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Mental Illness & Religion

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  • Mental Illness & Religion

    Many skeptics will liken the behavior of biblical characters to modern day lunatics. I think the following article nicely summarizes the view of many secularists:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2...zJO/story.html

    Please read the article (its very short) and discuss the content. The first thing that popped into my mind was the biblical admonishments to remain sober minded and behave in a morally outstanding and upright manner. Yet I also wonder if we as believers have perhaps become too civilized. Like compare John the Baptist with William Lane Craig. I'm being facetious of course, but are we not missing something here - like the demonstration of the Spirit's power (1Cor.2:4-5)?

  • #2
    You must be aware of how close Psychosis and religious experiences are to one another? In fact they are actually related. I'm not excluding religious religious revelation, but everything must be weighted carefully before one calls anything a "religious" experience. Especially now.
    A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
    George Bernard Shaw

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
      You must be aware of how close Psychosis and religious experiences are to one another? In fact they are actually related. I'm not excluding religious religious revelation, but everything must be weighted carefully before one calls anything a "religious" experience. Especially now.
      Yeah definitely. I know some very devout people who are extremely level-headed, and they have a very consistent "walk with the Lord". I think this is the working of the Holy Spirit - who produces love for Christ and others, joy, peace, patience, etc. In fact, often times, I only regain equilibrium in my life, through prayer and fellowship with God. Yet I do know similar results can be achieved through a variety of different avenues, sans spirituality. So again, we have to be careful what we call the work of God.

      What do you feel is the distinguishing factor that validates a truly revelatory, regenerating experience?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
        Many skeptics will liken the behavior of biblical characters to modern day lunatics. I think the following article nicely summarizes the view of many secularists:

        http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2...zJO/story.html

        Please read the article (its very short) and discuss the content. The first thing that popped into my mind was the biblical admonishments to remain sober minded and behave in a morally outstanding and upright manner. Yet I also wonder if we as believers have perhaps become too civilized. Like compare John the Baptist with William Lane Craig. I'm being facetious of course, but are we not missing something here - like the demonstration of the Spirit's power (1Cor.2:4-5)?
        Hello Scrawly, its good to read you again!

        I have a few different thoughts on this subject. First, I can't help but think context is super important in understanding whether or not psychosis or spirituality plays a part in all of this. John the Baptist was highly esteemed and even feared by the religious and political leaders of his day. The truths he spoke shook people to their core, and as wild as he acted, there was a sense of Godliness that attracted men and women to him. His words shook fear into the politicians of his day to the extant that Josephus points out that he was killed for it. As odd as he was he seemed to be culturally relevant to his time and place. On the other hand, we have the Biblical example of the woman with the spirit in Acts 16 who followed Paul and Silas who repeated “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” And they dealt with this for days, until Paul turned on her and cast the spirit out. So we know that there are demons who know the truth, who know the Bible, who mock God by acting socially unstable.

        That said, there a number of things I juggle in my mind about mental illness. I wonder about how much mental illness is the result of spiritual oppression (rather than full out possession). I think about the works of the renowned psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and his skepticism of modern psychotropic medication and psychiatric treatment. I'm also very interested in the writings and talks by Jewish/Christian/Buddhist psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, and his work in neuroplasticity and success with OCD patients. Ultimately I think that we are spiritual beings who possess bodies, and that God truly desire our perfect well being and health, but that there is an accuser, a prince of this world, who would like to see our mental and physical destruction, and I balance that knowledge out knowing that we live in a fallen world. All of these things produce in me a sort of sympathy for the fallen state of our flesh, an acknowledgment of our physical ability and inability, but a hope for better things to come.
        Last edited by Adrift; 10-31-2014, 10:45 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Adrift View Post
          Hello Scrawly, its good to read you again!

