The Difference Between Medical Anxiety and/or Depression & Anxiousness and/or Self-Pity

The physiological disorders, which the medical field diagnoses as “anxiety” or “depressive anxiety” or “manic depression” or even “bi-polar disorder” are different from what the Bible means when it says, “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). The biblical term “anxious” refers to someone’s needlessly worrying about life matters or social situations, instead of practicing and growing in trust toward God as the One Who provides, protects & guides us… and from Whom comes our true identity and self-worth as believers. 

Well-meaning pastors such as Steve Furtick and Tony Evans make blanket statements about anxiety and depression like,

Depression is well described as anger turned inward. –Tony Evans

And 

Anxiety is the result of a pride (“I”) issue. –[Paraphrased], Steve Furtick

Now, I realize that even these statements were made within certain contexts. But, I think they are general enough to consider the topic of “broad-brush or blanket statements” that express a common , error-filled notion within Christendom. I will explain this misconception farther down. 

Without contest, the Apostle Paul does use “I” as a selfish and sinful identity concept, often called “the flesh” in his many New Testament letters. Anger and bitterness toward God and others is also a human tendency. But, to say anxiety or depression is ONLY a matter of pride or inwardly turned anger is plainly wrong and detrimental to any audience. Here’s why:

The medical term for depression and/or anxiety means someone who—due to physiological (chemical) imbalances and/or emotional/psychological traumas—cannot function normally, due to the paralyzing fears or feelings of overwhelm or depressive thoughts directly associated with their condition. There is a big difference between that and what the Apostle Paul describes.

The Scope of the Bible

The scope (intended purpose) of the Bible is to deal with things spiritual. In other words, it provides the worldview for human origins, a corrupted creation, brokenness, disaster, disease and death. It also gives maxims and warnings about how our spiritual existence directly affects our physical existence, and vice versa. Yet, the Bible does not attempt to diagnose and prescribe medical treatment for individual medical conditions, which mankind can diagnose, treat and prognosticate on his own. [This is not to say there are no dangers with medical treatments] It DOES describe a miraculous Healer (Jesus) of all sickness, with a priority given to the spiritual healing and restoration of souls to God and His intended design for life.

Do Tony Evans’ and Steve Furtick’s assertions account for those who have been (against their will) repeatedly abused, physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually… or even drugged? There are so many trauma-based mental disorders diagnosed in the criminally abused or cult abused (ex. trauma-based schizophrenia / split personality, dissociative disorder, hostile attribution bias, Stockholm syndrome, PTSD). 

Do assumptions like Furtick’s and Evans’ account for those who have chemical imbalances due to postpartum or other physiological conditions (e.g. Autism, Menopause, biologically induced forms of Schizophrenia, Thyroid dysfunction, Sleep Apnea, or depression in chronic illness patients… like Diabetics) that stem from our living in a fallen world & in mortal bodies? What about soldiers who have been exposed to/taken part in such atrocities and chemical warfare that they may never fully recover from PTSD or other mental/emotional or physiological disorders?

All the above situations are not far fetched. They are more common than one from a privileged life can know. Sometimes the depression is really just a physical condition, other times it is spiritual oppression (warfare) which requires deliverance; yet other times, counseling and joy & relational trust building are required. Still, there may be a combination of two or all of these needs. 

Thankfully, there are levels of healing for all of these cases, but we must be careful of blanket statements. They tend to smother the most needy and innocent, not to mention shame/blame the victim for their valid struggles. Some inward hurts are just as serious as outward broken bones or damaged organs. They take serious attention, treatment and recovery time to heal. Instead of generalizing and inadvertently scolding the wounded, we must temper the statement by context… saying, “For someone without any medical condition or heritable disease/disorder…”

