Dr. John K. John- Executive Director, BCTI
Recently I stumbled upon a video featuring Deepak Chopra arguing with an atheist on how his new age way of treating all kinds of health conditions, addictions and mental health problems is far more effective than the modern(western) medical model; the atheist evidently was not impressed. I also came across a news item a few days ago relating to alcoholism and substance abuse in Kerala, the ‘God’s own country’ credited with ‘universal literacy’. Kerala incidentally also has more people dying of a mix of alcoholism, depression and suicide compared to other states. Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister of the State was sharing stage with Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, the founder of ‘Art of Living’ foundation at the launch of a new initiative by Kerala government in partnership with the Art of Living Foundation for eradicating alcoholism and substance abuse.
But despite the good intentions of these two prominent people on the same stage, one has to wait and see whether anything substantial is going to be achieved in the long run through these old medicines packed in new bottles. We had these medicines doing the rounds globally for short seasons in different packaging whether it was Transcendental Meditation, the controversial lifestyle treatment of Rajneesh/Osho or the counsel of lesser known gurus and god men from time to time. Evidently Deepak Chopra has been successful in the global market through his popular books and lectures based on the same new age psychology. Similarly the now popular ‘Art of Living’ attempts to change the cravings of the heart of alcoholics through seminars, meditation and Yoga classes. Secular psychology of late has been facing stiff competition from these new age psychologies. Psychology of the West claims to be secular and scientific in its approach whereas the other models mentioned above, according to its proponents, are rooted in the ‘Sanatan dharma’(eternal way of living) of the East.
Where does the biblical model for counseling the afflicted fit among these conflicting claims? A Christian helper has to have an informed opinion about the various psychologies tested on the basis of the answer to the question “Who is the sovereign God of the universe and what is he saying and doing through Christ Jesus in this person’s life in the context of his present reality/struggles?” But what we see in our Church community is a lack of clarity to this question when we are perplexed with our own life’s major challenges. Chaos reign among our theological community as we feel a Christ-centric theology has to be supplemented with world’s contemporary wisdom for finding answers to the human predicament. We must accept that the problem of pain and suffering has no valid answers apart from seeing it from the perspective of the Cross. The Bible clearly tells us that lasting change from the sin condition and its effects on our bodies and hearts can come only when a supernatural heart change happens through the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This is the good news for the sufferer and the sinner alike, the same old truth in the old wineskin, the only medicine that works in the long run for all suffering people for all of history and for all eternity.