Sunday, September 15, 2019

To Justify the Suicide of a Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, Greg Laurie Uses Prophet Elijah as an Example. But Can Elijah Be Used as an Example for People with Depression and Suicide Thoughts?


To Justify the Suicide of a Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, Greg Laurie Uses Prophet Elijah as an Example. But Can Elijah Be Used as an Example for People with Depression and Suicide Thoughts?

By Julio Severo
“We can glory in the fact that we know our brother, our friend, Pastor Jarrid Wilson, is at home in the arms of Jesus,” declared Greg Laurie, senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, in a sermon on September 15, 2019, in regard to Wilson, who committed suicide on September 9, 2019, after officiating at the funeral of a woman who had also killed herself.
Greg Laurie
Greg paid heartfelt tribute to Wilson, noting that he was “positive, vibrant, and always serving and helping others.”
Greg raised some good points, including “One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross.” This is an excellent point. But would it also apply if Wilson had committed any other sin, including murder of his wife or sex abuse against a child? Would he be saved?
I have no answer, but Greg seems to have all the answers in the case of suicide: Pastors who kill themselves go up directly to Heaven.
A not so pleasant point is that: Isn’t cowardice for a man to abandon, for suicide or not, two innocent young children? Jarrid Wilson, who was 30, had two young sons. Could he not think in his responsibilities as a father?
Jarrid Wilson, wife and sons
Another not so much pleasant point is that in his tribute to Jarrid Greg confessed “He also dealt with very deep depression. It actually went back to his childhood, and he was under a doctor’s care.”
If Greg knew Jarrid had “very deep depression,” why did he put him in his pastoral staff? Jarrid led the young adult ministry at Harvest Christian Fellowship. I wonder what these young adults are thinking right now.
Jarrid was not to blame for having pastoral responsibilities in such mega-church. He who ordained him, knowing his clear history of “very deep depression” and suicide thoughts, is accountable to God.
Interestingly, Greg’s sermon in tribute to Jarrid was titled “Hope Gets the Last Word!” But this is a contradiction. People who kill themselves lost all hope, including in God.
We cannot be judges to say that all people committing suicide go to Hell or that they go automatically to Heaven if they are ministers, as strongly suggested by Greg.
Greg’s sermon, in the midst of an abundant encouraging tribute to Jarrid, found a place to say, “Suicide is the WRONG choice.” He added, “If you are having suicidal thoughts, you need professional help.”
But had not Jarrid sought professional help — psychologists and psychiatrists — all his lifetime? Since his childhood he had such professional help. Did it help him?
Even so, he founded Anthem of Hope, a group offering professional help to people with mental health issues — depression and suicidal thoughts.
So, even after following the exact instruction that Greg gave — seeking professional help for decades —, Jarrid ignored all his own “positive, vibrant, and always serving and helping others” testimony, especially ignoring the total fragility and defenseless state of his young sons, and, against all hope, chose suicide. Is this altruism? Does “to seek professional help” work? It did not work at all for Jarrid.
Greg’s tribute to Jarrid justified his condition and suicide by pointing out that several leading Biblical figures suffered from debilitating depression and mental health issues. “Job wished he had never been born. Jeremiah, at least on one occasion, wanted to die. Jonah wanted to die too,” Greg said.
But no one of them committed suicide. In God’s Word all the suicide cases involved people in rebellion against God. Jude is only one of the examples.
Greg also used the Prophet Elijah as an example of deep depression. “Elijah was a great prophet of God, but he dealt with severe depression and came to the point where he wanted to die,” he said.
But did Elijah wanted to kill himself? Did his case involve suicide thoughts?
“Surely if Elijah saw a physician or a psychologist, he would not escape an inpatient referral, and he would be considered a patient at serious risk of suicide,” said Marisa Lobo, a Brazilian author who identifies herself as a Christian psychologist.
I agree about psychologists seeing the need to admit Elijah to a psychiatric hospital. It would be enough for Elijah to tell psychologists and psychiatrists that he heard God’s voice and saw angels and that’s it: They would put him in a straitjacket and inject their psychiatric drugs into him.
Marisa uses Elijah in her speeches about people who want to kill themselves. Suicidal people hear voices to kill themselves. Elijah did hear a voice, but that voice did not direct him to kill himself. Would Christian psychologists defend a psychiatric hospitalization to cure Elijah of hearing God’s voice? Do they also think that psychiatric treatment “cures” people from hearing demonic voices directing them to kill themselves?
