215) The Schizophrenic Church

A severe breakdown in Christianity has occurred from trying to straddle the schizm, the chasm, between God’ call to personal holiness and social empowerment.

In medical terms this is called Schizophrenia.

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Wow! That’s harsh! But is it diagnostically accurate? Let’s conduct a psychiatric assessment.

friend-or-foe-sceneInappropriate or bizarre affect: The affect is the facial expression that tells the observer how the individual being observed feels about or wants to be perceived in his relationship or interaction with the observer. Does he project the expression of being friendly or unfriendly, peaceful or suspicious? Observed affects that don’t match up with reported inner world are described as incongruent.

What face does Christianity present to observers?

A pagan temple! Even in poverty-stricken and remote West Virginia! And the Pantheon – temple to all the gods, in Rome, no less! That is most certainly incongruent with the reported inner world of the biblical monotheistic God.

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pantheon_1500-57c726cf3df78c71b604eeedIn 609 the Pantheon was the first Roman pagan temple to be consecrated as a Christian church. Doesn’t that tell us something about how inappropriate this was in the first half-century after Christ started building his church? And sure enough, call me a conspiracy theorist, but the conversion guaranteed the Pantheon’s survival, as the papacy now repaired and maintained it over the centuries when otherwise the natural course of events would have deteriorated and demolished it.

Ambivalence: Holding opposing opinions at the same time. We can see how this is the inner world of the outer incongruent affect. The opposing opinions are, of course, claiming the Bible as the authority while living according to anti-biblical beliefs and precepts.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats…If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” (I Timothy 4:1-7)

“to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (I Corinthians 7:1-5)

The Shakers were founded in 1770…notable for their shaking as they danced and spoke in tongues. Inspired by this community, Ann Lee began to have visions of God, who told her that sexual intercourse was the root of all sin, thereby demanding celibacy of “true” followers…she was thought to be the second appearance of Christ on earth.

Associative Looseness: Confused and illogical thinking. This, again, logically flows from ambivalence, as no sound reasoning can derive from a starting point of contradictory opinions such as “no interpretation of scripture is of private interpretation” and following a leader who reports private interpretations of scripture never promoted by the apostles, or “For God so loved the world” and racism.

The theological foundations for both racial understanding and the purging of prejudices include humans being created in the image of God (Gen. 1), and Christ’s call to “make disciples of all the nations (peoples)” (Matthew 28:19-20).  Human dignity and the call to bring diverse peoples into the unity of Christ’s Body preclude racism in all its expressions.

British Israelism (also called Anglo-Israelism) is a pseudoarchaeological belief that the people of the British Isles are “genetically, racially, and linguistically the direct descendants” of the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel… Numerous British Israelite organisations were set up throughout the British Empire as well as in the United States from the 1870s onwards; a number of these organisations are independently active as of the early 21st century. In America, the idea gave rise to the Christian Identity movement…which advocates the belief that only Celtic and Germanic peoples, such as the Anglo-Saxon, Nordic nations, and/or Aryan people and people of kindred blood are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and are therefore the descendants of the ancient Israelites.…Europeans as the “chosen people” and Jews as the cursed offspring of Cain, the “serpent hybrid” or serpent seed (a belief which is known as the two-seedline doctrine). White supremacist sects and gangs later adopted many of these teachings.

Christian Identity promotes the idea that all non-whites (people who are not of wholly European descent) will either be exterminated or enslaved in order to serve the white race in the new Heavenly Kingdom on Earth under the reign of Jesus Christ. Its doctrine states that only “Adamic” (white) people can achieve salvation and enter paradise. Many of its adherents are Millennialist.

Blending Nazi ideology and the Bible. Can the association of thoughts get any looser? 

Autism: Living in one’s own fantasy world. For Christians, that means withdrawing from society rather than suffering rejection and persecution from society.  If Christians are to be lights in a dark place as Christ commanded then they can’t limit their social contacts to one’s own church or church school, a religious commune, off-grid communities, or convents and monasteries.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil…Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” (John 17:14-18)

Christians are a reflection of the light of God. When we do not let God work through us then His light does not reach the world. Trying to keep God to ourselves is like hiding a light under a bowl. Do you let your light shine? Is your life a reflection of God’s glory?

Children meet people at home, school, church, sports, and more. Help them see how they can be lights for God.

“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally.”

If we define “reality” for The Church as “God’s revealed word through the Bible”, then this definition of schizophrenia certainly applies. As detailed in this post, over time the reality / truth of the Bible was interpreted abnormally from the original beliefs and practices of The Church by people who composed Christianity.

The way people interpret reality abnormally in schizophrenia can be broken down into categories of thought, emotion and behavior. The specific examples are real, drawn from my professional experience working with patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, and schizoid personality disorder.

