John Piper and Heath Lambert of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Views of the Mind Demonstrate Why We have a Problem With the Biblical Counseling Movement

I’m enormously interested to see where neuroscience can take us in understanding these complexities of the human brain and how it works, but I do think there may be limits in terms of what science can tell us about what does good and evil mean anyway, and what are those concepts about? Francis Collins


link

In light of the current tragedy in Florida, this post on the Biblical Counseling Movement (BCM) will be a bit different from the others. I will get back to their publicly available materials in my next post. I want to look beyond the gun control debate, which, while important, does not address the underlying difficulty of serious mental illness. By serious, I mean the type that would lead a young man to kill so many people.

This post is going to be delving a bit into the theology behind the movement in order to better view the inherent problem. I am also going to opening up a bit on the pain and sorrow that my foster grandchild has had to endure which is eerily like Heath Lambert’s story but with a different outcome.

Here are the three questions that I want to discuss. I do not expect easy answers like I believe that Lambert, the BCM and Piper offer. I also anticipate a fair amount of debate.

  1. Is the *easy peasy* view of mental health from by those in the Biblical Counseling Movement and their supporters too simplistic and possibly dangerous?
  2. What is the difference between the mind, the brain and the spiritual?
  3. If one is not a part of the *elect* as defined by these Calvinists, will a gospel centered approach to counseling be ineffective?

The infamous Desiring God tweet which stemmed from a John Piper quote in which the clarifying comment made things even more confusing.

In early February, Desiring God released the following tweet.

Well, that solves all of our problems, doesn’t it? If we stop worrying about ourselves and think about God’s strength and beauty, our problems our solved-easy peasy. Warren Throckmorton wrote about this tweet in an excellent post Desiring God and Mental Health: Name It Claim It for Your Brain

Dr Throckmorton saved me some time by looking at the supposed clarification fn the tweet issued by Desiring God.

Here is what Dr Throckmortong said.

The link is to a 2007 tribute by John Piper to Clyde Kilby. This follow up tweet is confusing because the original tweet which aroused so much reaction isn’t found in the 2007 article. The closest statement to it is this statement attributed to Kilby by Piper:

Stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, and start drinking in the remedies of God in nature.

This isn’t at all what Desiring God originally tweeted. The “remedies of God in nature” could easily refer to medication or therapy or an experience in nature. Since Piper quoted it approvingly I don’t really know what Kilby meant. In any case, I am less concerned with the Kilby article and more concerned with the spin engaged in by whoever is running the Twitter account at Desiring God.

So, it appears that Desiring God is not willing to clarify exactly what they meant. Given some recent tweets by Piper, I would imagine their lives are very busy indeed. The Twitterverse had a field day with this one.

But I digress. Dr Throckmorton said something most important in his discussion of the tweet. It is a criticism that I have had of the general trajectory of the BCM.

When those who don’t succeed with anti-mirror therapy go to church, they feel even worse because their faith is questioned. They are told, even if subtly or indirectly, that they don’t have enough faith. If they just believed harder or put God first, or dealt with the sin in their lives, then the advice would work.

Today, I spoke with a woman who was abused in a church setting by a youth pastor. I hope to be telling her story soon. She told me she was sent to a BCM counselors after discussing her abuse with her pastor. She went for two free sessions and refused to go back for the paid sessions due to the easy peasy approach to counseling. Basically, she was told to meditate on Romans 8 which I take to mean “all things work together for good” verse. Things didn’t quite work together for good as the abuse continued.

Dr Throckmorton gets something that many in the BCM do not.

Repeat after me: Mental health is health. Mental illness is illness. Brain is body.

For many, the remedy is simple. We don’t need meds. This is all in our head and the head is the sole purview of the Scriptures. Let me quote this Heath Lambert *Theses* from last week’s post.

#22. To affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture for counseling is to affirm the love and wisdom of God in giving his people what they need for life’s problems because most Christians throughout history and in most places in the world today have no access to secular therapy, but all Christians have had access to the Word of God.

Here is what is missing from this thinking. The brain is an organ, something I know all to well, having walked my daughter through a malignant brain tumor.That tumor ate away part of her brain. If you could have spent one day with me in the neuro-oncology unit of Dallas Children’s Hospital, you would have seen children who had profound limitations and personality changes due to their disease process. Yet, Lambert and Piper would have us believe that all that is needed is some contemplation on Scripture and just getting our morals and ethics in a line and all will be well.

Depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, etc are not just simple *misunderstandings* of Scripture, fixed by meditating on the right verses. The brain is an organ which can be harmed, right? II sent the following message to Dr Throckmorton.

I was wondering if you had a resource to help me discuss the problem with drawing a hard line between the mind (psychological) and the brain (organic?) I am discussing some issues in the Biblical Counseling Movement. Their leaders sharply differentiate between mind and brain(biological). They claim the mind is totally the purview of the Bible while the physical is not.

He is in the process of doing some research in this area but made this point which is not only relevant but thought-provoking.

Where does mind come from if not from brain? What causes dementia if it isn’t deterioration of brain? Where does the consciousness of a dementia patient go?

Well, what are the answers? I don’t think that looking at God’s beauty is the answer to these profoundly difficult questions. No, the Scripture does NOT provide answers for everything that affects the brain, just like it does not give answers on how to treat a brain tumor.

Heath Lambert’s theses lack a depth of understanding which reflects itself in the sadly lacking training of those who ACBC claims are *competent to counsel.*

Heath Lambert was seriously abused as a child and claimed the gospel healed him when he was 14.

I think Heath Lambert’s own story of being abused as a child will help to explain his simplistic approach to mental health competency. His story moved me deeply because my own foster grandson’s early life is eerily identical to Lambert’s. My heart goes out to Lambert as he seeks to make sense of what happened to him, both in his early life and after he was saved by the gospel. However, his conclusions could be problematic to those, like my foster grandson, who did not “get the gospel cure.”

Special thanks go out to DZ, a reader who often shares interesting information with us.

Heath Lambert’s Story of Abuse from ACBC on Vimeo.

My foster grandson’s story of abuse (details changed to protect identity)

Like Lambert, Sam (not his real name) grew up in an abusive home with multiple children from different fathers. There was addiction and there was physical and sexual abuse. Sam used to run outside in the dead of winter, hiding behind bushes, along with his siblings, to avoid the abuse. He, too, often had to forage for his food. Eventually he, along with his siblings, were removed from the home and were scattered between numerous foster homes. There were too many kids with wildly diverse ages.

He entered the home of my daughter and her husband who are experienced foster parents. He was loved. He had stability, good food, and his education was carefully looked after. He got caught up in school and even began to excel at some subjects. He had medical care, psychiatric care, and in home counseling. Most of all, he too heard the gospel as well was saw it lived out for a couple of years. I will never forget the time he stayed at my house and, as I was praying with him, he pointed at a picture of an angel over his bed and said “I used to talk to Jesus when my father was hurting me.” It was all I could do to get out of the room before he saw me crying.

His story has not been one of “hear the gospel” and the path is clear. He continued to experience much pain and acted out that pain in difficult ways.  As those who knew him best said, “He was broken.” In spite of intense therapy, love, commitment, and the gospel, he has been rehospitalized in a long term care, residential program. He is still loved by his foster mom and dad but his future is uncertain and our hearts break.

My daughter and I had a good talk this week. She talked about how some kids are born with a resilient spirit. They can go through long term abuse and somehow make it out and flourish. Others do not. When I discussed the 95 Theses of Biblical coursing, she shook her head. It isn’t that simple.

Here is a paper put out by the NIH. Resilience in child maltreatment victims: a conceptual exploration.

While many child maltreatment victims suffer serious negative emotional sequelae, others do surprisingly well. Resilience in children is a relative concept which can change over time and is affected by environment and genetics. Resilience is fostered by protective factors which ameliorate or alter a child’s response to the hazards of maltreatment that usually predispose to maladaptive outcome. Personal characteristics or skills that may foster resilience include (1) rapid responsivity to danger; (2) precocious maturity; (3) dissociation of affect; (4) information seeking; (5) formation and utilization of relationships for survival; (6) positive projective anticipation; (7) decisive risk taking; (8) the conviction of being loved; (9) idealization of an aggressor’s competence; (10) cognitive restructuring of painful experiences; (11) altruism; and (12) optimism and hope. There are also generic life circumstances, such as having access to good health, educational, and social welfare services, that foster resilience in children regardless of the specific nature of the stressor.

Sadly, since the BCM does not believe that their spiritual methods for solving complex mental health scenarios should be studied, since “you can’t put a soul into a test tube,” one cannot even begin to assess their ability to deal with such painful situations. Given the woeful lack of BCM training, I believe that it is dangerous to put anyone who has gone through serious trauma into the hands of such “counselors.”

So I have a lot of questions. I would love to hear your answers.

  • Can abuse and neglect break the mind and the spirit?
  • Is there an organic component to the effects of abuse on the brain?
  • Can simply understanding Scripture or contemplating God heal a broken mind?
  • According to the beliefs of Calvinism, of which Lambert is a proponent, can the gospel heal a person’s mind if he is not one of the elect?
  • According to Calvinists, since the gospel cannot be apprehended by the unregenerate nonelect, should the BCM have some sort of screening to determine a client’s probability of being one of the elect? (I am not being facetious. I mean this sincerely.)
  • Should there be other forms of counseling available for those who appear to demonstrate that they are not one of the elect or aren’t they important?
  • Did Heath Lambert get *healed* at 14 because he is one of the elect or was he merely resilient?
  • Why didn’t my foster grandson get healed by *the gospel?*
  • Is resilience a factor in abuse? Are some people just born more resilient?
  • If there is a brain component to mental illness, how does the BCM counselor know when to seek help since they get little to no training on organic origins of mental illness?
  • Where does the mind come from if not from the brain?
  • What causes dementia if it isn’t deterioration of the brain?
  • Where does the consciousness of a dementia patient go?
  • Is there a difference between the mind and the spirit and how do we differentiate between the two?
  • Can long term depression, anxiety, pain, etc. cause physical changes to the brain and the body, necessitating  physical, mental and spiritual interventions?
  • Did the Florida shooter just have a simple misunderstanding of right and wrong?
  • Was the shooter a sociopath and can the Bible heal such a diagnosis?
  • Why do I think that the BCM makes things seem too *easy peasy?*

 

Comments

John Piper and Heath Lambert of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Views of the Mind Demonstrate Why We have a Problem With the Biblical Counseling Movement — 150 Comments

  1. “can the Bible heal?”

    Even as the Bible advises us to be annointed with oil and pray for healing with the elders, don’t we attend to our needs with medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, every type of licensed specialist? Just as a plumber fixes plumbing and a mechanic fixes a car?

  2. Thought provoking! Thank you for this.

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (within the church), I remember praying for God to rescue me. He never did. I don’t know if that makes me elect or resilient or both, but despite these horrific experiences I (by the grace of God) maintained my faith. Although I do still struggle with post traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. Meeting with (well intentioned) “Church counselors” has only made things worse.

  3. I honestly think a lot of people who push this stuff are completely faking their “faithful” lives.

    I’ve known people who so desperately wanted to believe everything was fine that that was all they talked about. To everyone. About how fine they were and how perfect everything in their lives was and how anybody that wasn’t doing that certainly couldn’t be following God closely enough.

    I think most need the help they so visibly despise.

  4. ishy wrote:

    I think most need the help they so visibly despise.

    Perhaps denial is a package:

    Denial of the humanity of women.
    Denial of the work of health professionals.
    Denial of the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
    Denial of Spiritual Gifts of believers via the HS (Rom 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4).
    Etc.

    Sidenote: A pastor who taught his congregation the Gifts, and believed they existed, never worried about $$$ because his church always had some with the Gift of Financial giving. His church also had plenty of leadership, both genders – another part of his teaching.

  5. I’m one of the resilient ones (as defined by certified psychologists), but my past caught up with me as an adult and I sought help. Thankfully, I ended up with a trained Christian counselor who also believed in science. Once we ruled out any medical issues (I had a physical and talked with my doctor), we started working on an approach to mental and spiritual health that has been beneficial. We made a list of lifetime experiences, and her first comment was, “Wow, I’m surprised you do as well as you do!” There was a lot of Scripture reading, but nothing simplistic or magic wandish Studying the character of God and seeing how He had always showed up for me helped me trust Him more. Cultivating some better sleeping, eating, and stress-relieving habits made many of the triggers go away. Now, if I have a nightmare, I talk to God and look at what is stressing me out. Life is good.

