Is There A Fine Line Between Spirituality And Insanity?

Reading Jamila’s post conjured up memories that I had of my holy rollin days. It was a time in my life filled that I wish I could “revise.” Here is a post I wrote in 2008 that sheds some light on my spiritual awakening:

Last year was the climax of my awakening from the nightmare of poisonous religious beliefs. One incident that led to my escape was an update on the life of someone who was a committed and strong Christian. Before I get to the point, I should give you some background info. While away at college, I became friendly with a group of Christians who never allowed themselves to be tainted with the hedonistic ways of the secular youth on campus. I’ll never forget the Christian couple who brought their preteen daughter with them to our meetings. Here they were, a married mother and father together in harmony with their child.

This young lady was on fire for the Lord. She prayed, eloquently quoted scripture, and was basically a good girl. I can still remember her mother telling me how proud she was of her. She was the type of girl whom you knew had a bright future in Christendom. It was September of last year when I found out what had become of this young lady. The young soldier for Christ who seemed so rock solid in her faith ended up committing suicide. She had been diagnosed as schizophrenic in her early 20′s. It’s been about 10 months since I heard the news, but I can’t stop pondering the all important question. WHAT HAPPENED?

Was the “fire” we witnessed her schizophrenic disorder all along? Did she develop it later? And if so, how could a christian end up with such a debilitating mental disorder? After all, doesn’t the bible speak of a renewed mind? I should stress that I don’t know what really caused her disease. I suspect that her condition developed much later than when I last saw her. The problem is, there is a huge and sometimes dangerous problem within pentecostal/charismatic circles (I’d say charismatics much more so). You would not be hard pressed to hear people claim, “God spoke to my heart” or “the Lord told me…” so on and so on. Now what is schizophrenia?

It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions or disorganized speech and thinking in the context of significant social or occupational dysfunction.

Auditory hallucinations…delusions? Would those symptoms include, God told me… The Lord spoke to me…? That is not to say that all pents and charismatics are mentally ill. However, there are some Christians who frown on the two groups while maintaining that God only speaks through his word (i.e. just read the bible instead of chasing after a voice). To them, looking for a voice or a sign is both foolish and unbliblical. Was the young lady who took her life a victim of the “God told me” doctrine? That is likely the case, IMO.

Sadly, her story left me hesitant of embracing certain aspects of prayer and faith. Rationality has taken root in my life and I feel much better now. I’m not an atheist nor an agnostic, but I simply cannot go along with the madness that’s found in some forms of Pentecostalism.

The Man Myth