Human Reason & Divine Revelation

Too often, Christians hold a hyper & cultish view regarding the Bible’s scope. “If the Bible doesn’t say it, I don’t believe it,” is their (unspoken) mantra. They add to it an insistence on disregard for context and genre and employ a rigid literal interpretation, for which even the most conservative scholars (ex. B.B. Warfield) of the early 20th century derided them. Their insistence is spuriously bolstered by their blindly lifting out of context and misquoting, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). This cultish peculiarity reveals itself in a staunch disregard for and fear of human reasoning and philosophy and the sciences. God uses many methods and many people (even disbelievers) to bring healing into the lives of the needy.  These sort of believers forget that “all truth is God’s truth,” and such a set of positions fails to see that the Bible is a collection of Holy Writ that carries out a specified agenda, and therefore, does not speak to every matter known to mankind. Some things, mankind is to arrive at on his own.

They take too far the warnings against “science so called” and “empty philosophy” (1 Timothy 6:20; Colossians 2:8), which—in context—were warnings against the Gnosticism and Judaizers of the Apostles’ era… the same 2 antithetical systems that were directly attacking the Christian Faith, and for which Faith, the Apostles were giving reasonable defenses. Modern-day equivalents of Gnosticism and Judaism would be anything that undermines the Christian worldview about human origins, the reason for human mortality, (i.e. the spiritual condition of humanity) and/or the Divine Trinity, reconciliation to God only by Jesus, etc. Medical disciplines—in so far as they do not alter humanity at the DNA (germline) level or otherwise chemically or technologically augment human brain functionality—do not match the context of Paul’s warnings against empty philosophy or “so-called” science.

Again, some things, mankind is to arrive at on his own. As Cheryl Lowe writes, 

“most things mankind can discover for himself – geometry, logic, the principles of history, government, literature, the sciences, etc. These things were first discovered by the Greeks. God did not reveal to man what he could discover for himself through reason and experience. To do so would have confused human reason with divine revelation.” (http://excellence-in-literature.com/why-study-the-pagans-by-cheryl-lowe/)

The Balance:

Now, all the above is not to say a person cannot induce medical anxiety upon himself or herself by using drugs, doing illegal and risky stuff and/or continually worrying, being petty or cross or caustic. A person can induce a physiological condition by cognitive habit or by substance abuse. Any number of lifestyles, including something as simple as a poor diet / no exercise, can bring on medical disorders just as easily as a physiological predisposition makes one susceptible. This is a chief reason the Bible provides spiritual maxims and warnings about our beliefs and personal conduct. God just wants us to experience the best that life can be, such as it is in a fallen world.

Also, it is my opinion that someone with medical anxiety should not rely on meds alone to defeat anxiety/depression. If they train their thoughts and emotions to grow in trusting God more than being co-dependent upon people (i.e. insecure), then stepping down medication is always possible. But those who simply trust in the meds will only need more and more meds. Moreover, forgiveness at the decree of God is a powerful thing for eliminating paralysing guilt and for getting one’s conscience & identity rooted and grounded solidly in unconditional, loving grace. Even if someone brings a condition upon himself or herself, then God is abundant in mercy and will rescue & redeem us from our own self-inflicted peril… if we call upon Him for that in humility. [It may take a while or no time at all. Healing is His business, and we just keep on trusting & expecting Him to do His thing in His way and time].

The Encouragement for Spiritual Anxiety / Depression:

Feeling down, depressed, and discouraged? You are not alone. Moses, Elijah, Job, and even the Apostle Paul at different points of their lives were overcome with these emotions. They all got to the point that they wanted to end their lives. In the darkness they failed to see that God was working. We often are looking through a microscope at our problems, instead of looking through a telescope at our God. Depression never tells us the whole story or let’s us see the entire picture. Even when we are at our worst, God is at His best. In 2 Corinthians 1:9, the Apostle Paul tells us that it was in the darkest moments of his life that he learned to trust God the most. When you come to the end of your rope, God is there. Have faith and don’t lose heart!