    I think that those who think you can pray away trauma and stress, or “claim” Scripture passages and be cured, have not read or appreciated the depths of the Psalms and Job. I think we need to use careful use of both scientific knowledge and Scripture. I also think we need to understand that all may not be healed this side of Heaven, just as we are not all physically healed. I used to know a pastor who was very simplistic on mental health issues, until a close family member had huge problems due to an accident. The amount of medication and medical supervision needed was enormous, but it changed the way he approached those who had issues because he finally encountered one that couldn’t be “counseled” away. On the other hand, I have a friend who became addicted to all the meds that were prescribed to lessen her stress. In fact, they almost killed her. There is a need for both sides to stop claiming they know it all, and start a frank discussion of how spiritual and medical input are needed in many cases.

  6. Linn wrote:

    how spiritual and medical input are needed

    Thanks for sharing your amazing story. Balance. Flying on two wings. Very encouraging.

  7. It’d be great if we had answers to all those questions – but I think you’re on the right track. I’m an atheist and I’m fond of responding to talk of a soul with, “I am the meat that’s inside my head.” It’s just so obvious to me – you affect the brain with drugs, or with damage – and the personality of the individual can drastically change. You ask, “Where does the consciousness of a dementia patient go?” – and honestly, that person is often just *gone*, depending on how bad the dementia/alzheimer’s/etc., has progressed. Or maybe there’s a sliver of them there – because we’re defined by our personality as well as our memories.

    One interesting example about where the mind comes from – my fiance is a genetic counselor @ UNC, so I’ve had her tell me about all sorts of genetic disorders, and their properties. There’s one disorder where the patients are known to often ‘lick and flip’ – that is, compulsively lick their fingers and flip the pages of books or magazines. So we can look at a person’s genome and literally predict a specific behavior that the person will likely exhibit (as well as lots of the physical attributes that come along with it). It blows my mind – but that’s just evidence that so much of who we are is inherent in these physical bodies. And then of course beyond that there’s our lived experience which affects how our bodies (including our brains) develop. It makes perfect sense to think that, just as there’s variability in everything else physical, some people will be more resilient to abuse, and some people will be less. Some people more empathetic, some less – and so on down the line with pretty much everything that defines us. So yeah – we’ve got to treat the brain with the best scientifically-validated methods that we can. If prayer and reading the bible stands up to rigorous study as a superior method for treating mental illness, I’d be very surprised – but I’d accept it. But I don’t think it will.

  8. Regarding this:

    Basically, she was told to meditate on Romans 8 which I take to mean “all things work together for good” verse. Things didn’t quite work together for good as the abuse continued.

    I said this a few times when I began participating on this blog a few years ago, but I grew to detest that Romans 8 verse after many Christians I met threw it in my face if I went to them to discuss the death of my mother.

    I heard that particular verse a lot during my time of grieving.

    A lot of Christians act as though that verse is a band-aid catch-all that can get a person through anything.

    I had to spend years grieving, and that verse did not comfort me, ease the pain, or get me through the grief any faster.

  9. Re:

    Heath Lambert was seriously abused as a child and claimed the gospel healed him when he was 14.

    At this stage in my life, I now sometimes wonder if people like this make these types of claims because they need or want for them to be true, because accepting reality would be too difficult for them to face, it would be too painful.

    My take on this may be similar to ishy’s post above, about some people needing to walk around all time trying to convince themselves or others that the Bible or Jesus got through through thus and so, and they are FINE now.

    I’ve been around Super Duper, Happy, Bubbly Christian types before, even as a teen, and I always found them … a little sad, unsettling.

    My impression is that they cannot face reality because facing, and working through, painful life events or what have you, is difficult.

    It’s a bit easier to repress what you know to be the truth (if it’s painful) and pretend everything is A-OK. They’d rather live in denial than do the hard work of walking through the emotional pain. That’s been my impression.

    The Gospel didn’t heal me of depression or anxiety.

  10. While the physical aspect of mental health can never be overlooked and I think it’s been severely underestimated, the truth remains that we are also morally culpable beings, to some extent responsible for overcoming, not being a slave to, our various degrees (and causes) of brokenness.

    Affirming the gospel is the only and immediate answer to all life’s problems is surely simplistic. Denying the gospel has the power to radically change some immediately and all eventually is, it seems to me, spiritually simplistic.

    While biblical counseling may have its flaws, as all things do, let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.

    I’m often reminded of the text in Romans 8 that says we await “the redemption of our bodies…” In the ultimate and eternal sense, yes, the gospel is our only hope. Science can improve lots of things, but fully remove the curse of sin and its effects from nothing, even bodies. That remains in Jesus’ job description alone.

  11. Daisy wrote:

    I heard that particular verse a lot during my time of grieving.

    A lot of Christians act as though that verse is a band-aid catch-all that can get a person through anything.

    I had to spend years grieving, and that verse did not comfort me, ease the pain, or get me through the grief any faster.

    I mentioned this before, my daughter has a terminal brain tumor. I wrestle with depression. My life feels very gray sometimes, and apathy to pretty much everything is common to me. This is a wretched thing.

    But… if God says he’ll work it all together for good, I do take comfort in that. I don’t expect it’ll be all worked out before she dies (and please God, let it be in 80 years, not 8 months!), or even before I die. But there’s life on the other side of the grave. Good life, that rises from the ashes of this broken one. If I didn’t believe God was going to work this out for good, I’d give up. Shoot, I border on giving up as it is, almost every day.

    If God can’t work the bad things into good, we should find a better one. But if he can, it’s worth hanging on to Him tooth and nail, gritted teeth and tear streaked cheeks.

  12. @ Joe Reed:

    I just don’t find Pie in the Sky theology comforting.

    Even if there is a God and heaven, and my Mom is there, and I get to see her there, in the meantime, life without her has been very difficult.

  13. @ Daisy:

    Suffering just sucks. Death sucks. Abuse sucks. And nothing, even the great and precious promises of God, make the hard times fun, easy, or anything remotely resembling pleasurable. I get that. But the hope of heaven at least helps me remember that the crappy times only last till I get there. They still hurt, but I don’t lose heart (most of the time!). The gospel isn’t an infallible pain pill for the soul, but it gives us enough strength and hope to keep going. Cuz right now, I got nothing else.

  14. This distortion with biblical counseling actually has deeper theological roots, IMO. They are limiting their doctrine of sin to only personal sin, whereas a fuller and more orthodox approach would include corporate sin and generation sin (original sin with the genetic brokenness component). Too much emphasis on one of those three leads to distortions. This is especially true if personal sin ONLY means what I do as opposed to what is done to me. Just something to consider…

  15. Joe Reed wrote:

    While biblical counseling may have its flaws, as all things do, let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.

    That sounds like it came out of the Scientology “Psychiatry: Industry of Death” roadshow. Seriously, that is exactly what Scientology pushes. What they, and you, fail to acknowledge is that “scientific” methods, like medication, have allowed people to get their lives back. My mother is able to live out her elder years in her own home because she takes a high-powered antipsychotic every day. I am able to hold down a well-paying job because I take a cocktail of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications.

    So yeah, I’m prejudiced. But I’ve experienced for myself the good that can come from “evil psych drugs” and I will point out when people decide they’re going to take on the Scientology trope that psychiatric medications and “scientific” methods of treating mental illness are bad. I’d be dead now if Scientology was in charge of my treatment. *scowl*

  16. Had Piper used “renal health” instead of “mental health”, anyone think that the response to ‘kind concerns’ (sorry, that one had me rolling) about gaze-switching to find said kidney well-being would’ve just been ‘oops, I left off a fuller quote from some guy more than 40 years ago?” Of course not, so own the broad brush you’re using and that others have used so dangerously when putting every cognitive function outside of physical realities.

  17. ishy wrote:

    I honestly think a lot of people who push this stuff are completely faking their “faithful” lives.

    I’ve known people who so desperately wanted to believe everything was fine that that was all they talked about. To everyone. About how fine they were and how perfect everything in their lives was and how anybody that wasn’t doing that certainly couldn’t be following God closely enough.

    I think most need the help they so visibly despise.

    I think you nailed it, Ishy. This sort of thing is quite typical in a church setting.

  18. While I have found great solace and comfort in scripture and more importantly in Holy Spirit, throughout my life, I do not expect the Bible or God to fix all problems in my life. Have these people not read the scriptures they claim to esteem? People of faith, still suffer in this life, not because of their personal lack of faith or sin, but because of humanity’s fall. I do view disease(physical and mental), along with violence, sexual assault, war, poverty, and death etc… as a result of sin, not of individual sin, but original sin. It is true that Jesus can and does perform miracles that saves people from experiencing these things, but He never has promised that everyone will get a miracle, even every person of faith.

    The Lord created us in His image, and gifted us with an incredible brain. Scientific knowledge is a result of us learning to use that brain. Therefore, to deny medical science, as having any value, is to deny the results of God’s creation. Science cannot answer every question, and has at times made huge mistakes, but I trust science to be right most of the time, and have never seen Science and God to be in conflict.

    It appears to me that these individuals are following the same corrupt Prosperity Gospel as the Wealth and Health charlatans, only they are focusing on mental Health to make themselves wealthy.

  19. Jarrett Edwards wrote:

    It appears to me that these individuals are following the same corrupt Prosperity Gospel as the Wealth and Health charlatans, only they are focusing on mental Health to make themselves wealthy.

    There is truth in what you say, Jarrett. I also recognise that they are peddling a single product that may only be effective in a very small proportion of cases. However, their pride and lack of spiritual understanding causes them to go down this path, portraying their ‘solution’ as the only one and that all others are of satan.

  20. Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    So yeah, I’m prejudiced. But I’ve experienced for myself the good that can come from “evil psych drugs

    I don’t think I used the phrase “evil psych drugs”? I was pointing out some limitations and cases of failure.

  21. The Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counselling discusses many of the points raised here, if you can get a hold of a copy.

  22. • Can abuse and neglect break the mind and the spirit?

    I think there’s no question about this. It doesn’t always, but the Biblical Counseling Movement takes “it doesn’t always” to mean “it never should.” This is like saying that because some people fall off their roof and do not break a leg, no one should ever break a leg if they fall off a roof, if they just remember to fall with the correct technique.

    • Is there an organic component to the effects of abuse on the brain?

    Increasingly, the evidence says that it does. The American Journal of Psychiatry imaged the brains of 51 women, 28 of whom had experienced serious emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse in childhood. The other 23 had not. They measured the thickness of various parts of the cortex, because brains grow bigger with use, just like muscles. It is well known that abuse can cause the brain to rewire itself in an effort to avoid the areas that were most affected by the abuse. The results of the scan showed changes in the brains of those who had been abused that were not there in the other women. Time has a decent rundown of the larger study here: http://healthland.time.com/2013/06/05/sexual-and-emotional-abuse-scar-the-brain-in-specific-ways/

    • Can simply understanding Scripture or contemplating God heal a broken mind?

    No, because the Bible is not a magic thing. If what you mean is that God has the power, as Creator, to heal the broken mind of any of his creatures, I would agree that yes. Of course he does, just as he has the power to raise the dead, give sight to the blind, and drive out demons. Does he always choose to do this, and does he always choose to heal the same way and to the same extent for everyone? The Bible never claims this, just as it never promises us that we will all have the same health outcomes, life expectancies, or even intelligence levels. By saying that simply doing anything with Scripture will heal the mind you are saying that you can force God to do things in a certain way by manipulation. ABCD, God has to do it. God is not yours to manipulate, as the sons of Sceva in Acts 19 found out to their shame.

    • According to the beliefs of Calvinism, of which Lambert is a proponent, can the gospel heal a person’s mind if he is not one of the elect?

    I believe, based on previous close contact to other Calvinists in the movement, that they would argue that the gospel is the only thing that can ultimately heal anyone; ergo, if a person isn’t elect they could not reach ultimate healing. Whether they would think there was any lesser kind of healing that their counseling could help someone with I don’t know. I think they would just keep telling a person that their perceived need for relief from the terror, trauma, and stress of abuse was nothing compared to their real need for Christ. That may be true, but refusing to help someone get relief for their very real emotional trauma with proven mental help while trying to force them instead to convert is the same as heading into an earthquake zone and refusing to help anyone with their “perceived” need for food and water until they convert because “spiritual needs are so much greater.”

