Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #86.
Our Scripture Verse for today is 1 John 4:4 which reads, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Jonathan Harnisch. He said, “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 35):
Since the exchange of letters with Norman Nash in February I had continued to keep in touch with him. He visited me two or three times in addition to writing, and during those visits we discussed the possibility of consulting Dr. Elwood Worcester of Emmanuel Church in Boston. We also considered the feasibility of my enrolling at Harvard for a study of the problem with which I was confronted. The following letters will indicate the progress of these discussions.
18 September 1921
This is of course an anxious period with me. One by one the different means of escape on which I had been relying have been removed….The plan [for doing graduate work at Harvard] in which you have been kind enough to interest yourself is now the only one remaining. But of all the plans which I have considered that plan seems to me to offer the greatest prospect of leading to something worth while. If it works out as I hope it may, I can even be thankful for the set-back of last spring.
I hold that there is no line of separation between valid religious experience and the abnormal mental states which the alienist calls “insanity.” The distinguishing feature, as I see it, is not the presence or absence of the abnormal and erroneous, but the direction of the change which may be taking place. For the most part the cases with which the psychiatrist is concerned are cases in which the patient is losing ground. Valid religious experiences, on the other hand, are unifying. The subject is gaining ground, even though there may be much disturbance and many morbid and erroneous ideas. Saul of Tarsus, George Fox and others I might name are classed as religious geniuses, not as insane persons, because the experiences through which they passed had a constructive outcome.
It is worth noting that the procedure of the religious teacher has often been just the opposite to that of the present-day psychiatrist. The church has long taught that conviction of sin is the first step on the road to salvation. It seeks to make a man face the facts in his own life in the light of the teachings of Christ and to square his accounts, even though it may make him very uncomfortable. The psychiatrist, on the other hand, says, “Forget it.” And very frequently he takes the position which one of our young doctors took in the only interview I have been granted since I have been here, that the trouble has been in my idealism and that the thing to do is to let nature have its way.
I am unable to agree that further stay here is either necessary or wise. I am not unhappy. I am trying to forget myself in my work and I am fortunate enough to have plenty of interesting work to do. But I am well aware that so long as I remain here as a patient, I am by that very fact discredited. There is therefore little that I can contribute to the understanding of this problem. I would also be limited in my capacity to help others by the discouragement which might result from long-continued incarceration. It is also to be recognized that the longer I stay here the harder it will be to re-establish myself when I do get out.
You will, of course, not take anything I have said as a reflection upon my doctors. They have treated me most kindly and I am grateful to them. I am only trying to emphasize the difference in point of view which, as I see it, makes correct understanding in such cases as mine very difficult for them.
25 September 1921
My mother was here Thursday and brought word of your call the day before. She has great confidence in you, and it was very heartening for me to see how much more hopeful she is since your visit. She has still many lingering doubts. She wonders whether it would not be best to let me stay here until the doctors think me well enough to be turned loose without restrictions. She also has the idea, to me so abhorrent, that I must now engage in some sort of physical work. However, she is willing to be guided by whatever Dr. Worcester says and she will back me up in taking work at Harvard, in case he is favorable to that, even though the financial problem is going to be a difficult one.
In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 36 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.
Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, my friend, God bless!