When things go awry and you hurt in your soul, do you seek remedy in the church or outside with ‘experts’? We know what the expected answer is, but still the influences of the world and past experiences pull us into doubt.
We have lost the culture war. Save those who have been raised in godly homes, few people now come to a saving faith with any prior knowledge of the Bible or of our great Christian heritage. We have also along the way lost the expectation for the church to be a place to seek solace. As a result, we have two problems before we even begin: there is a neglected foundation to build, and there is a lot of false, pagan mythology to refute.
What are some of our options when we are soul sick?:
- Find a confidant. Maybe we should talk to a trusted Christian friend or family member.
- Keep slogging on. Pray harder, grit our teeth, and hope against hope for things to change. In other words, do nothing and wait for a magical cure.
- Seek professional help. After all, we consult with medical professionals for bodily ailments; why not counsel with mental health professionals for problems of the soul?
- Seek the help of a Christian psychologist. Surely he or she would be drawing from the best in the Bible as well as from scientific methods, right?
- None of the above. Is it perhaps possible to rely completely on the Word of God in the ministry of godly, mature believers inside the local church? Is it possible that the Bible is sufficient?
Let’s look at each of these options in a little more detail.
Options When We are Soul Sick
1. Talk to a Trusted Christian Friend or Family Member
Certainly, where there is trust, friends with empathy can help, but often only up to a point. There are at least two potential limitations on the effectiveness of such advice. First, well-meaning people can unwittingly pool ignorance, and the bad advice that emerges may slip past our filters of common sense because we are emotionally vulnerable. Second, sometimes friends are unwilling to speak the truth in love.
“Well-meaning people can unwittingly pool ignorance, and the bad advice that emerges may slip past our filters of common sense because we are emotionally vulnerable.”
2. Try Harder
If there is some duty or other that we have let slide, then diligent effort may be called for. We do not believe in magic or blind faith. The danger, however, is that effort is not always the solution. We are very prone to slip back into a works-based mindset and to neglect the gospel of free grace just when it’s most needed.
3. Seek Help from a Secular Professional
It is important to note that a psychiatrist is an M. D., and a psychologist is the practitioner of humanistic philosophy, garbed in scientific terminology. To trust this way presupposes that worldly, man-made solutions are competent to add to or replace God’s provision and promises. Furthermore, most modern schools of therapy of the soul are rooted in ancient shamanism and the occult. This is modern witch doctor practice under a veneer of respectability. We will expose this more fully in a subsequent article.
4. Turn to a ‘Christian Psychologist’
Would this not give the best of both worlds? Unfortunately, for the last 250 years, the classic method of reasoning that involves truth as the goal and contradiction as the test has been replaced, and modern secular psychology has been one of those replacements. Practically speaking, there are some who have studied the ways of the modern shamans and then used this knowledge of the enemy to defeat him. Not many have, however. With two distinctly different and contrary authorities—the Bible and psychology—one or the other must control (2 Cor. 6:14-18). The 10-dollar word for this is syncretism, which is a fancy way of saying ‘mixing the two together and coming up with a new combination.’ This results in error and a lot of confusion. Even worse, it turns people away from believing that there is such a thing as genuine truth and toward the illusion that man’s subjective interpretation of human nature can be trusted. Again, we’ll give a more careful examination of this in a future article.
Returning to the Ancient Paths: The Sufficiency of the Word of God
Can the word of God—the once-and-forever-delivered-to-the-saints gospel (Jude 3)—be enough to counsel in all situations? Many people and many churches doubt this is so. Listen, however, to the apostle Peter:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2 Pet. 1:4, 5, emphasis added).
Ask yourself: do I really believe this as “true truth”? If so, what are the consequences for finding comfort and healing for your soul? In our next article, we will examine whether or not God has designed us to be counsel-dependent.
“Can the word of God—the once-and-forever-delivered-to-the-saints gospel—be enough to counsel in all situations? Many people and many churches doubt this is so. The apostle Peter says otherwise.”