I do not trust much to psychology. I am in agreement with those who believe that it has become a sort of 'secular priesthood.' What pastors have done in counseling for hundreds of years has now been usurped by a discipline forged in the furnace of naturalism. I have no doubt that this is true, and I lament with others in the pastoral ministry that pastors, out of fear and intimidation, forsake the counseling ministries and send their sheep to such secular humanists.
Having said that, the old addage still holds true: Even a blind hog will sniff out a nut. Sometimes, through observation and medical research, great strides are made in understanding the human mind. This is where things get more complicated.
Whether you understand the human being as three part (body, soul, and spirit) or two part (body and soul) makes no difference. The fact of the matter is that one affects the other deeply. Pastors are called on to diagnose or discern spiritual maladies, psychiatrist are called on to deal with the biological. When one of these attempts to play the part of the other there are sad consequences.
Many pasotrs today rail at the very idea that something could exist called 'bi-polar disorder' or they teach that chronic depression stems from sin. After all, the "joy of the Lord" is our strength (Neh. 8:11). Naturally, if you are feeling blue, all one should have to do is meditate on the greatness of God in Christ to make oneself more joyful. Sometimes it is that simple. But I am convinced at other times it is not.
Think of it like this: Are you more irritable when you do not sleep well and therefore more prone to anger? When mothers birth children, do you think that 'post partum depression' is a matter of unbalanced hormones or the sign of a spiritually sinful new mother? When the disciples fell asleep in the garden, was it simply because they were lazy and couldn't pray, or could exhaustion have been a factor? When a young boy cannot sit still and listen, could it be that he simply lacks discipline in the home, or is it that he really has a disorder?
A hundred more examples could be given. The difficulty is that sometimes the answer could be one or the other, or perhaps both. In the coming week I am going to explore the issue of medication in treating such problems, and the issue of biological versus spiritual disorders. In the mean time, let me start you thinking on these verses:
"Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'" (John 9:1-2).
The disciples assumed that physical malady was caused by sin, but Jesus denied such a claim. As we enter into this discussion, let us take caution in deciding that all depression is rooted in sin. Further, remember the the human spirit is not yet so strong that it is unaffected by the body. And if you separate the two into such a distinction as to deny that one is bound up (Trick Word! By 'bound up' I mean so intimately related in this body that it is impossible to harm one without affecting the other) in the other, then I will flatly accuse you of gnosticism.
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