    • According to Calvinists, since the gospel cannot be apprehended by the unregenerate nonelect, should the BCM have some sort of screening to determine a client’s probability of being one of the elect? (I am not being facetious. I mean this sincerely.)

    It would be consistent with their views, I think. I doubt they would.

    • Should there be other forms of counseling available for those who appear to demonstrate that they are not one of the elect or aren’t they important?

    There should be; they are; but there isn’t. I think all counseling would be directed towards telling them they can have no help for any of their issues at all without coming to Jesus.

    • Did Heath Lambert get *healed* at 14 because he is one of the elect or was he merely resilient? / Is resilience a factor in abuse? Are some people just born more resilient?

    I think there’s no way to know, anymore than there was any way for military leaders in World War II to predict which men would do what when they stormed a beach. Some men curled up and went straight to sleep. Their brains literally turned off in the face of such terror. Other men fell down and started screaming and crying for their mothers. Some men went blind for no other reason but sheer panic; a blindness that lifted later when the extreme stress was over. Other men wanted to cry or sleep, but responded to their peers or their platoon leaders’ pressure and kept moving despite their screaming brains. Other men coldly rationalized that their best odds to survive was to keep moving, and did so. Other men got angry: furiously, passionately, angry; and their anger carried them through. Other men grew determined and engaged in amazing, and often completely unexpected and sometimes even “superhuman”, acts of heroism to protect their friends and their cause. You could never completely predict before the battle which men would behave in which way, though you could sometimes make some accurate educated guesses. This information is easy to find, and it suggests that minds are simply wired in different ways. Very interesting study here: https://www.tc.columbia.edu/faculty/gab38/faculty-profile/files/americanPsychologist.pdf

    • Where does the mind come from if not from the brain? / Is there a difference between the mind and the spirit and how do we differentiate between the two?

    I am wildly guessing here, but having been intimately involved in training and raising many animals, I have come to be in awe of the amazing brains God has given them. I think it would be incorrect to say they have “brains” but no “minds” and this is what distinguishes us from them. They have unique personalities, they can solve problems, they can be sneaky, they can be self-less, and they can be deeply mentally damaged by trauma and abuse. It seems to me what the Bible describes about us that is different is our eternal souls, made in God’s image. I rather suspect that the brain is like the computer hardware, and the mind is the software, that allows the user—the soul—to use the machine and express itself in the physical world. Even if the hardware or software are damaged, the user is still an image bearer, still worthy of respect and honor, and still truly himself or herself. Don’t quote me on this. It’s all wild speculation.

    • What causes dementia if it isn’t deterioration of the brain?

    I think you are correct. Dementia is a hard question for the BCM, because when the brain deteriorates a person may be utterly unable to comprehend anything about God, the Bible, their state, or anything that’s said to them. If that person was a believer before dementia set in, what happened to their faith? Is it gone because they aren’t using their mind to love God at this moment?

    • Can long term depression, anxiety, pain, etc. cause physical changes to the brain and the body, necessitating  physical, mental and spiritual interventions?

    Yes. Depression, anxiety, pain: these all cause the body to release cortisol. The body is supposed to release this chemical, and it’s a useful mechanism for dealing with sudden stress or immediate danger. But the constant exposure to cortisol destroys the receptors and stops the hippocampus from making new neurons while causing existing ones to shrink. This causes memory issues. (It’s analogous to Type 2 Diabetes, where the body keeps producing insulin at such rates that the receptors “break” and the body must produce more and more insulin until the whole mechanism is disregulated.) Constantly high levels of cortisol also cause the amygdala—the part of the brain that controls emotional response—to enlarge and become hyperactive, which seriously disturbs sleep and causes the body to release other hormones in abnormal amounts. Medications are very effective at helping with these chemical and physiological issues.

    • Why do I think that the BCM makes things seem too *easy peasy?*

    I think you’re right. It is both “too easy” and also far too hard. It’s easy for the counselor, and very difficult for the victim.

  23. “What they, and you, fail to acknowledge is that “scientific” methods, like medication, have allowed people to get their lives back.”

    I don’t think Joe was denying that. I wouldn’t either. BUT…the opposite is also true…Counseling based solely on helping people respond in a biblical way to their problems has ALSO allowed people to get their lives back. And I agree that denying that a bible-centered approach to counseling could help ANYBODY, and that all pastors and Christians faced with friends asking for help should immediately refer them to professionals, seems equally simplistic, as denying the efficacy of any medical approach.

  24. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote (quoting an article by Mr Lambert, and if he has a real, meaningfully-earned doctorate then I will happily stand corrected on his title):

    Those of us in the biblical counseling movement are the only ones who know that the construct of mental illness actually has to do with problems of the heart and require the gospel of God’s grace for healing.

    This is a simple failure of proof-reading on somebody’s part. It just needs to be corrected as follows (emphasis added):

    +++++
    Those of us in the biblical counseling movement are the only ones who knowbelieve that the construct of mental illness actually has to do with problems of the heart and require the gospel of God’s grace for healing.
    +++++

    There: fixed.

  25. This is one statistic (a real one, with predictive value) that I’d like Lambert to address:

    “One of the largest studies to investigate birth complications and later mental health has found that premature birth constitutes a single, independent risk factor for a range of severe psychiatric disorders.

    The study, published in The Archives of General Psychiatry, found that individuals born very prematurely (less than 32 weeks gestation) were three times more likely to be hospitalized with a psychiatric disorder aged 16 years and older, compared to those born at term (37-41 weeks gestation). The risk varied depending on the condition – for psychosis it was 2.5 more likely, for depression three times more likely and for bipolar disorder 7.4 times more likely. The findings also revealed a smaller increased risk for those born moderately prematurely (32-36 weeks).

    Previous research has shown an association between premature birth and an increased risk of schizophrenia, but this is the first study to report an association with a broad range of psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, psychosis and depression.”

    “The authors point to the importance of raising awareness of the increased risk of mental health disorders in people born prematurely and suggest gestational age should be considered when investigating psychiatric disorders in young adults.”

    We struggled with heartbreak as our own 9-week preterm son began exhibiting symptoms in high school. ACE (adverse childhood events) and many organic illnesses can correlate in some fashion with degrees of mental illness (and subsequent substance abuse, if you want to throw water on that judgmental fire). I guess *science* has to be removed from the evangelical gospel to give glory to God, and weaponize the real
    good news.

    Fact check: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/news/records/2012/June/Premature-birth-linked-to-increased-risk-of-mental-health-problems.aspx

  26. Rich wrote:

    If prayer and reading the bible stands up to rigorous study as a superior method for treating mental illness, I’d be very surprised – but I’d accept it. But I don’t think it will.

    The bible is not a treatment manual for anything. People have spent entire careers slicing & dicing it to the point it’s become like a ventriloquist dummy. Stick your hand in and pick your verses. Voila! You have justification to kill people. And justification to make peace. Justification to enslave. Justification to free. Justification for male headship. Justification that we’re all equal.
    When I worked at a mental health facility, holy books were the worst for inciting delusions. Discussion of religion was best left to the professional psychologists and psychiatrists.
    Faith & prayer can bring peace to a person. With mental illness and without. But the mind is an organ like any other & while we don’t fully understand it, we do know that it’s chemistry can literally change who we are.
    A church can support a fellow believer under treatment (like you would a congregant with cancer or a broken leg).
    But as a sole treatment method? Biblical counselling is akin to witch doctoring.

  27. It’s worth bearing in mind that spiritual depression exists and that a spiritual solution should be sought. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones delivered a series of sermons on the subject at Westminster Chapel London in the 1950s. These were edited in book form under the title ‘Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures’.

    If interested, you can hear them here:- https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/spiritual-depression/

  28. @ MRF:
    This was an excellent, comprehensive comment. I would just add that, in children who have experienced trauma, they often have constantly elevated cortisol levels. This causes them to be in an almost permanent fight or flight state. Karen Purvis, in her book The Connected Child, mentions that diet can be an effective part of returning a child’s brain chemistry to a healthier state.

    Thinking of a strict divide between body and soul has much more to do with Plato than it does with anything Jesus taught. Augustine was a neo Platonist and grafted this philosophy into Christianity. I personally don’t believe this was a good thing.

  29. “Is there a difference between the mind and the spirit and how do we differentiate between the two?” (Dee)

    Several years ago, our daughter was an activity director for a nursing care facility. A talented musician, she used music therapy in her work. The Special Care Unit (SCU) with several Alzheimer patients was on her daily schedule. Our community is a very ‘religious’ place, lots of churches, a Christian college; many of the Alzheimer patients were Christians. I asked her one day how things went when she visited the SCU. She responded “Dad, it’s the strangest thing. These folks can’t remember what they had for breakfast, but when I start to play the piano and sing hymns to them, they begin to sing along without missing a word.” Mind or spirit?

  30. @ Janet:
    I am so sorry about what you are going through. My daughter was also born at 9 weeks and had a very tough NICU stay. She is four now and is health, but she does get sick easily and has had sleep issues that resemble night terrors. I hope she will not have these sorts of issues as she grows up. I think parents of premies never loose the hyper vigilance they learned watching their baby’s heart monitor beep and then stop beeping in the NICU.

    This was a good example of your point. We don’t know exactly how it works, but we have lots of examples of the effects of the physical on the mental. Science may never fully understand this, but we already know that the connection exists. To deny this can have potentially spiritually abusive results.

    Biblical Counseling is not prepared to deal with situations like this. As I have shared before, my passion about this issue comes from a terrible experience we had getting counseling from Mike Lawyer, the counselor at Doug Wilson’s church. In our first session, after we told him about our daughter and our struggle with grief and if we should have another baby like we had always wanted, he quoted “be fruitful and multiply,” “God will not give you more than you can handle,” and told us tons of stories about all the people in their church who have 8 kids and how happy they are. Needless to say, this was crushing and has taken me a long time to work through the shame this caused. I genuinely think these people don’t think the physical world is real. My question to them is, why did God create this world and call it good? The physical world is real, it matters, and it is united to the spiritual so tightly that it may prove impossible to ever separate the two.

  31. Max wrote:

    “Is there a difference between the mind and the spirit and how do we differentiate between the two?” (Dee)

    On the flip side of the coin from my previous comment … I knew an itinerant Baptist evangelist who could quote entire passages of Scripture – his message captivated one congregation after another as he traveled around the country. It was exposed that he was living in deep moral sin while also preaching. After he confessed, his ministry was dissolved. His recall of Scripture: Mind or Spirit?

  32. Lowlandseer wrote:

    It’s worth bearing in mind that spiritual depression exists

    Does it? Is there proof? How is spiritual depression defined? How is it explained as separate from just depression? Can a chemical imbalance that causes depression include and/or lead to a spiritual depression?

    So many questions . . .

  33. Max wrote:

    She responded “Dad, it’s the strangest thing. These folks can’t remember what they had for breakfast, but when I start to play the piano and sing hymns to them, they begin to sing along without missing a word.” Mind or spirit?

    This scenario plays out with music across the board, not just with hymns, but with familiar music.

  34. @ Divorce Minister:
    This is a great point that I have thought a lot about. J. Micheal Jobs groups this into first person, second person, and third person suffering. First person is suffering caused by your mistakes. Second person is caused by wrongs others committed against you. Third person is illnes/suffering that no one person caused, but rather arises from our broken world. I’m my experience, biblical counseling tries to make everything first person. The issues I went to counseling for were second and third person, but the counselor only wanted to talk about my response to those issues and whether my response was “sinful.” This can be really devastating to a contentious person who really wants to do the right thing. Thinking that you can make every situation better by just “being better” can leave you exhausted and broken. New Calvinists disdain prosperity gospel, but I don’t think they can see how related their thought on counseling is to the things Joel Osteen says about money.

  35. Bridget wrote:

    This scenario plays out with music across the board, not just with hymns, but with familiar music.

    This is why music therapy is a growing, very exciting field. In grad school, our music therapy faculty at Alabama was doing research on music therapy in the NICU to improve outcomes for premies. It does raise interesting mind/spirit questions

  36. Max wrote:

    “Is there a difference between the mind and the spirit and how do we differentiate between the two?” (Dee)

    The New Calvinists keep reminding us how much smarter they are than the rest of Christendom. When they are challenged about the beliefs and practices associated with their brand of reformed theology, they have snipped back that we just don’t understand – our little souls just can’t contain what they know. Their leaders are promoted as intellectual theological giants (Mohler’s stack of books is bigger than yours, Grudem’s grasp of systematic theology far exceeds the common man’s ability to put it together, etc.)

