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The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered

14 Apr

Authors: Evan D. Murray, M.D.; Miles G. Cunningham, M.D., Ph.D.; Bruce H. Price, M.D.

Citation: The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2012;24:410-426.10.1176/appi.neuropsych.11090214

 

Abstract

The authors have analyzed the religious figures Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St. Paul from a behavioral, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective to determine whether new insights can be achieved about the nature of their revelations. Analysis reveals that these individuals had experiences that resemble those now defined as psychotic symptoms, suggesting that their experiences may have been manifestations of primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorders. The rationale for this proposal is discussed in each case with a differential diagnosis. Limitations inherent to a retrospective diagnostic examination are assessed. Social models of psychopathology and group dynamics are proposed as explanations for how followers were attracted and new belief systems emerged and were perpetuated. The authors suggest a new DSM diagnostic subcategory as a way to distinguish this type of psychiatric presentation. These findings support the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic symptoms have had a monumental influence on the shaping of Western civilization. It is hoped that these findings will translate into increased compassion and understanding for persons living with mental illness.

 

Figures in this Article

A man in his late 20s with paranoid schizophrenia explained during a neurological evaluation that he could read minds and that for years he had heard voices revealing things about friends and strangers alike. He believed he was selected by God to provide guidance for mankind. Antipsychotic medications prescribed by his psychiatrists diminished these abilities and reduced the voices, and therefore he would not take them. He asked, “How do you know the voices aren’t real?” “How do you know I am not The Messiah?” He affirmed, “God and angels talked to people in the Bible.”

Later, we reflected on what he had said. He raised poignant questions that are rarely discussed in academic medicine. Every day, physicians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers alike encounter and care for people who experience psychotic symptoms. About 1% of emergency room visits and 0.5% of all primary care visits in the United States are related to psychotic symptoms.1,2 As many as 60% of those with schizophrenia have religious grandiose delusions consisting of believing they are a saint, God, the devil, a prophet, Jesus, or some other important person.3 Diminished insight about having a mental disorder is part and parcel of the condition, occurring in 30%–50% of persons with schizophrenia.4 How do we explain to our patients that their psychotic symptoms are not supernatural intimations when our civilization recognizes similar phenomena in revered religious figures? On what basis do we distinguish between the experiences of psychiatric patients and those of religious figures in history?

A review of the medical literature revealed little discussion of these specific issues utilizing modern neuropsychiatric and behavioral neurologic principles. An examination of the revelation experiences of prominent religious figures was needed to determine whether new insights could be achieved about their nature through the application of neuropsychiatric and behavioral neurologic principles. We undertook this examination with the intent of promoting scholarly dialogue about the rational limits of human experience and to educate persons living with mental illness, healthcare providers, and the general public that persons with psychotic symptoms may have had a considerable influence on the development of Western civilization. The selection of personalities for analysis was based on 1) the existence of narratives recounting the individual’s mystical experiences and behaviors; 2) the potential similarity of these experiences to psychiatric phenomena; 3) the high degree of impact their life stories had on Western civilization in terms of influencing themes found in literature and art, religious thought and practice, philosophy, concepts of social order, and jurisprudence. The following is a retrospective diagnostic examination of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St Paul. It is hoped that this investigation will help translate the veneration, love, and devotion felt by many for these religious figures into increased compassion and understanding for persons with mental illness.

 

Abraham 

The Bible is the earliest source of information about the life of Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The historical existence of Abraham is the subject of some academic controversy. Our discussion will proceed on the premise that he was a historical figure. The events occurring during his lifetime are generally thought to have taken place sometime between 2000 BCE and 1630 BCE, but this is a subject of some debate. He is described as having had interactive mystical experiences of an auditory and visual nature (see Figure 1), that influenced his behaviors throughout most of his life (see Table 1). This phenomenology closely resembles that described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).5 Applying the DSM-IV-TR paradigm, Abraham’s auditory and visual perceptual experiences and behaviors could be understood as auditory hallucinations (AH), visual hallucinations (VH), delusions with religious content, and paranoid-type (schizophrenia subtype) thought content (see Table 1 for examples). These psychiatric features occur together as a constellation in psychotic disorders of both primary psychiatric origin and secondary to medical and neurological conditions.5 According to the DSM-IV-TR, the diagnosis of schizophrenia requires at least two out of five symptoms from Criterion A and then fulfillment of the five remaining criteria (see Table 2). Criterion A might theoretically be fulfilled by the presence of his auditory and visual perceptual experiences. Abraham is not recounted as having had symptoms that can now be appreciated as disorganization, catatonia, negative psychiatric symptoms (affective flattening, alogia, or avolition), or cognitive difficulties such as impaired concentration, attention, or memory. The lack of detailed information about his life prevents us from understanding whether he experienced a decline in social or occupational functioning, as compared with the period before the onset of his perceptual experiences, as required by Criterion B. Criterion C’s requirement about persistence and duration of symptoms is fulfilled by the period of 100 years or more during which he had these experiences. His generally good state of health is indicated by a purported lifespan of 175 years without mentioned infirmity. Abraham appeared not to suffer from debilitating depressive- or manic-like symptoms, thereby diminishing the likelihood of mood disorder associated psychoses, such as depression with psychotic features, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorder.

