Posted tagged ‘Kevin DeYoung’

Doctor, Dred Scott is in Florid Drapetomania Again! Perhaps a Lobotomy?

April 8, 2014

Too bad those doctors who championed that notorious description of Drapetomania didn’t have Haldol at the ready to inject into their runaway slaves, like your nice modern psych wards do, it is so useful as a chemical restraint for bad behavior. But for anyone clueless about  “Drapetomania”, for anyone who needs a sad history lesson about this spurious social control technique — excuse me, I meant ‘diagnosis’ —   here it is: Civil War era doctors believed slaves held an  irrational belief –remember, this was dreamed up way back in 1851 — that freedom was better than chains. Because of course slaves loved their captors, and thus it would be irrational to escape forced labor!

This was actually argued as a medical diagnosis.

This is all very relevant to the debate going on about “The Gospel and Mental Illness” at Kevin DeYoungs site.

Because Psychiatry’s trusty double-edged sword of ontology and epistemology divides sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Until 1972, homosexuality was a pathological behavior, until Stonewall’s riots forced a rancorous vote by the APA to boot it out of the DSM.  Will “homophobia” be the next irrational behavior to be controlled by coercive psychiatry? Shall the DSM-6 suggest forced drugging for those fundies who still put up a fight against ‘marriage equality’? If not, a desperate despot can always avail oneself of the cute diagnostic category, “Not Otherwise Specified” in the DSM-5? That diagnostic black hole means psychiatrists get to make it up as they go along. What a useful dragnet it  proves for those rebellious peons who refuse to submit to the powers that be. Like Dred Scott.

Beware when judges  hobnob with Psychiatrists. Beware when they can issue gag orders to those who object to this form of social control. Beware these kinds of  comfortable relationships among the power elite. Beware when you become comfortable that  anyone holds this kind of ruling power. Beware the Murphy Bill.

Because this kind of naked abuse of power is  actually happening in this day and age:  Behold The Horrifying Story of Justina Pelletier. Psychiatry has legally locked up a fifteen year old girl with some unfortunate health issues that were of uncertain origin. But some nice doctors at Boston Children’s decided it was Somatoform Disorder, and since her  parents were interfering with their brainwashing –excuse me, I meant the curing of  her brain disease –they were denied guardianship over their daughter’s care. They have even  been accused of Medical Child Abuse, and have had gag orders issued to stifle their dissent. So Jessica is languishing in this jail– excuse me again, I mean nice comfy locked ward —  and cannot see them except in weekly supervised visits. Jessica, who was happily  ice skating in a competition before her unfortunate meetup with the nice folks at the notorious Bader 5, Boston Children’s Psych Ward, is now confined to a wheelchair after languishing  for over a year in a locked psych ward. Those helpful medical experts are now giving her psychiatric drugs, instead of the course of treatment other specialists of her peculiar Mitochondrial Disorder had decided was best. These well meaning psychiatrists are teaching Justina that her symptoms are all in her head. I hope they are not using electroshock therapy to accomplish this goal. I know I would cry uncle after experiencing this. I am relieved to note that lobotomies are no longer the current fashion in psychiatric treatment,that they are not suggesting A nice jab with an ice-pick through the eye straight into prefrontal lobe will do the trick Justina! 

Please go to that link and read that searing Wall Street Journal expose of the history of lobotomy, of the raw naked power neurologist  Dr. Walter Freeman held at one time in the 1950’s . It is deeply sobering to consider that the fabricator of this barbaric practice earned a Nobel Prize for his work, and so disturbing to consider  the sway his crackpot ideas  held over influential people — it was cutting edge science. Freeman experimented  on hapless vets suffering PTSD after World War — “in accord with our desire to keep abreast of all advances in treatment,” the V.A. says in a memo. His influence spread and soon people in psychic distress would write to him and beg for lobotomies, in order to be returned to a  “a surgically induced childhood.” His own description.

But it became a standard treatment for all the intractable and difficult to handle patients in psych wards. JFK’s father had it performed on his own daughter. It was as fashionable among the elite for a quick fix for anxiety, just as Ativan is to us now.

Faced with an ice pick, I think Justina would meekly say, “No thank you doctor, I will promise to stop cheeking my Seroquel.” How I wish for those who suffer the torments of psychic pain might have the silver bullets of targeting drugs which will afford great benefits, and do less harm! But for now I am in full agreement with Dr. Thomas Szasz, who gave us that illustration of Drapetomania for the abuses of psychiatry.  Although  Szasz  has some polarizing Libertartian philosophies that I cannot endorse, still I agree with him that “The Myth of Mental Illness”  is a linguistic construct that priveleges those in power to control behavior that they are uncomfortable or disagree with.

