Desiring God and Mental Health: Name It Claim It for Your Brain (UPDATED)

Update at the end of the post…
Last week, I wrote about Kenneth and Gloria Copeland who think you can speak cures for PTSD and the flu. Today, I present a different form of name it claim it – John Piper’s Desiring God and anti-mirror therapy for mental health. Earlier today, Desiring God tweeted:


Repeat after me: Mental health is health. Mental illness is illness. Brain is body.
I suspect John Piper would cringe to think he has something in common with the Copelands but turning mental health into a spiritual fruit is in that ballpark.
Copeland says soldiers can get rid of their PTSD with a dose of Scripture. Desiring God prescribes a spiritual refocus as if those who are mentally healthy are spiritually sound.
Perhaps I am sensitive to this message due to my clinical experience with Christians. I have seen the damaging effects of messages like this and know how Christians with mental health diagnoses hear this.
Tweets like the one from Desiring God reinforce the misconception that mental health conditions can be overcome by willpower or positive thinking. Those who struggle have to deal with their illness and the stigma from those in the church who spiritualize their illness. Although beyond the scope of this post, an important issue is that, generally speaking, evangelicals have not grappled with the reality of brain as body. Consciousness arises from brain and does not reside in a spiritual substance independent of body. Like it or not, if you don’t deal with this, I don’t think you understand who we are as human beings. Knock out certain parts of our brain and we become different people. I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon or Sunday school series on the religious significance of our brains.
Some people using the Tweet advice will find comfort because they have positive associations in their brains to images of God which might take their minds off a negative personal preoccupation. However, someone else with different brain chemistry and history may not make the same associations. They may try to work their brains in the same way, but due to something out of their conscious control, their feelings do not respond in the same way. They do not and cannot find mental health no matter how long they stop staring in the mirror.
When those who don’t succeed with anti-mirror therapy go to church, they feel even worse because their faith is questioned. They are told, even if subtly or indirectly, that they don’t have enough faith. If they just believed harder or put God first, or dealt with the sin in their lives, then the advice would work.
Last year, a friend of mine wrote about the frustration of depression:

Occasionally, bouts of depression are triggered by obvious catalysts, like losing a job or loved one or some kind of overt trauma. Often, though, nothing is “wrong”. We’re not upset or sad or angry or stressed about anything particular, but our body is deploying hormones as though we’re being attacked.
It is these episodes that are most frustrating to the friends and family of people who have depression; they don’t know what to do to help because there’s seemingly nothing wrong. The victims of those moments find it doubly frustrating, as a silent, crushing dread slowly bears down on our souls, challenging us to find a name for it.

This frustration is compounded by Christians conflating mental health with spiritual status. If the Desiring God tweet had said enlightenment or satisfaction or something other than mental health would come from staring at God’s beauty, that would be fine. I hope John Piper and his crew will pull that tweet and clarify that they are not the Copelands.
 
UPDATE (2/6/18): Not long after I published this article, Desiring God posted the following Tweet:


The link is to a 2007 tribute by John Piper to Clyde Kilby. This follow up tweet is confusing because the original tweet which aroused so much reaction isn’t found in the 2007 article. The closest statement to it is this statement attributed to Kilby by Piper:

Stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, and start drinking in the remedies of God in nature.

This isn’t at all what Desiring God originally tweeted. The “remedies of God in nature” could easily refer to medication or therapy or an experience in nature. Since Piper quoted it approvingly I don’t really know what Kilby meant. In any case, I am less concerned with the Kilby article and more concerned with the spin engaged in by whoever is running the Twitter account at Desiring God.

Gloria Copeland: Jesus Gave Us the Flu Shot

Since October 2017, over 2300 Texans have died due to the flu. In the face of that fact, Gloria Copeland, wife of word of faith preacher Kenneth Copeland, took to Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ Facebook page yesterday to declare that there is no flu season.

Although she doesn’t explicitly say ‘don’t get a flu shot,’ it certainly sounds like she wants her hearers to trust Jesus instead of getting a shot. In the video, she says:

We’ve already had out shot. He bore out sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on. And by His stripes, we are healed.

