Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Advent Warning

Come, Day of God, Come!
Are children cared for by lost youths of yesteryear,
weakened, humbled souls,
pared down by two thousand years of adultedness,
struggling ones, buried under wintry traditions,
serving with mocking tolerance,
while little ones wander in avenues of daily blooming disaster,
suffering and wondering, why?
Reminders are given by bookish ones from city lanes and country homes,
lessons of injuries and martyrdoms,
pointing the way ahead to those who would see.
Come, Day of God, Come!

Star-gowned singers, grown in sin, mourn in a major key,
surrounded by stone and wood and brass.
Impressive expressions!
And yet the sweetest sounding note be junk...
... to him who wants only...love...called...strong!
The praise of God a minor thing?
Spirit truly shrieks within!
But, O what joy to find tradition spring to life,
budding into marvelous flower,
activated by the heart to sing afresh
and shout the great news of the world-morn to come!
And so the ultimate reward of divine patience
shall indeed rest in his majestic presence.
Come, Day of God, Come!

O Jesus, the descending king, seek your own to lead and quicken!
Away with abuse, brutal and treacherous,
that attacks sound minds, freezing their song in fear!
And yet a melting into humble power is done
by the helping Spirit One,
and we become deeply thoughtful,
concerned ones, really no longer divided by the evil one.
Let the educators awake in time and wonder
at His plan to accomplish all on sounding trumpet.
Come, Day of God, Come!

Written Advent A.D. 1999 – Richard Bunn, Toronto

Monday, October 18, 2010

History of Jewish Missions in Canada

Excerpts from

The History of Jewish Missions in Canada
(at http://www.lcje.net/papers/2004/nessim.doc )
Presented to
The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism / North America
Tuesday April 27, 2004
Toronto, Ontario

by Daniel Nessim

The history of Missions to the Jews in Canada is also a history of the persons involved (and) all Canadian history... is inextricably interconnected with the histories of Britain, Europe, and the United States. It is a history that includes... Jacob Freshman, who established a Hebrew Christian Church in Manhattan in 1885, Shabbetai Rohold, first president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America, and Morris Chernoff, who later would become prominent in the Alliance and a modern proponent of Messianic Judaism.

As Canada and its Jewish and Christian communities have changed, so have missions to the Jews. Old works have been thoroughly transformed or struggled and soldiered on (Scott Mission, Toronto Jewish Mission). New works have thrived and contributed great energy. This is instructive to us today, as we continue to change and adapt to the challenges that lie before us.

The history of evangelism amongst the Jews in Canada has an inauspicious beginning. In 1738, Esther Brandau, under the false name Jacques la Farge, secretly immigrated as a boy to the New (French) World. Once discovered, under Louis XIV’s Le Code Noir she was given a choice: convert to Christianity or be deported back to France. When the nuns at the convent she was consigned to were unable to convince her to become a Christian, they determined that she was deranged and returned her to the custody of the court. Thereafter, she returned to France at the King’s expense.

French power in the Canadas was about to be curtailed, however. In 1759, the year that the British defeated the French in Quebec City, two Jewish Christians faced one another in battle. On the British side, General Wolfe, sailing up the St. Lawrence, depended on his Admiral Alexander Schomberg, leading the troops in the frigate Diana, to sneak up on the French. It appears that Schomberg, an Anglican, had adopted Christian faith by choice in England. Nevertheless, he was known to the troops as “Wolfe’s Jew.” He was the first of the British ashore and distinguished himself as he led the troops up the bluffs to conquer Québec. Who did he face but Brigadier General Gastogne François de Lévis, descendant of Henri de Lévy, Duke of Ventadour, who was Viceroy of New France (1625-1627) and a member of a family of New Christians that “openly hinted of their Jewish ancestry as represented by their centuries-old coat of arms.”

It is during the time between the French Revolution and Canada’s independence, that the first tentative efforts were made to reach the Jews of Upper and Lower Canada. The first missionary we know of was the chaplain Rev. Brooke Bridges Stevens. His high ethical standards and concern for the Jewish community as a whole won him the Jewish community’s respect despite his attempts at proselytizing.

Jacob Meier Hirschfelder (1819-1902) was ... one of only three German-Jewish Toronto residents in the 1840’s. European born, he was yet an Anglican. There is no record of his conversion in Canada, so it is not known where he was converted. In surviving records, he always appears with an established identity as a believer who saw himself as part of the Church. Hirschfelder first came to Canada in 1837 and lived either in Montreal or Quebec City until 1842. When he was a youth of only twenty-two years, presumably preparing to move to Toronto, he advertised in the Toronto Patriot of August 8, 1841. There he offered instruction in Hebrew and German. His abilities even at that young age must have been impressive. By 1844 he was appointed as a lecturer in Oriental languages at King’s College, and soon he was a fixture upon the scene of Canadian Biblical Studies.

Hirschfelder was not one to avoid issues. Whereas few Canadian teachers of biblical languages in that period published, he was not afraid to enter the academic fray, as his publications attest. In 1874, when Hirschfelder published on the issue of creation, John Marshall, a Judge in Nova Scotia, wrote an impassioned rebuttal. It appears that Hirschfelder was a proponent of the “Gap” theory. Marshall, evidently not a Hebrew student himself, criticized Hirschfelder for his “vanity” in presuming to criticize several instances of mistranslations in the English Bible - putting “himself above the eminent translators.” Far from being lax in his esteem of Scripture, however, Hirschfelder had a strong commitment to its authority. In this his concerns converged with those of the conservative Judge Marshall. He was clearly one who identified himself both with Christianity and Christian culture. There is no evidence that he had any concern with evangelizing the Jewish community or maintaining relations with it. Rather, the impression one has is that Hirschfelder had a lot to gain academically by professing Christianity, and actually did quite well for himself as a professor whereas he would not have done so without converting, and is considered by some as the father of Biblical Studies in Canada. Nevertheless he did not disdain his Jewishness. Thus in some ways he remains an enigma.