FIGURE 1. Abraham Being Stopped From Sacrificing His Son Isaac by a Vision of an Angel (Genesis 22:9-12) Laurent de la Hyre: Abraham Sacrificing Isaac (c1650), Musée Saint-Denis, Reims, France

 

TABLE 1.Selected Examples of Passages With Features Resembling Psychiatric Phenomena

Abraham
Auditory and visual hallucinationsa: Genesis 12:1–3; 12:7; 13:14; 15:1–11; 17:1–21;22:1–2; 22:11–12 (Figure 1)
Paranoid Type (PS subtype) thought processesb: Genesis 12:3 (implies a very Abraham-centered worldview of dispensing universal blessings and curses based on one’s interactions with Abraham); 12:11–13; 14:22; 17:14; 20:11; 21:11–14 (potential mistrust, as seen by the sending-away of his first-born son to eliminate competition for his second son); 23:4 (He referred to himself as a stranger in a land he understood to be his inheritance from God); 24:3 (potential mistrust seen in the rejection of intermarriage for his son Isaac with any women in his region); 25:6 (potential mistrust as seen by the sending-away of of all his sons so as to remove Isaac’s competitors).
Moses
Auditory and visual hallucinations of a grandiose nature with delusional thought contenta: Exodus 3:2 (Figure 2); Exodus 33: 21–23 related to 34:5–6
Paranoid Type (PS subtype) thought contentb: Exodus 32:25–29
Phobia: Exodus 34:33
Referential Thought Processes: Exodus 8:12–13, 8:31, 9:23, 9:33, 10:13–15, 10:22 (possible sandstorm)
Jesus
Paranoid-type (PS subtype) thought contentb: Matthew 10:34–39, 16:21–23, 24:4–27; Mark 13:5–6; Luke 10:19; John 3:18; John 14:6–11
Auditory and visual hallucinationsa: Matthew 3:16–17, 4:3–11; Luke 10:18; John 6:46, 8:26, 8:38–40, 12:28–29
Referential thought processes: Mark 4:38–40 (Figure 3); Luke 18:31
Paul
Auditory and visual hallucinationsa: Acts 9:4–6,16:9,18:9, 22:7–11 (Figure 4), 26:13–18; 2 Corinthians 12:2–9
Paranoid-type (PS subtype) thought contentb: 1 Corinthians 10: 20–22; 11:29–32; 1:20–21; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 7:1; 11:12–15; 11:21–23

aHallucinations in PS are typically related to the themes of delusions.5

bParanoid-type (PS subtype) thought content: Delusions are typically persecutory or grandiose or both. Delusions with other themes, such as jealousy, religiosity, or somatization may also occur. They are usually organized around a theme.5

All biblical references are from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version. Edited by May HG, Metzger BM, New York, Oxford University Press, 1977.

 

TABLE 2.Diagnostic Criteria for Schizophrenia

A. Characteristic symptoms: Two or more of the following, each present for much of the time during a 1-month period (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
Delusions
Hallucinations
Disorganized speech
Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonic behavior
Negative symptoms: affective flattening, alogia, or avolition
Note: Only one Criterion A symptom is required if the delusions are bizarre or hallucinations consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person’s behavior or thoughts, or two or more voices conversing with each other.
B. Social/occupational dysfunction: For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, one or more major areas of functioning, such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.
C. Duration: Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least 6 months. This 6-month period must include at least 1 month of symptoms (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment)
D. Schizoaffective and mood-disorder exclusion
E. Substance/general medical condition exclusion
F. Relationship to a pervasive developmental disorder

Adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000, pp 297–343.