I cannot agree with that esteemed SUNY professor of psychiatry more. Every psychotic who is permitted agency to refuse dangerous neuroleptics for more effective and humane courses of treatment is grateful for his work.  Otherwise we might all  be hearing some Dreadful Doctor of Dred Scott saying to us,”Bend over psychiatric slave, because the DSM-5 has suggested that your condition is threatening  your safety. You really might want to escape this locked ward to freedom, and we have determined that fresh air and sunshine is not a healthy environment for you at all. ”

On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, please oppose the Murphy Bill HR #3717, because:

“People will turn away from forced and coercive services.
We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others.
We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.

So many difficulties arise in life,
especially when our parents, schools and communities
have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective.

Connection, unconditional positive regard,
trauma informed services and safety
must replace coercive, medical models
and forced services if we hope to help others heal.”

words of Cindy Peterson Dana, as a comment on a thread at Mad in America, titled– Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research

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Naming Rights for These Afflictions — They Belong to the Legions

April 8, 2014

What follows is a cleaned up version of my rather lunatic response to the days-long moderation of comments which effectively shut down a potentially profitable dialogue between me and an anonymous commenter at The Gospel Coalition on Kevin DeYoungs guestblog discussing The Gospel and  ‘Mental Illness.’ I have tried to shape that hurried mess of double comments into a series of blogposts. I have tweaked the anonymous commenter’s name — because he has masked his identity, this moniker is meaningless — he might as  well have claimed to be Jesus Christ Come to Adjudicate  Debates.  That would be at least a hilariously appropriate identity that would have power to quiet any lunatics’ objections to being silenced! But his name is not connected to flesh so it is a waxed nose I may manipulate to suit my purposes,  like Psychiatry’s bible, the DSM-5 — when there are no biomarkers for supposed diseases, there is no logic and no accountability around the diagnoses. It is rabbits from hats, It is not Real. It is Not a Sole Fib.

We are considering deep questions of Knowing and Being that are certainly above my limited understanding of philosophy, and I will show you later how it is going to be very meaningful to you in my next blogpost, but here is where it Gets Real.  There are good reasons to have but limited respect for anonymous commenters on the Internet.

 Not a Sole Fib says,  “Don’t take the opinions of men too seriously – especially internet strangers who may or may not know what they are talking about and cannot walk with you, pray with you, or love you through the challenges God has put on your plate.” The irony of this comment is so rich:  where does this Internet Stranger, who was asked to unmask himself but politely declined, get off by calling me “insensitive” —  and what does he know of my real life? I at least cite my sources, and my pastor said he will vouch for my character, he said, “I let you watch my kids”.  But Not a Sole Fib  has informed the world at TGC that they cannot trust me as a source of reliable information — and readers these are not trivial issues we are discussing — life and death are literally at stake. What does ‘Not a Sole Fib’ know of how I love or pray for those  Schizophrenics who die twenty years earlier than average?

With all due respect Not a Sole Fib I still think there are still too many questions that you yourself have asked that I do not feel have been satisfactorily answered.  So we really can’t shut down the discussion now!   I am most interested in  these  two points –by whose authority shall those who suffer be named? And where can we more profitably locate this discussion in the Bible? I think it is interesting that Jesus always gives first naming rights to those whose brains are involved. He always respects free agency. His searching questions always lead those infirmed by sin to diagnose our own condition. Always the names we hold so dearly are uncovered by his heart-piercing  gaze, and nearly always these identities  involve idolatry, don’t they?  I do think the churches should follow his example, and give away the naming rights to those who have the greatest stake in the matter.

So I would zero in on Luke 8:30, because it is such a juicy passage, although it terrifies some. I suspected that it is why my first rough comment on this subject was moderated, but now I know there are Other Reasons. Have you ever noticed Not a Sole Fib, that Legion is never named at all  in the church’s Conversation about Mental Illness? Nor, lest some horses and grandmothers  become too alarmed,  should he be always named in these discussions.  As  Sam Storms  says on this issue

“Some are not healed because the demonic cause of the affliction has not been addressed. Please do not jump to unwarranted conclusions. I am not suggesting that all physical disease is demonically induced. It is interesting, is it not, that in Paul’s case God used “a messenger of Satan” to inflict the thorn?”