    Yet, the New Calvinist elite continue to fall from grace – failings of one sort or another is an ugly stain in their ranks. Many of those who haven’t stumbled yet are some of the most arrogant, mean-spirited people on the planet. TWW and other watchblogs chronicle their failures. Their ‘superior’ intellect: Mind or Spirit?

  37. Dee, I am so sorry about what your foster grandson is going through. Innocent kids don’t deserve the trauma they experience at the hands of adults and it breaks my heart. I know this whole community is grateful for the work that your daughter and your whole family do caring for orphans in the world. This is TRUE religion.

    My wife and I were foster parents for a short time, and we may be again someday. We are praying for your foster grandson and your whole family during this painful time.

  38. Lowlandseer wrote:

    It’s worth bearing in mind that spiritual depression exists and that a spiritual solution should be sought. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones delivered a series of sermons on the subject at Westminster Chapel London in the 1950s. These were edited in book form under the title ‘Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures’.

    If interested, you can hear them here:- https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/spiritual-depression/

    Interesting that you should promote someone who was Calvinistic in outlook. While not as dangerous as Nouthetic Counselling, he still came to a view as to whether the person seeking counselling needed what is now known as Nouthetic counselling based on his Calvinistic views.

  39. Joe Reed wrote:

    I don’t think I used the phrase “evil psych drugs”? I was pointing out some limitations and cases of failure.

    Yes, you pulled out the old (and I’m quoting you here) “let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.”

    You just dropped this assertion without any evidence whatsoever. Scientology has done the exact same thing in its anti-psychiatry propaganda. I am not going to stand idly by while I see anti-psychiatry nonsense dropped without some sort of evidence.

    Really, the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get with your remark. What you did here was dropped this unsourced statement in an attempt to question “‘scientific’ forms of mental health treatments.” Why? From your other remarks on this thread, you seem to want to minimize the physical aspects of mental health in favor of some sort of spiritual aspect. Would you do the same if the science was cardiac, renal, pancreatic or something else? Why is the brain so different to you?

    But seriously, your “mass killer” remark comes straight out of the Scientology anti-psychiatry playbook. Maybe you need to look at your anti-psych sources more closely.

  40. @ Muslin fka Deana Holmes:
    “But seriously, your “mass killer” remark comes straight out of the Scientology anti-psychiatry playbook. Maybe you need to look at your anti-psych sources more closely.”

    Agreed! Still need that ‘like’ button.

  41. Can abuse and neglect break the mind and the spirit?

    I wouldn’t say that childhood experiences of abuse and neglect “break” the mind but “rewires” the mind. The problem with the simplistic approach to BCM counseling is that everyone reacts differently to abuse and neglect. It is impossible to apply a one type approach to counseling victims of abuse and neglect because there are so many ways in which a victim learns to cope with abuse. The brain is a complicated organ.

    I worked with a foster child who experienced sexual abuse. Instead of learning to develop healthy, trusting relationships, her brain rewired to view all relationships as a potential threat. She would do well in a foster home for a few months and seem to be thriving at school only to turn around and do something that brought chaos in her life. It was as if she was waiting for something bad to happen, so instead of waiting, she created it. She is now and adult and I imagine her life is still very difficult.

    Victims of abuse and neglect, or any traumatic event experienced in life, need to seek counseling that is trauma-focused. Trauma not only affects rewiring of the brain but can also bring about health issues, which led to researchers developing the ACE score.

    For anyone interested in learning more about how trauma affects the brain and body, I highly recommend Bessel van der Kolk’s book, “The Body Keeps the Score.” When I read it everything that I have experienced in working with victims finally made sense. It helps provide a greater understanding of why victims of abuse and trauma react the way they do. Especially why people react in ways that do not make sense to those on the outside. I wish I had learned what is in the book in college.

    https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518887121&sr=8-1&keywords=the+body+keeps+the+score

  42. I do want to make it clear that I think spiritual counseling can be part of a holistic approach to treating psychological/psychiatric issues. But it needs to basically “stay in its lane.” That’s the problem with Heath Lambert, John Piper and the rest of them. They’re not staying in their lane. Instead, they think their witterings about mental health are somehow Gospel, and moreover, that they supersede medical science rather than working with it.

  43. Ricco wrote:

    Thinking of a strict divide between body and soul has much more to do with Plato than it does with anything Jesus taught. Augustine was a neo Platonist and grafted this philosophy into Christianity. I personally don’t believe this was a good thing.

    Agreed. I no longer believe in the existence of an immortal soul. There was a time when I didn’t dare and question the dogma. I now believe that body and soul are an integral unit with no bifurcated boundary. I now believe that the dogma was a Greek invention, based on, and as you’ve pointed out, Platonic and Aristotelian perfectionism.

  44. @ Joe Reed:
    That’s great it’s working for you, but it does not, and did not, work for me.

    After my mother died, I was needing the people I went to, which included many Christians, to weep with the one who was weeping.
    To simply sit with me with their arm around me while I cried. I was badly in need of empathy. I didn’t need or want solutions or theology lessons.

    Instead, I got inappropriately chipper, upbeat platitudes and/or people quoting Romans 8 (‘all things work to good to those who love God’) at me.

    Quoting Bible verses at a person who is already in deep emotional pain, (if they are like I am), make the situation worse.

    You’re apparently the kind of person who enjoys getting Bible verses quoted at them in a time of suffering, which is fine for you, but I find it flippant, simplistic, and it does not address the pain I’m in.

  45. @ Daisy:

    P.S. and just to be thorough and accurate:
    I also got other inappropriate or insensitive responses from people (including Christians) during my time of grief, which included:

    I got criticized, judged, and I got unsolicited advice.
    (As to the advice: grief -(or depression or other issues in life)- is not a problem that can be fixed, so folks should not tell a grieving person, “here’s what you should do to get over it, go volunteer at a soup kitchen~” etc.)

    Compare and contrast and therefore diminish (I also got this a lot):
    “Your Mom being dead is sad, but it could be worse. Starving orphans in India have it far worse than you, so get over it, and count your blessings”

    I also received lots of…
    Shaming. The Christians I went to feel that I’m not supposed to admit to being in grief but just “suck it up buttercup” and get through it alone, and do it quickly, not allowed to spend months or years in grief).

    But I did run into, as I said above, lots and lots of Christians quoting Bible verses at me (the Romans 8 part was a favorite of theirs), as if that should ‘solve’ my grief.

  46. Daisy wrote:

    @ Joe Reed:
    That’s great it’s working for you, but it does not, and did not, work for me.
    After my mother died, I was needing the people I went to, which included many Christians, to weep with the one who was weeping.
    To simply sit with me with their arm around me while I cried. I was badly in need of empathy. I didn’t need or want solutions or theology lessons.
    Instead, I got inappropriately chipper, upbeat platitudes and/or people quoting Romans 8 (‘all things work to good to those who love God’) at me.
    Quoting Bible verses at a person who is already in deep emotional pain, (if they are like I am), make the situation worse.
    You’re apparently the kind of person who enjoys getting Bible verses quoted at them in a time of suffering, which is fine for you, but I find it flippant, simplistic, and it does not address the pain I’m in.

    I’m so sorry, Daisy. You needed comfort, not empty platitudes. As one whose child was thrown from a horse and died at the age of 7, i understand the need for comfort. Sometimes people are ignorant. They don’t understand how to help. It is at these times that we need the love of people who have no answers but are willing to hold us while we cry.

  47. Muff Potter wrote:

    Agreed. I no longer believe in the existence of an immortal soul. There was a time when I didn’t dare and question the dogma. I now believe that body and soul are an integral unit with no bifurcated boundary. I now believe that the dogma was a Greek invention, based on, and as you’ve pointed out, Platonic and Aristotelian perfectionism.

    I’m sorry to hear that, Muff. I take comfort from knowing that my present enjoyment (or at times the lack of it) of my relationship with Jesus has no bearing on my eternal position. I trust that God is good and always does the right thing.

  48. Divorce Minister wrote:

    This distortion with biblical counseling actually has deeper theological roots, IMO. They are limiting their doctrine of sin to only personal sin, whereas a fuller and more orthodox approach would include corporate sin and generation sin (original sin with the genetic brokenness component). Too much emphasis on one of those three leads to distortions. This is especially true if personal sin ONLY means what I do as opposed to what is done to me. Just something to consider…

    Yes, they always want to attribute a mental health problem to personal sin, when maybe the person was SINNED AGAINST (all caps for emphasis, not yelling).

    Another thing that really bothers me is that they will also criticize a person for responding to abuse or tragedy in an understandable way.

    For example, if someone is mugged at gun point, they will of course probably feel shaken, upset, and afraid afterwards.
    The Biblical Counselor will tell them they are “in sin” for feeling fear, anger, or whatever other understandable emotion, after the mugging.

    So, hurting people get victimized twice:
    They get hurt by the initial offender, and then later, by the counselor who faults them for having the supposedly “un-biblical” reactions of crying or feeling anger over having been victimized.

    It’s really warped thinking.

  49. Mercy wrote:

    Daisy wrote:

    @ Joe Reed:
    That’s great it’s working for you, but it does not, and did not, work for me.
    After my mother died, I was needing the people I went to, which included many Christians, to weep with the one who was weeping.
    To simply sit with me with their arm around me while I cried. I was badly in need of empathy. I didn’t need or want solutions or theology lessons.
    Instead, I got inappropriately chipper, upbeat platitudes and/or people quoting Romans 8 (‘all things work to good to those who love God’) at me.
    Quoting Bible verses at a person who is already in deep emotional pain, (if they are like I am), make the situation worse.
    You’re apparently the kind of person who enjoys getting Bible verses quoted at them in a time of suffering, which is fine for you, but I find it flippant, simplistic, and it does not address the pain I’m in.

    I’m so sorry, Daisy. You needed comfort, not empty platitudes. As one whose child was thrown from a horse and died at the age of 7, i understand the need for comfort. Sometimes people are ignorant. They don’t understand how to help. It is at these times that we need the love of people who have no answers but are willing to hold us while we cry.

    Sometimes, Daisy, we just don’t know what to say. My heart goes out to you and I wish I knew how to fix it for you. Just know that there are many here who care for you.

  50. Jarrett Edwards wrote:

    While I have found great solace and comfort in scripture and more importantly in Holy Spirit, throughout my life, I do not expect the Bible or God to fix all problems in my life. Have these people not read the scriptures they claim to esteem? People of faith, still suffer in this life, not because of their personal lack of faith or sin, but because of humanity’s fall. I do view disease(physical and mental), along with violence, sexual assault, war, poverty, and death etc… as a result of sin, not of individual sin, but original sin. It is true that Jesus can and does perform miracles that saves people from experiencing these things, but He never has promised that everyone will get a miracle, even every person of faith.

    I agree with everything you said there.

    Some Christians, even the ones who mock the Joel Osteens and the Wealth and Health Prosperity Gospel, never- the- less, as I saw one Christian psychiatrist put it, preach an “Emotional Health” Gospel.

    The Emotional Health Gospel consists of: if you just pray, read your Bible, and trust Jesus, this thinking goes,you’ll never have PTSD, anxiety attacks, depression, etc.

    And again, those who promote the E.H.G. spend the rest of their time ridiculing the Joel Osteens over the Prosperity Gospel.
    (They promote this view over mental health but call it wrong when used to promote finances or physical health. Go figure.)

    Ray Comfort, Christian apologist, promotes that view. He released a movie about a year ago called “Exit.”

    I saw Comfort promoting that film on television last year or year before. He basically feels if someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they won’t have depression or suicidal thoughts.

  51. Joe Reed wrote:

    While biblical counseling may have its flaws, as all things do, let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.

    I don’t think there’s a one solution fits all for everyone.

    I’ve seen a tiny minority of Christians over the last 15 years say that Bible reading alone helped them overcome anxiety or depression.

    However, the bigger majority I’ve run into (and I used to have depression myself, and still have anxiety) aren’t helped by “faith alone” approaches.

    Some people are helped by secular psychology and medications – and some are not.

    What may work for one person may not work for another.

  52. Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    Why is the brain so different to you?

    But seriously, your “mass killer” remark comes straight out of the Scientology anti-psychiatry playbook. Maybe you need to look at your anti-psych sources more closely.

