Why the Clergy Surrendered to Psychiatrists (Part 2)

From time to time I have asked certain individuals to write a guest article to shed light on the abuses of psychiatry and how the church surrendered its biblical authority for the preservation of the soul. Also, to shed light on how the church no longer trust in the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit for biblical counseling.

Why the Clergy Surrendered to Psychiatrists (Part 2)

In the year 1812, Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the original signers of the American Declaration of Independence and official Surgeon General of the Continental Army, published a first of its kind, medical textbook entitled, “Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind.”  It was a book that not only significantly transformed the face and scope of medicine and medical practice, but also it became the standard text, at that time, for medical training in the treatment of, what was previously known as, the maladies of the soul.

This ever so subtle linguistic shift and emphasis from a theological orientation (i.e. maladies of the soul) to a medical orientation (i.e. diseases of the mind) marked the beginnings of an unprecedented, cultural and jurisdictional transference in the care and treatment of personal problems. That is, or more specifically, a progressive (and some would add inevitable) movement from the clergy to the medical doctor.

As a result of this transference of caring and curing authority to the medical profession, the medical model, with its medically prescribed treatments, or treatment modalities, has gradually (or swiftly, depending on your view of time) gained an overwhelming dominance in our lives today; especially in the West.  Consequently, and sad to say, the clergy have been either forced (through persuasion, professional posturing or lack of resources) to abandon any attempts to deal with these newly medicalized categories of behavior or else to willing submit, with utmost deference, to the new medical expertise due to a supposed lack of any specialized knowledge in the field.

Regardless of how one looks at the cultural-historical reasons for this shift, the personal problems jurisdiction, one way or the other, has been largely abdicated by the Ordained Ministry; especially as it pertains to those more severe mental-emotional maladies.

Historically speaking, the cultural effects upon this jurisdictional transition (i.e. from the clergy to the medical doctor) had its subtle beginnings long before 1812 with the appearance of “Medical Inquiries and Observations“, by Benjamin Rush.  That is, it began to make its initial manifestation when Western thought and culture started to edge, ever so slowly, away from that delicate (and undivided) medieval balance between Transcendence and Immanence (or “other-worldly” and “this-worldly”).

Dr. Charles Taylor, in his magnum opus, “The Secular Age“, describes the commonly held beginnings of the historical process of secularization in the West, along with its disenchantment of life and reality, through a growing emphasis on “nature”:

“Part of our story seems to lie in the increasing interest in nature, as it were, for its own sake, not simply as a manifestation of God; an interest that can be seen in science, in art, and in ethics. This process starts far back and goes through several stages … Now the relationship of this to modern secularism can seem obvious … people begin to be interested in nature, in the life around them, ‘for their own sakes’, and not just in reference to God. Where before they had one goal in portraying or thinking about nature or human life, now they have two. They have taken the first step on a journey which leads to us. It suffices that they take more and more interest in nature for its own sake, and gradually this will grow, while the reference to the divine atrophies.” (Taylor 90).

This atrophying of the divine, particularly within the medical profession, reached its apex of thought in the late nineteenth century with the writings of two key philosophers of science; Ludwig Feuerbach and Ludwig Buchner. It was principally through the influences of Feuerbach and Buchner that the atheistic foundations of modern medicine were clearly laid.

Theologian, Hans Kung, in a series of lectures given at Yale University, in 1979, discussed Feuerbach’s and Buchner’s relationship to, as well as their sway over, the Medical Profession. Together with their overt hostility toward Christianity, the supernatural and God these two philosophers of science have, undoubtedly, helped to establish the terms of endearment between science and faith ever since. Professor Kung, in this regard, is definitely worth quoting at some length:

“Feuerbach prophesied another successful revolution, which would be speeded up by the natural sciences … the natural sciences had ‘long before dissolved the Christian world view into nitric acid’ … (Feuerbach) insisted that philosophy should be linked no longer with Christian theology but with the natural sciences … It was Moleschott, together with Carl Vogt and Ludwig Buchner among other young natural scientists, and supported by Feuerbach’s philosophical criticism of religion and immortality, who brought a specifically natural scientific materialism to fruition in the nineteenth century … it was clear that religious persuasions had no place in questions of natural science or medicine … religion had nothing to do with science and if it counted at all was a private affair … Ludwig Buchner, a doctor, produced his Kraft und Stoff  (Force and Matter).  More than twenty editions of the letter made it the militant bible of the new scientific-materialistic world view. According to Buchner, the world as a whole, and also the human mind, are explained by the combined activity of physical materials and their forces. God is superfluous. It was mainly the epoch-making progress of the two basic medical sciences of anatomy and physiology (including pathology) that favoured a kind of medical materialism … For Ludwig Feuerbach, at any rate, it was clear at this time that the medical man was by nature and training a strict materialist … In fact medicine in particular was of the greatest importance for materialistic atheism in the second half of the nineteenth century.”  (Kung 3-6)

Thus, Ludwig Feuerbach and Ludwig Buchner, together with a host of others, helped to utterly destroy Christianity as the foundational worldview for doing medicine in the modern period; while, at the same time, establishing a naturalistic-atheistic foundation in its place. This cataclysmic shift, within the Medical art alone, should have caused even the most timid of Christians to raise an eyebrow. Unfortunately, the eyelids of many a saint have been closed shut, willingly or otherwise, rather than opened to the very real potential dangers of such a massive, cultural-societal change and blatantly anti-Christian stance within the medical profession.

As we can clearly see, from just a very brief examination, it is natural human reason alone, informed by the observable, natural, physical laws of force and matter, under the authority of a natural science philosophy, that determines virtually all medical pronouncements. At a core level there is no room, whatsoever, for the supernatural, God, the soul, faith, or Divine Revelation to inform medical decisions, its uses, and limits. At a fundamental level the medical art has not considered the knowledge of God and the Revelation of His Holy Word worthwhile, let alone foundational, to how we choose to do medicine today.

By Rev. Russell Haynes

Rev. Russell A. Haynes is a graduate of Tyndale College and Seminary, in Toronto Canada. He is also ordained with the Evangelical Church Alliance International, based in Bradly Illinois. He has lived in Toronto for the past 25 years and has had a special pastoral passion and heart for exposing the spiritual and physical dangers of secular psychiatry and secular psychology. He also is attempting to reclaim a “Biblical Psychology” (i.e. a “sacred psychology” or sacred “study of the soul”) back to the life of the Church and especially for the pastoral care of souls.

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