I am fascinated by the reasoning behind names and our fear of some names. The church has become so afraid of naming things ‘evil’. Why are we so afraid of saying Legions name? I have some ideas about that. I wrote a blogpost that examines what happens when the biblical descriptions collide with modern science, as demonstrated in the fascinating story of the woman with a “brain on fire” — classic-seeming demon possession diagnosed by medicine — she had ‘anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis’ and was treated successfully with plasma. Very interesting questions are raised. What do you think?

I think those taxonomists of the Human Condition need to give the survivors and sufferers back our naming rights. It is part of our healing to name the thing. I would so much rather be a Magdalene slapped forever with the notorious label “She From Whom Seven Demons Were Delivered”, than be left with your own stigmatizing and dehumanizing diagnosis of  ‘Schizoaffective Disorder’– at least there is hope for a demoniac that they  can always be forever free of torment, if they keep their house clean and well ordered. Those you name ‘Mentally Ill’ and ” incurable”, for  purposes that privilege those in power — think of Szasz’ example of Drapetomania, for  example — are then left often permanently  crippled by your defective drugs, and certainly stigmatized by your permanent label of a Defective Brain.  Except those fortunate crazies living in a third world country, without any medical treatment — we know their outcome of recovery from schizophrenia without relapse is far better, according to two World Health Organization studies.

The First Worlds’ Worried Well have all the right to all the Ativan they imagine will aid them. I am sorry they have so little real informed consent. But as Jesus said, it is the sick who need a physician.

I read about all these kind of hurting people in the secular blog “Mad in America“, which is unique in that it levels the playing field and gives away the naming rights to all those parties who are interested in the issues surrounding  Critical Psychiatry, and listens respectfully to those with lived experience.MIA does a wonderful job in offering hospitality to those who suffer the terrifying ravages of a disintegrating psyche.

I know if the church spoke to those Hearing Voices the way that Jesus did, and let them name their own infirmities, they would listen to us more. I can assure you, many afflicted at Mad in America  would rather fall into the arms of Jesus —  who touched agonized people like them with authority, and then set them free–I am sure those unfortunates would rather be treated with such compassion than fall into the hands of unrighteous  men who might  force them into psych wards. Because their name for those places is “torture chambers.”

I tell you that field is white with harvest. You Christian Thought Leaders think the world will lose respect for us if we tell them the story of Legion, and connect his case to any real condition. I think it just depends on what world you want to reach.   Please don’t frighten my friends if they visit your churches — allow them to give you their name. Please don’t force drugging on them, even if they are a harm to themselves, or to others. If they are going to harm themselves, they need friends who listen closely, and they need hope for the future. If they have harmed others, the place for them is called a  jail.

I wish there were networks of churches that share my kind of taxonomy, so that my friends hurting from Psychiatric abuse can easily identify where their agency will be respected, and where they will feel safe– kind of like a “Joni and Friends” network — but that is a discussion for another day. Already I have gone over a thousand words.  Thanks for listening, those who have come this far!

On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, please oppose the Murphy Bill HR #3717, because:

“People will turn away from forced and coercive services.
We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others.
We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.

So many difficulties arise in life,
especially when our parents, schools and communities
have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective.

Connection, unconditional positive regard,
trauma informed services and safety
must replace coercive, medical models
and forced services if we hope to help others heal.”

words of Cindy Peterson Dana, as a comment on a thread at Mad in America, titled– Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research

Legions’ Brain Was Actually ‘On Fire’! or, ‘Where Have All the Demons Gone’?

April 24, 2013

Medieval book illustration of Christ Exorcisin...

It seems evil spirits have gone and hidden themselves these days under medical and psychiatric diagnoses. Because the fascinating etiology of poor Legion’s brain disease  was discovered in 2004 —  we now know Legion’s true name, and it was definitely ‘many’, look  at all the words used to describe the auto-immune disease he likely had: ‘anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis’.  But because even Dr. Luke would have been really confused when collating this history later,  our Lord preferred to call it a demon and perform an exorcism instead — well, at least that’s how I imagine we’ll see this puzzle explained to us by liberal expositors!  But unlike our modern theologians, Luke wasn’t perturbed by these rather medieval causes of psychic or bodily pain, as in the case of the patient with scoliosis in Luke 13:11-16. He, inspired by the Holy Spirit, called it a demon:

“…and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all…ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