After she prays for healing for every person with the flu, she says:

Jesus Himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of flu. And we receive it and we take it and we are healed by His stripes.

At the end of the talk, she says to “inoculate yourself with the Word of God.”
She also used the video to sell an upcoming “healing seminar.”

It’s NOT flu season! Yes, you heard it right. The flu is NOT a season we have around here because Jesus bore ALL our sickness on the cross. This includes the flu! If you’re overcoming the flu right now, listen in as Gloria prays for YOU! Are you believing for a miracle in your health? Join us for Miracles on the Mountain, Feb. 16-17 with Healing Evangelist Billy Burke. Admission is FREE. Learn more and register here: kcm.org/miracles18.

This is probably tame, run of the mill advice for a faith healing ministry. However, it is so obviously fake and irresponsible to direct people away from flu shots. And it isn’t the first time that Copeland’s teachings have been implicated in discouraging vaccines.
On Kenneth Copeland’s website, you can find 10 verses to help you take a stand against the flu. No advice to see a doctor or get a flu shot can be found.
The flu is at high level nationally and if you haven’t had a flu shot, go get one. And that includes you Gloria.

Military to Hear From Kenneth Copeland Who Teaches PTSD Can Be Cured by Bible Verses and Rebuking Satan

A military religious freedom watchdog group is asking Commanding General Major General Pete Johnson to uninvite Kenneth Copeland from theKenneth Copeland Jet February 1 prayer breakfast at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Kenneth Copeland has a rather checkered history but the main reason for the outrage is Kenneth Copeland’s past teaching on how to address post-traumatic stress disorder. On that topic, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation Mikey Weinstein told the General:

But there’s something else that makes Copeland an even more outrageous choice to speak to any military audience. He has claimed that PTSD isn’t real because it isn’t biblical, saying on a 2013 Veterans Day episode of his TV show:
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, and it doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there [referring to a Bible verse he had just read] will get rid of it.”
Copeland’s guest that day, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton, wholeheartedly agreed, adding that warriors in the Bible fighting in the name of God were “esteemed” and in the “faith hall of fame” because they “took so many people out in battle.”

At the time, Barton and Copeland took a lot of heat over that “advice.” Before I go on, here is the segment:

Gospel Destroying and Demonic Advice

The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter called this advice “gospel destroying” and “demonic.” Copeland still has aspects of this advice on his website (source and source). I did a short series on PTSD which highlighted damaging aspects of Copeland’s and Barton’s advice. In short, their advice was insulting to PTSD sufferers. The military should warn their people about Copeland, not invite him to lecture them.

Copeland Disqualified Himself

I hope the General decides to find another speaker. In my opinion, Copeland disqualified himself to speak to our service men and women. In addition to his bogus advice about PTSD, he teaches that people who recite certain Bible verses will survive war. In essence, his teaching is that Christians will survive if they do the right things and recite the right magic Bible verses (Psalm 91 is one he suggests). In his PTSD video, he claims that the Bible gives a promise of survival to soldiers who fight for God. I don’t know what happens to people who don’t believe these things according to Copeland.
I can’t imagine what he will say that will be of general benefit or encouragement to people of all faiths. His teaching in his Veteran’s Day video and on his website requires a rather close adherence to his specific interpretation of the Bible. There are many Christians who reject this approach, not to mention those of other faiths and no faith. Surely, General Johnson can find someone who can bring people together and respect troops of all faith traditions.
Here is the announcement in the Fort Jackson newsletter:

National Prayer Breakfast to take place Feb. 1 at NCO Club sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast for the Fort Jackson Community 7:30-9 a.m. Feb. 1 at the NCO Club. Nationally recognized televangelist Kenneth Copeland will be the speaker. Tickets are available from your unit. The event is free, but offerings will be accepted at the event. Attire will be duty uniform or civilian equivalent. The purpose of the NPB is to emphasize the importance of prayer for the Nation, Fort Jackson, our armed forces, and our Families. The themes for the breakfast are: prayers for the nation, community relationship and spiritual fitness.