Charles Freshman (1819-c.1880), born the same year as Hirschfelder, immigrated to Canada in 1855. He arrived in Canada with his family, he promptly found a position as Rabbi in the Jewish congregation of Quebec City. While in Quebec City he began to read a Bible, including both the Testaments, which he had received in Cashaw, Hungary, from an unnamed Jewish missionary employed by the Scottish Church. His openness to Christian doctrine must have been evident, for he was solicited not only by Mr. Elliot, a Wesleyan minister, but at least two women, Mrs. McLeod and Miss Clapham, who would visit him and his wife and pray for her salvation (interestingly unaware that he was still not a Christian). Through the agency of a Mr. Elliot, he eventually took a public stand as a believer in Jesus.

Soon Freshman became thoroughly enamoured with the Wesleyan Methodists, and began to take an active part in ministry among Protestant churches. He became an avid student of Wesleyan theology, as well as of English. Because of his facility in German, however, he eventually found himself a missionary to the Germans in Canada. The type of work he performed over the years was recorded in his own words in 1868:
It will be eight years next conference since I began the German work in Canada. Then there was not a single German Wesleyan Methodist. Now, thanks be to God! (sic) we have eight missionary labourers in the vineyard, several local preachers and class-leaders, and over two hundred members in the society . . . Then we had not a single church or appointment; now we have twelve churches, and thirty congregations, . . . Besides all this, other German churches, which were becoming cold and dead, have been awakened and quickened through our instrumentality.

An able evangelist and church planter, he reveals his heart for his Jewish people in his writings. At one point he mentions the “Singular Conversion of a Rich Jew, from Berlin.” In another he writes of a “Lecture to the Jews” which he delivered in Detroit. Both show his continuing interest in the salvation of his “brethren after the flesh.” Freshman also both gave and drew moral support from other JBY. He describes Dr. I. Hellmuth as “A friend indeed to me, and a beloved brother in Christ Jesus - ‘An Israelite indeed.’”

As is often the case, it appears that after his death Freshman’s burden to reach his own people lived on in the next generation. A small item in 1882 in the Jewish Messenger of New York indicates that “Freshman” had proposed to begin a Hebrew Christian movement. This was the work of his son, Jacob Freshman, who had moved to the city in 1881 and began a mission there. Evidently his work bore fruit as he dedicated the “Hebrew Christian Church” on October 11, 1885, billing it as the “First Hebrew Christian Church in America.” If Jacob Freshman did not get this overwhelming concern for evangelizing the Jewish people from his parents, it would be difficult to account for. His labours were widespread, and he organized bands to “pray and labor for the salvation of his brethren” in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal. According to Glaser, the mission that Jacob started was eventually instrumental in winning Leopold Cohn over to Christianity. Leopold Cohn in turn established the American Board of Missions to the Jews. A.E. Thompson, writing in 1902, thus stated that through him “[t]he foundation was being laid for a great work in America which others have commenced to build.”

Isaac Hellmuth (1820-1901) was born one year later than Hirschfelder and Freshman, but he was also an immigrant to Canada. Born near Warsaw, Poland, he did not grow up poor or without a thorough Jewish upbringing. Through the agency of Dr. S. Neuman, a Jewish Christian and missionary with the LSPCJ, Hellmuth became a believer while studying at the University of Breslau. There he was (as might be expected) promptly turned out of his home and disowned. Once in England he was greatly encouraged by Hugh McNeile, a strong evangelical, and one of the first Anglican clergymen to accept premillennialism. Thus Hellmuth inherited a keen Evangelicalism, for which he became well known. After a time in England, which was for him a place of refuge, he came to Canada in 1844, a few years after Hirschfelder, but eleven years before Freshman.

Hellmuth continued to serve the Anglican Church of Canada, becoming Cronyn’s successor as the second Bishop of Huron in 1871. Far from losing all interest in his Jewish brethren, and despite his many other activities, Hellmuth stirred up much interest in the LSPCJ and its Canadian Auxiliary. He was thus counted as one of the influential patrons of the society’s first halting steps in its noteworthy efforts to evangelize Canadian Jews. No doubt he had a hand in establishing the work of the LSPCJ in Toronto in 1863, building on the work of an auxiliary there begun in 1847. Incidentally, the central Canadian bishopric was of great importance in the Anglican Church. While in this post he furthered a plan initiated by the faculty and graduates of [the financially troubled] Huron College to found a University of which the College would be a part, to meet the needs of the western counties, now rapidly increasing in population.

Hellmuth was the key facilitator in establishing both Huron College and the University of Western Ontario.

In Montreal, Rev. Stevens was active in the late 1830s. By 1847 there was an LSPCJ auxiliary in Toronto, and by 1863 a formal LSPCJ work.

The next eighty years were years of great growth. Jewish missions had received a lasting momentum that showed no signs of waning. The interest of Canadian Christians in evangelizing Canadian Jews grew with the rapid increase in Canadian Jewry. Beginning in the 1870’s there were “literary reverberations in Canada of the interest of Gentile Britishers in a restoration of Jews to their homeland.” Whereas previous missions had been informal and sporadic, new efforts were of a permanent nature.

The LSPCJ was the most notable work among the Jewish people in Canada for decades. It was also a generous contributor to the international evangelistic effort. From 1882 the work of the LSPCJ in Canada was spearheaded by Johnstone Vicars who tirelessly laboured until his death to interest his fellow Anglicans in the work to reach the Jews. A Good Friday sermon published by him demonstrates his great sympathy for the Jewish people. Nevertheless, in what appears typical for the time, the sermon also serves to illustrate why Gentiles sometimes did not make the best of missionaries to the Jews. Vicars used uncomplimentary stereotypes of Jews and Judaism. Thus he refers to the Jews in the tract as his late sister-in-law’s “perverted, persecuted and perishing people” (she was a Jew who had converted to Christianity).

As the LSPCJ did its work, in 1912 the Anglican Diocese of Toronto finally established a mission there. ...In 1915 an Anglican synodical sub-committee recommended significant changes which led to the mission being placed under the direction of the Anglican LSPCJ. This coincided with the loss of the mission’s chairman, D.T. Owen, who left for another diocese. As part of the restructuring, in 1916 the Mission leased property at 91 Bellevue Avenue. In this new location, near the Jewish market complex developing in the Kensington area, the mission adopted the name Nathanael Institute and took the motto “Come and See.”

