Toward a true Christian Psychiatry

Healing consists of more than caring. Knowledge is needed.

When I attended Bible college many years ago, when were taught “Christian Psychiatry.”  More specifically, we were taught that Christians did not need psychiatry.    Following the theories of Jay Adams “Nouthetic Counseling” we were told that everything that science had learned through the last 200 years was wrong and hostile to God.  We were told that we, as Spirit-led pastors, were better able to counsel people than someone who spent their lives and their careers finding out the best methods to heal mental disease.

The book that we were given taught us that all mental disease was the result of sin.  When people came to us for counseling, we were to find the “sin” in their lives and confront them with it.  If they continued to have problems with depression, anxiety, psychosis, mania, then it was because they were hiding their sin.

As should be obvious to anyone, the result of such counseling methods was to drive many good Christians either away from the church or further into despair and finally, suicide.

Mental health is much to complex to describe with a single human theory.   Yes, the Bible does support the idea that hidden sin can cause anxiety and despair.  The stories of Saul and David show what happens when a man knows that he is at odds with his creator.

But this is not the only reason for neurosis.  The apostle Paul wrote in II Cor. 1:8 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”

Furthermore there is simple mental disease.  Anyone who has worked in a hospital ICU for any time realize that more than a third of people get “Hospital Psychosis.”   They start imagining things, hearing voices, seeing people that aren’t there.  This is simply a function of being sick and in a strange place.

And what about Alzheimer’s?  Shall we condemn everyone who has dementia to hell for unrepented  sin?  God forbid.

On the hand, psychiatry which is hostile to traditional religion and traditional morality can also lead one into error.   Some psychiatrists have a tendency to treat religion, itself, as a mental disease.  This is foolish, for man is naturally desirous of being on good terms with his creator.  To deny this relationship, or to attempt to talk our patients out of it – or to secretly despise them for desiring it – is to deny the very nature of man.

So, let me make it clear that I am an integrationist.   In my professional life I see, constantly, to bring my patients into health.  The healthier the mind, the better able the individual is able to find his proper relation with his creator.  It is not my job to lead them into Godly habits, but rather only to bring them into health.  When that health is accomplished, then someone else can do the work of the evangelist.  I am a doctor.