Psychology |

TBC Staff

Shrink This!

There was a time when Christians gave testimonies of hope. They extolled their wonderful Savior who had given them new life. They told of how Christ worked in their lives to enable them to live pleasing to God and to grow in the fruit of the spirit. They could say they had experienced the goodness of God. Moreover their lives matched their testimony.

Now, however, the kind of testimony the world hears from Christians is how troubled they all are and how they need special psychiatric clinics to manage their lives. No longer are such Christians walking by faith in victory; instead they are barely recovering through some combination of worldly methods and a bit of the Bible.

The new testimony to the failure of God’s grace in the lives of Christians is being seen and heard by the world. Atheists and secular humanists are even further convinced that anyone who follows the God of the Bible is bound to be depressed and to have all sorts of problems directly related to his faith.

Here is the response of the world to these Christian treatment centers and their patients, written by psychologist Edmund D. Cohen in the secular humanist publication Free Inquiry (Summer 1993). After listing Palmdale General Hospital in California, Minirth-Meier Clinics, Rapha, and New Life Treatment Centers and the accompanying books by Minirth-Meier, Robert McGee, and Stephen Arterburn, Cohen says:

"When I began assembling literature from these programs, I found in them an unexpected and crucial validation of my own work. The born-again treatment providers’ renditions of the psychological disorders they treat corresponded exactly to my rendition of psychological disorders Bible indoctrination fosters" (p. 27).

This is what Cohen claims these programs validate:

"In my own research on the born-agains, I found out that behind their facade of euphoric calm, people marinated in the Bible and surrounded by the born-again church subculture tend to be depressed, and suffer from a sort of generalized emotional distress partaking of anxiety, worry and fear" (p. 26).

Cohen’s description of what he sees to be typical of "born-agains" must be a result of his own experience and the observation of those who claim to be Christians but who are living by the power of the flesh rather than by the power of God. They are like those who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof (2 Timothy:3:5).

Cohen refers to Toxic Faith by Steve Arterburn and Jack Felton with their 12-step program for "religious addiction." Cohen says:

They [Arterburn and Felton] seem oblivious to their method’s far-reaching implications. By making contemporary mental health lore the controlling criterion, having that lore determine what the Bible demands or does not demand from born-again believers, the basic principle of trusting and obeying the Bible is reduced to a farce. (P. 29)