    Maybe you need to read what I actually wrote more closely.
    *smile*

  53. Daisy wrote:

    I don’t think there’s a one solution fits all for everyone.

    That should be, ‘I don’t think there’s a one sized fits all solution for everyone.’

    I managed to mangle how I worded it in that last post.

  54. Daisy wrote:

    You’re apparently the kind of person who enjoys getting Bible verses quoted at them in a time of suffering, which is fine for you, but I find it flippant, simplistic, and it does not address the pain I’m in.

    Ummm, no, I didn’t say that. I said I grabbed on to those promises as best I could, I never said sitting in the middle of a circle hearing verses quoted at me was therapeutic.

    I will say this – nobody quite knows how the suffering we face (in my case a dying 4yr old daughter) feels to us, and they don’t know how to help. They do the best they can, and sometimes it’s helpful sometimes it’s not. I’m learning to try to see the heart behind the clumsy attempts to minister to my own broken heart. But it’s hard – I get upset too. But I have to remember, I was clumsy like that just a few months ago. I hang my head in shame at some of my own attempts to comfort. But I just didn’t know how it felt. How could I have?

  55. Joe Reed wrote:

    Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    Why is the brain so different to you?

    But seriously, your “mass killer” remark comes straight out of the Scientology anti-psychiatry playbook. Maybe you need to look at your anti-psych sources more closely.

    Maybe you need to read what I actually wrote more closely.
    *smile*

    Or maybe you need to be clearer in what you write, Joe. We don’t appreciate anything that smacks of victim shaming around here.

  56. Thanks for this post, Dee. I was just recently discussing this topic with a friend. We have had shared struggles in parenting and histories of trauma and abuse. We have always felt isolated in the church and bible study settings because if we shared our struggles with anger, anxiety or depression it was met with either silence or judgement. Silence because people don’t know what to do with mental illness so they dismiss it. Or judgement because they are the experts on curing your “lack of faith.” Even in circles that aren’t name it and claim it, simplistic stamps like faith, forgiveness, memorizing scripture, taking thoughts captive, and rejoicing in suffering are used to shame those with mental illness into believing it could be fixed if they would try harder. I have been through bible study after bible study in hope that God would heal me and this theology makes you feel as though there is something terribly wrong with you that you aren’t getting fixed . I think God can set people fee in miraculous ways but for the majority that is not the case. There us so much shame in the church for getting psychiatric help, taking meds and doing “worldly” therapies. All this is maddening to me. The biologic component to mental illness is real. Trauma changes how our brains function.

  57. Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    Yes, you pulled out the old (and I’m quoting you here) “let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.”

    I don’t know about mass killers and such, but I tried secular psychiatrists (several) over a 20+ year period, and they prescribed me medications. The sessions and drugs didn’t work for me, but I recognize that they may be of benefit to other people.

    I’m not anti- psychology or anti- medications, but I’m cautiously optimistic about them, if that makes sense?

    This guy has another take on the matter (the bottom half of the post I did here has critiques of his views by others):
    Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/%E2%80%A2-lost-connections-uncovering-the-real-causes-of-depression-and-the-unexpected-solutions-by-johann-hari/

  58. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve seen a tiny minority of Christians over the last 15 years say that Bible reading alone helped them overcome anxiety or depression.

    You raise an interesting point… I wonder if there shouldn’t be a careful defining of the goal of these things – “healing” as in complete repair like the thing never existed, or “helping” as in the thing never goes away but we learn to live and function with it.

    Healing may not be possible, due to, among other things, the complexity of the brain and soul and the dreadfulness of the trauma some experience. Helping just may be available.

  59. Joe Reed wrote:

    @ Forrest:

    Want to play that game?

    I’m the victim of a misread comment!

    We all need to consider that how we are heard may not be how we intend it to be. However, to then blame the hearer is wrong. Remember your audience.

  60. Mercy wrote:

    I’m so sorry, Daisy. You needed comfort, not empty platitudes. As one whose child was thrown from a horse and died at the age of 7, i understand the need for comfort. Sometimes people are ignorant. They don’t understand how to help. It is at these times that we need the love of people who have no answers but are willing to hold us while we cry.

    Thank you, Mercy.

    Yes, I found after Mom passed, that many Christians don’t grasp the art of just sitting there, being there for someone.

    I needed their presence or empathy, as any person in grief does, not “answers,” suggestions, or shaming.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  61. Muff Potter wrote:

    Agreed. I no longer believe in the existence of an immortal soul

    My personal belief now is that we are united, body and soul, in Christ’s death and resurrection. I think there will be a time after death, but I’d don’t think it will be wildly different than here, just without all the evil.

    I have respect for anyone willing to question long-held beliefs. People who have never done this are sometimes quick to judge. I saw an article on TGC the other day about how horrible Jenn Hatmaker is for changing her mind on things and she only did it for prais from”libruls.” This completely discounts how painful this process can often be. God isn’t served by our lies. My goal in life is to believe what I believe honestly and allow God and experience to edit my beliefs as life moves forward

  62. Forrest wrote:

    Sometimes, Daisy, we just don’t know what to say. My heart goes out to you and I wish I knew how to fix it for you. Just know that there are many here who care for you.

    Thank you. I got through the grief several years ago.

    I came to terms with Mom being gone, but when or if I reflect on how so many Christians behaved towards me at that time, it gets me worked up.

    I also share some of my story in hopes it will help other Christians know what to say (or not to say) if they run into someone who is in grief.

    What I find weird is that a lot of Christians will discuss eternity with you – as in they want you to accept Jesus so when you die you go to Heaven –
    But they don’t want to discuss death beyond that.

    I’ve never heard a sermon, for example, on how Christians can help other Christians deal with the impact of death, how to comfort the person in grief.

    It’s as though Christians (like a lot of Non-Christians) are uncomfortable or too afraid to discuss death or grief.

    If they can discuss a person’s eternal destiny (and they do, constantly), I don’t see why they can’t discuss how to minister to the grieving.

  63. “According to Calvinists, since the gospel cannot be apprehended by the unregenerate nonelect, should the BCM have some sort of screening to determine a client’s probability of being one of the elect? (I am not being facetious. I mean this sincerely.)”

    I know from my own experience in the BCM that this is their main focus. They usually don’t even address the reasons someone comes in unless they pass their “christian” test. The first sessions are usually purely devoted to this. I was a member of a church that was heavily involved in running an arm of the movement.

    I went to multiple conferences on the subject while I attended the church. It was always heavily stressed that any hope of true success or even satisfactory counseling sessions were only if the counseled was a believer.

    So if you aren’t a confessing Christian they usually call it in and don’t seem to care as much.

    I do believe the majority of rank and file I individuals who undergo training seek to help, but there xompassions alnost seems to be trained out of them.

  64. @ Daisy:
    That probably says much about the level of maturity of many christians. That said, even unbelievers often know far better how to be supportive.

  65. Daisy wrote:

    Mercy wrote:
    I’m so sorry, Daisy. You needed comfort, not empty platitudes. As one whose child was thrown from a horse and died at the age of 7, i understand the need for comfort. Sometimes people are ignorant. They don’t understand how to help. It is at these times that we need the love of people who have no answers but are willing to hold us while we cry.
    Thank you, Mercy.
    Yes, I found after Mom passed, that many Christians don’t grasp the art of just sitting there, being there for someone.
    I needed their presence or empathy, as any person in grief does, not “answers,” suggestions, or shaming.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you, Daisy. I believe that it is through these times that the hurting and grieving are allowed to grow and become comforters to others. We don’t miravulously know how to get it right. By God’s grace we are given opportunities to allow Him to work through us. I must admit that i probably blew it more times than i would like to admit.

  66. Joe Reed wrote:

    Ummm, no, I didn’t say that. I said I grabbed on to those promises as best I could, I never said sitting in the middle of a circle hearing verses quoted at me was therapeutic.

    Your previous posts suggested that you find Rom. 8 and Christians quoting it at you helpful or comforting in some capacity, when I said earlier that verse did not help me.

    I just never found Romans 8 comforting at my time of grief, nor did it comfort me when Christians quoted it at me at that time. To this day, I really dislike that verse.

    I want to give clumsy yet well-meaning Christians a pass, but I cannot, not across the board in every case.

    The reason I say that is because many of the Christians I went to for comfort at the time were age 50 or older, some had experienced the death of their own mother (or of a husband) years before my loss.

    These people were mature enough to know better, yet they still fumbled and said insensitive things, or tried to shoo me off the phone if I called, as if they could not be bothered to take the occasional call off me.

    They had walked where I had, yet most of them still shamed me for going to them, gave me advice, quoted Bible verses at me in a “cheery” sounding voice, etc.

  67. Joe Reed wrote:

    Want to play that game?
    I’m the victim of a misread comment!

    I think it helps when you’re making those types of observations on a blog such as this one to qualify them by saying you’re not condemning any and all use of secular medicine or doctor- prescribed medications.

    I was pretty much let down by both Christian approaches to depression -AND- let down by secular approaches, but I frequently tell people I’m NOT telling them to NOT see a doctor or take meds.

    It didn’t work for me, but maybe it will work for them.

    I think my take on this is middle- of- the- road and therefore reasonable.

    However, I had my head bit off here months ago by someone else (~NOT~ by “Muslin fka Deana Holmes” but another person), and a lady at my own Daisy blog, bit my head off about it, both of whom seem to think admitting that secular psychology didn’t work for me in particular (and may not work for others in every case) makes me “anti psychology.”

    (And I’m not “anti psychology.” I just realized it had limitations for me.)

    But therapy and medications do work for some people.

  68. Ricco wrote:

    I have respect for anyone willing to question long-held beliefs. People who have never done this are sometimes quick to judge. I saw an article on TGC the other day about how horrible Jenn Hatmaker is for changing her mind on things and she only did it for prais from”libruls.” This completely discounts how painful this process can often be. God isn’t served by our lies. My goal in life is to believe what I believe honestly and allow God and experience to edit my beliefs as life moves forward

    I saw articles about that the other day on other sites.

    I’ve been thinking of doing a post or two on my Daisy blog about de-conversion stories.

    Some Christians were really offended or threatened by Hatmaker’s change of heart on certain subjects- I don’t even think she left the faith, she just changed her view point on a topic or two, and that was enough to hack off some Christians.

    A lot of Christians are deeply threatened or angered by a person who was once a standard conservative evangelical but who shifts to either reject the entire faith, or who changes their position.

    When I went into a faith crisis a few years ago, and my politics shifted from more far right to more ‘middle right’, one of my long time internet friends got incredibly angry at me.

    This friend was a die-hard Republican and a Christian (she spent the last two, three years angry at God and saying she was an atheist).

    She was yelling at me that I was now a liberal atheist. I told her, no, I’m not an atheist, nor a liberal, but I’m either questioning some long-held views, or I’ve moved slightly towards the center.

    I don’t know what it is, but some people are very, very threatened and upset when someone previously from their camp switches sides to the other camp, or wants out.

  69. @ Daisy:
    I’ve been reading Brene Brown and thinking a lot about belonging lately. Humans are tribal animals: we naturally divide the world into us and them. We think we want to be in a tribe where everyone is just like us. If we can do that then we will belong. So we build our subculture of Christian books and movies and music and art and radio and everything else so we will have a place to belong. The problem that I see with this is it isn’t real belonging. You have to purchase entry into the club, and the currency you pay with is having the same beliefs as everyone else. As soon as you are overwhelmed by the cognitive dissonance, as many of us here have been, and have to speak the truth as you see it, you realize you were only accepted because you conform, not because you were valued for who you are.

    I think valuing unity over conformity could help heal the sacred secular divide in this country that the religious right has had a major role in creating.

  70. Tina wrote:

    Thought provoking! Thank you for this.
    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (within the church), I remember praying for God to rescue me. He never did. I don’t know if that makes me elect or resilient or both, but despite these horrific experiences I (by the grace of God) maintained my faith. Although I do still struggle with post traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. Meeting with (well intentioned) “Church counselors” has only made things worse.

    You are so right. And what I cannot stand are “one size fits all” options from Christians or the mental heath industry. I know a few who really started to overcome PSTD from prolonged Trauma/betrayal after going through EMDR therapy. Would that work for all? Doubtful. I don’t question what works for people as long as they don’t shove it down others throats.

    What concerns me about children like Sam is the 0-5 development stage that seems to be crucial in development of every area.