 
This tip came from fellow Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta (who got it from Chris Rodda).

Kenneth Copeland Loves His New $36 Million Jet

Kenneth Copeland is one lucky dude. It seems pretty obvious to me that his ministry is about him and how much stuff he can accumulate.

Kenneth Copeland Jet
Kenneth Copeland is one lucky dude. It seems pretty obvious to me that his ministry is about him and how much stuff he can accumulate. In this video, he can barely contain his gleeful pride in his latest acquisition: a $36-million jet. Watch:

Why does Copeland need another jet? According to him, flying commercial would require him to rub elbows with “a long tube of demons” and real people who might want him to pray for them. Watch this video done before he acquired this recent jet:

These rich preachers justify their jets to themselves and to their sheep with the most outrageous stories. The men of God need to concentrate on God and being bothered by people and demons would just mess things up. They couldn’t do ministry without them. Pity the poor local church pastor who can barely keep his used car running.
These preachers think they are so important that they must go to a different city everyday to preach their gospel as if there are no other Christian churches or preachers in these cities. There is an arrogance and narcissism in these “explanations” that is astounding.
I feel a mix of sadness and anger when I think of what $36-million could do for the truly needy. In addition, I suspect someone is getting a tax write off for the donation(s) to Kenneth Copeland “Minitries” which went to the purchase of the plane. It may be that a rich donor simply gave the plane to Copeland as a year end donation. If owned by the nonprofit, the plane is supposed to somehow provide for the public good. Since Copeland won’t disclose how he spends his nonprofit funds, we may never know.
For more on Copeland, see the following:
Taxpayers Pay for Televangelists’ Lavish Lifestyles Churches Damaged by Lack of Oversight and Disclosures
Televangelist’s Family Profits from Ministry
News 8 Investigates Kenneth Copeland
 
UPDATE: Copeland also has his own airport, provided by the sheep.
copeland airport

Life Christian University and the Federal Definition of a Diploma Mill

Life Christian University is a school in Lutz, FL which awarded what school founder Douglas Wingate calls “earned degrees” to “big name” preachers who never attended the school. Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, and a host of other “distinguished degree holders” were given PhD degrees in recognition of their work. According to LCU, these degrees are earned.
Additionally, LCU’s requirements for a bachelor’s degree are much lower than at an accredited school. LCU doesn’t match the state requirements on how many hours a person should attend classes to get a degree.
LCU’s accreditation is with a group — Accreditation Commission International — that has a checkered past and allows LCU to simply add branch campuses without an accreditation visit. In fact, LCU switched to ACI for that reason. ACI is not recognized by the Department of Education as an acceptable accreditation body.
Now let’s look at the federal definition of a diploma mill:

‘‘(20) DIPLOMA MILL.—The term ‘diploma mill’ means an entity that—
‘‘(A)(i) offers, for a fee, degrees, diplomas, or certificates, that may be used to represent to the general public that the individual possessing such a degree, diploma, or certificate has completed a program of postsecondary education or training; and ‘‘(ii) requires such individual to complete little or no education or coursework to obtain such degree, diploma, or certificate; and
‘‘(B) lacks accreditation by an accrediting agency or association that is recognized as an accrediting agency or association of institutions of higher education (as such term is defined in section 102) by— ‘‘(i) the Secretary pursuant to subpart 2 of part H of title IV; or ‘‘(ii) a Federal agency, State government, or other organization or association that recognizes accrediting agencies or associations.

LCU’s degrees require much less work for achievement of a bachelor’s than the law demands for a traditional bachelor’s. And as we have learned, some degree recipients have an “earned degree” for no work whatsoever. LCU’s accrediting body (ACI) is not recognized by the Secretary or any other entity named in the law.
Let me be clear, LCU students do attend classes (3 hours/week). However, it would take about 12 years to get a degree at an accredited school while it only takes them 4 years and less if the degree is earned online. The PhD degrees to the distinguished degree holders are the main indicator of a diploma mill. These are given to people who don’t even attend the school.
For more on LCU, read these posts.
UPDATE: The state of Missouri responded to my complaint about Joyce Meyer’s fraudulent LCU degree. She has since started calling it an honorary degree.