The new foundations laid, the Institute was destined to become one of the most auspicious centres of Hebrew Christian life in the country until the 1960’s. This was doubtless because the work received significant support and dedicated volunteers, including a number of medical doctors who supplemented its adequate staff. In its surviving baptismal register, it records as its first entry the baptism of Edward Daniel Brotsky, baptized in St. Stephen’s parish, on the ninth of September, 1938. Also baptized in St. Stephen’s was Morris Paul Chernoff, on 26th of March, 1939. Both of these men, and the entire Chernoff family, were to have an immense impact on not only Canadian Hebrew Christianity, but also American.

The Presbyterians worked alongside the Anglican and LSPCJ missions. This work began in 1886, John Dunlop of the (undenominational) British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews (founded by Bonar and McCheyne in 1842) visited North America and raised considerable interest in Jewish Missions among Toronto churches. Eight years later the Toronto Mission to Israel was established under the direction of William Mortimer Clark, Q.C., by 1894. The fate of this mission is not known and it is likely that the primary focus of the church for many years remained on converting Jews abroad. It may also be a result of Dunlop’s visit that we have records of a work conducted in Montreal by Rev. J. McCarter. Forced to resign in 1892, being replaced by Mr. G. Newmark, a Jewish believer, he resumed his post in 1895 when that arrangement didn’t work out, and persevered until 1901 despite a lack of enthusiastic support

Eventually, the emphasis on evangelizing Canadian Jews was revived about 1907. At that time the General Assembly, meeting in Montreal, decided “to commence a mission to the Hebrew people in Toronto, with the privilege of extending the work elsewhere in Canada as the circumstances may warrant.” Events began to move quickly, and the next year saw the opening of a mission at 156 Teraulay St. (now Bay St.) “in the heart of the Toronto Jewish Community.” The “exceptional Mr. Shabbetai (sic) Benjamin Rohold” was recruited from Glasgow to become Superintendent of the mission.
In the years he served as superintendent in Toronto, Rohold (1876-1931) became one of Canada’s most influential JBY. Rohold was concerned that the salvation of his people not be dependent upon their becoming Christianized in a cultural sense. Thus the mission was termed a “Christian Synagogue” and he made it clear that acceptance of the Gospel did not abolish a Jew’s Jewishness. In its early years the mission had an exceptionally wide range of programs designed “to reach effectively the home and life of the whole Jewish family.” These programs were very much formed in light of the condition of Canadian Jewry at the time. As the Teraulay St. facilities became extremely cramped and unhealthy, property was purchased at the corner of Elm and Elizabeth Streets. Thus in 1912 the corner stone was laid for a new mission facility that would have a long and illustrious history. One of the speakers at that occasion was Dr. Scott, after whom the mission would eventually be named.

At the same time as work was going so well in Toronto, Rohold was key in establishing the Spitzer family in Winnipeg. Hugo and his wife moved there in 1911 and within a year, in alarm, the Winnipeg Jewish community was seeking to dissuade the Spitzer’s supporters and noting “several” converts.

In 1914 when a special (the first) communion was held at the “Hebrew Christian Synagogue,” Rohold was able to count “114 JBY, (Jewish believers in Yeshua), and friends who participated in the service.” One year later the JBY of the city presented a petition through the agency of Dr. J. McPherson Scott to the Presbytery of Toronto, “asking permission to organize themselves into a Hebrew Christian congregation.” It is quite possible that their motivation came from the well-publicized example of the Messianic Movement in Kishinev, which had received international attention under Joseph Rabinowitz. The petition was passed unanimously, evincing a high degree of trust by the Presbytery in the stability and quality of the Hebrew Christian community. Nevertheless, Rohold was obliged to answer some telling questions. These were:
(1) Have you anything peculiar in your ‘Christian Synagogue’? (2) Are you advocating what is called the ‘Messianic Judaism’? (3) Have you created a middle wall of partition?

The Synagogue remained under the direction of Sabeti Rohold until 1920, when he left “to do special work in Palestine under the British Jews Society” (sic). 1920 was also the year that Rev. J. McPherson Scott died. He had long been a key supporter of the mission and subsequently the Hebrew Christian Synagogue was renamed after him as The Scott Institute. The congregation was subsequently led by Morris Zeidman.

Incidentally, it is worth noting Rohold’s stature as the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America’s first president. He was elected on April 7, 1915.
Other missions are also to be noted. Two were launched during the 1890’s. In Toronto, the Toronto Jewish Mission was established in 1894. It had its origins in a women’s prayer group established six years before by Jacob Freshman. This mission was led by Henry Singer, who also from 1899 on helped at the newly formed work amongst the Jews in Hamilton (Hamilton Friends of Israel).

Edward Brotsky, who attended Toronto Bible College at the Kaminskys’ (probably the Nathanael Institute’s) expense went on to run a storefront mission to the Jews of Toronto from 1944-1947. In 1947 he moved to Winnipeg to help the Spitzers, and when arrangements did not work out there he entered the pastorate.
The First World War, falling in the middle of the period we are looking at, brought two significant changes with it. First, Jewish immigration ceased, and secondly, so many of the mission’s volunteers volunteered for military service that the work suffered in both Toronto and Winnipeg. Thus the effort in Toronto sputtered during these years.

Following World War I, missions continued to maintain their leadership role among JBY. They were influential in the emerging Hebrew Christian community for two reasons. First, they employed those JBY who were themselves most concerned with the conversion of other Jews. These JBY became key figures in the emerging community. Second, the missions were located in urban centres with significant Jewish populations, and had numerous resources such as meeting facilities at their disposal.
In Montreal little happened during these years, despite the fact that it had the largest Jewish community in the country. In 1915 a Presbyterian mission to the Jews was re-established there under Rev. Elias Newman. There Henry Bregman, who had once been a rabbi, worked for a year and a half from the autumn of 1921.

