Desiring God’s Attitude Toward Mental Health

Desiring God; John Piper; Church Attitudes Toward Mental Health

-by Kathi

There has been much talk recently about Desiring God’s tweet on February 6, 2018.

Screenshot 2018-02-07 at 7.18.46 PM

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The concern over this tweet is the lack of consideration for how complex the mind is and how trauma affects the brain. Why do so many Christians think that mental health is purely a spiritual issue? The brain is a part of our body. Just as the body is treated by medical professionals, so must the brain be treated for complex mental health issues.

The original tweet was followed up with this:

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So, the original tweet was based off an article posted 12/31/07. This article was a tribute to Clyde Kilby and cites resolutions for mental he stated in a lecture in 1976. No where in this article is the mirror image used in the original tweet. The only thing closest to the mirror image is:

I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

 

Mental health can be magically fixed

by focusing on God?

 

Going back to the original tweet, I was not surprised by this thought that mental health could be magically fixed by focusing on God. I was sure that Desiring God has been posting this concept for years, not only by John Piper, but by others as well. Searching through articles on the site I found the following examples of this thought perpetuated over the years:

From John Piper, paper presented to Bethlehem Baptist Church for their search for an Associate Pastor of Counseling, “Toward a Definition of the Essence of Biblical Counseling” 12/12/01:

There is no true mental health without understanding the desperate condition we were in without the cross, and without feeling the joy of deliverance from that condition through the death of Christ on our behalf.

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From John Piper, “Should Christians Use Anti-Depressants?” 1/21/08:

However, on the other side, it seems clear to me that the brain is a physical organ with electrical impulses and chemicals, and that mental illness is therefore not merely spiritual. No man could persuade me that all mental derangement is owing to a spiritual cause that has a purely spiritual solution.

One way medicine can be helpful is if it gets people to a point where they have enough stability to read the Bible. Then, through being able to read the Scriptures, people are able to be refreshed in the Lord and, in time, come off of the medicine. In that case medicine is a means to an end, and that seems perfectly natural to me.

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From John Piper, Speech to American Association of Christian Counselors, “Beholding Glory and Becoming Whole: Seeing and Savoring God as the Heart of Mental Health”  9/16/09:

And just at this point, I wonder if many of our people are left thinking that what it means to be loved by God simply that he affirms their desire to be made much of. “Christ died for me to make much of me. He rescued me while undeserving to make much of me. He forgave me to make much of me. He removed his wrath to make much of me.” Oh how gloriously good this feels! What a precious gospel! And it’s all merely natural. There’s nothing supernatural about it. It looks like recovery and healing! It works. But at root, it is not “to the praise of the glory of his grace.” It’s all to the praise of the glory of his affirmation of me.”

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From Rick Warren, Desiring God 2010 National Conference, “The Battle for Your Mind” 10/1/10:

I have been studying this subject for thirty-three years. I did my first study on the mind in 1977, working through all the books of the Bible. I think I could teach on this subject for an entire week. There is so much material on what the Bible has to say about strengthening our minds, renewing our minds, submitting our minds, and bringing our thoughts into captivity. There are at least one hundred principles in God’s Word that have to do with what we are to do with our minds. As I said, your mind is your greatest asset.

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From John Piper, “Your Life’s Greatest Problem” 1/14/15:

Now let’s just get this real clear and real straight, because I have the feeling we live in such a kind of touchy feely day that Christianity is being so psychologized and so therapeutized that we really do believe this book was written for our mental health. It wasn’t. It was written to help us get right with a wrathful God. God is one great massive fire of holiness. He hates sin and cannot abide it. We are little ant like sinners of sin. And if we got within 10 trillion miles of this God we would be consumed.

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From Marshall Segal, “The Insanity of ‘Self-Care’” 3/14/16:

Practice a different kind of mindfulness. Go ahead and listen to music, or watch a sunset, or play with your pet, but go Godward — be mindful of God and his great love for you. It really can be helpful to practice gratitude, or to enjoy a particular moment or activity, or to focus on something bigger than yourself, but not if it ends there, and certainly not if it only ends with you. Any habit or activity can be a means of joy, peace, and healing, but only if it brings you to God — our only Lord, Savior, and greatest Treasure.

