We begin this final part of our critique of Lisa and Ryan Bazler’s book Psychology Debunked by saying that we do not recommend psychiatry as a profession and we know there are many skeletons in the psychiatric closet of the past and too many questionable practices of today, including sometimes clandestine relationships of psychiatry and Big Pharm. BUT, we would not venture to say, as do the Bazlers, that all mental-emotional-behavioral problems for which no biological markers are discovered are absolutely for sure spiritual problems requiring only the Bible to cure.
The safest route for anyone to take is never to recommend or imply that a person should start or stop taking a doctor-prescribed medication. And the best, most sensible position for a Christian to take, even after a complete physical examination that reveals nothing, is to neither imply nor state that a psychiatric symptom is necessarily due to a spiritual problem. But, regardless of whether a brain disorder is a spiritual or biological problem, the correct thing to always do is to minister biblically in addition to any other physical treatment that may be prescribed.
Just as psychological counseling and psychotropic drugs have been erroneously used over the years when no biological illness has been found, some biblical counselors, such as the Bazlers, now erroneously assume that sin is the cause of problems when no organic illness has been found. Just because no bodily illness has yet been found does not mean that none exists. Just because there is no known cause and effect relationship between the brain/mind and many of the mental disorders does not mean that one will not eventually be found. When more becomes known about the brain and its affect on the mind and about how various brain activities can affect thinking, feeling, and even behaving, these new discoveries will make fools of those who have been following the either/or fallacy and concluding that the mental disorders are for certain spiritually caused.
We must be open to the possibility that some of the metaphorically speaking “Mental Illnesses” will have known organic causes in the future, regardless of what remedy is used. The brain, because of its enormous complexity, can have things organically wrong with it that cause such symptoms as depression and other mental disorders. But, we must also be alert to the fact that “disease mongering” does occur where one person is found with a specific brain disorder and then a multitude of others are unnecessarily diagnosed likewise.
Many of God’s people have difficult decisions to make. Many have taken the full physicals provided by their clinics and recommended by biblical counselors. They have waited months with symptoms such as depression. They have painfully gone to work at times and stayed home at other times, doing the best they could under the prevailing, painful symptoms. Their loved ones have perhaps drawn alongside and helped to bear the awful burden of those so afflicted. No one should add to their burden through the use of an either/or fallacy resulting in spiritual blame that does not fit the facts or history.
There is always a place for biblical encouragement, counsel, and even rebuke, but such should be done in great humility (Galatians 6:1-3) and with consideration for the possibility of biological involvement. Sometimes the best one may say is,
“I don’t have a clue, but God does, and He is faithful to His promises to be with His children (Hebrews 13:5), to enable them to endure trials (Phil. 4: 13), and to use all for their good (Romans 8:28-29).” Christians who desire to minister to fellow believers should beware of the temptation of becoming like Job’s counselors—adding to a person’s pain through erroneous insight and condemning accusations as the Bazlers have been doing.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, May-June 2010, Vol. 18, No. 3)