The Complexity of Depression: David Murray: Christians Get Depressed Too; pt.3

This is the final of three posts focusing on chapter two of David Murray’s resource, Christians Get Depressed Too. Earlier we looked at:

Today we will examine what David Murray has written concerning the Modern Biblical Counseling Movement.

The Modern Biblical Counseling Movement:

Already Murray’s resource is dated due to the quickly morphing biblical counseling movement. (we will give evidence of that later) Murray suggests that the best representation of this modern movement is CCEF. (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) This organization was founded by Jay Adams, but appears to move in a positive direction away from some of Adams’ more stringent philosophies. Murray is still concerned with the stance of the modern biblical movement:

…My main concern with the nouthetic counseling movement is its assumption that behind almost every episode of depression is personal sin. Regrettably, the modern biblical counseling movement still uses language that supports this conclusion…

The focus has changed for this modern day movement – it has moved away from behavioralism to the more and spiritual issues of heart-idolatry. While this is a commendable move, Murray is concerned that the default starting position is still a search for sin in the counselee’s life.

In this very complex issue of Depression, it is important to realize that not all depression is caused by sinful behavior. We also need to recognize that important role that medication does play in treating depression. Repentance of the idols of the heart is not always the cure to depression.

Murray brings out a good point that as Christian counselors we would never use the “sinful cause/spiritual solution” approach when treating people with cancer, strokes, broken bones, diabetes, Alzheimer’s etc. Murray reminds that our default position needs to be that these physical problems are the result of living in a fallen world. We are broken people living in a broken world. Murray quotes from I’m Not Supposed to Feel Like This:

Being a Christian does not inoculate us from the possibility of experiencing anxiety or depression; many Christians have experienced quite severe depressive illnesses. This is true in the same way that being a Christian does not prevent you from becoming ill or falling victim to crime or assault. [Chris Williams, Paul Richards, Ingrid Whitton (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002), 33]

“Our default position in understanding how the brain can experience problems should be no different from that of understanding these other physical problems.”~Murray, p.26

What is New in the Biblical Counseling Movement?

One of the developments since David Murray wrote this excellent book, is the development of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. One of the things that I appreciate about the BCC is that it seeks to eliminate the “silo” mentality that has existed in the biblical counseling movement and produce more of a “umbrella” type of partnership. It is moving away from “we don’t work with you” to a “let’s share and be united because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. You can read more about the BCC here. I suggest you take a look through their site and examine the many very helpful articles, posts and resources available to you!

In our next post examining Murray’s work, we’ll begin to discuss The Condition of Depression itself. It will be broken down into two sections: the physical and the spiritual.

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