An Atheist accuses religion and the religious of suffering from “mental issues” (his 2nd time today). This accusation or hypothesis has an interesting turn of events awaiting, let’s discuss it.
Atheist, Mark Dempsey, stated: “Studies have shown there is a complex connection between religion and mental issues. A 2014 study found that people who believe in a vengeful or punitive god are more likely to suffer from mental issues such as social anxiety, paranoia, obsessional thinking, and compulsions. According to Dr. Harold Koenig, professor of psychiatry from Duke University’s Medical Center in North Carolina, one-third of psychoses involve religious delusions. Thoughts?”
Christian response to Mark Dempsey…
First of all,
Personally, I have no problem equating Christianity with religion within a secular definition, but Christianity, theologically speaking, is not actually a religion but a relationship with God the Father by grace through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ as Lord. Religions, in the strictest form of the word theologically, dictate “works” or “behavior” to earn one’s salvation while Christianity is emphatic that works cannot achieve righteousness (a right standing with God) but only by grace (unmerited favor) through faith (believing/trusting) in Jesus Christ can mankind find righteousness with God the Father (Ephesians 2:8-9).
There are a number of “religions” out there that are categorized as Christianity but they are NOT doctrinally aligned with the teaching of Scripture. Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, are but a few examples of religious cults that are falsely flown under the banner of Christianity.
I will agree with Mark that anyone who observes the behavior and doctrines followed by the religions of the World e.g. Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and even some Christian denominations e.g. Pentecostalism, Charismatic Church of God…there are behaviors and doctrines that do lead one to believe these religions and denominations are borderline mental illness.
1) Catholicism has never been Christian. Catholicism was founded by Constantine in 312-313AD via the Edict of Milan by merging Babylonian Paganism/Roman Paganism with elements of Christian and non-Christian (Apocrypha) doctrine in order to make the pagan cult more palatable to the masses.
The Mass; The Sacraments; Transubstantiation (belief they are eating the literal flesh and drinking the literal blood of Christ); Purgatory; The Rosary; Statues in Worship; The Perpetual Virginity of Mary as the Goddess of Heaven; The Idolatry of Mary Worship; calling Catholic Leadership as “Father”; Confessing sin to a Priest; Infant Baptism or paedobaptism; The Magisterium; Indulgences; these are NOT Scriptural and undermine the purity and simplicity of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord – alone. Catholicism is a “works salvation” which is the antithesis of the Covenant of Grace, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A Catholic parishioner never truly knows if they are saved or headed to death in Hell.
2) Islam is a cult of death espousing abuse and murder of women, homosexuals; espousing pedophilia through forced marriage of under-aged girls; coerced obedience to Allah-Islam under the threat of death; Islam worships the god Allah, the Arabic Moon God who is actually Satan manifest in Time to receive worship and authority.
3) Pentecostalism/Charismata/Church of God, practice the pagan doctrine of speaking in an unknown tongue. Speaking in Tongues (intelligible languages one has not studied) is doctrinal and found in the “Acts of the Apostles” (Acts 2; Acts 19) and at the Church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 14). The spiritual gift of Tongues was given to the very early Church for the proliferation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the known World where a sundry of languages and dialects were encountered.
When a person received the Gift of Tongues, they were able to understand and/or speak an intelligible language/dialect that they had not previously known or studied. Unfortunately, a pagan cultic practice of speaking in an “unknown tongue” or mystery tongue (unintelligible gibberish) arose in the Church at Corinth and it is this pagan practice that is found in Pentecostal, Church of God, Charismatic Churches, around the World. Neither the Gift of Tongues nor speaking in an unknown tongue is relevant today.
The unknown tongue practiced by Charismatic Churches today finds its roots in the Temple of Delphi near the City of Corinth. It was in this pagan Temple that a pagan Priestess set atop a throne and inhaled intoxicating fumes from a burning substance below her throne. Anyone seeking oracles of enlightenment and wisdom would enter the pagan Temple and await the words of the Priestess which were generally unintelligible gibberish thus leaving the knowledge-seeker more confused than when they entered the Temple. This pagan practice of prophecy in an unintelligible tongue, gibberish, carried over into the Church at Corinth and left the Apostle Paul quite perplexed as to how to deal with this false doctrine of speaking in a mystery tongue.
Paul was also forced to deal with women in the Corinthian Church who were most likely following the example of the Priestess in the pagan Temple at Delphi; Paul commanded that women remain silent during Church services (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Because so few know the history of the pagan Temple of Delphi and the practices of the Priestess having influenced the Church, Paul’s edict concerning women remaining silent in Church has led to much divisiveness inside and outside the Christian Church.
Apparently, the Apostle Paul had received the Gift of Tongues at his conversion (1 Corinthians 14:18) but he was left somewhat befuddled by the pagan ritual of speaking in an “unknown tongue;” therefore, Paul pleaded with the parishioners at Corinth to speak intelligibly in their Church services and if anyone was to prophecy in a Tongue (intelligible language or dialect) an interpreter must be present to deliver the message to those who did not understand that particular language/dialect; if no interpreter was available, the one seeking to speak/prophesy in a Tongue was to remain silent. Paul also warned the congregation at Corinth…
“Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” 1 Corinthians 14:22-23 (NKJV)
The Charismatic Churches go as far as mandating that speaking in an unknown tongue is a sign of the indwelling Holy Spirit and therefore essential as substantiating salvation. This un-Biblical doctrine places these Churches on a cultic level and places a burden on their parishioners, the lost, the seeking, the hurting, that Jesus Christ never intended for them to bear. Forcing or coercing anyone to speak in an unknown tongue, unintelligible gibberish, in order to prove their salvation is unconscionable and pure paganism and heresy! I personally left the ministry of a Church that taught this nonsense.
I mention this in agreement with Mark that there are those practices and doctrines in “religion” that could easily be construed as a “mental illness.” This is why the Holy Spirit commands the faithful to study and rightly divide the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).
Thirdly and in conclusion,
The Atheist should take care equating a religious person or a religion with mental illness. For all intents and purposes, Atheism and Evolution are religions in their own right. Even by legal definitions, Atheism is a religion and qualifies as a religion in definitive terminology; therefore, by suggesting adherents to a religion partake in a form of mental illness, the Atheist defines their ideology of nihilism, naturalism, moral relativism, secularism, as mental illness and points the finger of insanity at themselves.
So Mark, though you fervently loathe the idea of God and Christianity, be careful of your accusations concerning religion and faith (your 2nd today), you may find that it is the Atheist, Secularist, Moral Relativist, Nihilist, Evolutionist, Naturalist, that are truly the one’s battling with a mental illness called psychosis – schizophrenia as they deny and war against that which they intuitively know is Truth and reality.
Concerning the last days of the Age of Grace, it is written relevant to those who war against God i.e. the Atheist…
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV)
“He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:1-2 (NASB)
Rickey D. Holtsclaw