Florida's Commission for Independent Education Should Reconsider Life Christian University's Exemption from Licensure

As a religious school in Florida, Life Christian University is not required to obtain a license from the FL Commission on Independent Education if the school adheres to five requirements. Each year, exempt schools must file a sworn affidavit to the Commission and if accepted, the Commission will issue an exemption letter. According to the Commission website, LCU has received a letter of exemption.
Having reviewed the state requirements and LCU’s website and materials, I am of the opinion that the Commission should reconsider the exemption.
First, the requirements for an exemption are spelled out in FL Form 113 – Application for Religious Institution Letter of Exemption. One may also review these in FL law. In chapter 1005 of the FL statutes, rules are spelled out for colleges not under the jurisdiction of the Commission. The section on religious colleges (1005.06 – 1.f) begins: “A religious college may operate without governmental oversight if the college annually verifies by sworn affidavit to the commission that…” See the image below for the requirements:
FL LCU Affidavit
LCU clearly conforms with points 1 and 2. The school name has a religious modifier and the programs are religious in nature. LCU appears to meet the requirements in point 3. However, I cannot verify this since I have not seen transcripts or any of the diplomas up close. In the pictures of “distinguished degree holders” and David Barton’s video, it is not clear how the degrees are labeled.
LCU does not appear to meet the requirements of points 4 and 5. The rest of the post provides evidence for my opinion.
Duration of Degree Programs
LCU’s course schedule for 2016-2017 lays out the schedule Bachelor’s students are expected to follow for the first years. The fourth year allows some flexibility for specialization. Each year is the same in that 9 three credit hour courses are required along with a three hour practicum experience to make up a total of 30 semester hours. At the end of four years, student following the program accumulate 120 credits to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree.
Classes are held in three hour blocks on Monday nights. Three credits are awarded for 12 clock hours of class time. LCU’s website spells it out.

What are the course requirements?
Each 3-credit-hour course meets for 3 clock-hours once per week. Over a period of 4 weeks, the required 12 clock-hours of class time is accumulated. You should allow for at least two 10-minute breaks during each 3-hour class session.

LCU course schedule plus
According to LCU’s course schedule, it only takes four weeks of meeting three hours/week to complete 3 semester hours. This means that each credit requires only 4 hours of class time. In the image above, one can see that students attend school three hours on Monday night and take one class at a time. Students are credited with 3 semester hours for those 12 hours of attendance. As I will demonstrate, this is significantly less than state law requires. According to point 4 in the law, even exempt schools must match degree duration requirements.
According to the affidavit (see above), the rules for degree duration are detailed in the FL Administrative Code Rule 6E-2.004(4).

The duration of all degree programs offered by the institution is consistent with the standards of the Commission for Independent Education as set forth in Rule 6E- 2.004(4), F.A.C.

Section 4 of Rule 6E-2.004 is a long section dealing with the requirements for licensed colleges under the Commission. According to the affidavit, the only applicable standard for a religious school is that the duration of degrees is consistent with these guidelines. The rules lay out guidelines for associates degrees through doctorates. For our purposes, I will focus on the Bachelor’s degree. Here are the guidelines for an acceptable Bachelor’s degree.

(p) The following instructional program standards apply to bachelor’s degrees: 1. Program specifications: The credential offered shall be the Bachelor of Science Degree, Bachelor of Arts Degree, or other baccalaureate degree title considered by the Commission to be appropriate and not misleading. The duration of the program shall be a minimum of 120 semester credit hours, 180 quarter credit hours, or the recognized clock hour equivalent. The required general education component for a Bachelor of Science degree shall be a minimum of 30 semester credit hours, 45 quarter credit hours, or the recognized clock hour equivalent. The required general education component for the Bachelor of Arts degree shall be a minimum of 45 semester credit hours, 67.5 quarter credit hours, or the recognized clock hour equivalent. The general education requirements for other bachelor’s degrees shall be appropriate to the specific degree. Applied general education shall not be utilized to fulfill this requirement. All general education courses must meet the definition given in subsection 6E-1.003(38), F.A.C. Unless otherwise required by the accrediting agency, a minimum of 15 of the required general education credit hours or the recognized clock hour equivalents must be obtained at the bachelor’s level.

