Sunday, March 16, 2008

Playing with fire

This is a little to the side of the core of this blog but it is in a roundabout way related.

The idea of spiritual abuse has been written about on many occasions by better people than me. However the recent news reports of people suffering mental issues as a result of a ministry allegedly associated with Hillsong is rather concerning, especially considering the allegations.

I make no judgment as to the rights or wrongs of this particular case and clearly more investigation is required. These things can often be somewhat otherwise than reported. What I am saying is more of a general nature based on my experience.

There are a lot of things that could be said regarding the Christian's approach to psychological problems and indeed many of them may very well be spiritual in nature. But if in doubt the wisest thing to do is refer these people on to professionals. And by that I do not mean your local priest or paster, I mean a mental health professional, someone who actually knows what they are doing. There is certainly a place in this for prayer and spiritual intervention but we require discernment and not the broad brush, hob nail boot techniques that I have seen so often.

There are a lot of good Christian mental health professionals and they are trained to deal with many of these problems. As Christians we should not merely assume that because someone has issues that they are necessarily spiritual in nature. They certainly could be but unless you have the spiritual discernment to be guided by the Holy Spirit then leave it to the professionals.