The end of the Second World War brought with it sweeping changes to the landscape of Jewish missions in Canada. A combination of theological liberalism and perceived Christian guilt in the Holocaust crippled the witness of the major denominational missions. By the 1960s they were drastically changing their approach and moving towards dialogue as their primary methodology. Non-denominational missions continued as before, more easily adapting to the new realities of work among the Jews.
In Toronto, the Anglicans, with their flagship work at the Nathanael Institute, had been led by Morris Kaminsky since 1939, but when he resigned to move to Chicago in 1955 a different kind of replacement had to be found. Hired in part because he was less than a “militant ‘evangelical,’” Jocz was an appropriate candidate for a church re-evaluating its commitment to Jewish evangelism. Thus Jocz’s leadership in evangelizing Jews was quickly undercut by theological and strategic changes in the Anglican church. In part this change was brought about by exposure to European theology that he himself helped introduce, but not with that intent. His was a short employment, as he resigned in 1960 to teach at Wycliffe College, and the mission thereafter was renamed “The Christian-Jewish Dialogue of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Also in Toronto, the formerly Presbyterian, but now independent (Scott) Mission, continued under Rohold’s successor Morris Zeidman. Zeidman worked hard to keep its focus on reaching the Jewish people, despite the fact that the mission had broadened its focus far beyond them. Today the Scott Mission is a downtown mission, highly regarded, yet without a special emphasis on Jewish evangelism. In October of 1964, the year of his death, the last service of the old Hebrew-Christian congregation took place. Following these final High Holy Day services, the JBY of the congregation were scattered. As both the Anglican and Presbyterian works faltered, however, it should be noted that it would not be many years before the JBY of the city would join to form Congregation Melech Yisrael, Canada’s first Messianic congregation.

Out of the dust of the Holocaust and liberal ambivalence to Jewish evangelism, a new era was dawning in Canada. By the late 1970’s both Chosen People Ministries and Jews for Jesus were active in Toronto, taking the place of previously active ministries, and working in the same sphere as some of the more enduring but smaller works such as the Toronto Jewish Mission and Hamilton Friends of Israel.

Based on our survey of the history of Jewish missions in Canada, we can see a clear development. From the beginning of the 20th century, it is clear that the most effective missions were successful at creating community amongst the JBY associated with them. Whether or not these communities were congregations, in some cases this resulted in the effects of their work surviving their own existence as institutions.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Keystone of Orthodox Anglican Belief

By Robin G. Jordan
(an excerpt from his blog, Anglicans Ablaze)

Full acceptance of the doctrine of salvation by grace and justification by faith, as set forth in Article XI and more fully expounded in the Homily of Salvation, is the sine qua non for orthodox Anglicans. Those who lack this indispensable qualification cannot be regarded as being genuinely Anglican. They may be Anglican in name but they are not Anglican in faith. It is a doctrine of such cardinal importance that even though an individual might hold to the other great doctrines of the Bible as enunciated in the Catholic Creeds, he is not an Anglican Christian. The doctrine of salvation by grace and justification by faith is the shibboleth by which the real Anglican may be recognized from the pretended Anglican.

The doctrine of salvation by grace and justification by faith lies at the heart of the English Reformers’ understanding of the New Testament gospel. It is the good news. We are saved by the grace of God. It is not because of any good works or deserving on our part, but only by faith that rests on the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we are accounted righteous before God. The faith by which we are justified is not a work but a gift from a merciful God. Our salvation is wholly God’s doing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

From Truth to Terror

Truth is the first casualty in war.

Propaganda is the attempt to impose a faith system on a community or society.

There can be a very fine line of distinction between farce and terror.

Witness the ongoing inertia, worldwide, of 'political correctness' and the denial of common sense by so-called sophisticates of various sorts.

The mainstream media would have us believe it's okay to have an abortion 30 days before the due date but, because the embryo has magically transformed into a human, infanticide would be wrong 2 days afterward. They would have the seal hunt stopped while they promote euthanasia for the disabled.

Stephen Hawking's recent claim that there is no God rests solely on his own belief that the universe did not need a creator. If at some distant point in the past there was ever a time when absolutely nothing existed, not even time, matter, gravity or space, then without some transcendental action by some body none of us would now exist.

Secularists complain about the hypocrisy of Christians but snicker at earnest
prayers for healing and stories of miracles.

O for the return of truth to both our pulpits and our lecture halls!
Only then may terror be subdued.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On The Psychology Of Religion

Excerpts from an article By Kim Wombles
To read the original, complete with references, please click on "Psychology of Religion" in above title.

... As general psychology has entertained questions concerning humanity’s consciousness, the study of the psychology of religion has been legitimized. When schools of thought have arisen that are more mechanistic in nature, the psychology of religion has fallen from grace.

When psychology became its own distinct branch of science in the latter part of the 19th century, it did not separate itself entirely from its philosophical roots. While psychology has never been a united field, with its scientific adherents often taking potshots at its more philosophically-minded brethren, the study of religion from a psychological perspective was inaugurated almost from the beginning of psychology’s advent as a modern scientific field of enquiry. Ushered into a topic worthy of investigation under Hall and James and their students Leuba and Starbuck, the psychology of religion was initially on relatively scientific terms, with initial studies in conversion conducted in the 1890s. With the rise in behaviorism, the study of religion from the perspective of psychology languished and was taken up from religion’s side and pursued from the angle of providing Christian counseling.

William James acknowledged at the outset of his seminal work, 'The Varieties of Religious Experience', the difficulties of providing an all-encompassing definition of religion, noting that a unified conception of religion might be “a thing more misleading than enlightening”. For the purpose of his lectures, James offered the definition of religion to be “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude… in relation to whatever they may consider divine”. Miller and Thoresen (2003) consider James’s definition of a personal religion more appropriately as a definition of spirituality and place religion as “an institutional (and thus primarily material) phenomenon”.

William James is considered by many historians and psychologists to be the founder of the psychology of religion. Strunk (1977) gives James the credit for establishing “part of the future pattern” for the psychology of religion (p. 27), despite James’ own acknowledgment of E. D. Starbuck, Henry W. Rankin, Theodore Flourney, and others in his preface to 'The Varieties of Religious Experience', (modern edition). Strunk credits James with investing the movement with a “humanistic spirit” (p. 27). Johnson (1945) notes that James’ preferred method of the study of the psychology of religion used biography and autobiography. James’s interest in the psychology of religion did not fit within the narrow confines of the science of the day and rejected looking at religion only from a functional perspective; instead it called “for broadening the metaphysical options of psychology" (Hood).

