just my opinion.

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  20. To all of you who have shared your stories, thank you for your courage. I hope it helps to know there are so many of us who are learning from you. Learning to just listen, to be there, to say, “what do you need from me right now?” to acknowledge that we don’t have the answers and that’s ok, we can still be there and offer the ministry of presence. From what I’ve learned in walking alongside a loved one suffering from abuse/PTSD/depression, they know we don’t have the “quick fix” answer. Most of the time they just need to be heard, loved and validated. (and sometimes hugged, although I’ve learned to ask first as that can be a trigger)

    I’ve learned so much from my loved one, they’ve taught me to see things, to not be afraid of the darker thoughts and feelings, the things that didn’t fit into the “good-Christian-church-mentality” We have to be willing to enter into their thoughts, even when it’s hard to hear.

    Imagine how hard it is for those who live with those thoughts 24/7? We can pray silently for them, asking God for wisdom/direction. Certainly a good counselor is worth the search, but that is usually a once a week, 45 minute session and although that can be helpful, it’s not the total answer. Our friends/loved ones need us all the time, affirming and encouraging them and making sure they know they are SO worth our time. Julie Anne, thank you for bringing this subject to the light, I certainly don’t have the answers but I do think this is one of the most important conversations the church needs to have….right now. So much of what has been taught/counseled from the church needs to be undone. God help us.

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  21. Julie Anne-

    I had a problem with RW saying his son suffered from depression from “birth”.
    I am still perplexed by that comment.
    Does that mean as an infant?
    You open up much discussion ( I had lengthy conversation on another blog years ago about the subject.)
    The Christian blog poster refused to acknowledge that there was no help outside medications.
    At the time, there was no warning on the label of antidepressants as there is now).
    There are metabolic reasons for depression. Diabetes, hormone imbalances, even Celiac disease-things that disrupt the gut and digestion as brain chemicals are made from amino acids. (which is a reason why vegans can suffer from depression)
    Any time I had discussed this, I was attacked by believers.

    I wish RW would clarify what he means by “since birth”
    It’s really bugging me. People have speculated it may mean he suffered from homosexuality and that the “since birth” means that RW believes he was born that way.

    As far as bibical counseling, I have experience with this and it is not good.
    Sending someone off with a prayer and a verse doesn’t cut it.

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  22. PS I personally believe that the reason for the increase in depression is not only spiritual (which is what the “church” would have you believe> It is physiological. Our diet consists of genetically modified grains which has destroyed our digestive tract and also has given us an increase in degenerative brain diseases. We didnt have Alzheimers, Parkinsons, the dementia we have now. Taken this to a lesser degree, we have altered brain function/depression, schizophrenia,anxiety disorder.
    These things can’t be helped once again by a prayer and a verse.
    Of course it can help us cope, but ultimately we need to get our bodies healthy before our mind can be healthy.
    Heathens acknowledge this more than believers.

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  23. Hannah – Help me understand why “from birth” is so important. I’m not so sure it is. For instance, take a look at war veterans who have PTSD. Were they having mental issues before the war? My point being that I believe sometimes traumatic events can result in mental health issues.

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  24. Ann – -Thank you for your comment. You have touched on something that is so important – – the beautiful gift of listening. I believe it is a gift. So many people want to run from those difficult topics – – it is painful – – yet I know from my experience that if you run from the pain, it will come back and you will be forced to deal with it later. But having someone to listen, who is not judging you, just there to be a support is so wonderful.

    Last night, monax said something so important on another post. It ties in here beautifully:

    You know, me mum once asked me, she said: “David, How is it that you feel most loved?”

    i sat on that question for about an hour, then got back to her. “Mom,” i said, “I feel most loved by being understood.”

    that was my answer.

    In order to be understood, you have to be heard. Listening is truly a gift.

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  25. Changing subjects: I woke up to an e-mail from Michelle Goldberg, reporter for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. She sent me this link on a story she did about the Homeschool Movement: http://goo.gl/Svnbg (She had planned on interviewing me, but ran out of time.)

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  26. Julie Anne-

    I guess I was responding to what stood out to me and what I had been pondering about the situation.

    What did a traumatic event have to do with Matthew Warren?

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  27. “But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts”- Rick Warren

    You don’t find it perplexing that he said all these things “since birth”?
    Suicidal thoughts sicne birth?
    Certainly, he could have clarified this.

    “Hannah – Help me understand why “from birth” is so important. I’m not so sure it is.

    Did I help clarify?

