Tuesday, July 01, 2014


Christ and Mental Illness

A third of Americans – and nearly half of evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians – believe prayer and Bible study alone can overcome serious mental illness, according to a recent survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The survey also found most Americans (68 percent) would feel welcome in church if they were mentally ill.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said Christians care about those affected by mental illness.

He’s glad churches are seen as a welcome place for those with depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

But he worries some Christians see mental illness as a character flaw rather than a medical condition.

Christians will go to the doctor if they break their leg, he said. But some may try to pray away serious mental illness.

“They forget that the key part of mental illness is the word ‘illness,’” he said. “In a typical evangelical church, half the people believe mental illness can be solved by prayer and Bible study alone.”
I wonder if the survey cited (the article does not say) defined what it meant by mental illness? The diagnostic manual for mental health is a document fraught with politics and agendas. Yes, there serious and debilitating mental illness, but in this day and age there are also many "disorders" that really could be resolved by a little dose of prayer, humility and the Holy Spirit.

I am also convinced that there are rare cases where diagnosed mental illness is demonic in nature and prayer is the only thing that can fix it.

As a blanket statement, the worries expressed here are genuine, but once one dives into the specifics the pendulum starts to swing back. That;s the problem with surveys. Life does not always fit into the neat little categories the questioners design. I don;t think most Christians save for those that are actually schizophrenic, think schizophrenia can be cured by prayer and Bible Study. But I am sure many think the melancholy often diagnosed as serious depression can.

This is why I don't like building churches based on surveys. It may build numbers, but does it build or understand people?


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