According to Pargament(1999), psychologists are moving from defining religion as “a broadband construct” which encompasses not only the personal experience but the formalized, institutional experience, “to a narrowband construct” which is comprised only of the stifling institutional experience while spirituality “is becoming differentiated from religion as an individual expression that speaks to the greatest of our capacities”. Pargament offers these definitions for religion and spirituality: “Religion refers to the search for significance in ways related to the sacred” and spirituality as “the most central function of religion,” “a search for the sacred”.

In the 1950s with Gordon Allport’s The Individual and His Religion, the psychology of religion again entered the domain of psychology. In the 1960s and 1970s the interest in the psychology of religion grew as the humanistic approach made leeway over behaviorism.

Currently, there is again resurgence in the popularity of the psychology of religion as questions arise concerning the role that spirituality and religion play not only in mental health but in physical well-being as well. It is a dynamic field today, with considerable energy and resources increasingly being devoted to it.

The psychology of religion is an extremely relevant topic of study in a post 9/11 world. What creates a religious terrorist willing to sacrifice his or her own life while killing as many people of other belief systems is a topic that should be of paramount importance to researchers of pathology. The differences inherent in a devout believer who practices his or her faith with a commitment to harm none and the devout believer who pursues a holy war ought to be considered worthy of study, While I won’t suggest that the field has reached the point in its development that there is enough objectivity to study these issues scientifically and without bias, I will advocate that it is far past time to do so.

Emmons and Paloutzian (2003) assert that modern psychologists face the same challenge as the founders of the psychology of religion did: to study and examine from a psychological perspective the origin and enactment of religious beliefs in people (at a societal and individual level) and how to use “this knowledge for human good” (p. 378).

Miller and Thoresen (2003) believe that spirituality and religion can be studied objectively through the scientific method and counter arguments which deny the existence of a reality outside the physical senses as well the idea that science is not capable of examining spirituality. Miller et al. point out that the sciences outside of psychology have a long history of studying concepts which required inferences rather than direct observation. They argue that because of recent studies, albeit flawed and “poor in quality” showing “relationships between religion and health,” more research with better controlled methodologies and more clearly defined concepts of religion and spirituality is warranted and necessary.

Hunsberger (1991) attests that psychology’s approach towards religion in the 1880s through the 1910s was one which had “a strong emphasis on maintaining a positivistic, empirical approach” while approaching the subject respectfully (p. 497). However, as behaviorism took root, the examination of religion from a psychological perspective fell from favor in the 1920s to the 1950s, and was explored primarily from the perspective of pastoral counseling (Hunsberger). Hunsberger contends that research in the religion arena “continues to overuse paper-and-pencil measures in correlational studies” and agrees with Batson’s call “for more experimental or at least quasi-experimental research”.

The psychology of religion as a movement within psychology began almost as soon as psychology expanded from German universities to American universities. Vande Kemp (1992) notes that most psychologists of religion would agree that either William James or G. Stanley Hall must be acknowledged as the founder of the movement. William James is perhaps best known of the two men, and his work The Varieties of Religious Experience remains in print and popular more than a hundred years after publication. Hall, though, was the first to write on the matter of religion, and according to Pratt (as cited in Vande Kemp), created “the Clark school of religious psychology”...

While G. Stanley Hall’s writings may not have received quite as much popular attention as James’s seminal work, his work in the field of the psychology of religion was perhaps of much greater importance in establishing it as an established field of study. White (1992) contends that Hall’s vision of the new, scientific psychology was from its outset “fundamentally and profoundly religious” (p. 25). While the apparent thrust of much of the research that Hall carried out at Clark University involved early childhood development, a significant portion was “interested in the development of moral and religious sentiment in children—through growth and moral education”...

According to White (1992), Hall left his studies on child development and focused his energy on religion, founding a journal for the psychology of religion in 1904, which remained in publication until 1911as the American Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, and continuing intermittently under a revised title until 1915 (Beit-Hallahmi, 1977). Johnson (1945) contends that Hall’s interest in the psychology of religion dates back to 1881 in his studies of “religious conversion in the awakenings of adolescence. Hall also wrote by 1900 and published in 1917 a work entitled 'Jesus, the Christ, in the Light of Psychology' (White). Vande Kemp (1992) acknowledges that few outside the study of the history of the psychology of religion are aware of Hall’s inaugural role in the field despite the fact that Hall and his students “were incontestably the first Americans to attempt the scientific study of religion and to set its agenda”. Strunk (1977) credits Hall with promoting the study of the psychology of religion in part due to Hall’s role as the American Psychological Association’s creator and first president, but even more so due to being president of Clark University.

Beit-Hallahmi (1977) contends that the psychology of religion saw a “rapid decline and final demise” at the end of the 1920s. By 1928, publication of studies in the area had all but disappeared and courses in the subject area were also ceasing to be taught (Beit-Hallahmi). Douglas (as cited in Beit-Hallahmi) proposed six reasons for the decline in the field: psychology of religion remained attached to the philosophy of religion and evangelism, psychology became more interested in being regarded as a science, psychology of religion’s methods of research were “often uncritical and incompetent”, behaviorism was on the rise, the study of religion was “conflictual” because of the “personal investment in religion”, and psychology’s move towards empiricism.

When the psychology of religion was no longer considered a valid area of research for science-minded psychologists, those in the movement who had religious affiliations picked up the charge and continued to write extensively on the subject matter, but from an entirely different perspective, that of a theological perspective (Beit-Hallahmi, 1977).

