A Mentally Ill Jesus?

Yep, Jesus may have been a nutter. At least one enlightened rev thinks so. An English woman has made the claim that not only Jesus, but all sorts of biblical heroes, such as John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, may all have been inflicted with mental illness.

But don’t take my word for it – let’s hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. One news story explains: “A suggested sermon produced by the Church of England for clerics attempting to tackle the stigma of mental health pulls no punches. Written by the Rev Eva McIntyre on behalf of the Church’s Archbishops’ Council and the Time to Change mental health campaign, it suggests John the Baptist, St Paul, St Francis and other figures from the Bible may all have been mentally ill. It even asks followers to consider accusations made in the New Testament that Jesus ‘had lost his mind’. It reads:

“Many of the people we read about in Bible stories might today be considered as having mental health issues. For example, ‘Would Jesus’ family maybe on occasion have said, ‘Cousin John is a bit odd, bless him!’ when John the Baptist took to his eccentric style of life? It has long been thought that King Saul, in the books of Samuel, was displaying mood swings that suggest he had bi-polar disorder and some think that St Paul’s Damascus Road experience was the result of some sort of breakdown or psychotic episode.

“Even Jesus was not immune to accusations about his mental health: there is a story in the gospel that tells of his mother and siblings attempting to take him home because they are afraid that he has lost his mind. Many of the stories of the Saints, too, have led people to discuss their mental health. For example was St Francis suffering from a mental health title?”

“Acknowledging how shocking these ideas might be, Ms McIntyre, a member of the General Synod, adds: ‘Some may find these suggestions disturbing or offensive even. Perhaps we need to ask why it would be so terrible to think that some of our most inspirational forebears might have experienced mental health illness. Do we mistakenly believe that God cannot or will not work through people with mental health illness?’”

OK, so let’s just come back down to earth here. First, a few questions: Is there such a thing as mental illness? Are some believers suffering from mental illness? Is it something the churches should be aware of and dealing with? Yes to all three questions.

So far so good. But this rev and her committee are simply going off the deep end when they want to make their case by dragging Jesus into all of this. Not only does the New Testament nowhere provide any evidence or indication of Jesus being mentally unstable, but the very concept is theologically foolish.

Jesus of course was fully God and fully man. He was a perfect man, just like us yet without any sin. If he was in fact mentally impaired then we should have no reason to believe anything he said, including his claims to divinity. Such a view of him undermines the entire gospel message, and renders Jesus just another raving preacher to be ignored at will.

The fact that others accused him of being a nutter says nothing about who he was, but tells us everything about his opponents. They just did not get it – even his own disciples were often baffled as to who this man was and why he came.

As to the text referred to by the good rev, it is Mark 3:20-22: “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons’.”

The fact that his critics – and even his own family – did not comprehend what he was doing and saying of course is no proof at all that Jesus had mental health issues. He was accused of all sorts of things throughout his ministry, mainly by his many opponents.

But so what? He was the holy sinless Son of God, and his sinful, fallen and finite opposition were clueless as to who he was and why he had come. They missed out big time what he was all about, just as people today still miss out on who he is and what his mission is.

It should come as no surprise that the world would reject Jesus and his followers. That is exactly what Jesus himself said would happen. Consider just one text, Matt 10:16-25:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

Thus it has always been. Jesus was accused of all sorts of things, and Christians throughout the ages have always been thought to be flaky. As C. S. Lewis once remarked: “When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.”

As mentioned, the issue of mental health is a worthy one, and one which the church should be involved in. But to engage in theological suicide to champion such a cause helps no one. To drag Jesus into this issue, and make him out to be some mentally impaired human is not going to help the cause, and is going to simply massacre the biblical message.

Sorry, but this misguided rev is barking up the wrong tree. She is right to highlight the issue of mental illness, but she really is barking mad to suggest that Jesus was so afflicted. Please, promote your causes all you like, but do not decimate the biblical message in the process.


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13 Replies to “A Mentally Ill Jesus?”

  1. How sad, but the way the world is going, not a surprise that loons will try this form of attack on all we hold sacred.

    Brian Carrick

  2. Apologies Bill, my eye site not being what it used to, I mistook the rear end of the horse for its mouth. Though in this case it would be an easy mistake to make.

    Being healed from a mental illness by Jesus, I can categorically state that He is neither mentally ill or off with the fairies.