          I have a few different thoughts on this subject. First, I can't help but think context is super important in understanding whether or not psychosis or spirituality plays a part in all of this. John the Baptist was highly esteemed and even feared by the religious and political leaders of his day. The truths he spoke shook people to their core, and as wild as he acted, there was a sense of Godliness that attracted men and women to him. His words shook fear into the politicians of his day to the extant that Josephus points out that he was killed for it. As odd as he was he seemed to be culturally relevant to his time and place. On the other hand, we have the Biblical example of the woman with the spirit in Acts 16 who followed Paul and Silas who repeated “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” And they dealt with this for days, until Paul turned on her and cast the spirit out. So we know that there are demons who know the truth, who know the Bible, who mock God by acting socially unstable.

          That said, there a number of things I juggle in my mind about mental illness. I wonder about how much mental illness is the result of spiritual oppression (rather than full out possession). I think about the works of the renowned psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and his skepticism of modern psychotropic medication and psychiatric treatment. I'm also very interested in the writings and talks by Jewish/Christian/Buddhist psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, and his work in neuroplasticity and success with OCD patients. Ultimately I think that we are spiritual beings who possess bodies, and that God truly desire our perfect well being and health, but that there is an accuser, a prince of this world, who would like to see our mental and physical destruction, and I balance that knowledge out knowing that we live in a fallen world. All of these things produce in me a sort of sympathy for the fallen state of our flesh, an acknowledgment of our physical ability and inability, but a hope for better things to come.
          Wonderfully composed, as always, Drifty. I am currently in the midst of things but I will chew on this for a while and get back to you. I would be curious though if you believe Christian's have neglected the spiritual dimension to our own peril? Alternatively, do you think an emphasis on spiritual "cures" of sorts would start to impede human progress in the medical and scientific arena, if this was accepted as universal truth? Where is the balance? Where ought we invest our time and energy? How do we know what treatment to apply in each unique circumstance?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
            Wonderfully composed, as always, Drifty. I am currently in the midst of things but I will chew on this for a while and get back to you. I would be curious though if you believe Christian's have neglected the spiritual dimension to our own peril? Alternatively, do you think an emphasis on spiritual "cures" of sorts would start to impede human progress in the medical and scientific arena, if this was accepted as universal truth? Where is the balance? Where ought we invest our time and energy? How do we know what treatment to apply in each unique circumstance?
            Yes, I think that Christians both neglect and over-esteem spiritual peril, and that a balance is certainly called for. I don't know that I can sufficiently answer the question "where is the balance?" I think that prayer, and meditation on the scriptures is certainly helpful in this, but its not the end all be all. Maybe this is part of Paul's call of "working out our salvation" (though probably he meant this in a strictly spiritual sense). In James we read, "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord." One interpretation of this passage is the call for both spiritual mindfulness that comes from prayer, along with the physical mindfulness that comes with medicine. In my opinion, we are, at the core, spirit/body beings, and both need to be treated in equal measure.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Adrift View Post
              Yes, I think that Christians both neglect and over-esteem spiritual peril, and that a balance is certainly called for. I don't know that I can sufficiently answer the question "where is the balance?" I think that prayer, and meditation on the scriptures is certainly helpful in this, but its not the end all be all. Maybe this is part of Paul's call of "working out our salvation" (though probably he meant this in a strictly spiritual sense). In James we read, "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord." One interpretation of this passage is the call for both spiritual mindfulness that comes from prayer, along with the physical mindfulness that comes with medicine. In my opinion, we are, at the core, spirit/body beings, and both need to be treated in equal measure.
              Wonderful, wonderful.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
                What do you feel is the distinguishing factor that validates a truly revelatory, regenerating experience?
                This question says it all--how do you determine a genuine religious experience? Content and context are key but not everything in Christianity is clear-cut. One possible answer to this is as the Bible says, you have to test the spirits to see if they are from God. And doing so on your own may lead to confirmation bias so our church family does play a role in helping us figure out whether or not we are having a genuine religious experience or whether we had too much pizza last night (or a psychotic episode). So what method do we use to test the spirits? The best one I can come up with is studying the experience in light of Biblical revelation.
                Last edited by Paula; 11-03-2014, 01:39 AM.

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