Hey Brothers and Sister in Christ:

As an ordained minister and a Christian psychologist, I am well aware that ministers face a difficult problem in deciding if, when, and how to refer to a professional. Questions arise: Is this a spiritual problem or a mental problem? Should I refer this counselee to a clinician (psychologist, psychiatrist or health-care professional)? Will they (Health-care professional) take away the client's faith in God? These are typical questions I have received from ministers. They are valid questions.

Some ministers have mentioned that their seminary training did not adequately address mental illness or when to refer someone for professional help. Still, yet some ministers are not seminary trained.

What questions, comments or thoughts do you have about when to refer someone for professional help? Under what circumstances would your refer someone for professional help. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Rev, Dr. Tracy Scott

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Brother Luckett if more pastors, elders, decons, etc would have your perspective, we could help some folk understand who they are in Christ. So many people with mental illness are rejected by the church and they never return.

Keep up the good work my brother and the Lord will bless your work. Pass that wisdom along to others.

You are right on spot with the litigation issue. But after the referral, pastors can walk with the person through the treatment process, helping to continue to point them towards the Kingdom. Thanks again for your feedback and for sharing.

Recently I received this message on another site from a pastor:

Peace to you DrScott,
Because of the prinicpal intellectuals on which psychology/psychiatry was founded, I personally have a hard time finding secularity compatable with that which is spiritual. If I may, would you give me your thoughts on the following verse from Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

How can man do what God can't? Here's a response by Christ to a dilemma His disciples had just after His transfiguration; note: Matthew 17
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Jesus said in essence they lacked faith (unbelief): Sha'ul said we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
What were the methods that the elders of the early Church employed before psychology/psychiatry was introduced should be the inquiry as to ascertain how we are to proceed in Church matters. I may be wrong but I think that when it come to the mind and the things that affect it_it is more often than not, a spiritual condition. I appreciate this topic... it is worthy of dialogue.
Another pastor commented:

Dr. Scott:

I agree with Brother Projecthouse:

We cannot mix the two. The Scripture that Brother Projecthouse referenced clearly shows that there is a difference between the methods employed to heal individuals deem to have mental issues. As a matter of Scripture, the causes are diagnosed differently. A Spiritual diagnostic of the child in this Scripture determined that there was a Spiritul sickness (the child was demon possessed). Yet the symptons are not to uncommon from what we see everyday walking the streets of cities throughout this world. And like the Disciples, many find it hard to believe that these people are walking around with spirits. Our answer is to confine and sedate. Quite different than the results provided by prayer and fasting.

There is a truth: God's Ways are not our ways, nor His Thoughts, our thoughts. It takes the Wisdom and Power of God to deal with Spiritual illnesses and to make people whole.

1 Corinthians 1:

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."[c]
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."[
Here is my response to these Brothers in Christ:

Sorry for the long message, but I think its important.

First let me state that I am not Calvinistic and I do not believe that man is basically good nor that man can do anything apart from God. My confidence does not lie in man but in God our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I trust that this answers your question about Jeremiah 17:9

Now allow me to put my Christian psychology professor hat on and borrow from some of my colleagues:

Erroneously, many people today believe that psychology originated in the 1800’s. But, every developing culture has some understanding of the nature of human beings. If we define psychology simply as the disciplined study of individual human beings, then versions of psychology can be found in many cultures, some rather ancient, and in the great writings of human civilization.

Christian psychology began in the Scriptures of the Hebrews, Thessalonica and with early Christians. Later, Christian thinkers and ministers throughout the ensuing centuries developed many understandings of human beings, using the Bible as a canon or standard for reflection. As a result, the history of Christian thought contains countless works of psychological import that offer the Christian community a rich treasure of insights, themes, and foundational assumptions upon which to ground the project of a Christian psychology.