If Jesus and the apostles knew that psychiatric hospitalization and drugs “cure” people of hearing demonic voices they would never cast out demons. They would travel forward in time and ask today’s Christian psychologists how to graduate in psychology to deal with the multitudes of people with demonic oppression — psychiatric problems.
Yet, modern psychology would not recommend hospitalization only for Elijah. Christian psychologists could also fall victim to their own profession: It would be enough for them to say that homosexuality is sin, abomination, and perversion, as the Bible says, and they would be diagnosed as insane in need of hospitalization.
Who said that psychology is a consensus among Christians?
The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (published by Publisher Harvest House Publishers) by Ed Hindson says:
There are over 300 counseling models today. In that mix of psychological theories are many secular views of counseling that adamantly disagree with each other. We must remember that Freud, Jung, Skinner, and Rogers all had serious philosophical differences.
One fact we cannot ignore about endeavors to integrate psychology and faith is that psychology is founded in secular humanism. That may sound simplistic, but it is true. All of psychology, whether it is labeled primitive or modern, secular or religious, is founded in secular humanism and embellished by the philosophies of man. The very core of all psychology is rooted in what man thinks and believes about the human life apart from the eternal Word of God. Psychology may use some biblical principles in its theories, but largely the theories of psychology are philosophically determined by human standards.
Psychology and theology have never been comfortable bedfellows. Their basic philosophic presuppositions are almost diametrically opposed to each other. Both presume to speak to the fundamental human condition and to suggest cures for the inner conflicts of person.
Since Greg Laurie thinks that it is so important for depressed people to seek professional psychological assistance that treats depression or anguish of the soul as mental illness, let’s look at what secular literature has to say. In his article “Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health,” published on July 9, 2019 on Study Finds, John Anderer wrote:
a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level.
According to the study’s authors, the traditional diagnostic system being used today wrongly assumes that any and all mental distress is caused by a disorder, and relies far too heavily on subjective ideas about what is considered “normal.”
“Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” Professor John Read comments.
The study is published in the scientific journal Psychiatry Research.
This study was also published by conservative WorldNetDaily.
Let us now understand the context of “Elijah’s depression,” so used by Christian ministers and psychologists when talking about ministers killing themselves.
As we pro-life Christians today confront the culture of abortion (murder of babies) and homosexuality, we often forget that men of God in the Bible also faced a similar culture.
Baal, a pagan god whose priests were homosexual and practiced “sacred” homosexuality, demanded the sacrifice of newborn babies.
The most striking example of prophetic confrontation with god Baal comes from the prophet Elijah.
After Elijah confronted and defeated 450 Baal prophets in a dispute, the Bible says:
“And Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.’ And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.” (1 Kings 18:40 ESV)
Beheading is cutting off the head. Cutting off the head, with his own hands, of 450 men was an overwhelmingly tiring task. I would be tired of beheading only 50 Baal prophets. But Elijah did it with almost 500.
After this tiring work, the Bible says:
“Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’” (1 Kings 19:2 ESV)
Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, was the queen. If she said she wanted Elijah dead, then the whole country would be hunting Elijah for her to behead him.
Tired and discouraged by such violent persecution, Elijah fled. The Bible reports:
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV)
Suffering such persecution, Elijah wanted God to take him. If there were some wish to kill himself, he wouldn’t even have to ask for anything. He just would take a weapon and use it. But his idea was never to kill himself.
Elijah was a man who used to cry out to God incessantly. And God always hears men of prayer. He always acts supernaturally in response to men of prayer.
This is where in the Bible God simplifies everything by bringing an angel. Just for starters. Then Elijah ended up in a cave where he heard God’s own voice. Although this simple answer has been in the Bible for centuries and millennia, humans are there to complicate everything. As always.
Christian psychologists always manage to slip Elijah’s case into their subject about depressive people who want to kill themselves.
They always call Elijah “depressive.” Marisa Lobo compared the cave where Elijah stayed to a psychiatric hospital, where the patient receives food and medicine.
Marisa’s comparison is far from the biblical meaning because Elijah was not given any medicine and the cave was far from being a hospital. In fact, if a depressed person today were to end up in a cave without water and light, he would get even more depressed.