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From John Piper, “The Root of Mental Health” 3/15/16:

After medication, perhaps the most common remedy for most behavioral and mental disorders is — and has been for almost half a century — some form of self-worth enhancement. It pervades our educational institutions, the psychotherapeutic and counseling systems, the personnel and motivational industry, advertising, and even the church.

I think the remedy is flawed. And its Christianized forms may involve damaging views of Christ and his cross. For example, it is profoundly wrong to turn the cross of Christ into a warrant for self-esteem as the root of mental health.

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John Piper, From his book Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life 7/5/16:

It is profoundly wrong to turn the cross into a warrant for self-esteem as the root of mental health. If I stand before the love of God and do not feel a healthy, satisfying, freeing joy without turning that love into an echo of my self-esteem, then I am like a man who stands before the Grand Canyon and feels no satisfying wonder until he translates the canyon into a case for his own significance. That is not the presence of health, but bondage to self.

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From Jon Bloom, “The Proven Path to Mental Health” 10/30/17:

The proven path to our soundest mental health is a robust, holistic trust, in everything and every circumstance, in the triune Christian God.

Desiring God has been perpetuating the myth that mental health issues can be taken care of by simply changing your attitude or focusing more on God for years. This may work for some people, but those with complex brain chemistry issues may not able to solve their problem with a mere attitude adjustment. Attitudes in the church toward mental health also keep people from seeking proper treatment.

It is time for Desiring God to stop equating a person’s mental health status with their spiritual status. The two are not one in the same.

The Dangerous Teachings of Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife

Lori Alexander, Depression, Suicide

-by Julie Anne and Kathi

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Lori Alexander (Facebook photo)

Lori Alexander runs a blog and Facebook page called The Transformed Wife. Her Facebook page has over 21,000 followers! She models her ministry using the Titus 2 idea of older women teaching younger women. After 23 years of a difficult marriage, she claims her marriage improved after she applied God’s principles to her life; so she feels qualified to share with her followers how she learned to submit to her husband, and thus, have a happy marriage.

Lori appeals to women who want to be godly and obedient wives, serving their husbands. But as Kathi and I read her articles, we are alarmed by some of her teachings. Some of them put wives in harm’s way. Other teachings minimize serious mental health issues, or attempt to solve them by simply praying.

We are thankful to a reader on our Facebook page that brought to our attention Lori’s recent actions. Lori wrote a post this past week about depression and suicide among women and linked the post to her Facebook page.

We were sent this screenshot which shows a woman stating that she contemplated taking her own life. Lori’s response is to go to the Bible for strength. Thankfully, another reader responded with the advice to seek help immediately through the suicide hotline. Continue reading

A Father Shares the Fallout His Family is Facing after Being in a High-Controlling Church

Spiritual abuse, children, mental health, high-controlling church, NAR, New Apostolic Reformation


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Special note:  I am in Chicago until 11/5 and would love to get together with survivors or those interested in helping survivors. If you would like to meet up, please contact me and let’s see if we can arrange a gathering.  spiritualsb@gmail.com   ~Julie Anne

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Today, we are going to read a brief personal story from Andrew. Andrew shares with us the harm his family faced and is still facing after being in a high-controlling, abusive church for 15 years.

There are a number of thoughts that struck me when reading his words.

  • First, Andrew seems to have a good understanding of what he and his family endured, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes this process can take years.
  • Secondly, he is not minimizing or trying to move past the current emotional and mental state of his family. It appears that he is appropriately addressing each conflict or bump in the road right now. Many times when people are in a spiritually abusive church, they want to move on so quickly (understandably), that they forget to take care of themselves and get their wounds healed.
  • Thirdly, Andrew is aware that this healing process is a journey. He’s taking a realistic look at where he’s been, what is happening now, and the work ahead, and knows there is no quick fix.