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  28. I’m not reading it like that. I’m reading it that he struggled with depression from childhood. I don’t think he is specifically pinpointing the suicidal thoughts to a specific age, just saying in general that this has been going on for a long, long time. I could be wrong, that’s just how I read it.

    The guy just lost his son – – I’m not going to be analyzing his words so carefully, but just looking at the general message he’s trying to convey. I think it’s the overall message that is most important: he had been depressed for many years.

    And regarding your other comment: “What did a traumatic event have to do with Matthew Warren?”

    I wasn’t saying a traumatic event had to do with Matthew Warren. I was just saying that sometimes people have many years of depression. Others suffer depression after a traumatic event.

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  29. Julie Anne- As one who suffered depression her entire life, I am not immune to the subject associated with it. I feel you are condemning me for my thoughts here, so I will refrain from any further opinions. It seems you wanted a certain response-I am not so sure what that was. If what I said bothers you I apologize.

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  30. “Entire life”–probably as far as I can remember.
    Important to clarify.

    If someone has suffered depression and suicidal thoughts “since birth”, it doesn’t seem likely an specific event had caused it because “at birth” seems to imply there were no causitive events.
    So maybe my comment did relate to your PTSD comments.
    It wasn’t as if I was being unsymathetic that his son just died, because I was making that comment. It truly perplexed me, and I was not the only one, since some and my friends and I have dicussed this and wondered about it.

    “The guy just lost his son – – I’m not going to be analyzing his words so carefully, but just looking at the general message he’s trying to convey. I think it’s the overall message that is most important: he had been depressed for many years.”

    What general message?
    To me the message was perplexing.
    We can’t always expect others to respond the way we want to any given situation.

    OK, just wanted to make a point. Done….

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  31. Hannah – – Something just happened between us and I’m not quite sure what it was. I can feel your frustration with me and I’m sorry about that. I think we are not connecting because I have felt no condemnation towards you at all. I think we read Rick Warren’s e-mail differently. It doesn’t mean my thoughts are right or yours are wrong or vice versa at all – it just means we interpreted it differently.

    And the same thing goes for opinions. Everybody has them – it doesn’t mean one is more right than the other. Your opinion is valued here.

    I just read through your above posts and I am actually in agreement with most everything you said regarding depression/mental health issues. The only place I see a disconnect between us is our interpretations of RW’s e-mail. And as I said above – it’s ok to have different interpretations.

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  32. Ok Glad you are not upset with me 🙂
    He stated he had mental illness also since birth.
    (He lumped together mental illness, depression and suicidal tendencies as being since birth)

    Remember, millions of people are reading his words.
    So for such an important announcement, especially on the topic of mental illness, which is really a more secular term, I would wonder why he chose to say “birth”.

    If he said “childhood”, one may wonder what caused it.
    Saying “birth” kind of closes the door for any traumatic event, or situation that could have caused it.

    OK, done for good with the subject.
    It is very sad.

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  33. Without knowing what kind of mental illness, it’s really not fair for me to talk about Matthew and say if he could be healed. And I don’t think his father owes an explanation, especially at this moment. Mostly when we say mental illness, we speak of something that cannot be cured, but something we must learn to cope with.

    So I’ll step away from Matthew, and just talk in terms of those who are emotionally hurt and depressed. I think the answer is healing prayer, and going back to healing hurts from early, early childhood through prayer and God’s revelation. I’ve never gotten involved in it because I’m honestly weary of getting people’s hopes up from the latest thing. But deep inside, I know if this isn’t the answer, nothing will be. And if God can’t heal emotional pain, then he’s a liar when he says he’s the God who heals the broken hearted and binds up wounds.

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  34. Hannah @ 8:49am –

    I’m not meaning to interrupt your convo with JA, but just wanted to add a few comments. If that bothers you then just skip this.

    I’ll preface my thoughts by saying I have no idea what RW meant by “from birth.” We would need to ask him. That stated, it is completely possible to be born with a mental illness. It’s possible to notice issues from early on, say from when communication is established. You may not be able to diagnose specifics from that early of an age, but you can surely know that something isn’t within the normal range. Another possibility is that it could be PTSD or an issue caused from brain injury during the birth process. It is hard to tell what happens during the birth process, especially a difficult delivery. Unless the baby is monitored through the entire birth process, one wouldn’t know if the brain had been deprived of oxygen at any point, or for what period if time. I think it is quite possible for things to happen to the baby as it is formed, in utero, during birth, or in infancy that a parent may not have been aware of (no ones fault mind you) that could contribute to mental illness. All are simply manifestations of brokenness that we don’t control. Not much different than being born with physical abnormalities. We just don’t know as much about the brain and chemical balances in the brain as we know about other bodily functions. Just my thoughts . . .