At the same time, Christians need not assume that our tradition currently contains all of God’s knowledge regarding human beings. On the contrary, we have good reasons to believe that God intends humans to grow in their culture and knowledge, and develop sciences that explore God’s creation. Science is a gift of God, and Christians have been in the forefront of scientific investigation since the inception of the scientific revolution in the West. The problem for some Christians better understanding of psychology is that the intellectual leadership of the West was changing hands during the very time that scientific methods began to be applied to the study of human nature.

As a result, the Christian community in general seemed to lose the interest in science they once had, perhaps recognizing that it was becoming increasingly influenced by modernity that used secular standards for what counts as knowledge. The challenge for Christians in our day is to break free of these intellectual restrictions and learn again to think for themselves, not by retreating into an isolated world that is hostile to the perspectives of others, but by learning how to think in Christian and theocentric terms about God’s creation, while fully engaged in conversation with contemporary culture, science, and technology. Given the legacy of fundamentalism as well as the dominance of secularism in contemporary psychology, this will not be easy.

Many Christians struggle with the decision as to see a psychologist or psychiatrist as the key to overcoming mental illness. Christian psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors are numerous, and Christians are seeking their advice regularly, most often for depression and anxiety. Part of the difficulty is that there are wide varieties of psychological disorders, some of which are emotional and some of which are physical, but all of which have a spiritual component.

Another thing people often do not take into account is that God has allowed mankind to invent and develop many different kinds of medicines for healing. If a person has a true mental illness caused by hormonal or chemical imbalances in the brain, medication may be necessary. It is no different from going to a doctor to get medicine for an injury or physical illness. Similarly, God has blessed some Christian counselors and psychologists with supernatural insight, the ability to accurately evaluate a person and get to the true root of the problem. To ignore such giftedness seems unwise.

It is not sinful to receive help from a psychiatrist, psychologist nor to recognize that mental illness does exist. Doing so does not show lack of faith in God, although while we should always go to God first for healing and direction, we can also at the same time go to the doctor.

God wants to be in charge of every part of our lives, and we should feel free to take our problems to Him in prayer for every situation and every circumstance. God often uses Christian psychologists and therapists to bring healing to His children. Seeing a trained Christian counselor or psychiatrist, however, is definitely preferable to a secular therapist who will give advice from a worldly viewpoint instead of a biblical one. Let David's words encourage us: “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God...” Psalms 40:2-3.

Thanks again for the dialog. I hope this clarifies my position.

Dr. Tracy Scott
I could not agree with you more. Christian psychology is trying to lead them to Christ, through the maze of their disorder. Here is his response followed by mine.

Posted: 2009-10-23, 16:52:53 Post subject:



I find it quite difficult to talk to a Brother about his chosen profession. Something came to mind. How is the Gift of Spiritual Discernment different from the disciplined study of individual human beings?

Hey Notof,

Great question! I am also an ordained minister.

As far as your question, in I Cor. 2:15 Paul was not just urging people to become moral policemen or passing judgement on others, but he was challenging the spiritually immature believers at Corinith to grow up by applying spiritual discernment to the world around them. We do need other believers to help us understand what' going on and how to apply our faith to various situations.

Yet, man is a three part being and all areas must be addressed. And all three areas are connected, integrally related and impact one another. As an example:

You can not stay up for two days doing nothing but praying. You will become psychotic from sleep deprivation. Your body need rest and your brain must be rejuvenated. Jesus did sleep and He did eat (physical need). Likewise, someone who is diabetic can not be treated with spiritual exhortation. They need physical treatment (medication) and prayer.

As far as emotions, children deprived of love in the first few weeks of life will develop severe depression and may even die. Is this a spiritual problem at this age?

Jesus had tremendous balance in knowing how to approach these issues. He knew when to be directive and when to help others gain insight through parables (see John 2). He knew when to focus on the present without excluding the past (see John 4). He knew when to forcus on the spiritual aspect of man but not neglect the physical and psychological aspects (see John 5).

Paul also had this balance which is reflected in 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

Hope this helps. Thanks again for sharing.


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