A Heart of Flesh is a new website dedicated to sharing my and others’ experiences of mental health issues as they interact with faith. I originally began this journey of documenting my experiences and thoughts on these subjects on the blog Of a Mind to be Reformed, which was far more concerned with relating mental health issues to the Reformed Theology doctrines.
In the course of time I have grown in my faith to embrace many tenets more traditionally associated with forms of Christianity which lie outside of the Reformed Theology or Calvinist branches of doctrine. Although I am a regular member at an evangelical, reformed Anglican church I no longer consider myself a strict Calvinist.
In addition I have discovered, with some great counsel from others including an online friend and brother who moved to the Eastern Orthodox faith some years back, that the evangelical perspective is not always the most conducive to recovery from all mental health disorders, though I myself belong to a local evangelical church and intend on remaining committed to this church.
Thus I have, after some very profound researches and experiences, started this new blog which is intended to be far wider reaching.
My Own Mental Health Issues
My own personal mental health situation is a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia for many years before this was – in my belief erroneously – re-diagnosed as drug-induced psychosis. I recently spent two periods under a Section 2 incarceration which had the labelled diagnostic reason as a psychotic relapse.
I have also suffered greatly from depression – resulting in numerous half-hearted suicide attempts and two actual, serious attempts on my life which were nearly “successful” – and from intense anxiety, especially social anxiety.
My Intentions for A Heart of Flesh
My intentions for this blog are five-fold:
- To encourage and comfort those of the faith who suffer from or have mental health issues
- To spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially among those who have mental health issues
- To encourage where appropriate and to challenge where needed the generally accepted norms and philosophies regarding mental health, mental illness and psychological and psychiatric thought and practice
- To share my own story of mental illness, mental health disorders and my own journey of faith and how Jesus has been faithful and true and has never abandoned me to the evils of utter madness and wickedness
- To help Christians, especially those in church leadership, to better understand those with mental disorders and how to facilitate their entry into and continued participation in the Body of Christ and to be beneficial and vital parts of a local church, the whole Universal Church as well as their local and wider communities
A Warning About Me!
First, a warning! And it is a warning about me and my own journey and experiences.
I am far from a theological expert. I am far from being a wise man. And I am far from being a perfect man who is without sin!
And, due to my own sinfulness and my own life experiences and choices I have engaged in many beliefs and practices which are not beneficial, not convenient and, in fact, have caused both myself and others great harm.
Yet I am saved by the gracious mercy of God through His Son Jesus Christ. This through His righteous sacrificial death upon the cross and through His glorious resurrection, and that alone. (Though I do believe that works are vital – if one is able to perform them – and do not subscribe strictly to the common understanding of what are known as the Five Solas nor strictly to the common understanding of the Doctrines of Grace, though on both matters I am looking into the summations much more intently than hitherto, and I am not well-versed in the deeper doctrinal basis for these summed-up lists, so cannot state that my perspective on these will not change.)
I do, however, believe in the ancient philosophy of the Celtic Church – the predominant Church in the British Isles prior to Augustine’s mission to England – in regard to the belief that all that can be redeemed should be redeemed, and that to trapple underfoot that which is compatible with the Holy Scriptures in other cultures and religions, even if those religions as wholes are riddled with error, is wrong and even hinders evangelism. Nevertheless, Holy Scripture should be the test as to whether things are accepted or rejected.
If I speak of doctrinal or church matters please do test them against Scripture under the guidance of a mature brother or sister (depending upon your own biological sex) or a minister at your church.
With that introduction given, do read what I will share here and, if you find anything helpful, please do share with brothers, sisters, church leaders, friends and family and, perchance, even enemies whom we are called upon to love and bless.