Henry Nelson Wieman was a pragmatic theologian who believed that “the fundamental concern of science and theology” was the “satisfaction of human interest” (Anderson, 2002, p. 165). In 1935, Wieman and his wife wrote a textbook for courses in the psychology of religion entitled Normative Psychology of Religion, which looked at “the essential functions of religion in human living” (p. vii). While Henry Nelson Wieman wrote the book from the perspective a theologian and philosopher, Regina Westcott-Wieman approached the work from the perspective of a clinical psychologist. Because the text is written not only to inform the reader or student about normal religious behavior, but also designed as a supplemental text for readers seeking guidance in how to conduct their own religious behavior, the thrust of the book is clearly outside the scientific realm. Wells (1936) notes this tendency and is scathing in his review of the text, calling it a “somewhat illegitimate mixture” of “neither philosophy nor theology nor psychology”. As such, and with no scientific studies to back up any of its claims, it is representative of the shift from psychology to theology that the psychology of religion made during the 1920s through 1950s.

An example of how the psychology of religion moved from a scientific footing to a theological perspective is excellently provided by Knight Dunlap (1946) who, as a professor of psychology for the University of California, wrote the text Religion: Its Functions in Human Life, in which he soundly denounced any and all other texts with the psychology of religion in the title, suggesting that they might “usefully be avoided” except for William James’ text, which while excellent still dwelt too much on pathology. Dunlap makes clear in several places in his work his disdain for those psychologists who examined the psychology of religion looking for examples of abnormal functioning while insisting that the proper avenue of research in the psychology of religion should be on its normal functioning in everyday life and to that end a significant portion of his book is spent in a historical, comparative role of religion.

Belzen (2005) notes that the current atmosphere within psychology today is one increased interest in the areas of religion and spirituality, especially “in the field of psychotherapy and other mental-health related issues” (p. 1) but is concerned that the focus is too much on these issues of mental health and that psychologists are receiving inadequate training on how to help clients when it pertains to issues involving religion and spirituality. Belzen (2005) argues that people are not by their nature religious; religion and religiosity is cultural in nature. As such, psychology must not only study “ the personal counterpart of religion, we need to give full attention to the different forms of religion in which the individuals and groups happen to be studied are embedded” (p. 6). Belzen (2005) makes an impassioned plea “for phenomenologically well-informed research on real forms of religion and spirituality” from a broad, cultural perspective.

Emmons and Paloutzian (2003) note that although “the psychology of religion is alive, well, and growing”, it would appear that to a large degree the research being done on the field is not being incorporated into the entire range of psychology; for the most part, it is restricted to “clinical applications and health psychology” (p. 395). Despite its lack of attention by psychologists in other areas of interest, the psychology of religion is “a strong research enterprise whose topics interface almost all areas of psychology, whose scholars produce an impressive body of research” (Emmons&Paloutzian). Hood (2000) contends that the psychology of religion remains marginalized, “driven by a relatively few investigators”.

Fuller (2006) views psychology of religion in a different light and proposes that psychology’s very popularity as field of study and in the culture is due to psychology’s “resonance with the nation’s popular religious imagination” (p. 222). This is not quite as revolutionary as it may initially appear. People, especially those who are secular and have turned away from traditional, institutionalized religion, turned towards psychology, looking for it to answer those questions that have the most profound meaning: who am I?, why am I here?, how should I live my life? The problem in the past with psychology is its narrowness in defining religion, as well as its overthrowing of the “religious horizon of psychological theory” by Watson (Fuller). Fortunately, psychologists followed Watson who put these concerns back in to psychology, such as Erikson, Jung, Frankl, Wertheimer, Allport, and Rogers (Fuller).

The research into the role that religion and spirituality play in shaping people’s lives (both interior and outer) and health is enjoying a renewed surge of popularity. It is no longer a taboo subject relegated to those interested in the subject from a predominantly Christian perspective (and hence somehow less scientific perspective). It is a subject considered valid and worthy of scientific study irrespective of the researcher’s personal religious beliefs. Interest and awareness in the differences of cultural perspectives in religion are altering the ways in which research is conducted, in addition to creating a richer and more varied array of questions to ask about the topic.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nancy Kehoe: A Pioneer

Faith and Mental Illness: An Interview with Nancy Kehoe, Ph.D. author of "Wrestling with Our Inner Angels," conducted by Therese J. Borchard on Beyond Blue, (Please click on "A Pioneer" above to go to the original.)

Nancy is a Society of the Sacred Heart sister and a psychologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1. Why are so many mental health professionals so opposed, reluctant, or uncomfortable talking about religion and faith with their clients?

Nancy: "Because of Freud's unparalleled influence on the way psychodynamic training and mental health treatment has been practiced in this country since the early 20th c. his views on religion have been profoundly influential. Essentially he viewed religion as a symptom of immaturity or pathological disorder. Until the most recent edition of the DSM ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) all the references to religion were negative, symptoms of illness. In addition to the historical roots, the omission of the discussion of religion in treatment is also related to the fact that mental health professionals have higher rates of atheism and agnosticism than the general population." (Wrestling with Our Inner Angels" p. xxi.)

What this brief paragraph does not address is the discomfort that clinicians feel in talking about religion and faith with their clients because of their own unresolved issues around their religious backgrounds. For many clinicians, psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis has become their religion. These disciplines have many of the characteristics associated with religion - a system of beliefs, an oral and written tradition, authority figures, rules, rituals and a community of fellow believers.

Other factors exist that make it difficult to talk about religion and faith with clients.

• Clinicians often feel uncertain as to what to ask, what questions may be perceived as intrusive or judgmental. For this reason I developed a religious history questionnaire to offer mental health providers ways of exploring a person's religious/spiritual background. (A copy of this may be obtained from the author at www.expandingconnections.com)
• Clinicians are anxious that a client may ask them about their beliefs.
• Judgment, proselytizing, dogmatism, an inability to have an open, respectful conversation about beliefs make it difficult to have a discussion in society at large and these same elements make it difficult to have a conversation in a therapeutic environment.

2. How would you advise a person seeking treatment from depression and anxiety to broach the topic of religion?

Nancy: When a person of faith, or a person with a strong spiritual practice, one for whom participation in a religious tradition is an important part of who they are, then he/she should ask the therapist if he/she is open to talking about this aspect of the client's life. That does not mean that the therapist be a believer himself or herself, but that he or she can attend to this aspect of a client's life respectfully and non-judgmentally. Asking questions that lead to a deeper understanding of the role a person's faith or practice plays in his or her life are a vital part of therapy and do not suggest a negative attitude toward a person's beliefs.

