The Pastor and The Shrink

In an episode of the old Soupy Sales Show, a man knocked on Soupy’s door and exclaimed “Hey buddy, you have to help me; my wife thinks she’s a tree!” Soupy replied “Why don’t you take her to a psychiatrist?”  As the man pulls a tree past the door, he says “come on, dear.” 

The conventional wisdom today is that when people have problems, the talisman to resolve them is the shrink. Have a problem, take it to the shrink.  

“Mental illness” is a misnomer perpetrated by secular psychologists. “Organic malfunctions affecting the brain that are caused by brain damage, tumors, gene inheritance, glandular or chemical disorders validly may be termed mental illnesses. But at the same time a vast number of other human problems have been classified as mental illnesses for which there is no evidence that they have been engendered by disease or illness at all,” wrote Biblical Counseling Movement founder Jay E Adams.  In his seminal book, Competent To Counsel, Dr. Adams challenged churches’ practice palming off people with problems to secular psychiatry and psychology. 

https://www.allaboutworldview.org/christian-psychology-and-mental-illness-faq.htm 

Back in 1931, an American businessman with a major problem with the bottle was treated by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for a year and stopped the problem drinking. It wasn’t long before he relapsed. When he came back to Dr. Jung, this shrink told him that he was a nearly hopeless case and advised the businessman that his only hope might be a spiritual conversion with a religious group. He did. After attending meetings of The Oxford Group and having convinced the root of his problem was sin, he fully recovered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous 

The Oxford Group 

Originally a movement called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”, the group was founded by a Lutheran minister who had had a born-again conversion in 1908 in a chapel in Keswick, England. Dr. Bachman, the minister, summed up the group’s philosophy: 

  • All people are sinners 
  • All sinners can be changed 
  • Confession is a prerequisite to change 
  • The change can access God directly 
  • Miracles are again possible 
  • The change must change others 

The Oxford Group preached that addictions are a result of sin, and that confessing sin, asking God’s forgiveness is what will enable people to overcome their addictions. Addictions such as alcohol and drugs are not a disease, a problem that we just “catch” but are a matter of choice. Only God can allow addicts to gain control of uncontrollable lives. 

Besides the legal dope that harms “patients” dished out by shrinks that causes physical harm and masks the root of the problem, the lack of absolute truth and conviction of sin replaced by psychobabble prevents people from overcoming their problems.  

It was broken people who went to groups in the vein of The Oxford group that help reform, again, churches that became institutional, just a shell that had little fidelity to scripture, dead to the word of God.  

Without absolutes, it might be considered normal by today’s standards to believe you are a tree. 

There is Hope

49 Overdoses of heroin, causing five deaths in lower Bucks County, PA, just since January 1, 2016! The drug epidemic affects everyone, including homeowners and the homeless who are not drug addicts. Many of the druggies join the homeless population, making it harder for the homeless to find shelter by shear numbers and by contributing to stereotypes that result in hobophobia, the irrational fear of all homeless people. In some cases the druggies caused everyone at an encampment to get booted.

Today the drug problem in Bucks County is similar to the alcohol abuse problem when Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was formed. Our nation realized that prohibition, banning booze for everyone, didn’t work. The gross amount of money waging this war, prohibition, wasted money, so much that it crippled the economy, contributing to the depression. As is the case today, many people became homeless just because of the economy.

Today the war on drugs rages, wasting taxpayer money. We wouldn’t have to wage this war if there wasn’t a market for drugs. As was the case when AA was formed, the problem is individual problems, the root of which is sin.

A forerunner of AA, Dr. Franklin Nathaniel Daniel Buchman, a minister, started a movement called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”, later called “The Oxford Group”.  It’s philosophy to treat alcoholism:

  • All people are sinners
  • All sinners can be changed
  • Confession is a prerequisite to change
  • The change can access God directly
  • Miracles are again possible
  • The change must change others

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous

The Oxford Group advocated principles from the Sermon on The Mount,  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5-7&version=NIV 

where Jesus taught people the right way to live. The group boiled down these principles:

  • Absolute-Honesty
  • Absolute-Purity
  • Absolute-Unselfishness
  • Absolute-Love

A business executive tried to resolve his alcohol addiction by going to psychiatrist Carl Jung but it didn’t work. Shortly after a year long treatment with Dr. Jung,  he returned to his drinking. When he went back for treatment, Dr. Jung told the man that his case was nearly hopeless and the only hope was for a spiritual conversion with a religious group.

There is a belief that alcoholics can overcome their addiction. Although AA and The Oxford Group agreed that drunks are powerless over their addiction, AA saw the problem as a disease that cannot be cured. The Oxford Group argued that it’s possible that addicts can have complete victory over their sin.

The methods the Oxford Group advocated can apply to any kind of addiction, or other problems rooted in human character flaws, a result of sin.

Homelessness, although not always the fault of the person who has become homeless, is a struggle. Christian counsel can help the homeless too. We all have problems; it’s just a matter of degree. Carl Jung wrote of an experience at an insane asylum he visited with what he called “an intelligent layman,” who remarked that the inmates had problems like the average person, only they were greatly magnified. Dr. Jung was right about that.

Today in southeastern Pennsylvania, where addictions and other problems run rampant, churches are stepping up to the plate to counsel addicts. At the church luncheon after the funeral for our dear sister Martha, who was a member of the homeless community in lower Bucks County PA, the pastor and a church member told me they were seriously considering starting a program for addicts. After I gave them my two cents, they decided to move forward with the program.

In lower Bucks County, two churches host the 12 Step Journey program, where scripture is heavily used in conjunction with the 12 steps model to help people deal with drug and alcohol addictions and other problems that plague them. People with different problems mesh well together and people have made great progress in having victory over their sin-caused problems.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

Heroin addiction stands out, but there are other problems, and this is just the tip of the iceberg above the underlying cause. Several decades ago, writer E.B. White wrote that New York “is a cancer as yet undetected.” Well, the heroin problem is a manifestation of a social cancer, the underlying cause of which people don’t see, maybe because they don’t want to.

Where there is God, there is hope. Hope for the sinner. It’s not too late. God will lift you out of the pit, as he did King David.