Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 6, 1962
NUMBER 18, PAGE 1,12a

The Mental Illness Attack Gains Momentum

Robert C Welch

Norman L. Parks has written a lengthy article in reply to my short article on the psychologists' and religious liberalists' new attack on obedience to the revealed will of God. Apparently this is one of the men referred to in the Meyer's article from which I quoted. He protests that he wants to see the church have "the love-environment." But at the same time he has used some of the most bitter and caustic terms and accusations against me and those who contend as I do. He says I have resorted to "rather crude propaganda techniques." He goes along with Meyers' charge that "authoritarianism and legalism may be responsible for mental ill-health among members of the 'church of Christ'." He tells us that he does not think much of "law thundered from the pulpit and press." He pokes fun at the "laws of baptism," "the Lord's supper 'every' first day of the week," worshipping without "instrumental music," and contributing on the first day of the week. Then he describes some other requirements of the inspired Scriptures as "impassible." He speaks of those who seek to live by the law of Christ as engaging in "Phariseeism." He charges that we have not the love of the "average protestant body." Does it not seem apparent that my article smoked out the anonymous writer whom Meyers spoke of as "a man who served eight years in a Church of Christ college."

They Reject Authority

The implication of Mr. Parks is that my article considered all those concerned with the great incidence of mental illness among members of churches of Christ as enemies of the church. That was not the charge however; but, that a great majority of psychologists, as well as the majority of the people, are her enemies. He implies that I denied that there was a disproportionately high number of cases of mental illness among members of churches of Christ in some hospital or area. The implication is false; my article questioned the charge of Meyers and his informants that it was caused by the patients' attitude toward the Scriptures, which they in their enmity toward it describe as legalism and authoritarianism.

Meyers' article, in the very part I quoted, showed that he is opposed to obedience to the law of Christ. (1 Cor. 9:21) And it is he who claims that psychiatrists of Texas and Tennessee say that "legalistic religions are extraordinarily harmful to mental health, and that a service would be done to society if they could be reformed." Now, Mr. Parks' article is making the same claim. At the same time, however, he cries that I have made a false allegation against psychiatrists. I merely took them at their own word, pointing out that it was also the common understanding that most psychiatrists do not believe the Bible. The very effort of both Meyers and Parks is "to dissuade (people) from faithfulness to its teaching," as I mentioned in the article.

The Nashville Problem

Mr. Parks wants to know how "the Guardian author" could dispose of the facts of the high incidence of mental illness among members of churches of Christ. His figures are given concerning the Nashville area which he said is pictured often as the "Jerusalem." There may be an explanation which he does not bring out in his statistics or in his article. That city of churches of Christ and its "Christian" school is the seat of the greatest departure into liberalism in this century. Many of the larger municipalities of Texas are close behind Nashville in their liberalism. Could it be that this castoff of restraint by people who are accustomed to looking to the Lord for authority in everything moral and religious has created the tension, guilt, fear, hostility, emotional insecurity and eventual mental illness? If Mr. Parks is acquainted with psychology at all, and his implication is that he is a student of science, he well knows that such a change frequently produces these reactions. This writer is not a psychologist and could not say, therefore, from that scientific authority that this is the cause; but I do know that it will produce such an effect. Besides that, this writer does try to study his Bible and he knows that when men discard the Bible with its spiritual and moral authoritative restraint, they are bound for misery, fear, trouble and ruin. (See Rom. 1:28-32; 1 Tim, 6:10; Gal. 6:8.)

On the other hand, no instance can be found where obedience to the will of God, even to the most minute detail, ever produced these emotional disturbances. In the examples given in the Bible, when any emotion was produced as a result of strict obedience, even to that which Mr. Parks ridicules as the "laws of baptism," it was that of rejoicing and great peace. (Acts 8:39; 16:34; 1 John 5:2, 3) From all appearances both Meyers and Parks need to lay down their Yale and Harvard type of psychology-religion and get back to the will of God. Their writings indicate that they themselves are gravely emotionally disturbed.

There is another feature of statistics which Mr. Parks has not analyzed. At least he has not informed us of the results of such analysis. His Nashville Jerusalem is preaching that the idea of God's having given a pattern is obsolete and absurd, yet it is binding a number of things upon his "pew members." Hence their system becomes authoritarian in the true sense of the word. It is binding on the basis of human judgment or tradition, rather than on the basis of strict adherence to the law of the Lord. There is a vast difference in the two. This writer would not even try to question whether this attitude would produce emotional imbalance. Perhaps it would. That was the trouble with the Pharisees. Matt. 15:9; 23:15) But I emphatically deny the charge which they make that strict adherence to the will of Christ will cause such an evil effect. A man who will so argue is an infidel. I challenge him to prove otherwise.

Certainly this writer is no prophet, but his prediction is that we have not even heard the beginning of this attack upon the complete authoritativeness of the Lord through his revealed word, which is being made by psychiatrists and psychologists. Young men are studying this stuff and using it instead of grounding themselves in a knowledge of the gospel of Christ and preaching it. They are taught, for their ministry, as Meyers and Parks in their articles would have it done, that doing the will of God is injurious to mental health. Thus, fiercer and bloodier will be their onslaught. This may well be the next great battleground for the saints of God in their defense of the faith.

— 1102 N. Mound St., Nacogdoches, Texas