  • Delusions – false beliefs that go beyond misunderstandings of possible reality.
    • You think that you’re being personally harassed by powerful unseen forces. A man who believed he was personally threatened by Satan during the Cuban missile crisis for starting a church in southern Florida left the work and moved his family to the northern-most point of the U.S. he could arrange. As if Satan couldn’t reach him there, or that God couldn’t protect him in Florida. The illogical thought processes and simultaneous holding of contradictory beliefs are diagnostic features of schizophrenia.
    • Certain gestures or comments, often by important people on television, are secret messages directed to you. During breakfast a pastor – who I personally knew – would watch the direction in which birds approached a bird feeder to know God’s will for his door-to-door evangelizing that day. This stems from grandiosity – believing one is special, has special powers, and has a special relationship with powerful individuals. Strategizing full coverage visitation on a map is just so mundane, however efficient and practical.
    • You have exceptional abilities or foreknowledge of a major catastrophe. The many predictions of Christ’s soon return is the biggest example. One Baptist pastor pontificated that Christ would return by 1970, based on his interpretation of social upheaval in America in the late 1960’s, despite lack of biblical fulfillment of necessary events preceding Christ’s return. A spirit of fear and sense of powerlessness in dealing with social chaos and one’s own destiny to suffer for the name of Christ, which is not given by the Holy Spirit, drives the Dispensationalist hope / expectation of avoiding the last and greatest tribulation, in direct contradiction to the biblical hope / expectation of the resurrection.
  • Hallucinations. Experiences involving any of the five senses that the person with schizophrenia knows aren’t experienced by anyone else.
    • Hearing voices is the most common hallucination. These are invariably derogatory, unsettling, and directed towards harming self or others. Christians who are consumed with guilt or claim they hear the voice of God directing harm against others, in direct contravention to biblical commands to love one another and even your enemy, are having some form of auditory hallucinations, either spiritual or mental.
    • Visual hallucinations are the second-most common. Christians who claim visions from God that are contrary to the word of God are exhibiting schizophrenic traits.
  • Disorganized thinking inferred from disorganized speech, is most apparent in speaking in tongues, which is not biblically approved in a congregational setting.
    • Effective communication is impaired.
    • Answers may be partially or completely unrelated to the question.
    • Neologisms are new words invented by an individual from his confused inner world or superimposed by a spirit that has been given control of thought processes.
  • Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior which isn’t goal-oriented or productive. These manifestations were most apparent in the Middle Ages:
    • Inappropriate or bizarre posture such as the stylites.
    • A complete lack of response such as hermits who, often given as a child to the Church, would live in solitary confinement in a specially built bricked-up room in the wall of a church with only a small opening allowing them to receive food and send out waste. 
    • Useless and excessive movement. In July 1374 a craze of dancing affected thousands of men and women in Western Europe. Groups of dancers would spontaneously coalesce, dancing for hours in wild delirium, oblivious to their surroundings, shrieking, screaming, and raving in madness of visions reflecting the religious notions of the age in ‘aberration of mind, and disgusting distortions of body.’ This is just one of a multitude of examples throughout the Middle Ages and Reformation.
      • The Azusa Street Revivaltook place in Los Angeles, California…began on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915…William Seymour, the son of freed slaves…preached that speaking in tongues was the first biblical evidence of the infilling in the Holy Spirit. Seymour and seven men were waiting on God… “when suddenly, as though hit by a bolt of lightning, they were knocked from their chairs to the floor,” and began to speak in tongues. The news quickly spread…crowds gathered…and were full of people speaking in tongues, shouting, singing and moaning.It took two more months and praying all night long before Seymour himself spoke in tongues for the first time. Does that mean that his previous preaching was not Spirit-inspired? The revival was characterized In a skeptical front-page story in the Los Angeles Times titled “Weird Babel of Tongues”: “Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles”. Another local paper reporter described the happenings with the following words:

        they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.”

        Christians from many traditions were critical, saying the movement was hyper-emotional, misused Scripture and lost focus on Christ by overemphasizing the Holy Spirit. Today, the revival is considered the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.

  • Negative symptoms, in contrast to positive or productive activities.
    • Neglect personal hygiene
    • Lacking emotional expression by a “flat” unchanging facial expression, speaking in a monotone, failing to make eye contact.
    • Social withdrawal
    • Loss of interest in everyday activities through loss of ability to experience pleasure or satisfaction.
      • They [at the Azusa Street Church] have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn’t talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he’s supposed to be running the thing.

These behaviors are not found in any of the documented acts and teachings of the apostolic founders of the biblical faith in Jesus Christ. 

They came from the Great Awakenings.

 

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