It is so interesting to me that her curved spine was an organic disorder with a medical etiology, but the underlying cause was spiritual oppression. Jesus calls her a ‘daughter of Abraham’, too — an indication she was a believer! And in Matthew 17:15, the Greek word used to describe the epileptic boy as a ‘lunatic’ was a medical term, stemming from the belief that epileptic seizures were affected by the phases of the moon. It is a theory as outdated now as the recently discarded ‘chemical imbalance’ explanation for brain disorders –- but, notice Jesus doesn’t  use ancient medical terminology, and  doesn’t diagnose the young man with a ‘moon imbalance’, but again, he frees the sufferer of an organic disease from a demonic spirit.

Matthew Henry comments on this passage, “There was also something in the malady which rendered the cure difficult. The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it. Do we wonder to see Satan’s bodily possession of this young man from a child, when we see his spiritual possession of every son of Adam from the fall!”

No, I am not suggesting that every parent of a epileptic kid is showing a lack of earnestness in faith when giving their child Depakote. I am not ‘anti’ any effective medication, by any means.  But uncomfortable questions are raised when the contrast is so stark between the biblical narrative and the scientific explanations we are offered of even a classic case of  demonic possession — as the rare encephalitis of the brain, mentioned above. In this interview, Susannah Cahalan describes the florid psychosis, guttural speech, violent, inappropriate behavior and seizures that occurred when she had, in her doctor’s words a  “Brain on Fire“, due to  a rare case of that auto-immune disease, ‘anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis’, I linked to above. In an NPR interview, she says

“When you think about the symptoms — in my case alone, this grandiosity, this violence. In a lot of children, you see hypersexuality. Even my grunts and these guttural sounds that came from me sounded superhuman to someone who might be inclined to think that way. … When you see videos of people — in fact, when I see videos of myself — demonic possession is not far from your mind. It wasn’t far from [ her boyfriend’s] mind when he first saw that seizure. And I’ve talked to many people who’ve had this disease, and one woman I spoke to actually asked for a priest because she said, ‘The devil is inside of me. I need it out.’ A little girl was grunting — they had a monitor in her room — and she was grunting so unnaturally that her parents looked at each other and said, ‘Is she, is she possessed?’ They actually said that about a little girl. You can see throughout history why people would believe this.”

No one would be lacking faith in giving steroids for this disorder, and it would be foolish to refuse the common grace of this cutting edge neurological research, and its effective remedies. She was rightly infused with plasma and healed within months, rather than dosed with what the head of the American Psychiatric Association acknowledges are completely ineffective atypical antipsychotics   while hidden away in a locked psych ward, which she acknowledges would have been her fate had she suffered her illness a mere five years earlier.

Now, let me think, what is the better choice? Effective therapies or a straightjacketed life?  So hard to choose, right?  But I do think these treatments make it much easier for us to ignore or minimize the spiritual components that Jesus makes very clear in the passages I highlight. How do we reconcile the biblical narrative with the medical accounts?  That is our real “lack of faith” — our unbelief , manifested in our unwillingness to examine the spiritual etiology of some diagnosable mental disorders.

Can it be that the wily deceiver can mask his evil work with physical symptoms that present as chronic diseases, particularly the idiopathic cases like scoliosis and cryptogenic epilepsy — and until the cause of  this variation on “classic demonic possession”  was recently discovered in 2004, ‘anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis’? That our Enemy can induce a body to generate these harmful antibodies that attack the NMDA receptors and manifest this disease, just as he gets nerve cells going rogue with seizure disorders, and the bones of the spine to curve in scoliosis? Because Jesus clearly names some of these organic body disorders  demonic. Will we be as presumptuous as Peter, and seek to correct Jesus’ understanding of the nature of the beings he has created?

The fact that scripture makes these spiritual connections clear makes us very uncomfortable, and some of us wish these passages were not in the Bible. I worked in special ed with autistic children, some of whom presented exactly like the lunatic. That is when I began to ask these hard questions, and no one has ever satisfied my queries — except some of the Vineyard pastors in the churches we attended, who perhaps did too much discernment of the demonic, but at least were courageous enough to acknowledge the difficulties, and to engage with the demonic, and  were praying for greater faith in dealing with them. Sam Storms has said of these kinds of intractable cases,

“Some are not healed because the demonic cause of the affliction has not been addressed. Please do not jump to unwarranted conclusions. I am not suggesting that all physical disease is demonically induced. It is interesting, is it not, that in Paul’s case God used “a messenger of Satan” to inflict the thorn?”