In bold print above, the duration for a Bachelor’s degree is specified as 120 semester credit hours, 180 quarter hours or the recognized clock hour equivalent. LCU does require 120 credit hours but those credits do not meet state guidelines for a semester hour. For the state definition of a semester credit hour, we go to definitions section of Rule 6E (page 4 of the linked document)

(55) “Semester Credit Hour” means either:
(a) A unit consisting of a minimum of fifteen hours of instruction appropriate to the level of credential sought, during a semester, plus a reasonable period of time outside of instruction which the institution requires a student to devote to preparation for learning experiences, such as preparation for instruction, study of course material, or completion of educational projects; or
(b) Planned learning experiences equivalent to the learning and preparation described in paragraph 6E-1.003(55)(a), F.A.C., above, as determined by duly qualified instructors responsible for evaluating learning outcomes for the award of credits.

Section 55(b) may be a loophole for LCU. However, according to the LCU FAQs, students only have to read at minimum 250 pages per course (less than most textbooks) and do four papers in an entire year. I think 55(b) is meant to include independent studies which are normally conducted outside of a formal classroom but are “equivalent” to the 15 clock hours of instruction described in section 55(a).
Florida’s duration requirement for one semester credit hour is 15 clock hours. LCU requires 12 clock hours to receive 3 credits which comes out to 4 clock hours per semester credit hour. LCU students are scheduled for 108 clock hours/year which comes out to 7.2 semester credit hours/year. Adding in the 3 semester credit hour practicum and students are getting the equivalent of just over 10 semester credit hours/year. At that pace, it could take about 12 years to complete a degree using state degree duration guidelines.
I don’t think LCU should swear that they meet the state’s degree duration requirements.
Consumer Practices and Advertising
Point five in the affidavit is:

The institution’s consumer practices are consistent with those required by s1005.04 in FL law.

That section is reproduced here:

1005.04 Fair consumer practices.

(1) Every institution that is under the jurisdiction of the commission or is exempt from the jurisdiction or purview of the commission pursuant to s. 1005.06(1)(c) or (f) and that either directly or indirectly solicits for enrollment any student shall:

(a) Disclose to each prospective student a statement of the purpose of such institution, its educational programs and curricula, a description of its physical facilities, its status regarding licensure, its fee schedule and policies regarding retaining student fees if a student withdraws, and a statement regarding the transferability of credits to and from other institutions. The institution shall make the required disclosures in writing at least 1 week prior to enrollment or collection of any tuition from the prospective student. The required disclosures may be made in the institution’s current catalog;
(b) Use a reliable method to assess, before accepting a student into a program, the student’s ability to complete successfully the course of study for which he or she has applied;
(c) Inform each student accurately about financial assistance and obligations for repayment of loans; describe any employment placement services provided and the limitations thereof; and refrain from promising or implying guaranteed placement, market availability, or salary amounts;
(d) Provide to prospective and enrolled students accurate information regarding the relationship of its programs to state licensure requirements for practicing related occupations and professions in Florida;
(e) Ensure that all advertisements are accurate and not misleading;
(f) Publish and follow an equitable prorated refund policy for all students, and follow both the federal refund guidelines for students receiving federal financial assistance and the minimum refund guidelines set by commission rule;
(g) Follow the requirements of state and federal laws that require annual reporting with respect to crime statistics and physical plant safety and make those reports available to the public; and
(h) Publish and follow procedures for handling student complaints, disciplinary actions, and appeals.
(2) In addition, institutions that are required to be licensed by the commission shall disclose to prospective students that additional information regarding the institution may be obtained by contacting the Commission for Independent Education, Department of Education, Tallahassee. History.s. 247, ch. 2002-387; s. 45, ch. 2004-41.