Therapists do not need to know about every religion but they do need to have an attitude or respectful curiosity and the ability to withhold judgment. It is important to trust one's own sense of whether the therapist seems open and willing to talk about a person's religious beliefs.

3. How can you find a mental-health professional open to faith discussions?

Nancy: Finding the right therapist is often a challenge. Factors that affect the options are:

• the area in which one lives,
• the resources that are available,
• the insurance one carries,
• the networks one has

In some states a person can call the parent organization such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Association of Licensed Social Workers and ask if they have therapists on their lists that are open to the discussion of religion/faith/spirituality in the process of treatment. Word of mouth is always a useful resource - knowing someone who has had a successful therapy and who was able to talk about their beliefs or knowing religious professionals in the area who may know therapists who have or are respectful of a faith dimension.

If a person's religious/spiritual beliefs are to be an integrated aspect of the therapy, the client must take responsibility for that and seek out a therapist that will honor that.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When the Church Proudly Embraces Sin, does it invite the affliction of mental illness?

I believe in salvation through Jesus Christ. If you were to ask me if I believe in Mental Illness I would have to say that I do not believe in its intrinsic finality, whether it be psychosis or depression, schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder, addictions or psychopathic behaviour and I acknowledge that many people, including Christians, suffer from these conditions. I prefer to suggest that we have been conditioned to accept these illnesses as natural and unavoidable. We've been told the statistics. The CMHA has said that one in 4 or 5 of us could be suffering a mental illness at any one time. This is an obvious exaggeration obtained by including everything from bad manners to psychopathic criminal activities. Nevertheless, whatever its actual extent, the rate of severe illness is still too high. The recent behavior of some church leaders, together with the virtual lack of teaching, in our churches, about the connections between spiritual and mental health, raises a stark question.

Is the church today promoting mental illness?

Bill Muehlenberg writes in 'When the Church Proudly Embraces Sin'
(see http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/05/16/when-the-church-proudly-embraces-sin/ )

'A half century ago A.W. Tozer preached these words: “This is the day of excusing sin instead of purging sin. An entire school of thought has developed justifying sin within the church and trying to prove that sin is perfectly normal, and therefore acceptable.”

If this was true back then, how much more so is it today? Indeed, we find examples of the church embracing sin instead of rebuking sin on a regular basis. And tragically, many of these churches take great pride in their affirmation and endorsement of known sin.

Consider this headline found in today’s press: “US Anglican church ordains lesbian bishop”. The article opens with these words: “A 56-year-old lesbian was ordained as a bishop by the Episcopal church on Saturday, reigniting an issue that has caused bitter divisions in the Anglican movement worldwide. Mary Glasspool became only the second openly gay bishop to be consecrated by the Episcopal Church – the governing Anglican body in the United States – after Gene Robinson was ordained in 2003.”

So how in the world can an entire denomination get things so wrong here? How can they simply throw out the clear teachings of Scripture on all this? There would be many reasons, but most have to do with embracing the homosexual agenda – hook, line and sinker – while rejecting the Bible as God’s authoritative word to us.

These so-called Christians have simply bought every myth being perpetrated by the radical homosexual lobby. There are many such myths, but one of the most often repeated ones is the idea that people are born homosexual. And amazingly some Christians have completely bought into this.

Thus they claim that “Homosexuality is a gift from God” or “God made me this way, so how can it be wrong?” As one example, a group of leaders and lecturers at one Melbourne theological institution wrote, “We believe God has made some people homosexual.”

A simple response is that God has not made anyone to be sinful. But because we live in a fallen world, everyone is born with a depraved and fallen nature. So even if certain people feel a same-sex attraction from a very young age, this does not make God the author of that attraction. It is a result of living in a fallen world.

Moreover, if God made people to be sinners (be it homosexuality or any other kind of sin), how can God then condemn such sin? It is simply not fair for God to condemn homosexuals or murderers or adulterers if God made them that way.

But people tend to argue from their experience back to Scripture, instead of letting Scripture be the judge of experience. Thus even if we concede with some that they may have felt same-sex desire for as long as they can remember, that still does not mean God made them that way. Nor does it mean that such desires are therefore acceptable. As psychologists Jones and Yarhouse put it, “The Christian church has never taught that all our desires come from God, has never taught that all our desires are good, and has never taught that every desire, even every good desire, ought to be fulfilled. A heterosexual man’s lust for a woman who is not his wife does not come from God and is not a good desire, and should not be indulged.”

The issue of a genetic basis of homosexuality cannot here be explored, although I have written extensively on the issue elsewhere. But even if a small percentage of the homosexual condition can be attributed to a genetic factor, that still speaks of living in a sin-stained world. And it still does not excuse people of not availing themselves of the saving and healing power of Christ to set them free from that situation. I again cite Jones and Yarhouse:

“At the broadest level all humans are heirs to a predisposition that we have not chosen and that propels us toward self-destruction and evil – our sinful nature. The plight of the homosexual who has desires and passions that he or she did not choose is in fact the common plight of humanity. We all face the same challenge: how are we to live when what we want is out of accord with what God tells us we should want in this life?”

And even if we are born with various desires which seem to real and so natural, we still have the ability to say no to them, especially when they are not in our best interest, or when they are clearly contrary for God’s design for us. We are not robots nor are we animals. We can say no to harmful desires and tendencies, and say yes to what is right.

Indeed, that is how civilization works. As William F. Buckley once put it, “Civilization is about curbing appetites”. No society can last long if it simply says we should give in to every appetite, passion and desire that comes our way.

Christians of all people should know this. That we should say no to passion and desire which is not in accordance with God’s purposes for us should be obvious to every Bible-believing Christian. Sure, in a fallen world we will all be born with proclivities, desires and tendencies which are not of God. But we certainly do not need to just give in to them.

In fact, even with this fallen and sinful orientation, we can still determine whether or not we act out those inclinations and desires. We are not so utterly fallen that we have absolutely no say in the matter. We still enjoy God’s common grace.

