I’ve blogged at length, with robust intention, about the inter-relation of Christianity and Depression.
This short review – of a short book – aims to add to that discussion. Add some ideas to the pot.
John Piper is one of my favourite pastors and authors. Whilst I don’t always agree entirely with everything he says, his passion for the majesty of God, and his glory, is inspirational to me. Some of his books have been incredibly formative in my own Christian walk. This one, though, is a little different. I wish I’d found it when I was clinically depressed! Piper is all about Joy in the Christian life, but this book is representative of his awareness that not having Joy in the Christian life can not only be a stigmata, but also a factor in contributing to continuing misery.
Piper is fiercely Christ-focused and scripture-drenched throughout the entire book. And, fortunately, he is also aware that ‘melancholy’, and its more serious clinical sibling, depression, can because by a variety of factors. Citing with favour the Puritan’s awareness of such things, he also references Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones. MLJ trained as a medical doctor before becoming one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century English church. This gave him a good awareness that, simply put;
“you cannot isolate the spiritual from the physical for we are body, mind and spirit“
This is the sort of thing that Christians today need to hear. It is the starting point for biblically based, medically valid, reasonable understanding of depression in Christian contexts. Piper is aware – as is Lloyd Jones – that we are beings not dual but complex. Body, mind, spirit. The human being is made in the image of God – as this scatter-brained blog post tries to understand. It is complex – and the mind is complex.
Piper is good at striking a balance between culture, science and faith in the search for deliverance from depression. Indeed, I am incredibly grateful for an elder at my church, who was exactly what Piper commends someone on medication, or thinking about, to seek out; “I commend you to the wisdom of a God-centered, Bible-saturated medical doctor”. Piper’s book is immensely helpful, very practical, deeply God-focused, and incredibly useful for Christians suffering with depression – or those who love them.
I recommend and commend this book – you can get a free pdf of it from Desiring God.