Marisa was wrong to label Elijah depressive, as if from time to time he were in a state of depression. Absolutely nothing in the Bible suggests that Elijah had regular bouts of depression.
If an isolated episode of soul anguish caused by great political persecution turns, in the eyes of Christian psychologists, Elijah into “depressive,” then everyone in the Bible was depressive. In this “clinical” definition, how many Christians escape being labeled “depressive”?
In fact, Elijah was not depressive. He suffered great persecution, as all the great men of God suffer, and was in anguish of soul at that particular time. Labeling Elijah as depressive just to garnish a psychological speech about suicide or a tribute sermon to a pastor who killed himself is to keep Elijah in a permanent or almost permanent state of depression. This was never the case with Elijah. The Bible simply gives no margin for this kind of interpretation.
As for saying, even by comparison, that the cave would be a psychiatric hospital with medications for patients suffering depression, the complication only gets more complicated.
The scientific website BMJ, in its article “Antidepressants increase the risk of suicide, violence and homicide at all ages,” reports that antidepressant drugs:
are very dangerous; otherwise daily monitoring wouldn’t be needed: “Families and caregivers of patients should be advised to look for the emergence of such symptoms on a day-to-day basis, since changes may be abrupt”… “All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases. The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants.”
BMJ added:
Such daily monitoring is, however, a fake fix. People cannot be monitored every minute and many have committed SSRI-induced suicide or homicide within a few hours after everyone thought they were perfectly okay.
BMJ also says:
It can no longer be doubted that antidepressants are dangerous and can cause suicide and homicide at any age (5-7). It is absurd to use drugs for depression that increase the risk of suicide and homicide…
In a recent Daily Mail report about antidepressant drugs, Dr. Michael Hengartner of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said, “We can be confident that these drugs are producing an excess rate of suicides, beyond the depression itself.”
If instead of receiving the angel’s visit and hearing God’s voice, Elijah had been given some antidepressants pills, he could have actually killed himself or killed someone else, especially in a melancholic cave!
The cave did not increase the anguish of Elijah’s soul only because he was already receiving visitations from God, with angels and the supernatural voice of God.
However, try to imagine the scene if, as Christian psychologists want, Elijah had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. All he had to say was that he saw an angel and heard God speak and psychiatrists would recommend injections of their psychiatric drugs — not to mention a straightjacket. A mental hospital would make Elijah sick in body and soul. It would be the worst misfortune in his life. Hospitalized in such a place he would ask God to take him soon.
I am totally in favor of Christian psychologists who take the Bible into their offices and use psychology only as an ornament of the essential biblical message. But taking psychology and its tricks into the churches and using the Bible as an ornament of psychology creates aberrations like turning Elijah’s cave into a psychiatric hospital with antidepressants that, instead of helping, carry the risk of making patients kill themselves or practice violence, including murder.
In conclusion, what does all this biblical and scientific information show us?
* Elijah did not live in a condition of frequent depressive crises, but he was depressed at a specific point in his life because of the death threat from a high government official.
* Antidepressant pills, which can cause suicide, violence and murder, cannot be placed on the same level of importance as visiting angels and the voice of God.
* Elijah’s inhospitable cavern without light and water was not a psychiatric hospital to cure depressive patients, who would become even more depressive in such a melancholic environment.
I really doubt that a psychological speech within the church using the Bible just as a garnish has a positive effect. Greg Laurie and Jarrid Wilson treated depression as a medical mental health problem in their sermons. They always recommended referring depressed people to psychologists and psychiatrists. And what happened? Jarrid killed himself, abandoning two young children.
Even though he was single, Elijah never thought of suicide. Yet, if he had small children, not only would he not think of suicide, but he would never ask God to take him either. He would never leave his little children abandoned.
Elijah was no different from Jarrid, me, or Greg. The Bible says:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:16-18 ESV)
If Elijah overcame momentary depression seeking God, why do Christians today need abundant psychological assistance that does not work?
If Elijah repulsed suicidal thoughts, why can’t pastors do this today?
Why should a pastor, who abandoned his two young sons, be considered as a man “positive, vibrant, and always serving and helping others”? By killing himself, he was not positive, vibrant and he did not help his young sons.
And by putting Jarrid with his history of severe depression and suicide thoughts in his pastoral staff to lead the young adult ministry, Greg Laurie did not help Jarrid and anyone else.
With information from CBN and Harvest.
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