Since I am not privy to all of the materials given to students or professors, I can only evaluate letter (e). Given what I have learned about their degree duration, I don’t think LCU reasonably passes that standard.
One problem is labeling honorary doctorates as “earned degrees.” The degrees LCU has given to “big name preachers” who did not even attend cannot be considered earned.
LCU’s self-description is quite misleading:

LCU is rapidly becoming known as one of the premiere ministry universities in the world. With its quality program, miraculous growth rate and great number of prominent and distinguished ministers who have chosen LCU for recognition of their academic work, a degree from LCU is one of the most prestigious degrees available.

Given the fact that the school doesn’t meet the state degree duration requirements, the following self-description is especially misleading:

Meeting & Exceeding State Requirements
Life Christian University has fulfilled rigorous educational requirements in our determination to acquire and maintain a quality educational program. LCU is a state-authorized school, recognized by the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education, having fully met and exceeded the requirements of state law. Additionally, in each of the many states where LCU has campuses, we have met and exceeded the requirements of their State Departments of Education as well.

According to the rule above, LCU should explain that the school is exempt from most requirements and is not licensed. Clearly, the school does not meet the requirements of state law when it comes to amount of instruction required to assign semester credit hours.
Finally, for IRS purposes, LCU is a church and exempt from the requirement to file a 990 form. Perhaps this is common with unaccredited schools, but there is no hint in any of the educational materials I have seen that LCU is a church. This too seems misleading.
In a future post, I plan to discuss the accrediting body used by LCU.
Previous posts regarding LCU:
Is David Barton’s PhD from Life Christian University?
David Barton Removed His PhD Video
Life Christian University’s Distinguished Degree Holders Did Not Attend the School

Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis Justify Their Planes and Impersonate Ministers

If this wasn’t real, it would make for a great parody of prosperity preachers.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdH2DGSXjss[/youtube]
Apparently this was first brought to wide attention by Pulpit and Pen blog.
Laugh lines: Copeland – “And the guy sitting over there saying, ‘What the hell’s he think he’s doing?”  “This dope filled world. You get in a long tube with a bunch of demons.”
 

David Barton Responds To Controversy Over PTSD Claims

On his Wallbuilders Facebook page, David Barton released a statement today regarding the furor over the program with Kenneth Copeland on Veteran’s Day. Here is the statement in full:

David Barton and WallBuilders have a long unwavering and proven record of unequivocal support for those in the Armed Forces, including their families, as well as military personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD. David not only has several children and family members serving in the military but we also regularly highlight numerous military heroes on our daily radio program and send out blasts in support of the military. Additionally, we actively raise money for groups who work to help heal our warriors, including those suffering from PTSD. Yet despite this unflagging support, Right Wing Watch, Huffington Post, and others from the liberal secularist left recently circulated a short clip, taken out of context from a long interview David did on a Veteran’s Day program stressing the importance of spiritual components in the treatment of PTSD. As a result of the inaccurate “reporting” of these so-called “news” outlets, many who saw those reports voiced concern to us over what they had been wrongly told. It is lamentable that while we support multiple approaches for PTSD treatments, the critics are so hostile to religion that they flatly dismiss possible spiritual solutions. Rest assured that we will continue our demonstrated record of support for using all available resources to assist those suffering from PTSD. And we will continue to work closely, as we have been, with top military and medical officials who on a daily basis treat these men and women who make so many sacrifices to preserve and protect the freedoms for the rest of us.
We encourage you to watch the full program for yourself to see the entire context (link provided below)!
http://www.kcm.org/media/webcast/kenneth-copeland-and-david-barto/131111-an-awakening-to-god-in-america

So now the Southern Baptist Convention and Gospel Coalition are part of the “liberal secularist left” and “hostile to religion?” As has been a pattern, Mr. Barton does not regret what he said nor distance himself from Mr. Copeland, he blames the people who listened to the broadcast and reported exactly what the two men said.
 