 

Other potential causes of such experiences need to be explored. The ingestion of hallucinogenic substances is known to produce mystical experiences. There has been speculation that plants with psychoactive properties were valued by the ancient Israelites, but no direct evidence has been uncovered for their actual use for inducing mystical experiences in this population.6 Another possibility would be that of epilepsy-induced mystical experiences. Persons with epilepsy may experience ictal, postictal, or interictal schizophrenia-like symptoms, which can be indistinguishable from primary psychotic disorders7,8 and occur in roughly 2%–7% of persons with epilepsy;9 2.2% of temporal lobe-onset seizures may be associated with religious experiences.10,11

Grandiose and messianic-type delusions are recognized as occurring in association with complex partial seizure disorders.12 Published cases show ictal religious experiences to be awe-inspiring or ecstatic, but generally not successful in imparting detailed or complex information.10,1317 Postictal psychosis (PIP) is more common and tends to occur in close proximity to seizure clusters and can also be associated with a recent exacerbation in seizure frequency.18 It is estimated to account for a quarter of psychosis in epilepsy19,20 and occurs in up to 18% of medically intractable focal epilepsy patients.21,22 Of persons with PIP, up to 25% may have religious delusions.

Only 2% of those who go on to have interictal psychosis have religious delusions.23,24 Interictal psychosis is otherwise not readily distinguishable from schizophrenia, but may manifest preservation of affect, fewer negative symptoms, and, arguably, greater insight. The greater similarities may lay in positive symptomatology; that is, that of thought disorder, delusions, and hallucinations.7 Reliable prevalence data are lacking, but it has been proposed that between 30% and 60% of patients with partial seizures will also have secondary generalized seizures.2527

Abraham is not recounted as having had any infirmities that might resemble the phenomena we now commonly understand to accompany seizures. Specifically, there are no signs of repetitive behaviors, such as uncontrolled generalized or partial shaking, orofacial automatisms, stereotyped behavioral changes, recurrent and consistent auras of fear (although fear did accompany some episodes), staring spells, loss of consciousness, falling spells, tongue-biting, or incontinence. His ability to engage in varied dialogue with his hallucinations would not be very typical of an ictal perceptual change, since seizures tend toward being stereotyped in nature and not to be so changeable and interactive.10,1317,28,29 Most generalized seizures, and, often, complex partial seizures, are associated with amnesia for the period during and immediately after a seizure, and persons often have baseline day-to-day cognitive impairments in memory and executive domains.30,31 There are no indications that Abraham experienced uncontrolled motor events, amnestic periods, or cognitive impairments of any kind. A postictal or interictal psychotic state cannot be excluded, but is not particularly suggested on the basis of the available information.

The absence of apparent affective, medical, or neurological conditions increases the possibility that a psychotic disorder could have been present. Schizophrenia is often accompanied by both disorganized behavior and thought processes that interfere with life functioning.5 In the case of Abraham and in the others that follow, disorganization and cognitive impairments are not apparent. Paranoid schizophrenia (PS), however, is a subtype of schizophrenia that tends to manifest little or no disorganization, has preserved functional affect, and is associated with better occupational and social functioning.5

Psychotic disorder, not otherwise specified (PD NOS) is another reasonable diagnostic alternative. PD NOS includes those persons with psychotic symptomatology for which there is inadequate or contradictory information or symptoms that do not meet criteria for any specific psychotic disorder.5 Abraham’s clinical profile would appear to best resemble that of PS or PD NOS, and perhaps, less likely, an affective disorder-related psychosis. Abraham stands as the earliest case of a possible psychotic disorder in literature.

 

