Dear brothers in Christ,
Once in a while I run across a book and I think, “I wish I could have had this book at the beginning of my ministry.” A Christian Guide to Mental Illness, Vol. 1: Recognizing Mental Illness in the Church and School is just such a book. The subject of ministering to people who are suffering from mental illness was not covered in any detail in our seminary training. I remember hearing the good advice that if we suspected that someone was suffering from a mental illness, we should advise them to see their doctor or refer them to a qualified mental health professional—sound advice. At the same time, though, pastors are still responsible for ministering to their spiritual needs. This book goes a long way in helping pastors and Christian teachers understand the subject of mental illness and how it may affect the people we serve in our churches and schools. It will help us to better understand the struggles they and their families may be going through, the stigma Christians often feel (as if mental illness is caused by or a result of a lack of faith) and how to better empathize with them as we apply the comfort of God’s Word to them.
The author of this book is a highly credentialed and experienced psychologist (Ph.D., professor of clinical psychology at Marquette University). He is also an orthodox Lutheran. His book shows that he clearly understands what the Bible teaches about the fallen nature of man living in a fallen world. The book exhibits a clear understanding of sin and grace, and what we Lutherans call the theology of the cross versus the theology of glory.
When I first picked up Dr. Saunders’ manuscript to read it, I wondered, “Will I be able to easily understand it? I’m trained in theology, not psychology. Will the book be filled with a lot of technical jargon I’m not familiar with and make it feel like a chore to wade through? My apprehensions were relieved immediately. Dr. Saunders clearly wrote the book for Christian pastors and teachers, not for mental health professionals. When he introduces technical terms, he clearly explains them. One of the features of the book I found especially helpful was the many case studies of actual people, or composites of actual people, whom he has worked with. The combination of clear writing and many case studies interspersed throughout the book actually made it what I can accurately call “a page turner.”
If you would like to “take a look” at the book yourself, just click on the link for the book in the first paragraph above. The NPH website also provides a “preview” of the table of contents and the foreword of the book, as well as a brief preview of what will be covered in Volume 2.
I highly recommend this book for parish pastors, Lutheran teachers, school nurses, And Christian counselors. The book also deserves a place in all church libraries, so that Christian laypeople can also have ready access to a resource on the topic of mental illness that not only contains reliable information but is also spiritually trustworthy.
Curtis A. Jahn
Professional Products Editor
Northwestern Publishing House