 

Note To David Barton And Kenneth Copeland: PTSD Is Real

Kenneth Copeland’s and David Barton’s teaching on post-traumatic stress disorder struck a raw nerve.
On Veteran’s Day, Copeland and Barton claimed that the Old Testament book of Numbers 32 is a promise that soldiers who fight for God are promised that they will return from battle and can get rid of PTSD if they cast out demonic influences. Reaction was swift and negative. Predictably, left leaning groups castigated the two. However, equally strong was the reaction from evangelical and conservative circles. These groups have good reason to react negatively, the advice given by Barton and Copeland was dangerously misinformed.
I rarely treat PTSD these days. However, when I owned a group practice in Southern Ohio, I had a contract with the Veteran’s Administration to treat Vietnam Vets with PTSD. Before he died, my uncle struggled with his experiences in WWII, often using alcohol to quiet the raging memories inside. The intrusive thoughts and sense of dread are quite real to the person who suffers. Advances in brain imaging have begun to reveal some answers to why some people experience symptoms after trauma and others do not. And Numbers 32 has no role in the differences.
A recent VA study found that the parts of the brain which encode incoming information remain active in PTSD patients whereas non-sufferers show more neural flexibility. Study co-author Lisa James said, “The deficit that we see in PTSD is the absence of that ability to modulate.”
Acting along with pre-existing vulnerability, trauma seems to actually erode the resilience and mood regulating functions of the brain. A 2011 NIMH funded study found fewer neurons responsible for passing chemical messages through the brain in victims of trauma than in brains of controls participants. The brain scans below depicts the difference:

Patients with PTSD (right) had significantly fewer serotonin 1B receptors (yellow & red areas) in their brain stress circuits than healthy controls (left). PET scan images show destinations of a radioactive tracer that binds to serotonin 1B receptors. Front of brain is at bottom. Source: Alexander Neumeister, M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine

A quick review of the other NIMH work and many other studies showing real changes as the result of trauma demonstrate the harmful nature of the advice given by Copeland and Barton.  One cannot just “get rid of it” as Copeland counseled.
Copeland and Barton should immediately offer an apology and point people to the VA and/or other credible medical and psychological professionals.
 

Gospel Coalition Blog: The PTSD Advice From David Barton And Kenneth Copeland Is Gospel-Destroying And Demonic

Wake a sleeping giant and he gets mad.
Communications Director of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and editor of the Gospel Coalition blog, Joe Carter, has some strong words for David Barton and Kenneth Copeland. Specifically the issue is Barton’s and Copeland’s advice to those who suffer from combat related post-traumatic stress disorder. See yesterday’s post on the subject.
In a post on the Gospel Coalition website, Carter blasts Barton and Copeland:

How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.
Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture.
To those who are unclear on that point, let me express what I believe is the shared opinion of Biblical scholars, intelligent laymen, and just about anyone else who has ever bothered to read the Bible: Copeland and Barton’s application of Numbers 32:21-22 to modern veterans suffering from PTSD is one of the most profoundly stupid interpretations ever uttered.

And…

Throughout most modern wars, from World War I to Vietnam, both the military and civilian worlds denied or downplayed the existence of this form of psychological trauma. It wasn’t until the post-Vietnam era that the medical community began to recognize that experiences of PTSD sufferers were not only real, but also that the causes were likely rooted in genes and brain chemistry, rather than a defect in the veteran’s character.
For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this “blame the victim” trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Very strong language. I certainly agree with the substance of his remarks. No matter how the remarks from Barton and Copeland were intended, they were cruel and unusual and require an apology and a retraction from them. I am very pleased that Carter, as spokesperson for the ERLC and the GC, has stepped out and made a strong stand.
Will Barton and Copeland get it? I am not hopeful. Recently, Barton accused his Christian critics of being recruited by “secular guys” to critique his problems with history. I suspect he will attempt to deflect these strong words from the Southern Baptists and the Gospel Coalition in a similar manner.