Torben Bergland, MD/Psychiatrist, Associate Director, Health Ministries Department, General Conference
In this wicked world in which we live, where weeping, strife, and bloodshed abound, it is no wonder that the incidence of mental illness—particularly in the form of depression or anxiety—plagues humanity at astonishing levels. Significant media attention has been given to this subject on the heels of World Mental Health Day 2018, and Dr. Torben Bergland, MD/Psychiatrist, Associate Director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Health Ministries Department, has published an article in which he discusses various aspects of mental health problems in today's young people. The article you're reading now is meant as a reaction to Dr. Bergland's article.
One of Dr. Bergland's key assertions is that “It is too simplistic and ignorant to think there always are, or usually are, spiritual solutions to mental problems.” This almost seems to suggest that Bible-believing Christians are ignorant simpletons, if they trust in God to hear their prayers and heal their diseases as they walk in faith and obedience to His commandments. Let us consider what King David wrote about God’s healing power: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth thy diseases;” (Psalm 103:2-3)
As long as mental illness is considered a disease, then this scripture from God’s word certainly applies, and we can claim all of God’s promises to heal our diseases when we seek relief from our various mental illnesses.
Dr. Bergland goes on to say, “I think that struggling with mental health problems should be seen as something normal, that comes from living in a sinful world. No matter how spiritual you are, you won’t escape the consequences of living in a broken world.” This effectively takes God out of the equation, and leaves readers with a real cause for despair—even depression and anxiety. How can the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church openly work to counter God’s will for His people? The apostle John wrote, in his letter to Gaius, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as they soul prospereth.” (3 John 1:2) Likewise, our loving Saviour has promised, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25) Dr. Bergland’s statements are indeed very true as they apply to those in the world who do not place their trust in God and walk in obedience to His commandments, but surely God looks after His children: “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.” (Jeremiah 30:17)
When we compare what the Bible has to say regarding the healing of our diseases with what the General Conference says about it, there is clearly a significant difference. On the one hand, we have a God who heals us of our diseases, and on the other hand, we don’t. Godly respect must be given to the leaders of our church, but are we to accept the making of none effect God’s power to heal our diseases on the say-so of worldly medical experts holding office in the General Conference? This author, for one, will not be made to believe that his God is powerless to free him from the bonds of sin and to keep him in health all the days of his life. God has done too much good in this man’s life to ever be doubted.
Do you have a testimony of how God has healed you of a mental disease such as anxiety or depression? If so, why not thank Him, and go and tell others what He has done for you? There is no form of evangelism more powerful than the one which plainly shows others the power of God working in our own lives.