I believe there is a recovery process to get to wholeness after spiritual abuse. Process is the key word. It doesn’t work well to close the door to spiritual abuse and act like it never existed. It did exist and it did have an impact on lives. If we are quick to put it behind us without doing the necessary recovery work, we are likely to fall into similar traps.  When we go through recovery, we gain knowledge, understanding, have a new fresh perspective on who God is and how He relates with us, and we learn to forgive ourselves.  ~ja Continue reading

Troubling Tweets: Biblical Counseling to Treat Schizophrenia, Bulimia, Depression, ADHD?

Mental Health, Biblical Counseling, Geoffrey Kirkland, Addictions, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar, Bulimia, ADHD


 

This evening, I tweeted the following:

After seeing this tweet:

Who is Geoffrey Kirkland?

From Geoffrey Kirkland’s bio:

Geoff grew up in St. Louis and then moved to LA to go to the Master’s College. God saved Geoff in 2001. Geoff loves studying, preaching, and discipling men in the truth of the Word. But most of all, Geoff’s passion is to shepherd his wife, Elizabeth, and five children: Hezekiah, Tikvah, Emunah, Kesed, and Ahavah. Geoff is a graduate of The Master’s College (BA), The Master’s Seminary (MDiv and ThM), and Baptist Bible Seminary (PhD). Source

At the Christ Fellowship Bible Church website, we can read  their distinctives. Here is their distinctive on Biblical counseling:

Counseling & Psychology
We believe that the Bible is wholly sufficient for all of life and godliness. Therefore, the Bible has the answers for any and every problem that may arise. We find our wisdom and counsel from God’s Word and apply it to the specific counseling situation so that the Spirit-indwelt person can implement biblical principles and get to the root of the sin-issue and replace that sin with a Godly and holy virtue. We do not practice psychology, psychotherapy, or so-called ‘Christian psychology’; we practice biblical counseling.

 

So, what’s the big deal about this Biblical Counseling PDF?

Go ahead and see for yourself. This pdf on “Biblical Counseling” claims to have the answers on how to treat addictions, depression, schizophrenia, bulimia, ADHD, etc. I’ve highlighted a few examples below.

A brief excerpt from Biblical Counseling On Depression

The Root Issue Biblically, depression always involves hopelessness & it manifests a low view of God at that moment.

3  crucial biblical counseling diagnostic questions related to depression:

  1. Could God have changed the circumstances? (yes)
  2. Did he? (no)
  3. Is God good? (yes)

We must constantly repeat this in our counseling our own hearts (and others)

A brief excerpt from Biblical Counseling  On Eating Disorders

The Biblical Truth

Overeating Is Not an Addiction Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ. [This is fundamental to biblical counseling!]

A brief excerpt from Biblical Counseling On  Guidelines for Counseling the Sexually Abused

Bill Gothard spanking

I found this section very disturbing. The first part is a very tough pill for many survivors to swallow. Some will interpret this to mean that God has acted as an abuser because He is Sovereign and knew abuse was going to happen, yet didn’t stop it from happening:

God is sovereign (Job 1-2; Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28-29; Gen 50:20)

It doesn’t get any better here:

Why does God allow abuse?

(1) To bring deliverance to others. Gen. 50:20

(2) To build character in us. Rom. 5:3-5 James 1:2-5 I Pet. 1:6-9

(3) To equip us to comfort others. II Co. 1:3-11

(4) To display the works of God. John 9:1-3

(5) To help us to appreciate the hope we have in Christ. Rom. 8:18,28-29

I hope Elder-Shepherd Kirkland has a good insurance policy in order. It sounds like he could be “treating” folks out of the scope of his educational qualifications. Kirkland’s PhD is no MD, and I am concerned that his counseling could put people in harm’s way, especially those who need medical treatment.

 

 

What Can Happen to Sex Abuse Survivors When They Are Not Believed or Supported?

Sex abuse survivors need to be believed and supported

Continue reading

Can High-Controlling Pastors Lead Their Members into Depression and Even Suicide?

 

Commenters share about high-controlling pastors who leave a path of mental health destruction, even suicide, because they cannot get appropriate help.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading