What do I think of J.P. Moreland’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
If you have had one, you can often remember the first time. Things can seem normal, and then out of the blue, boom, it hits you. For me, I remember I was at home alone in my high school years and watching Touched By An Angel, a show I really don’t care for today now being better informed, and then I felt something coming over me.
It was something I had never felt before, but it wasn’t anything good. It felt like the whole world was coming to an end. It was a sensation of overwhelming doom and judgment. It was such a defining moment in my life that I spent the next few years living in response to that moment.
It’s what you call a panic attack.
It would be a mistake to castigate someone in some way for this. It doesn’t mean that you’re someone who is stupid and uninformed. Smart people can get panic attacks. It doesn’t mean you lack faith. People who are devout Christians and well-informed in their faith can get panic attacks.
J.P. Moreland did. His was likely brought on just because he was working too hard and getting overwhelmed. When you are in the midst of that fear and that panic, nothing makes sense any more. Moreland wound up going to a therapist and taking medications.
The latter part is quite sad. It’s not because he was taking medication, but because he dared say that when giving a sermon at a church and after that, the pastor said he received a large number of texts from people who were complaining about someone in the pulpit approving psychiatric medications and Moreland was never asked to come back. Sadly, too many in the church have that attitude.
Like many though, Moreland will rightly say that you have to work to change your thinking. You also have to learn to work with your own body. Some of your mental issues at times could be physiologically affected. For instance, if you don’t sleep well, you don’t think well. I understand many Navy Seals go through Hell Week involving deep training. These guys have to go days without sleep and at that point, they often start hallucinating.
In David Seamands’s book Healing For Damaged Emotions, he says that he has been told by doctors and nurses that when a patient comes to a hospital struggling with suicidal thinking, they will often give them protein. There can be a lack of real substance in them. With that, something else needs to be said.
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. J.P. Moreland’s book is mainly about anxiety, but similar techniques can work for depression. Moreland does say he was never suicide, but he did sometimes ask God to finish him off in some way. He felt like his life was a waste and he just wanted the pain to go away.
Many Christians could be surprised to hear Moreland think his life was a waste. Let’s also add in that no matter who they are, people need to be told that they do make a difference and matter. Moreland doesn’t mention that part, but it needs to be said.
Moreland gives various techniques in the book and I will not share them because if you are one who like me can struggle with anxiety, you need to read the book for yourself and get them. Even someone who is of a secular mindset could get some good out of this, although I am sure they won’t care for the idea of prayer being used. Definitely, as indicated earlier, the church needs to be kinder to those struggling. People who have mental struggles in the church often think lowly enough of themselves already. They don’t need to be shot at further for seeking treatment.
Moreland’s book is also not going to go over your head. This isn’t your standard apologetics work, although there is some of that in there. This is more on helping you to live better in the midst of anxiety and depression, which can come to all of us.
I know for when the times comes that I struggle, I appreciate knowing I am not alone. After all, since that time in my past, I have learned a lot which has helped me get past anxiety and depression more, but there can be times that one encounters difficult events that bring it all back again. I plan to always be learning how to overcome the monster.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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