In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. He created man in his image, male and female, body and soul. We are remarkable creatures in this, the very pinnacle of God's creative work, as spiritual beings with blood coursing through our veins. We are capable of faith and cell reproduction, praise, prayer, and complicated, sometimes even delicate, emotional lives. According to theologians and philosophers, we are psychosomatic unities; according to the Scriptures, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
At the outset of this issue of Modern Reformation, it is appropriate to cast our minds back to the original goodness of God's creation, because in these pages we go on to acknowledge the full extent and effect of the Fall on our mental health. We were created upright in righteousness and holiness, of sound body and mind, but Adam's disobedience tore asunder what God had otherwise joined together. The reality is that in this life under the sun we are now not just prone to sin but to complete psychological breakdown. But this is not how things are supposed to be, nor how they always will be.
In evangelicalism today, faith and mental health is something of an elephant in the room. We all know someone—we may even be that someone—who suffers from the disorienting effect of the Fall on our whole person. The pastors we canvassed spoke readily of this fact, and you'll read their testimonies throughout the feature articles. It's time then to address this topic in the open, and for that reason we believe that this is an important issue of Modern Reformation. Please consider giving a copy of the magazine away to a friend or pastor.
These pages are filled with theological insights, because having the right biblical categories, according to Michael Horton, is crucial for sorting through the myriad challenges posed by mental health for the church. We include an interview with Harold Senkbeil, a Lutheran pastor and scholar who trains others in spiritual care. Brooke Ventura and Amy Alexander reflect on the way modern culture can often enable our pathologies, and Zach Keele turns our thoughts to the resurrection of our Lord. The issue is brimming with stories and practical advice: there is an example of soul care from an anonymous pastor; a reflection from a mother, Simonetta Carr, about her faith and her son's sickness; firsthand testimony from Jed Paschall of what it is to live with mental illness; as well as advice from a counselor, Craig Marshall, and a reflection from author and counselor Barb Duguid on the poet William Cowper. They candidly discuss faith and eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Their stories will move you to tears, offer comfort from Scripture, and even inspire you to engage in the life of the community of faith in new ways as we seek to love one another in Christ.
Jesus came to heal the sick, not those who are well. In this, his power is on display in and through our weakness, as he sustains us and works to bring about the redemption of our whole persons, body and soul. He keeps us in his tender care, and the sufferings of this present age are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us on the great day of salvation.
Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is Executive Editor for Modern Reformation and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. He earned his M.A. in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California and B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois.
Issue: "Faith and Mental Illness" July/August 2014 Vol. 23 No. 4 Page number(s): 4
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