    Btw, when Christians tell me God can fix it if we pray enough, I invite them to visit Kosair Children’s hospital downtown where “babies” have cancer and their parents are praying their guts out. My view of God is He gave us brains and resources with which we are to seek justice for the innocent and allievate as much suffering in our little corners as possible. I am usually amazed at how much even basic justice is part of healing. Evil must be outed and punished. Then we can talk forgiveness.

  71. @ Ricco:
    I would prefer we unify over the bill of rights and leave the rest out of the equation. Unity is always hijacked by conformity by all sides.

  72. @ Lydia:
    You are right about how unity gets abused. My church is getting ready to do a bible beliefs series based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. The stated goal is to bring unity to the church. This isn’t unity to me, it’s conformity. When I think unity, I think about people who value each other more than religious principles. To me, that is what is lacking in church

  73. @ Daisy:
    It is because sometimes even reaching out is seen as a sinful need for attention in some circles. Like I said in my comment I believe well meaning Christians have their compassion trained out of them.

  74. Muff Potter wrote:

    Ricco wrote:
    Thinking of a strict divide between body and soul has much more to do with Plato than it does with anything Jesus taught. Augustine was a neo Platonist and grafted this philosophy into Christianity. I personally don’t believe this was a good thing.
    Agreed. I no longer believe in the existence of an immortal soul. There was a time when I didn’t dare and question the dogma. I now believe that body and soul are an integral unit with no bifurcated boundary. I now believe that the dogma was a Greek invention, based on, and as you’ve pointed out, Platonic and Aristotelian perfectionism.

    Agree. It’s consequences have been a historical disaster. Dualism.

  75. @ Ricco:
    So, is the series done in an interactive venue? If so, you could ask some good questions. If not, it’s just indoctrination.

  76. @ Janet:
    Ricco wrote:

    I think parents of premies never loose the hyper vigilance they learned watching their baby’s heart monitor beep and then stop beeping in the NICU.

    First, thanks Janet for that information. I have a grandchild who was born 15 weeks premature and is still in the hospital 17 weeks later. The trauma of that experience weighs heavily on them – and probably contributes to their desire to get out of the hospital. The things that gc has gone through so far are enough to cause anyone trauma. I’ve been encouraging my son and dil to talk about their experiences because that is one of the ways to help assimilate the trauma, but for gc, I don’t think there is a lot that can be done at least yet. Interestingly, though, one of the ways that they prepared dil and gc for such an early birth used some medication to protect their brains.

    I had a traumatic experience early in my own life (a natural disaster) that caused me to have ptsd symptoms for a long time – until I was an adult and had developed more internal resources. I also have nieces and nephews who were adopted from foster care who do have some difficulties, most likely with their brain structures.

    One of the effects of ‘chronic’ trauma is numbing – it’s not healed if it is numbed. Much of the BCM seems to want to put a Christianese veneer over things and call it healed. I do think that the Bible does have a path toward healing, but it’s not the ‘only’ source of truth (and the truth is not only that Jesus saves – there’s much more to the truth).

    A few years ago, I went to an ‘intensive healing prayer’ week, and one of the parts of that was identifying the lies that I believed. It was all fine and good, but they had identified something as a ‘lie’ that was actually the truth. It was an ugly truth about my marriage; reframing it didn’t help change the truth. There were behaviors that need to change – ones that I don’t control. Their model didn’t have a place for that kind of thing.

    I think that we are holistic beings (body, mind, spirit are interconnected) – some of the interventions for trauma use physical activity to help a person process the event and integrate it into their mind.

  77. Ricco wrote:

    :
    You are right about how unity gets abused. My church is getting ready to do a bible beliefs series based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. The stated goal is to bring unity to the church. This isn’t unity to me, it’s conformity. When I think unity, I think about people who value each other more than religious principles. To me, that is what is lacking in church

    Ugh, then your church is going to get Grudem’s patriarchal views and feelings about women, among many other things.

    I’d note that average Christians got along just fine for centuries without systematic theologies. Ever since Calvin, it’s like every guy has to crank out his systematic theology to leave a mark, without noting that such a thing didn’t exist for the earliest Christians.

  78. Ricco wrote:

    My personal belief now is that we are united, body and soul, in Christ’s death and resurrection. I think there will be a time after death, but I’d don’t think it will be wildly different than here, just without all the evil.

    I believe pretty much the same. I believe that I will be literally and physically resurrected from the dead and judged by my Maker. Every last DNA strand and poly-peptide chain reassembled.

    How that judgement will play out and whether or not I have an inheritance in the world (or worlds) to come, I know not, but I trust that the Almighty will be fair

  79. @ Daisy:

    I will be praying for your anxiety. Currently, I’m also going through some tough times trying to tell the difference between the spiritual and the non. No joke, I think I’ve been possessed. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m off to see a Catholic psychologist/psychiatrist who I’m hoping will help me separate the Truth from the Lies. I can refer you to a priest I know if you want some good advice…

  80. @ Mercy:

    Amen to that. And don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I’ve blown it more times than you or anyone else on this whole forum. If Paul was the Chief of All Sinners, I’m pretty sure I’ve made the top ten list. Or at least the top 100.

  81. @ everydayBRAVE5:
    I’m so sorry to hear that you never felt support in your church. I’m afraid that a lot of churches and Christians don’t know what to do to when someone has a messy, complicated life. They are too busy faking that everything is happy and good that they don’t want to deal with the messy realities. Most of these folks probably have messy lives too and that would mean admitting that they are not perfect. The easier answer is to tell someone to trust more and pray more.

  82. Joe Reed wrote:

    let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.

    Could it be that the track record would be worse if they were not being treated medically? Your logic is like saying one should never go to a hospital because so many people die there. Correlation does not equal causation.

  83. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    This is the exact reason it is hard to nail down the correlation/causation with suicide and antidepressants/SSRIs. All the studies I have read have a very difficult time separating the fact that people on this medicine sometimes commit suicide with the statistical reality that the only people taking these drugs are ones that would be at higher risk for suicide. We understand so little about the brain that black and white statements are almost always wrong

  84. Ricco wrote:

    My church is getting ready to do a bible beliefs series based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. The stated goal is to bring unity to the church.

    This strikes me as a non sequiter, how do you promote unity with systematic theology? After a few basics we can achieve unity yet still have all kinds of disparate beliefs. Pushing one particular systematic theology is only bound to increase tensions. Our life here on earth is about how we live our lives, how we help carry the burdens others, and dang little about theology. I can be fairly confident that there is not one entirely correct systematic theology so I do not see how everyone being systematically wrong in the same way will benefit unity. Monochrome theology is not the unity that Christ spoke of.

    Harmony is a blend of differing parts and not everyone singing the same notes. They should be seeking unity by other means and before taking part in such an exercise I would ask for their definition of unity.

  85. Ricco wrote:

    My church is getting ready to do a bible beliefs series based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. The stated goal is to bring unity to the church.

    But what’s the “real” goal? Get folks unified around the tenets of reformed theology? Is your pastor a New Calvinist? A “bible beliefs series” in the Gospels would be a better option to get everyone on the same page. Rather than exploring the jots and tittles of systematic theology, perhaps your church members need to read the words in red.

  86. @ Thersites:
    @ Max:
    You are both correct. My wife and I love this church because we live 3000 miles away from all of our family and live in a small town. These folks are a large portion of our friends, and my wife especially is very close to some of them. My closest friends are at work. My daughter loves the other kids at church too. She doesn’t live close to any of her cousins, so we don’t want to disrupt that.

    I wish they could see that this won’t produce the “unity” they seek, only conformity. My theology could be best described as Barthian and Trinitarian, and I am open to my beliefs changing over time. They already have so much. When we moved here I was a Calvinist, but my mind has changed about so many things because Calvinism made my ability to process the real tragedies in my life way worse. As I like to say, I have earned my theology, and I won’t change it unless I am convinced that I am wrong. I don’t think I possess “the truth” in terms of theology, and I don’t think anyone else should make that claim. I know the Truth, Jesus Christ, and that is the only truth claim I feel comfortable making.

    My plan is to be completely honest with our small group leaders. We want to be a part of the church, but we aren’t willing to lie about what we believe in the name of “unity.” If they don’t want people like us, we will go to the Lutheran church where my wife teaches preschool.

    It is a church planting/small group church that was started by a former Vineyard guy that is also a Calvinist. I think the goal is to identify future small group leaders and church planters. I do not see myself as either, so I’m not too concerned. I think there is a real possibility that they are trying to unite the whole church around Wayne Grudem’s theology. If they make it clear they don’t want us if we can’t agree, we will leave, and it will be really sad for us.

    @ Thersites: You are completely right about harmony. The yin and yang is an excellent symbol for that. We need to live on that line between order and chaos, between agreeableness and conscientiousness. The church is going to loose something really important if they try to force everyone into one mold. I hope they don’t, but I won’t be surprised if they do.

  87. Love question #4….

    “According to the beliefs of Calvinism, of which Lambert is a proponent, can the gospel heal a person’s mind if he is not one of the elect?”

    I’m not holding my breath on an answer.

  88. “Our life here on earth is about how we live our lives, how we help carry the burdens others, and dang little about theology. I can be fairly confident that there is not one entirely correct systematic theology so I do not see how everyone being systematically wrong in the same way will benefit unity. “

    Agree. But there is a lot of control when you can get people on same ST. Grudem’s ST promotes Jesus Christ as eternally subordinate to the Father. There was a big push for ESS in Neo Cal circles for years. I wonder if Ricco’s leaders even understand that or are aware of the years of controversy surrounding that. Basically Grudem and Ware tried to reposition it at RTS a few years ago as they finally had so much pushback.

  89. @ Ricco:
    As if our lives arent complicated enough, church becomes just another complication and you don’t even get paid to deal with It’s very frustrating.

  90. Ricco wrote:

    My wife and I love this church … a large portion of our friends … daughter loves the other kids at church …

    This is a common sad story as New Calvinism sweeps across the American landscape, taking over one church after another, forcing good people to make difficult decisions for “church” vs. Christ, religious stuff vs. relationship in Christ. The ‘only’ reason a New Calvinist pastor would put his members in a study of Grudem’s systematic theology is to indoctrinate them! Your family will gradually be exposed to core tenets of reformed theology, which you appear not to agree with. This will eventually be a problem with church leaders, who will have no choice but to disfellowship your family and shun you in the community if they hold true to their belief and practice. I’m sure your pastor is a good man and feels he is doing the right thing. He appears passionate about reformed theology and most likely believes he has come into the world for such a time as this to restore the one true gospel to the church … but it is a misplaced passion.

    I hear your concerns about leaving your friends, but this is the price that so many other believers have paid in America to stay true to the Gospel of Christ (the real one). I personally had to make that decision to protect the spiritual health of my family. It was a tough transition, but we came out on the other side. Frankly, it’s a cross we should not have to carry – to leave a church and friends behind – but it’s one that many are being forced to bear as aberrant expressions of faith enter our churches. As a 60+ year Southern Baptist, our family was confronted with a flood of New Calvinism in the once-great denomination we loved and in the church that we attended. We did not agree with this drift in theology and shift in ecclesiology, so we made an agonizing decision to leave.

    I believe Jesus addressed this situation when He said:

    “Now as Jesus proceeded on His journey, great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and spoke to them, ‘If anyone comes to me without ‘hating’ his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple.'” (Luke 14:26-27)

    Jesus, of course, was not saying that we should really hate anyone, but that our love for Him should far exceed our affection for others if it meant that others might take us off course from being His disciples. Sometimes it means that we must leave the familiar, even people and things that we love, in order to stay faithful to Christ and the calling on our life.

    Ricco, I pray that God will provide you wisdom in the days ahead to know what to do and how/when to do it.

  91. A.Stacy wrote:

    Love question #4….
    “According to the beliefs of Calvinism, of which Lambert is a proponent, can the gospel heal a person’s mind if he is not one of the elect?”
    I’m not holding my breath on an answer.

    Presumably the answer is yes because Jesus healed people who weren’t believers and we are taught to “do good to all men”.

  92. @ Lydia:
    Absolutely! I feel like I sprint through my days then come home and practice my horn a few hours before sleep so I’m ready for the next day. I’m not the only person who has a busy life either, lots of people do. The added stress isn’t super helpful.

  93. @ Max:
    I really appreciate the support. Thank you so much.