    Jeffrey Carl

  3. No, a mentally ill Rev Eva! She is a Rev who speaks for the Church and she casts doubt on Christ by suggesting mental illness, ill health. There are other mental conditions such as clair voyance, clair audience. An autistic person can reproduce a drawing of an intricate panorama of a townscape after just one glance at a photograph of the view – such a person is a savant. Some people are psychic and have psychic powers. Uri Geller has practised telekinesis. Trick or not, I know this works because he was on a radio programme and told everyone who had a broken clock to keep saying “work, work”. Nothing happened, I went to work and returned home at night and the clock which had been broken for years did indeed work. I was astonished! This is another symptom of bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator – with a touch of nihilism thrown in. If someone’s mind is deranged then they have an impairment. That person could be inspired with the Holy Spirit person in which case people would marvel in awe and wonder. Jesus’s words as quoted Matt 10 above resound with purpose and promise to overcome. Just another aspect of the persona of Jesus that the Rev Eva didn’t get. She’s not so much as a useful idiot as a downright liability.

    Rachel Smith, UK

  4. The LORD JESUS CHRIST was the most sane man who ever lived period. The writer of the article must be mad, the insanity is in her worldview.
    Conway Salmon

  5. And the MSM are just as mad for printing this garbage. Would it be unchristian to suggest that Ms McIntyre needs to seek psychiatric help urgently.

    Madge Fahy

  6. It takes a mentally deranged person such as Rev. Eva McIntyre or a theologically educated illiterate to write such rubbish about our Lord and the apostles of God.

    Kwasi Boateng

  7. Actually Bill I think you might have misread this one. The way I read the quote you give — she is not saying that Jesus was mentally ill — she is saying that Jesus was accused of being mentally ill — which as you point out is quite correct. Same goes for the others mentioned. She did not say that any of them did have a mental illness — simply that aspects of their behaviour caused some in their own time or in our time to consider that perhaps they had mental health issues.
    Her goal is to reaffirm those with mental illness not denigrate any of our heros.
    Richard Shawyer

  8. Thanks Richard

    I have already stated that there is a place for getting us to think more about mental health issues. And she may have been well-intentioned, but her point remains: all sorts of biblical and extra-biblical characters may have been mentally ill. While that may well be true of ordinary humans, it cannot be said of Jesus, as he was no ordinary human.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Bill,
    I was going to say; as I see it, there are two issues; what has been said by the Rev. Eva McIntyre and how the Press reported what she said. Very rarely it seems, will the MSM treat Truth and Godliness as it should be treated, and such clerical expressions provide grist for the mill of their apparent latent hostility.

    It is the initial reading of the bold print press headlines that does the damage by leaving a lasting memory of Jesus and other biblical people being associated with the words, mental illness, to which, I think, most people have an unconscious aversion. The end result here is that then people have an aversion to anything associated with mental illness, as in this case, Jesus, religion, church, and so on.

    This spokeswoman may have had one objective, but for sensationalism’s or the devil’s sake (or both), the press can have another. She should have been wise enough to know what would happen with such potentially controversial announcements.

    So I believe that Richard does have a good point, but further reading of what was said has brought me back more to the position of her pronouncement being either extreme folly or subtle antipathy to Christ, despite her clerical position. I can easily imagine people saying, ‘Well if Jesus was a bit wacko (few will use thoughtful or technical terms) and still be such a good bloke, then it’s OK for me to be “different.”‘
    This is dangerous stuff, as Jesus has been accepted as an oddball, and foolish personal behaviour is justified.

    I may be drawing a long bow with the above, but I get sick of this kind of sensationalism and association of Godliness with it. It does the cause of Christ no good, and who will read the Biblical account to get the correct eyewitness view to counter the ongoing MSM claptrap? So society is left with the wrong association by clever “reporting” and turned ultimately to hating Him and His church bit by bit, by false precept upon false precept.

    Robert Greggery

  10. Thanks Robert

    While it is no question that the MSM is often up to mischief, we cannot blame it all on them. As the Rev admitted, “Some may find these suggestions disturbing or offensive even”. She knew full well that she was walking on shaky ground here, yet she was quite happy to proceed. So at best, both are at fault here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. “Mentally ill” is a fuzzy, ill-defined judgmental phrase used to stigmatise those who don’t fit in or who don’t agree with us. If you are familiar with modern diagnostic methods for assessing mental “illness” and personality disorders you’d think twice before deploying our modern concepts to interpret the characters of ancient personages. It’s not as easy as you might think. And what was normal in those far off days? Were the thousands of Romans habitually flocking to the gladiatorial games normal decent folk or did pagan Rome have unusually high rates of borderline psychopathy, sadistic personality disorder and passive voyeurism? Who knows? What we do know is that their minds were burdened by morally useless pagan religions.
    John Snowden

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