I agree with Storm’s assessments here, but in my repeated queries about the lack of attention the Reformed community pays to this issue of the demonic, I have only been ignored. Do the Reformed really believe the Enemy has ceased prowling around?  Like tongues and prophecy, the devil has ceased to oppress?

If the Reformed community wants to seriously reach out to confused Charismatics, its theologians need to seriously grapple with these scriptures too, and stop ignoring them, or publishing equally confused answers like Kevin DeYoung’s response to the evil of the Tuscon shootings, in the blogpost, “God’s Gift of Moral Language”.  He first declares about the shooter: “no doubt Loughner is messed up, crazy, off his rocker, and out to lunch. It seems that he’s needed help for a long time.”  But at the end he mourns a world that thinks only in these therapeutic categories:

The world, and to a large extent the church, has lost the ability to speak in moral categories. We have preferences instead of character. We have values instead of virtue. We have no God of holiness, and we have no Satan.  We have break-downs, crack-ups, psychoses, maladjustments, and inner turmoil.  But we do not have repugnant evil as the Bible has it. And this loss makes the world a more dangerous place. For the words may disappear, but the reality does not.

I agree with Mr. De Young, the church has lost the ability to speak in that category, but he himself describes Loughner in therapeutic terms, and  overlooked his own inability in striking ways.  Is it because we don’t want to look  medieval to the world, and  we want to have our blogposts featured in their online newspapers, so we shy away from labeling even this kind of deeply evil behavior demonic?  In all our culture-making, culture-engaging efforts, are we so embarrassed by this theological category that we that have absented the demonic from Reformed websites?  Check out this Theopedia  homepage, where there is not a single entry listed for ‘Satan’ or ‘Demons’  to be found in the vast encyclopedia of topics! But the reality of a demonic presence in the world has not disappeared, and so the extinction of that category indeed, “makes the world a more dangerous place.”

For when Legion comes, piteously crying  and running naked  through our  graveyards, cutting himself with stones while he demands, “What have you to do with me?”– will we ask him his name? Of course  we will like it better when he answers, ‘Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis’!  So neat and tidily settled — just give him a pill!

But  when he says, ” Legion!” , will we respond like Jesus?  With a stern, “Come out of him!” Or will we listen for fifteen minutes to his ravings, identify him as a paranoid schizophrenic who is clearly a danger to himself,  and then force him into emergency treatment with neuroleptics? With a diagnosis of a lifetime disorder hopelessly intractable, and difficult  to treat without a course of many different drugs, each drug responding to the other’s iatrogenic effect? No wonder so many sufferers commit suicide upon receiving such a diagnoses.  After Susan Beachy’s son died in despair soon after  he was labeled a “schizophrenic”,  she  eloquently wrote,

Being told that mental illness is like diabetes is misleading and discouraging. This is not a fair comparison.Diabetes is due to a well understood defect in a body part, the pancreas. Mental illness, on the other hand, literally means that your mind is sick. Your mind, unlike your pancreas, is not just a body part. Your mind enables you to relate, set goals, dream, and have hope. If you and the people around you believe that your mind will be defective and sick for the rest of your life, you are left without hope of ever having the agency to build a life…We need not burden distressed young people with hope-sucking labels of chronic mental defect. There is a better way.

It seems the church has forgotten some of our biblical ways of healing and even delivering those who live in this kind of despair.  We have become very ignorant of Satan’s crafty devices in our disease-mongering age.  So our enemy sometimes hides in a prescription pad.

Why, oh why, has the church  become so afraid of asking Legion His Own Name? And what is the purpose of the name we assign him?

Building Bridges

February 20, 2011

Under a bridge of the Nymphenburg Channel in M...

As a Charismatic disgusted with the False Prophetic and seeking the truth, I struggled (and still struggle) so much with my prejudices about those in Reformed Circles:  I saw them talking  much about What Jesus Said, and did not see them as those who have come from sitting at His feet with words that He has just said to them. And a person who has been with Jesus  is filled with Spring, one wonders,  What is all this juice and all this joy? ”  and you want to be around someone like that.

The gulf between our two worlds kept me from such a person–I describe him here: I think it is the best thing I ever wrote. And not because of the writing, but because of the man.