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  35. ^ Haven’t read this guy’s blog aside from this article.. Now that I see the title of it, I’m a little apprehensive of anything emphasizing “holiness” I don’t speak for his doctrine! But the point of this article is that the church needs to step it up on this topic.

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  36. Gail wrote: “I just sent Julie Anne an e-mail. She will get back to you. My heart is touched that you would offer to send it to me. The kindness here is amazing.”

    I haven’t heard anything yet, Gail. When I have your address, I will send you the book. It is the #1 book on spiritual abuse that I have recommended since the 90s.

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  37. O, Lois I told her to share how touched I was by your offer. But then I responded to you saying basically what I asked her to pass along. What I didn’t say was I didn’t want to come across as a brat for turning down your offer… I ordered it from Amazon. Nevertheless such kindness impacts me deeply. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. Bless You!

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  38. Gail, I am glad that you are getting the book. I all too well understand how many who leave unhealthy places may be apprehensive about sharing their mailing address. I have given away dozens of copies of this book (to several readers of Julie Anne’s blog, too) and would give away thousands if I could. I don’t at all consider you a “brat” and am not offended in the least. I am just glad you will have the book. 🙂

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  39. Pingback: How do Churches Handle Difficult Mental Health Cases, Biblical Counseling, and the Law? | Spiritual Sounding Board

  40. Bridget-

    If that’s the case that RW’s son was born with mental illness, I hope after he completes the grieving process he sheds more light on this, as perhaps it can help others.

    I am completely in agreement that brain chemicals are affected.
    We are in a time where foods have no nutrients to derive proper neurotransmitters.
    If you notice, some are going on a grain free diet (Paleo), not so much for weight loss, but because our digestive systems have been destroyed by modified grains. Health starts in the gut and ours are severely damaged which leads to all kinds of neurological disease.

    There is a woman named Dr Natasha Campbell (you can see her vidoes on Youtube)
    If anyone ought to know about it is is she. She was a brain surgeon who had a child born autistic. She now only sees autistic kids in England and believes all autism can be cure dif the child is under 5 and gets on a grain free/ sugar free dier. She excplains how the damage starts in utero from the mothers faulty digestive system.

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  41. PS And the fact that kids are not breast fed…and the vaccine and antibiotic connection. Her complete name is Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

    For Pastor’s to say that it is a spiritual issues or demonic, and not any of the above, and send you home with some Bible verses and tell you to just obey your husband……

    It is true that there is a sin issue, but our food is not the same as Jesus served.
    The fish He multipied is polluted and sickly now, and the bread is genetically modified.

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  42. Pingback: Black and White Teachings from the Pulpit: Helpful or Not? | Spiritual Sounding Board

  43. If the church was a place where compassionate listening happened, and judgmental & abusive words were not spoken, maybe people wouldn’t have to pay psychologists to listen to their wounded hearts & broken lives.

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  44. Gail, I have a post ready to put up on compassion ready to go, but decided to post the new one for any Drew Marshall listeners. You and I are tracking I see 🙂

    Like

  45. It is with sadness that I read about the death of Rick Warrens son. I think Jesus is the only healer and therefore support Biblical Counseling as the way to healing. It might not be a quick fix, as one needs to get to the root of the problem, have many sessions with the person and pray, pray, pray.There is healing in the Word. Although it is said that Rick Warren was transparent with the problems of his child, did he really know the extent of his child’s deepest suffering. Will we ever truly know our children very well? My precious daughter was molested as a little girl and kept the secret for almost 20 years. It destroyed her. She is now saved, but will not go for counseling. It is hard to watch her pain and not be able to do anything about it. It is her choice to make to go for counseling and no matter how hard we have tried to convince her to go, she won’t make that decision. I see no wrong in taking medication as a help, but the long term healing comes from Christ.

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  46. Pingback: Bipolar Disorder, Biblical Counseling, and Sin | Southern Reformation

  47. Pingback: How to Research and Avoid Churches Like Heritage Bible Chapel, Charles River Church, or Southshore Bible Church | The Wartburg Watch 2016

  48. Stay away from Heath Lambert and his certified bunch of deceivers and miracle workers called the ACBC. It may literally save your life. Be warned.

    Liked by 1 person

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