Demon Fairy Fiasco Update | Dr. Michael Heiser

In previous blog articles, Lamb’s Harbinger passed on reports of a winged creature which L A Marzulli had recovered and tested. That winged creature is now known to be an elaborate hoax, though it was thought to be authentic by more than one veterinarian. To his credit, L A Marzulli did try to research the supposed entity to the best of his resources and conscience. Also, he exposed the truth of the matter as soon as solid evidence proved the thing is a hoax.

I do not believe one can blame Mr. Marzulli’s character or motives; it was on his character—personally known by me—that I passed on his findings. Perhaps the lesson here is to exercise more patience and utilize the full spectrum of scientific diagnostics before even implying a thing is genuine.
One critic of Mr. Marzulli demanded further testing from the onset of this phenom.

Dr. Michael Heiser writes:

Well, the demon fairy is a hoax. Just like I said I expected it would turn out to be. On August 9, 2016 I wrote:

See the full article here: http://drmsh.com/demon-fairy-fiasco-update/

Reproving & Rebuking: The Neglected Duty of the Pastors

Reproving & Rebuking are the disowned aspects of the Pastor’s role within the Body of Christ. This comes as a result of hierarchical denominationalism lording over men of God, the rule of feel-good and trendy Christianity, the domination of fleshly and Bible-illiterate church-goers within the congregation, preachers for hire (instead of letting the gift lead), and a sign of the times that:

…people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:4)

But, the charge God gives to pastors to reprove and rebuke could not be clearer.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

 

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)

 

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)

 

He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)

While these passages are not a license for tyrannical and authoritarian abuse by pastors, they also should not be denied. As the LORD God stated to those who have gone before, let us hear Him saying also to us,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:18)

…to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. This is the LORD’s declaration. (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

Rise up, O men of God, and do your duty!

Conservative Americana vs. Biblical Christian Culture

Most American Christians have no idea what God means when writing through the Apostle Paul, “I have become all things to all men that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We either allow paganism to flourish “hidden in plain sight” or we harmfully remove the essential (biblically harmonious) cultural identity of a people in the name of “holiness.” The reason for our pendulum-like mode of operating is we ourselves have no discernment between our own American culture and biblical culture. In grave error, we equate “conservative Americana” with “Christian” and vice versa. This fuels our bigoted demands on the other cultures to which we send missionaries to “minister,” requiring the people must become like us or else be condemned as either non-sanctified or unconverted.

The Apostle Paul outlines the very degrees to which we should go in order to become all things to all men. See 1 Cor. 9:19-23:

A. Free to servant (i.e. Position of attitude and maybe even societal status—freeman v. slave = choice to relinquish societal rank, freedoms, “rights”)

B. Observe ethnic culture (ex. Gentile/Jew)

C. As one under the law (i.e. observing biblically harmonious religious dictates of others’ religions, so as not to offend unnecessarily)

D. As one outside the law (i.e. not living according to one’s own NON-ESSENTIAL religious dictates, so as not to alienate those to whom one ministers unnecessarily)

E. Weak to weak (i.e. those of society who are considered by the rest of society as lacking or weak—matching their “weakness,” so as not to alienate them…. Make them feel acceptable. Also, this applies to those within the church, whose struggles are great: identify with, empathize with and embrace them in their struggle so far as is biblically possible (Galatians 6; Romans 14).

See also:

Understanding the Letter of James, Part 1

Understanding the Letter of James, Part 2

Who’s the Weak One?

The Day the Music Died: Why Fundamentalists Lost Their “Soul”

Now You’re Talking

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 6

Neither secret (esoteric, theosophic) knowledge, nor ascetic legalism can combat one’s impulses to indulge the flesh [a.k.a. old, corrupted self] (Colossians 2:23). Only the grace of Jesus Christ can wage war with our fleshly (sinful, obsessive or excessive) impulses and lead us to victory.

Why is it important to have victory over these drives and base responses? It is all about maintaining and improving our relationships—our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Sin destroys relationships, isolates us from others and alienates us from God. Even though they may seem to have a measure of wisdom, secret knowledge (Gnosticism) and asceticism (exclusion-based, externals-focused, behaviors-level, shame-driven religion) cannot combat the indulgence of the flesh; and so, cannot maintain or improve your relationship with God and others. Only the grace-filled life and forgiveness of the Supreme Savior, Jesus Christ, can lead us to the victory over fleshly impulses that destroy relationships.