It is such a grief to me that all the years  when I attended a church growing in idolatry, there was the loveliest little Baptist church down the street. We never thought of entering it, until we were out of every other option, because the water is so wide between our worlds. And we can convince very few friends  similarly disenchanted by Charismania to join us in worship there. It is such a shame, because the moment I entered First Baptist, I cried. The Spirit was so present there, and the worship was so clean and God exalting, and I had so missed that kind of worship,  the kind that is in Spirit and in Truth.

But I wonder, Reformed pastors: Is your church a place that makes a heartsick former Charismatic weep with joy during your worship? Phil was on the platform, leading the parade, giving his people permission to really exult. It was humbly done, and lovely to see, and I really miss that man.

Another question: Would those  with whom you vehemently disagree  theologically give an eulogy at your funeral? Many of the pastors who prayed regularly with Phil disagreed with him about lots of things.  But they interceded together  for this sin-saturated city at the prayer meetings Phil had initiated, and this meeting  included my former pastor.   He spoke movingly about him, recalling the day when Phil led his parishioners in another kind of parade, streaming down the sidewalks to the newly-opened charismatic church down the street, in a  funny sort of welcome wagon to the newcomers on the block.  I remember that day. They came in at the end of our service, and I thought they all looked a little nervous–I never guessed what Phil was risking.  But we weren’t that weird then.  My pastor wasn’t running with the crowd he runs with now, and we weren’t aligned with Bethel Redding.  Things were done decently.  Pretty orderly.

And would you call your opponents your friends? Phil did, when I told him about leaving that church, and why–because of Lakeland, and Bill Johnson.  His face became very grave. “He is my friend” Phil said. “We pray together for this city.” He wasn’t going to let me talk smack about his friend.  I said I hate the False Prophetic but I love the man. Phil reassured me that he knew of Lakeland, and its falseness, and was in dialogue with his friend.  Go figure what that means.  But I know Phil had a love of the truth.

Some would argue that he went too far in his spanning of  divides.  But the men he prayed with, and the men who joined his wife in that hospital room to pray for him in those last moments, that God would stay his hand, were men who loved the Lord and preached the Gospel.  They were like all of us in our various confusing stages of sanctification. Oh, how we all prayed for Phil.  But he died. As we grieved together at his funeral, I said to my former pastor and  his friend,  and my friend, “oh, my father, my father!  The chariots and horsemen of San Francisco.” He knew exactly what I meant.  He had torn his clothes, too.

Kevin DeYoung asks these questions best, and I finish this interrogation with him  because you will hear him better than me. I think it is the essence of my concern:

“Do we possess deep and pervasive piety? I know that pietism is a bad word in some circles. It conjures up notions of anti-intellectual sentimentality. But we got pietism because Protestant scholasticism had gotten dry (or at least many of the churches of the time had). If we want to be more than intellectual people who happen to be into theology, we need to cultivate deep affections and deeper sanctification. As Reformed Christians (assuming many of you are), let’s lead the way, not only in theolgocial integrity, but also in meditation, Scripture memory, intercession, and earnest worship. What our families, friends, and churches need most from us is our own personal holiness.” And I would only add that those outside the church, and those orphaned by the destructive cults that are your unpaid bills, need it too.

I desperately needed that winsome holiness Phil displayed.  But he was not a perfect man, he had but a breath in his nostrils, just like me.  Lest any think I am constructing a hagiography of a defenseless man, I am not.  I was fully ware of some theological weaknessess, and they were enough of a concern that my husband and I were preparing ourselves to talk to him.  But then he died, and so I have no idea how he would have responded, and so I will bury those concerns, and thank God I never had to deal with them at all. Only God does, now.  And I imagine that from Heaven Phil is chuckling and fully agreeing with me.

All I know is Phil finished well.  Would that our own hospital rooms become a sanctuary,  and we leave our people with the most important words that can be said, and we meet our Savior with the songs of praise that are the custom of our lips. And that we could prophetically speak a blessing from our deathbed, as Phil did.

He said that the sufferings in his body were for the healing of God’s Body.  And First Baptist suffered terribly, and almost died.  But look what God has done! A courageous young man from Arkansas, who understands fully the challenges ahead, and with humility and boldness in one necessary move, just took us through a week of prayer and fasting for revival at FBC, and for the city .  Such deep affection I have now, not just for him, but for all the saints in this church, and I have greater faith, that the people of God can at last be a bridge to this city that is a proverb for sin-sickness. In the abounding grace of God, He hears the cry of His people for help, and He will always provide for Himself a remnant.   He is so good.