Moses

The story of Moses in the Bible is thought to have its setting sometime between 1550 BCE and 1200 BCE.32 The stories about Moses include a great deal of information about his background, life functioning, beliefs, actions, and perceptual experiences (see Figure 2). Moses had perceptual experiences and behaviors that find closest parallel today with the DSM-IV-TR–defined phenomena of command AHs, VHs, hyperreligiosity, grandiosity, delusions, paranoia, referential thinking, and phobia (about people viewing his face). (See Table 3 for examples.) Many of these features may occur together in schizophrenia, affective disorders, and schizoaffective disorder.5 Moses also did not appear to have any disorganization, catatonia, or negative psychiatric symptoms, or difficulties with concentration, attention, and memory (see Table 2). Criterion A for schizophrenia could theoretically be fulfilled by his experiences that resemble delusions and hallucinations. In fulfillment of Criterion B, Moses’ social and occupational functioning could be said to have declined from that of a presumably educated member of the Egyptian royal family to having fled Egyptian society to become a shepherd working on the periphery of the desert in a foreign land (Exodus 2:15–22). His flight from Egypt occurred before the onset of AH and VH, thereby suggesting a prodromal decline in functioning before the onset of psychosis. A prodrome refers to the early symptoms and signs of an illness that precede the characteristic manifestations of the acute, fully developed illness. A prodromal period may precede the onset of schizophrenia by months to up to 10 years in 70% of patients33 and up to 20 years in some cases.34 The period over which Moses had these experiences was in excess of 40 years, fulfilling Criterion C. His social functioning and leadership skills were sufficiently intact to have made it less likely that he had periods of debilitating major depression or florid mania that might have undermined his effectiveness as a leader. This could fulfill Criterion D by reducing the likelihood of mood disorder-associated psychosis. It should be noted that the religious writings attributed to Moses’ authorship, the Pentateuch, could suggest the presence of an exaggerated urge to write. Such hypergraphia is a nonspecific finding more commonly associated with mania, hypomania, or mixed states; however, it is also a feature of schizophrenia and temporal lobe epilepsy.3537 Trimble writes that the hypergraphic output of schizophrenic and epileptic patients is rarely creative. They are often loosely mystical, and both perseverative and vague in content.37 In contrast to the relative paucity of poets with schizophrenia or epilepsy, he observes that the number of poets suggested to have mood disorders are represented in far greater numbers.37 Therefore, mood disorder-associated psychoses remain quite viable in the case of Moses.

FIGURE 2.Moses’ Vision of the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2) Moses Before The Burning Bush (1613–14) By Domenico Feti, at Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

TABLE 3.Clinical Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Religious Figures

Behaviors Resembling

Abraham

Moses

Jesus

St Paul

Auditory hallucinations

+

+

+

+

Visual hallucinations

+

+

+

+

Hyper-religiosity

+

+

+

+

Grandiosity

+

+

+

+

Delusions

+

+

+

+

Paranoia

+

+

+

+

Disorganization

Negative symptoms

Duration of symptoms

years

>40 years

>1 year

years

Decline in occupational functioning

I

+

I

I

+: present; —: not present; I: inconclusive evidence or unknown.

 

There is no indication in the Bible that Moses experienced metabolic dysregulations or that he used hallucinogenic intoxicants as an explanation for his behavioral or perceptual changes. There are also no key features, as previously mentioned, to implicate epilepsy as a cause of mystical experiences. He lived a long life, in excess of 100 years, arguing against the presence of progressive medical or neurological illnesses. The criteria for diagnosis of PS would be fulfilled by the predominance of delusions and hallucinations in the absence of disorganization, negative psychiatric symptoms, or cognitive impairment.

An increased propensity for violence has been observed in some individuals with PS.38 Moses’ increased propensity for violence could be viewed as corroborative for a diagnosis of PS. Reasonable diagnostic alternatives might include PD NOS, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. If the first five books of the bible are credited to Moses’ authorship, then a bipolar disorder or perhaps schizoaffective disorder would be more compatible with his writing abilities.

 

Jesus

Jesus is the foundation figure of Christianity, who is thought to have lived between 7–2 BCE and 26–36 CE. The New Testament (NT) recalls Jesus as having experienced and shown behavior closely resembling the DSM-IV-TR–defined phenomena of AHs, VHs, delusions, referential thinking (see Figure 3), paranoid-type (PS subtype) thought content, and hyperreligiosity (see Table 1). He also did not appear to have signs or symptoms of disorganization, negative psychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, or debilitating mood disorder symptoms. NT accounts about Jesus mention no infirmity. In terms of potential causes of perceptual and behavioral changes, it might be asked whether starvation and metabolic derangements were present. The hallucinatory-like experiences that Jesus had in the desert while he fasted for 40 days (Luke 4:1–13) may have been induced by starvation and metabolic derangements. Arguing against these as explanations for all of his experiences would be that he had mystical or revelation experiences preceding his fasting in the desert and then during the period afterward. During these periods, there is no suggestion of starvation or metabolic derangement. If anything, the stories about Jesus and his followers suggest that they ate relatively well, as compared with the followers of his contemporary, John the Baptist (Luke 7:33–34). Epilepsy-associated psychotic symptoms are possible, but Jesus is not recounted as having any of the previously-mentioned common hallmarks of epilepsy. A decline in his occupational and social functioning cannot be established because of a lack of sufficient information. His experiences appear to have occurred over the course of at least the year before his death. The absence of physical maladies or apparent epilepsy leaves primary psychiatric etiologies as more plausible. As seen with the previous cases, Jesus’ experiences can be potentially conceptualized within the framework of PS or psychosis NOS. Other reasonable possibilities might include bipolar and schizoaffective disorders.

