Review of “Christians Get Depressed Too”

March 15, 2012

Is it a sin problem or a sinus problem? I have noticed that when I am sick, so is the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit seems to spoil when I don’t feel well. I am not saying that it’s ok to sin because I don’t feel well. Sin is not ever justified. Sin is always a choice. However, we are complicated creatures. The physical, emotional and spiritual are intertwined. Sometimes there are physical reasons I don’t feel spiritual. Sometimes there are emotional reasons I don’t “feel” good. And sometimes there are spiritual reasons why my emotions are off. How does this play into depression?

This is the theme of David Murray’s small book Christians Get Depressed Too. Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Although he is a professional theologian, he writes with a pastor’s heart. Anybody who has ever struggled with depression or has cared for someone who has been depressed should read this book. In six chapters, Murray deals with the crisis, complexity, condition, causes, and cures of depression and concludes with some advice for caregivers.

Murray advises balance. He wants to avoid dogmatism. “Unfortunately, Christian preachers and writers have often taken a dogmatic attitude into areas where the Word of God is not dogmatic” (p 11). We should seek humility. There are two extremes when it comes to dealing with depression. One extreme is that the causes are all physical. This leads to medication being the preferred solution. The other extreme is that the causes are all spiritual. Jay Adams, the founder of the Christian counseling movement, popularized this. A more middle of the road approach is best represented by (according to Murray) the CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation).

The fall brought sin and sickness. If other parts of our body can get ill, why can’t our brains? Isn’t it an organ just like our hearts and livers? We take medications all the time to fix chemical imbalances. Sometimes this is necessary for the brain. However, sometimes the problem isn’t chemical, it is spiritual. The challenge is to discern which is which. This book strives to help us ask the right questions.

Certainly there are more in depth books on this complicated subject. However, I would recommend this book as a good primer.

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