“Prayer Is Fine, but Don’t Then Quickly Move on, as If You’re Done and Dusted”: How Can the Evangelical Church Better Support Those with Mental Illness?
There is a long history of holistic responses to mental illness and suffering in many Christian traditions. In recent years, however, there has been growing controversy surrounding the response of the Evangelical Church to mental health. Adopting often literalist interpretations of scripture, these church communities may conflate mental illness exclusively with sin, demons, or diminished faith, thereby inadvertently promoting shaming and voluntaristic notions of psychological suffering. Other church communities, meanwhile, have perhaps over-secularized psychological illness, with neglect to the healing power of faith and community. This empirical paper seeks to contribute toward an open discussion of how the Evangelical Church can both respond to, and support, Christians with mental illness by being both faithful to theological witness and asserting that theological anthropologies must be reexamined from the site of lived experiences of mental illness. Qualitative responses from 309 UK-based evangelical Christians who have experienced some form of mental illness are, in this study, analyzed regarding their views on how the church can best support Christians with mental illness. A thematic analysis suggests that a relational and spiritually sensitive approach is advocated; one that moves beyond dichotomized accounts of psychological suffering as exclusively spiritual or biomedical and toward relational care and valuing of the other.
|Keywords||Christianity; Church; Evangelical; healing; psychological suffering; qualitative; relational theology|
|Journal||Journal of Disability & Religion|
|Journal citation||pp. 1-22|
|Publisher||Routledge - Taylor and Francis|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.1080/23312521.2023.2173712|
|Web address (URL)||https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23312521.2023.2173712|
|Publication dates||31 Jan 2023|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||10 Feb 2023|
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