FIGURE 3.The Boat That Held Jesus and His Followers Before Jesus Bid the Storm to Subside (Mark 4:38–40) Storm on the Sea of Galilee By Rembrandt van Rijn (1633; whereabouts unknown since the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in 1990)

 

There is a 5%–10% lifetime risk of suicide in persons with schizophrenia.39 Suicide is defined as a self-inflicted death with evidence of an intention to end one’s life. The NT recounts Jesus’ awareness that people intended to kill him and his taking steps to avoid peril until the time at which he permitted his apprehension. In advance, he explained to his followers the necessity of his death as prelude for his return (Matthew 16:21–28; Mark 8:31; John 16:16–28). If this occurred in the manner described, then Jesus appears to have deliberately placed himself in circumstances wherein he anticipated his execution. Although schizophrenia is associated with an increased risk of suicide, this would not be a typical case. The more common mood-disorder accompaniments of suicide, such as depression, hopelessness, and social isolation, were not present,40 but other risk factors, such as age and male gender, were present. Suicide-by-proxy is described as “any incident in which a suicidal individual causes his or her death to be carried out by another person.”41,42 There is a potential parallel of Jesus’ beliefs and behavior leading up to his death to that of one who premeditates a form of suicide-by-proxy.

 

St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus)

St. Paul lived during the first century CE. It has been speculated that his religious experiences resulted from temporal lobe epilepsy.43 We would argue that it is not necessary to invoke epilepsy as an explanation for these experiences. St Paul’s mood in his letters ranged from ecstatic to tears of sorrow, suggesting marked mood swings.44,45 He endorsed an abundance of sublime auditory and visual perceptual experiences (2 Corinthians 12:2–9) that resemble grandiose hallucinations with delusional thought content. He manifested increased religiosity and fears of evil spirits, which resembles paranoia. These features may occur together, in association with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic conditions.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, St Paul relates “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.” This thorn has been speculated to be a reference to epilepsy.43 Other theories have proposed that the thorn was a physical infirmity, the opposition of his fellow Jews,46 or a harassing demon.47

We propose that he perceived an apparition or voice that he understood to be a harassing, demonic messenger from Satan. This perception might have afflicted him with some amount of negative commentary of the type characteristic for psychotic conditions, resulting in psychological distress.

The complexity of Paul’s interactions in his perceptual experiences weighs against a seizure ictus as a cause, as does the lack of evidence for more common epileptic accompaniments, such as repetitive stereotyped behavioral changes and cognitive symptoms, as previously discussed. Paul does, however, manifest a number of personality characteristics similar to the interictal personality traits described by Geshwind,4850 such as deepened emotions; possibly circumstantial thought; increased concern with philosophical, moral and religious issues; increased writing, often on religious or philosophical themes; and, possibly, hyposexuality (1 Corinthians 7:8–9). These characteristics are controversial as to their specificity for epilepsy,51,52 with a preponderance of larger studies not confirming a specific personality type associated with seizure disorders.5157 Similar features may also be present in bipolar disorder5,35,36 and schizophrenia.35,36 As previously mentioned, productive writing tends to be more strongly associated with mood disorders than psychosis or epilepsy. This is persuasive toward Paul having a mood disorder, rather than schizophrenia or epilepsy.