God’s Prescriptions for Navigating Relationships — Putting on the New Self

3:1-4     The Believer’s Mindset about Earthly vs. Heavenly Affections

  • “I am raised with Christ; therefore, I seek the things which are above, where Christ is (at the right hand of the Father).” [position –> affection]
  • “I will set my mind on things that are above, not on the things that are on earth; because the old corrupt, selfish me has died, and my new life is found only with Christ in God.” [identity –> devotion]
  • “When Christ—my life—appears, then I will also appear with Him in glory.” [identity –> reward]

3:5-11     The Believer’s Relationship to God & Other Believers (Negative Aspect): Putting to Death What is Earthly

  • Put to death: Sexual Immorality, Impurity, Passion, Evil Desire, Covetousness (thinking that acquiring things or situation will make your life better)
    • These are the sort of things God judges, and…
    • These are the things which WERE ONCE a part of your life, but now
  • Put away all of these: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk
  • Do not lie to one another, …
    • because you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self (which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of your Creator). [implied: God does not lie; you are God’s new creation; do not lie.]
    • because you are all of equal value to God. Man-made, religious, earthly bounds & prejudices do not exist in Christ.

3:12-17     The Believer’s Relationship to God & Other Believers (Positive Aspect): Putting on What is from Above, Heavenly

  • As God’s chosen one’s, holy and beloved, put on: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (bearing with one another)
  • If anyone has a complaint against another, forgive one another; because as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
  • Above all these, put on (selfless, holy) love! It is that which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • Allow the peace of Christ to rule your hearts (in relation to each other). It was to peace in Christ that you were called in one body. Be thankful about that!
  • Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly by: …
    • Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom
    • Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts toward God
  • Do everything in the name (for the glorious reputation of) the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

3:18-21     The Believer’s Family Relationships

  • Wives: submit yourselves to your husbands, as is befitting for one who is “in the Lord.”
  • Husbands: love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
  • Children: obey your parents in everything, because this is pleasing to the Lord.
  • Fathers: do not provoke (exasperate) your children, so that they do not become discouraged

3:22-25     The Believer’s Role as a Servant to a Master (a.k.a. Boss, Employer)

  • Obey—in everything [moral]—those who are your earthly masters (bosses).
    • not just to make yourself look good, as people pleasers do (approval seeking), but…
    • with sincerity of heart, because you reverence the Lord
  • Whatever you do, work heartily (with a good attitude) as if you are working for the Lord and not for people
    • Knowing that from the Lord you will receive inheritance for reward
    • You are serving the Lord Christ
  • The wrongdoer (boss and/or employee) will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and their is no bias (partiality, bribe favors) with God.

4:1     The Believer’s Role as a Master (a.k.a. Boss, Employer)

  • Treat your employees justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master—in Heaven. [implication: the employer who is not just or fair will be corrected accordingly by their heavenly Master]

4:2-6    Every Believer’s Role as a Minister

  • Continue steadfastly in prayer…
    • watching (for answers) in it
    • with thanksgiving
  • Pray for fellow ministers of the Gospel
    • that God may open a door (avenue of ministry) for the Word
      • to declare the mystery of Christ, no matter what the situation (even imprisonment)
      • to make it straightforward and clear (instead of “watered down” and hidden in part), which is how believers ought to declare it
  • Walk in wisdom (life skill) toward outsiders (non-believers)
    • Make the best use of your time with them [implied: for the Gospel’s sake]
    • Let your speech always be gracious & intriguing (salty, question provoking) …
    • So that you may know how you ought to answer each person

4:7-18  People Matter: Encourage Them, Talk to Them, Remember Them, Love Them (Paul’s Example)

___________________________

Previous Series Parts:

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 3

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 4

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 5