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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Dandling Therapist

Therapy and Dandling. Can e'er the twain meet?

I propose, yes. The two must meet, in fact, for the development of a successful Christian life. 

Now, therapy takes on many forms. So does dandling. There is inner-healing prayer, spiritual direction, cognitive psychology, etc. Many forms of therapy may be quite misguided and have no place in the church. Electro-shock therapy, for example. But other forms would do well to be integrated into the Christian life, particularly in evangelical Protestantism, which has allowed the development of the inner life through spiritual direction and confession (often seen as very Catholic practices) to fall by the wayside, in exchange for a more strictly intellectual approach to faith. 

Certainly, therapy without the knowledge of God is simply self-aggrandizement. In worldly therapy, there is no greater goal than to know and fix yourself. And to what end? Even self-actualized souls can be self-actualized in Hell. They have accepted themselves, pursued their desires, and fulfilled their potential. They may be a little too self-actualized, in my opinion. 

Therapy in the church, however, does not mean laying aside the intellect or the need for God. It means recognizing that God made humans complex emotional creatures who need all aspects of their souls ministered to. Self-knowledge should lead to a knowledge of God and how He is dealing with that self. This can be healing on it's own. 

My favorite local seminary (a good evangelical school) just added spiritual direction as a Masters program. This is an encouraging trend among Protestants. We can all choose to know ourselves better, ugly as ourselves might be. We must find God's grace in our weakness and pain by first facing our weakness and pain. Often we need others to help us do that. I know I have.

The following article, sent to me by a good friend, is an encouragement for all Christians to receive help, in whatever form they can, whether through professional Christian psychology, confession and lay counseling, or prayer ministry. Therapy in the church should not be looked on with suspicion but should be embraced, in its proper context: confessing our sins and weaknesses, seeking wise counsel, contemplating our inner lives, discovering the sources of our brokenness and pain, finding the lies we believe which lead us astray, becoming honest with God and each other, and receiving prayer when we need it, all so that "God himself, the God of peace, may sanctify you through and through and your whole body, soul, and spirit be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Thess 5:23)

Read the article: Why Everyone Should Be In Therapy (Including You!)

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