Paul’s religious conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–19, 22:6–13, 26:9–16) is an event understood as marked by the acute onset of blindness. This blindness has been hypothesized to have been postictal in nature43 or psychogenic.58 There appears to be a lack of clarity as to whether this was literal visual blindness or metaphorical, since Paul refers to persons outside his immediate belief system as spiritually blind or having their eyes closed to spiritual truth (Acts 28:26; Romans 11:8, 11:10; 2 Corinthians 4: 3–5; Ephesians 1:18). Differences in the three most detailed conversion-experience accounts contribute to this ambiguity. Acts 26:12–18 relates his conversion, during which a vision of Jesus tasks him to spiritually open the eyes of the people to whom he will be sent (see Figure 4). In this account, there is no mention of acute-onset visual loss followed by its restoration. The application of the blindness metaphor in Acts 26:12–18 may suggest that Paul’s own loss of vision was equally metaphorical and served as a descriptor of his profound realization of feeling suddenly bereft of spiritual understanding; that is, realizing his eyes to be spiritually closed, before the completion of his conversion to the new religious sect. In such an emotional state, it is speculated that he might have required encouragement and emotional assistance to reach Damascus. Another possibility would be that of blindness due to conversion disorder. The absence of other episodes of visual loss (i.e., lack of event stereotypy), the absence of features often seen with postictal blindness (a generalized seizure, anosognosia for deficit, or a gradual return of vision),59 the presence of complex, mood-congruent auditory–visual experiences resembling hallucinations, and the possible sudden return of his eyesight with a compassionate touch does not fit well into a readily discernable neurological pattern of vision loss. His perceptual experiences, mood variability, grandiose-like symptoms, increased concerns about religious purity, and paranoia-like symptoms could be viewed as resembling psychotic spectrum illness (see Table 1). Psychiatric diagnoses that might encompass his constellation of experiences and manifestations could include paranoid schizophrenia, psychosis NOS, mood disorder-associated psychosis, or schizoaffective disorder. Paul’s preserved ability to write and organize his thoughts would favor a mood disorder-associated explanation for his religious experiences.

FIGURE 4.Saul of Tarsus Experiencing a Vision of Jesus While on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–19, 22:6–13, 26:9–16) The Conversion of Saul by Michelangelo Buonarroti (c.e. 1542–1545), Cappella Paolina, Vatican Palace, Vatican City

 

Source: The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered

 

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9 responses to “The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered

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  5. Nathan Cvitković

    08/20 at 2:33 +00:00Jul

    You can study people with mental disorders today, and diagnose them. However, you cannot study Abraham, Moses, Jesus, or Paul. You have no idea what their mental condition was. You also failed to mention the fulfillment of the words spoken by the voice of God, which happened countless times throughout the Bible. How often does prophetic fulfillment occur for today’s mentally ill? Probably never except by coincidence. Yet it happens hundreds of times in the Bible. You can try to make parallels, but that is only true, if indeed, all Christians are deluded and there is no God. If there is, then these men weren’t psychotic at all.

    Your arguments would be logical if God was indisputably nonexistent… but you disregard the possibility that the men and women of the Bible were led by God. You can say that this paper is to “translate into increased compassion and understanding for persons living with mental illness,” but frankly that is going to insult just as many, if not more, people who believe in the Bible AND lead to alienation of those people by those who believe you. You may be trying to garner sympathy for the mentally ill, which in itself, is a great thing. However, in doing so, you are attacking the faith of millions of people by suggesting that our Savior and several of those who wrote vast portions of the Scriptures were insane. Since you’re arguing on the basis that these four men weren’t led by God, that they were just mentally ill, you’re denying God. So, in essence, your subterfuge for kindness to the mentally ill is a direct attack on Christians.

     
    • Realist Examiner

      08/20 at 2:33 +00:00Sep

      “However, you cannot study Abraham, Moses, Jesus, or Paul. You have no idea what their mental condition was.”

      The bible have these verses that suggest the mental state of those biblical figures. You don’t have to witness them personally when the claim themselves say for themselves.

      “You also failed to mention the fulfilment of the words spoken by the voice of God, which happened countless times throughout the Bible.”

      It doesn’t make them sane.

      “You can try to make parallels, but that is only true, if indeed, all Christians are deluded and there is no God.”

      I think you have missed the point here. Insanity is a mental phenomenon. Not because you believe in something and it turns out it isn’t true does it mean you are insane.

      “Your arguments would be logical if God was indisputably non-existent…”

      As I clearly stated above, you don’t have to be insane in believing things that do not exist.

      “However, in doing so, you are attacking the faith of millions of people by suggesting that our Saviour and several of those who wrote vast portions of the Scriptures were insane.”

      It does not make them sane if vast majority believe their ideas.

      “. Since you’re arguing on the basis that these four men weren’t led by God, that they were just mentally ill, you’re denying God. So, in essence, your subterfuge for kindness to the mentally ill is a direct attack on Christians.”

      Attacking ones idea is totally different form attacking a person. It is plain and simple intellectual honesty.

       
  6. findLove_seekWar

    08/20 at 2:33 +00:00Jul

    Thank you for this blog post. Wonderful read!

     

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