Believers should never excuse sin just because we have a leaning toward something, or a desire for something. The Christian life is all about saying no to bad desires, and doing that which is right. Even a non-believer does not excuse all evil by appealing to desire. We certainly do not excuse a child molester and say, “well, he was just acting out his natural orientation’.

Frank Turek puts it this way: “Let’s suppose that scientists someday discover a genetic contribution to homosexual desires. Would that give license to behavior? No, all of us have desires that we ought not to act on. In other words, we were all born with an ‘orientation’ to bad behavior, but desires don’t justify the behavior. For example, some may have a genetic predisposition to alcohol, but who would advocate alcoholism? If someone has a genetic attraction to children, does that justify pedophilia? What homosexual activist would say that a genetic predisposition to violence justifies gay-bashing? (Born gay? What if the gay-basher was born mean?). Desires do not justify behaviors. In fact, there is a word we use to describe the disciplined restraint of destructive desires – it’s called ‘civilization’.”

Because of the Fall, we all come into this world as sinful, selfish beings. But the good news of the Gospel is that God has come to deal with the sin question and to set us free from our addiction to self, to selfishness, and to every sinful desire. We are clearly instructed to resist and overcome sinful desires, not simply give in to them.

Turek is worth quoting some more here: “But let’s suppose that some homosexuals cannot change their orientation. Does that mean they cannot control their behavior? Why do we expect pedophiles to resist their desires but not homosexuals? Because we know pedophiles are human beings who can choose not to act on their sexual desires just like anyone else. We also demand them to resist their desires because our children will not be safe if they don’t….

“The truth is, sexual behaviour is not compulsory. It is always a choice. We all must resist our sexual urges at times. And while it’s not desirable, some do so for their entire lives and never have sex. That’s possible for people with any sexual desire. After all, if I honestly believe that I’ve been born with heterosexual desires, am I required to engage in heterosexual acts? Am I not capable of controlling my sexual desires and remaining celibate? If you claim that I am not, then you have also made the absurd contention that no one in the history of the world has ever been morally responsible for any sexual crime, including rape, incest, and child molestation.”

The US Episcopalians should know better. But instead they have chosen to reject God and his word and have instead embraced the lies of the homosexual lobby. The Apostle Paul spoke about this situation 2000 years ago: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Rom 1:24-25).'


The Canadian Church is also abandoning its foundation. Its teachings about sin mirror its effectiveness in helping people with mental illness.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anglican Church in North America soars on motion of recognition from the Synod of the Church of England

It is recorded that Jesus spoke the following to His Almighty Father:
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

The following is taken from a letter written by David Virtue and can be found at www.virtueonline.org

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The vote (at Synod), when it came, stunned everybody. There were visible sounds from delegates and then brief applause. At 309 to 69 (reminiscent of the Lambeth resolution 1:10 vote 527 to 69), members of the Church of England Synod, the governing body of the church, unanimously voted to affirm The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and to recognize its existence as legitimately Anglican.

It was immediately hailed as another stepping-stone in orthodox Anglicanism, separating the true orthodox and evangelical faithful from Western pansexual Anglicanism.

When you consider where ACNA was a mere two years ago, this is a giant step forward. From a bishop deposed in his diocese, publicly humiliated by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, and despised by liberal and revisionist bishops in The Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, (leader of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of a dying church into the pure, clear air of an Anglicanism that has identified with Scripture, the creeds, and the vast majority of Global South Anglicans.

The truth about why the vote went as it did was this. When the Rev. Canon Simon Butler (Sanderstead) got up and accused the motion makers of lying and invoked the ninth commandment about bearing false witness, he blew everybody away. No one, especially this august body likes to be told they are liars or potential liars. He overplayed his hand. Now the other truth is this; had the original Ashworth motion been allowed to stand, based on voting figures she would have lost, but only by 60-40 - that is 233-166.

The truth is, there is only a small handful of revisionists In the Church of England (unlike the US), the large majority of which are broad church but not necessarily liberal. Unlike their American counterparts they can be persuaded with solid arguments. TEC revisionists specialize in emotion and cries of homophobia. That does not play so well here. The British are rationalists. They don't get jerked around by emotional displays of feelings. Make your case or shut up. Appealing simply to emotion won't do.

First to acknowledge the victory was the Bishop of Winchester, The Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt who promptly said he would welcome Archbishop Duncan into his diocese to preach and confirm. Will this lead to more ACNA bishops crossing the pond to preach and perform Eucharist functions with the blessing of local bishops? Time will tell. Anyway you look at it, a door has been opened that will not now close. The liberals and revisionists can scream all they want, but this week the Anglican Communion lurched rightward and away from the secular humanism and political (read sexual) correctness that now fills Episcopal pulpits.

On hearing the news, Archbishop Duncan wrote to VOL to say that the leadership of the Anglican Church in North America is very pleased with the result. While not the original straightforward motion of Lorna Ashworth, the (Bishop of Bristol) Michael Hill amendment speaks of us "remaining in the Anglican family."You can only remain in something of which you are a part. Bishop Hill also spoke of his purpose "to encourage those in the Anglican Church in North America." That encouragement carried 309 to 69.


Christians affirm, in contrast to all other views, that history is 'his story', God's story. For God is at work, moving from a plan conceived in eternity, through a historical outworking and disclosure, to a climax within history, and then on beyond it to another eternity of the future. The Bible has this linear understanding of time. And it tells us that the centre of God's eternal-historical plan is Jesus Christ, together with his redeemed and reconciled people. --- From "The Message of Ephesians" (The Bible Speaks Today) John R.W. Stott

Our Christian doctrines of creation and redemption tell us that God wants (all of) his gifted people to be fulfilled not frustrated, and his church to be enriched by their service. --- From "Issues Facing Christians Today" by John R.W. Stott

One day (known only to the Father), when the gospel has been 'preached in the whole world as a testimony to the nations' (Mt. 24:13), the end will come. For Christ will return in glory, terminate the historical process and perfect his reign. --- Quoted from Bultmann's "History and Eschatology" by George Eldon Ladd in "The Gospel of the Kingdom"