    I don’t feel the need to agree with everything everyone at my church says. Max, you and I probably don’t agree on everything, but I think we would get along very well. I can feel your heart come out in your comments, and I am right there with you. The problem will come if they demand my agreement. I will not lie and I will not submit to human authority. We will just see how this unfolds. If we planned on living in this town for the rest of our lives, we may have already moved on. However, I am on the job market, so if we move this year, it may be kind of a moot point.

    I really appreciate your support and prayers. One of the reasons I feel comfortable talking about these things here is I know that others who comment have experienced the same situation.

  94. @ Ricco:
    @ Max:
    Max is correct. The choice is about the timing of when this comes to a head. New Calvinism is vicious and takes no prisoners.

  95. Ricco wrote:

    @ Max:
    I really appreciate the support. Thank you so much.
    I don’t feel the need to agree with everything everyone at my church says. Max, you and I probably don’t agree on everything, but I think we would get along very well. I can feel your heart come out in your comments, and I am right there with you. The problem will come if they demand my agreement. I will not lie and I will not submit to human authority. We will just see how this unfolds. If we planned on living in this town for the rest of our lives, we may have already moved on. However, I am on the job market, so if we move this year, it may be kind of a moot point.
    I really appreciate your support and prayers. One of the reasons I feel comfortable talking about these things here is I know that others who comment have experienced the same situation.

    Ricco, NewCalvinism destroyed my daughter’s church. It is dangerous and it is certainly sweeping the US. Be very careful. It isn’t about agreeing to disagree on minor issues. It is controlling, demanding, and angry. You must go along with it or leave. My daughter’s congregation saw what was happening, confronted the pastor who was relatively new. He was not honest with the church hiring committee. In the end he quit. There were Calvinists in the congregation that walked out also. Others left because of the pain they experienced and witnessed. They finally got a new pastor, but he isn’t any better.

  96. Sam wrote:

    And don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I’ve blown it more times than you or anyone else on this whole forum. If Paul was the Chief of All Sinners, I’m pretty sure I’ve made the top ten list. Or at least the top 100.

    Blown it?
    Blown it how?
    You mean you’re not perfect?
    So? So what?
    All have sinned and fallen short… yeah that’s true.
    But nowhere, lemme’ repeat that, Nowhere in Scripture does it say that you’re obligated to match the munificence and glory of God.

  97. @ Forrest:
    It is hard to know if this is just a Calvinist/charismatic church or a New Calvinist Church. It is a small network that, as far as I can tell, has no association with Big Calvinism. I think the resolution of this issue will answer that question for me.

  98. Would it surprise you to know that John Piper defended Eric Johnson when Dr. Mohler was thinking of firing him 10 – 12 years ago. I won’t defend Piper’s tweets or Desiring God’s. I don’t know all the particulars. I am not an insider on these things. But I know John Piper defended Eric Johnson and may even have written an endorsement for a previous book of Eric Johnson’s when he was under attack when the Biblical Counseling program was starting at SBTS. I am not sure John Piper is all in on the Biblical Counseling movement. Lumping John Piper in with Heath Lambert may be unfair.

  99. Ricco wrote:

    We need to live on that line between order and chaos, between agreeableness and conscientiousness.

    Remember to straighten your room.

  100. Speaking of Piper, what does his latest tweet mean?

    “An adulterous generation seeks for a sign.” Matthew 16:4 We only ask our husband to prove that he’s our husband, if we are trying to justify an adulterous relationship.

    Does this mean that only adulterers wear wedding bands? Or is he revealing his home troubles? Or what?

  101. Muff Potter wrote:

    Blown it?
    Blown it how?
    You mean you’re not perfect?
    So? So what?
    All have sinned and fallen short… yeah that’s true.
    But nowhere, lemme’ repeat that, Nowhere in Scripture does it say that you’re obligated to match the munificence and glory of God.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I really needed to hear that right now. My soul is very low right now and I’m in a very bad place right now (which, as I mentioned previously, may or may not be demonic). It’s very hard for me to determine right from wrong (due to a combination of my own sinful state and previous life experiences/doctrinal stances/behavior and actions/beliefs of other “Christians”). I will be praying for you and for others on this blog.

  102. Mercy wrote:

    He was not honest with the church hiring committee.

    New Calvinists are taking over the Southern Baptist Convention by two different routes: (1) plant a reformed church, or (2) takeover a traditional church. The first route is an easier row to hoe – the young reformer simply hangs out a shingle and establishes reformed theology, with his gang of yes-men elders. The takeover route is more complicated. Since the majority of Southern Baptists are non-Calvinist, the young wannabe pastor must come in through stealth and deception, which begins with lying to the pastor search committee about his theological leaning. Once he has control of the pulpit, he proceeds to establish elder rule polity at first opportunity – forcing congregational governance out is often accompanied by much weeping and gnashing of teeth, with older members leaving. It’s a certainly than starting a new church, but some pull it off … for the good of the movement, of course. This all sounds like God, doesn’t it?

  103. Mercy wrote:

    He was not honest with the church hiring committee.

    No surprise. New Calvinists are taking over the Southern Baptist Convention by two different routes: (1) plant a reformed church, or (2) takeover a traditional church. The first route is an easier row to hoe – the young reformer simply hangs out a shingle and establishes reformed theology, with his gang of yes-men elders and a core group of New Calvinists. The takeover route is more complicated. Since the majority of Southern Baptists are non-Calvinist, the young wannabe pastor must come in through stealth and deception, which begins with lying to the pastor search committee about his theological leaning. Once he has control of the pulpit, he proceeds to establish elder rule polity at first opportunity – forcing congregational governance out is often accompanied by much weeping and gnashing of teeth, with older members leaving. It’s certainly tougher than starting a new church, but some pull it off … for the good of the movement, of course. This all sounds like a God-thing, doesn’t it? (not)

  104. Ricco wrote:

    It is hard to know if this is just a Calvinist/charismatic church or a New Calvinist Church

    Check your pastor’s social media activity. If he is re-tweeting stuff by Piper, Keller, Mohler, Dever, Chandler, DeYoung, etc., he is a New Calvinist. And, of course, installing a Grudem study at the church is a strong indicator that he is in that tribe. Oh, and he would surely be carrying an ESV Bible!

  105. Sam wrote:

    I will be praying for you and for others on this blog.

    You have my prayers on your behalf too. As Max quipped once, we’re a rag-tag bunch here at TWW, but we’re also the real human deal.

  106. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve been around Super Duper, Happy, Bubbly Christian types before, even as a teen, and I always found them … a little sad, unsettling.

    My impression is that they cannot face reality because facing, and working through, painful life events or what have you, is difficult.

    I completely agree with you on this point. I met many people like this at the church I just recently left, and I was always unsettled by the perma-smile on their faces. It made me feel like they were disingenuous or lessened the effect that any bad situations had on their lives. This church also pushed a lot of biblical counseling, and most of the (staff) people I encountered had the perma-smile and just gushed about how beneficial the biblical counseling was with all the truth they encountered. In all honesty, it just turned me off not only to biblical counseling, but also that church in general. And I told people on more than one occasion that yes, I had issues to deal with but if I chose to deal with them I was going to go to a licensed professional. I can’t imagine that this went over too well.

  107. Muff Potter wrote:

    As Max quipped once, we’re a rag-tag bunch here at TWW, but we’re also the real human deal.

    Actually you and I are fictional characters but I’m much older.

  108. Sam wrote:

    Currently, I’m also going through some tough times trying to tell the difference between the spiritual and the non.

    Praying for you Sam. Sometimes, it is tough to tell the difference, and there is some overlap often. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. I’m glad you’re trying to find answers.

  109. @ Max:
    I sgree that many do come in by stealth. I believe that New Calvinism is a much greater issue today than Calvinism. It is right to warn people to look out for who a young/new pastor is promoting. If the pastor seeks to link the church to TGC then the takeover is probably well advanced already.

  110. Sam wrote:

    going through some tough times trying to tell the difference between the spiritual and the non

    Well that can be tough Sam in the current condition of the American church. Christian religion and spirituality should be connected, but often it is not. If Jesus is not the Main thing in the churches you explore – if his Name is not raised above all others – you can rest assured that some pet religion is in control of the pulpit. As you look at the church you are in or those you are considering, you might also look for some other clues. Are church leaders forcing you to follow a set of rules, rather than encouraging you to be free in Christ? Are they leading by control, manipulation and intimidation rather than love? Are they allowing you to discover Truth through personal prayer and Bible study – or telling you that they are the keepers of truth, requiring you to listen to them and asking you to tune out all other influences? Is their preaching Christocentric or based on teachings and traditions of men? Is more emphasis placed on doctrinal propositions about “grace” rather than personal experience through a direct encounter with Grace, the living Christ?

    Jesus came to redeem and work through individuals, not institutions. The institution we call “church” is OK if it is reaching lost souls for Christ and equipping believers to do the work of the ministry. If a church has another mission than the Great Commission (e.g., promoting theology over relationship in Christ) it is religious and not spiritual.

  111. I suppose this latest post from Founders is related to this topic in terms of how it boils everything down to a simple sin problem: https://founders.org/2018/02/17/nikolas-cruz-and-the-unmasking-of-sin-and-evil/. Note the sin-leveling:

    If you want to make sense of Nikolas Cruz, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin or Osama bin Laden, or even your own two-year-old and your own life, you must consider what the Bible says about sin and evil. There is a connection between the two and it is so deep that you cannot understand the latter without coming to terms with the pervasiveness and wickedness of the former.

    Eichmann was not a madman. Hitler and bin Laden were not sociological mutations. Nikolas Cruz is not a monster. That 19-year-old is an enslaved sinner. And the same sinful nature which erupted so murderously in his life resides in every child of Adam. To see this and to believe it is to be brought to your knees just like Yehiel Dinur.

    I find this teaching very harmful. Yes, we all sin and we all have the potential to behave worse than we hope. But to equate commons sinners with mass murderers and sociopaths is evil. This type of theology destroys people from the inside out.

  112. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    I find this teaching very harmful. Yes, we all sin and we all have the potential to behave worse than we hope. But to equate commons sinners with mass murderers and sociopaths is evil. This type of theology destroys people from the inside out.

    I think we could have a great debate on this matter and come to a common understanding, until then I have some misgivings on where the dividing line lies. I think the error with the two paragraphs you cited is the inclusion of the two year old. I’ve read numerous accounts of normal everyday people who commit atrocious crimes when placed in entirely new and stressful circumstance. Having a recognition there is capability for evil within yourself is a key part of humility.

  113. Thersites wrote:

    I think the error with the two paragraphs you cited is the inclusion of the two year old.

    Yes, it would read better if “John Calvin” replaced “your own two-year-old” in the text.

  114. Thersites wrote:

    Having a recognition there is capability for evil within yourself is a key part of humility.

    The crazy thing about the sin levelers is they don’t just say everyone has the same capacity for evil, they say that every individual sin is evil. I agree that we all have a capacity for evil within us. I have done some reading on PTSD for veterans. One of the reasons it is so hard for these guys is they have seen the destruction they are capable of, and it is incredibly difficult to live knowing that you are that powerful. We all struggle to live with strength in the world in ways that don’t hurt others. Obviously, some fail in this.

    Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    That 19-year-old is an enslaved sinner.

    The implication here seems to be that he was an enslaved sinner just like any other non-Christians. There are two problems with this. Most non-Christians don’t do things like this, and Christians have done things like this in the past. The no sin is worse than any other attitude leads to the idea that Andy Savage’s organic sins and Jules’ flirting (I do not believe this crap, I am just setting up what enablers seem to be saying, and I don’t know if she actually flirted) are equally as bad. This is evil and just enables people like Mahaney who run around saying “I am the worst sinner I know.”

  115. I haven’t read all the comments here so don’t know if this has been thrown in here – there is now a lot of neuroscience to back up the fact that early trauma & neglect causes very real neurological changes & deficits which have a real impact on behaviour. Given this 19 yr old shooter was adopted, who knows the levels of deficit he arrived with? As soon as I saw his photo I immediately wondered if he has a form of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome due to his facial characteristics – this has lifelong effects which can include severe behavioural issues, problems with executive functioning, impulse control & so on, as well as often being in permanent ‘survival mode’ including hyper-vigilance, feelings of being permanently in danger, & the amygdalas conditioned to respond to all the wrong things at the wrong levels. I’ve read he was autistic, which means he also shows this form of neurodiversity (if true) as well as having been recently bereaved, a serious emotional trigger. And he is not yet at an age of simple physical neurological maturity. All factors which mean he may have been playing with a very different mental/emotional deck of cards than most people. So any action he has done needs to be looked at against that background, which may render him as having a form of diminished responsibility, which does not mean no responsibility.

