The challenging title of an article announcing a virtual workshop about the church and mental health states the following: “The Church Can’t Ignore Mental Health Any Longer.” A teaser that follows says: “There are some essential resources to help you and your church navigate the current mental health crisis.” The first paragraphs begin with some alarming facts:
We are in the middle of a mental health crisis. Seventy percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event. Over two-thirds of children have experienced a traumatic event by age 16. And 54% of families have been affected by a severe natural disaster. Research shows one in five adults experience mental issues such as depression and anxiety every year.
And you know these aren’t just statistics. These are people you know, who you’ve met and loved. And it may well be you.
More than ever, people turn to the church for spiritual and emotional care. But most churches aren’t equipped to care for mental health concerns. Without the proper training and resources, you and other leaders in your church will likely not know what to say, not know what to do, miss the signs of trauma, mistake everything for trauma, or experience burnout.
The comments just quoted lead up to what the sponsors call the “Church Mental Health Summit.” They say:
On World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2023, Spiritual First Aid will join forces with Hope Made Strong and Biola’s Rosemead School of Psychology/Mental Health in the Church Initiative to present the fourth annual Church Mental Health Summit. This is a one-day virtual summit for anyone who wants to be strengthened as a leader, be equipped to support others, and learn practical tools they can use to build a culture of care at their church.
Registering for the summit will give you access to over 50 uplifting messages of hope and practical resources from expert presenters who will educate and encourage you and your church. The summit’s talks are organized around four tracks: church health, community health, leadership health, and missions and culture.
One of the sponsors, Spiritual First Aid, provides a list of 30 free resources for helping churches with their mental health needs.
Please note the fact that the three sponsors, Spiritual First Aid, Hope Made Strong, and Biola’s Rosemead do not believe in the sufficiency of scripture for all the mental health issues mentioned in the Summit. All sponsors, all courses all messages, and all resources have one fatal flaw in common: they all believe and proclaim that one needs to know “when, where, and how to refer…when professional help is needed.” The “professional help” needed according to all involved in the “Summit” is psychotherapy! All involved in the “Summit” believe in the words of fallen and fallible humanity (psychotherapy) over the Words of God (Bible)!
“So sorry, one mistake” is the punch line of a series of similar stories we’ve heard over the years. The story begins with some great feat or accomplishment, often on the part of a very brave individual, that is entirely undone and, worse, when it ends in disaster because of “one mistake.” Reading about the “Summit,” reminded us of “So sorry, one mistake.” Why? Because all the biblical teachings that may be included are undone by “one mistake” a disaster that seriously damages an any otherwise acceptable teaching.
Guilty of Psychoheresy
The “Church Mental Health Summit” promoters and speakers are guilty of psychoheresy, which is the denial of the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life now treated with psychotherapy, which utilizes the very wisdom of man about which God has warned His people (1 Cor. 2). They claim that “most churches aren’t equipped to care for mental health concerns” and one needs to know “when, where, and how to refer…when professional help is needed.” These are indictments on those churches that have become worldly, do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life, and are not fulfilling their calling to make disciples. The answer is for them to get back to the Bible and for pastors to faithfully preach and teach sound doctrine and NOT to refer their people to psychotherapy. The truth of the matter is that all churches that do believe the Bible and do teach sound, unadulterated doctrine do know that it contains all things for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Pastors who believe the Bible are equipped to care for all the nonphysical mental health concerns mentioned in this Summit.
Psychotherapy does not add to the Word of God any more than the Canaanite religions could add to the Law of God. Instead, psychotherapy subtracts from Scripture as it turns people back to their sinful nature to solve their problems. Psychotherapy’s human-devised, human-centered concepts feed the sinful nature, and its psychological conversational format leads to sinful speaking. Moreover, psychotherapy draws Christians away from the great wealth believers have in in Christ.
The Word of God Versus the Wisdom of Fallen, Fallible Humans
The apostles and the early church would be horrified to see what is replacing the pure work of God through His Word and His Holy Spirit throughout the church today. They would wonder if Christians have forgotten the great promises of God and the blessed truths of their present inheritance. They would wonder if the Holy Spirit has been shoved into a corner and ignored in the daily course of Christians’ lives. Paul briefly describes the tremendous resources for Christians in contrast to the feeble wisdom of man:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Cor. 2:9-13, bold added.)
Since we have received the Spirit of God, since we have the written Word of God, and since He leads us into wisdom in our daily affairs, it is foolishness to look for answers to the problems of living in the wisdom of men. God gives spiritual wisdom and discernment! In fact, Paul declares that “we have the mind of Christ.”
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:14-16.)
But if we continue to listen to the world’s psychologies to understand the condition of man, why he is the way he is, and how he is to live, we will lose spiritual discernment. We will drown out the pure doctrine of the Word of God and fail to know the mind of Christ.
Paul was well-educated and well-acquainted with the wisdom of the Greeks. However, he refused to use anything that would detract from the testimony of God. This is what he said about his determination to teach only the testimony of God:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1-5, bold added.)
What untold supply is available through the Word of God! Christians have been spelunking in the caves of mere human psychological opinions, hoping to find treasure, when all along the real treasure has been right before their eyes in the Word of God and right within their hearts (if they are true believers). “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
 Jamie Aten and Kent Annan, “The Church Can’t Ignore Mental Health Any Longer,” Lifeway, https://research.lifeway.com/2023/09/26/the-church-cant-ignore-mental-health-any-longer/.