Lifeway Research has published a news item about a recent survey of conservative, evangelical Christians and their beliefs about mental illness. About half feel that with only prayer and bible study, a person could be healed
from serious mental illness.
I suppose there may be some who answer this question in such a way as to mean that it is possible to be miraculously healed. I would agree. But is that the thinking behind those surveyed? My sense is that is not what most are thinking when they answer this way.
This most likely reveals that many Christians believe that symptoms described by the medical world as “mental illness” are only or mainly character or behavior problems.
We need a more robust theology of the body if we are going to better understand how the body influences our expression of mental illness.
Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments (G.R.A.C.E) tasked one of its Board members, Diane Langberg, to author a better response to abuse scandals in evangelical denominations (better than weak apologies and defenses of esteemed leaders penned in the last month or so). Here’s how it starts. After you read the beginning, read the rest here and use this link to add your name and voice to the message that we are not longer going to keep silent.
Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well-known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different from from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children. This is a longstanding problem in the Christian world, and we are deeply grieved by the failures of the American and global Church in responding to the issue of sexual abuse. We do not just believe we should do better; as those who claim the name of Jesus and the cause of the Gospel, we are convinced we must do better. In the hope that a time is coming when Christian leaders respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage, we offer this confession and declare the Good News of Jesus on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten.
Through the media we have been confronted with perpetual reports of grievous sexual abuse and its cover-up. Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims. And while many evangelical leaders have eagerly responded with outrage to those public scandals, we must now acknowledge long-silenced victims who are speaking out about sexual abuse in evangelical Christian institutions: schools, mission fields and churches, large and small. And we must confess we have done far too little to hear and help them.
Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Weisel, once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim…silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” When we choose willful ignorance, inaction or neutrality in the face of evil, we participate in the survival of that evil. When clergy, school administrations, boards of directors, or military commanders have been silent or have covered up abuse, they have joined with those who perpetrate crimes against the “little ones” – often children, but also others who are on the underside of power because of size, age, position or authority.