    What keeps young people safe & sane (all people really) is rock-solid, appropriate, reciprocated, unconditional loving attachments, which help the brain develop normally in terms of cognitive function, appropriate emotional responses, impulse control & so on, especially as they go through the neuro-rewiring of the adolescent brain during puberty & for years afterwards. Many many young people tell me that the reason they didn’t commit suicide, or keep offending until they ended up in prison, or quit substance use was because they loved their families, or at least a single person somewhere who cared about them & didn’t want to let them down. None of this is an exact science, obviously, but that’s the general rule.

    Much of the time now I just can’t deal with the painfully simplistic answers given by Piper & co, & don’t even factor them in anymore, clearly sin & the fall are implicated, but complex issues like this require careful complex answers, which are not those found in the theologies of ‘Biblical Counselling’.

  116. Beakerj wrote:

    As soon as I saw his photo I immediately wondered if he has a form of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

    This was stated early on along with the fact that he and his brother were adopted by the parents that have now passed away.

  117. Thersites wrote:

    Having a recognition there is capability for evil within yourself is a key part of humility.

    I’ve been known to drive 5 to 15 MPH above the stated speed limit at times, but I’m no Hitler or Bin Laden and don’t appreciate anyone comparing to them or suggesting I’m capable of that type or amount of evil.

  118. @ Ricco:
    Yes, they insist everyone is equally “guilty”. Totally different thing from everyone having the “capacity” for evil.

  119. Yes, abuse breaks the mind and the spirit. That was my experience, personally and from watching a friend go through an abusive relationship. I felt like I was a shadow of the person I used to be, after a decade of emotional abuse and neglect from my husband.

    I think resilience is relative. Children aren’t resilient; what they are is malleable. So if a child is abused but has a good support system, and feels safe and loved, they are better able to bounce back and see the abuse as a single cloud in an otherwise safe and happy life. Whereas if that is not there, a child is more deeply and long-term affected (sorry for the atrocious grammar there). Early abuse is particularly damaging because it affects the child’s view of themselves as lovable, and their ability to form the relationships that would help shape them in a healthy way after abuse.

    There is plenty of evidence that abuse and trauma do physically change the brain. I’m reading a book called The Body Keeps The Score, and it includes MRI images of traumatised brains. Whole areas don’t light up when they should. It affects so many things in our responses and emotions and reactions. It shows that a traumatised brain responds to the memory of trauma as if it were happening to us right now, not just as a bad things which is now past. We get stuck and so it’s like we’re reliving the trauma over and over.

    Used in the right way, I do think that the Scriptures can renew and refresh our minds. Talking with God and being in His presence has been one of the constants in my life. He understands me, and has been more gentle and compassionate than many of my Christian friends, including my pastor. But that is not the only avenue of healing. It’s more like, God has been with me every step of the way, guiding me through counselling and venting to friends and researching as I tried to make sense of this. God is the foundation on which I have built the other help options.
    I would say that anything which is objectively helpful in my recovery is a blessing from God, be it prayer or secular psychology. Whereas these guys would say anything not directly from Scripture is automatically unhelpful. I used to think that way too, and it brought about a lot of cognitive dissonance. Bible verses have helped me a lot, when God has brought something to me attention. What doesn’t help is people treat verses like a dummy to be thrust into the mouth of a wailing baby.

  120. Tina wrote:

    Meeting with (well intentioned) “Church counselors” has only made things worse.

    Yes. If I had followed my church’s advice I would be worse off than I am now. Or I would have killed myself because I couldn’t take my husband’s abuse any more. They encouraged me to stay even when he assaulted my 4yo son. I’m ashamed to say I did. But another 4 years on I have chosen to fight my corner and get out. They have again counselled me as if I’m equally guilty and making a huge mistake by giving up on my marriage. If I was still submitted to them without argument, I would be in a horrible place right now. Thank God He has held me up, and given me the strength to fight.

  121. Linn wrote:

    I think we need to use careful use of both scientific knowledge and Scripture. I also think we need to understand that all may not be healed this side of Heaven, just as we are not all physically healed. I used to know a pastor who was very simplistic on mental health issues, until a close family member had huge problems due to an accident. The amount of medication and medical supervision needed was enormous, but it changed the way he approached those who had issues because he finally encountered one that couldn’t be “counseled” away. On the other hand, I have a friend who became addicted to all the meds that were prescribed to lessen her stress. In fact, they almost killed her. There is a need for both sides to stop claiming they know it all, and start a frank discussion of how spiritual and medical input are needed in many cases

    Well said, Linn.

    One thing I have learned in all my experiences is that it’s okay to just sit with the pain, in God’s presence. He wants us to bring everything to Him, but sometimes we feel like we have to diminish things and put them in a neat box before they’re acceptable to be presented to Him. But actually it’s okay to tell Him I’m angry, frustrated, sad, depressed, anxious. It’s okay to admit I need more support because I’m drowning on my own – He’s the one who created us to be in community and use our strengths and talents to help others. It’s okay to pray and say, Lord I’m so tired and I seem to need to sleep all the time, and I wish it wasn’t that way but it is right now, so please show me how I can serve you as I am now. We don’t have to wait for an ideal state to serve God.

    I feel this ties in to their bigger picture of what acceptable ministry or service to God looks like. In their eyes it has to be active, energetic, up front, visible ministry. So if you’re depressed or divorced or fat or female or struggling in some way, you aren’t a good testimony of God’s victorious living so you can’t be “in ministry”, and if you’re not in ministry or preparing for it then you’re a failure.

  122. andy williams wrote:

    BUT…the opposite is also true…Counseling based solely on helping people respond in a biblical way to their problems has ALSO allowed people to get their lives back. And I agree that denying that a bible-centered approach to counseling could help ANYBODY, and that all pastors and Christians faced with friends asking for help should immediately refer them to professionals, seems equally simplistic, as denying the efficacy of any medical approach.

    I think maybe it depends on what the problems are?
    I see most of the Biblical Counselling courses as more like discipleship sessions. If somebody is wanting to find purpose and attitude change, they are excellent. if we’re talking about mental health issues, they are not so helpful because they’re not equipped to recognise or address the complexities there. I would still see God’s help as the base layer in those situations, but then other layers are generally needed too. For example, I have arthritis in my hip. I have called on my church to pray because I believe God can heal, but until He does I will use the exercises and painkillers my doctor has recommended.

  123. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    I do want to make it clear that I think spiritual counseling can be part of a holistic approach to treating psychological/psychiatric issues. But it needs to basically “stay in its lane.” That’s the problem with Heath Lambert, John Piper and the rest of them. They’re not staying in their lane. Instead, they think their witterings about mental health are somehow Gospel, and moreover, that they supersede medical science rather than working with it.

    Thanks; that was what I wanted to say, but much more succinct!

  124. @ Bridget:
    Ah,, thanks for that, I thought this would probably be the case, although FASD can exist even without the facial indications. Poor lad & his brother, to be born into that birth context.

  125. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Could it be that the track record would be worse if they were not being treated medically? Your logic is like saying one should never go to a hospital because so many people die there. Correlation does not equal causation.

    Fair point. I wasn’t suggesting the meds were causal, but rather that they were ineffective, at least if by “effective treatment of mental illness” we mean at least “not trying to kill people.”

    I’m suggesting the answer to the problem isn’t as simple as counseling alone, nor medicine alone. It needs to be more carefully reasoned through. Part of me recoils at the “The Calvinists are doing this thing, therefore it’s evil!” And another part of me resists the whole “science is the only answer!” line of thinking. So I’m probably just reacting against the reactions!

  126. Joe Reed wrote:

    let’s not forget that many mass killers have been in the care or under the influence of “scientific” forms of mental health treatments, so the track record there isn’t all that great either.

    Let me push back at you here. You have offered no data for your analysis. You do exactly what Heath Lambert has done. Mass murderers are under the care of mental health experts. ipso facto-they didn’t do anything and may have made things worse.

    I am going to demand more of you than this. First of all, choosing sociopaths, psychopaths, etc or what used to be known as criminally insane is ridiculous. Mental health institutions were shut down and there is no place to put people like this except on the streets. Psychologists and psychiatrists are not miracle workers when it comes to these individuals. Frankly, without meds, there would be far more incidents than we already have.

    if you are implying that we simply need to put psychopaths into the hands of biblical counselors and teach them good values and the Gospel, well, then I would say you are naive at best and dangerous at the worse. You are making statements for which you have no proof since Biblical counselors don’t believe in scientific data and study. if you doubt me, read my posts. I have documented it using their own words.

    So it is fairly easy for you to come on here and make you statements since you can’t prove one darn thing and you will say that you shouldn’t have to. Let go and let God and he will curse the sociopaths/

    I don’t care if Biblical counselors are Calvinists or old timey Baptist. What they are doing is dangerous and your comment illustrates this. You need to listen to ken who said the following.

    Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Could it be that the track record would be worse if they were not being treated medically? Your logic is like saying one should never go to a hospital because so many people die there. Correlation does not equal causation.

    You don’t need to listen to Ken, however, since you don’t have to prove the Bible and the Bible works for mental illness because that is what is being taught by the biblical counselors and they are right, so there! Case closed.
    You then said this.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    Science can improve lots of things, but fully remove the curse of sin and its effects from nothing, even bodies. That remains in Jesus’ job description alone.

    Well, this is simple Christianity. This has nothing to do with medical care or mental health care. Since the brain is an organ, mental health care cannot be divorced from physical care and that is sadly what ACBC is trying to do.

    I want you to make your point and do so with peer reviewed studies conducted in a randomized, double blind fashion. You can find those studies in psychology. You can’t find it in biblical counseling and that is because they will not allow it. Why?

  127. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    I find this teaching very harmful. Yes, we all sin and we all have the potential to behave worse than we hope. But to equate commons sinners with mass murderers and sociopaths is evil. This type of theology destroys people from the inside out.

    Thank you for this comment. I am going to put it into another counseling post.Naive-totally naive.

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  129. dee wrote:

    Naive-totally naive.

    More than naive, it’s heresy! The “sin-leveling” that thrives in evangelical Patriarchy is flawed doctrine. It’s an area where New Calvinists and others take text out of context to support their belief and practice. That’s why it’s so easy to give a standing ovation when a pastor confesses moral failure … easy-believism is accompanied by easy-forgiveness without calling church leaders to account for abusing the pulpit to abuse. It’s as if some 21st century church folks rejoice when they learn that sinner-preachers are no different than them – it makes them feel better about themselves. While the foot of the Cross may be level for all sinners who repent and accept Christ, that’s where the leveling stops!

    John Piper once tweeted and then deleted:

    “The Bible says there are men who rape (Genesis 34:2) and women who seduce (Genesis 39:7). United in sin, distinct in form.”

    https://calvinistjaneway.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/john-piper-rape-seduction-and-sin-leveling/

  130. Max wrote:

    While the foot of the Cross may be level for all sinners who repent and accept Christ, that’s where the leveling stops!

    “Not many [of you] should become teachers [serving in an official teaching capacity], my brothers and sisters, for you know that we [who are teachers] will be judged by a higher standard [because we have assumed greater accountability and more condemnation if we teach incorrectly].” (James 3:1 AMP)

  131. @ Max:
    That is a good article on sin-leveling. Piper also teaches that every sin of any magnitude is an infinite offense against an infinitely holy god and therefore requires infinite punishment. This false teaching is his theological foundation for sin-leveling. Isn’t it funny (not!) how he teaches this even though it is not taught in the Bible? But it’s been said so often and for so long that people now believe it. So much for sola scriptura…

  132. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    @ Max:
    That is a good article on sin-leveling. Piper also teaches that every sin of any magnitude is an infinite offense against an infinitely holy god and therefore requires infinite punishment. This false teaching is his theological foundation for sin-leveling.

    Even so, it’s inconsistent with practice.
    What you describe is Sin-Levelling UP.
    While in practice (with the Anointed Elect in positions of power) they Sin-Level DOWN to minimize the Anointed’s offense.

    (Incidentally, Wondering Eagle included a pic of Piper jazz-handing at the top of a recent post. Never mindjazz-handing, he’s Voguing like Madonna!)

    (Shown in Madonna’s music video “Vogue”, “Voguing” was a dance in upscale dance clubs of the Eighties, whose dance moves centered around framing the face with elaborate hand gestures.)