Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Danger in Self-Analysis

The following quote from Swiss physician and psychiatrist Paul Tournier expounds on what I wrote yesterday about not looking back. Tournier lived from May 12, 1898 to October 7, 1986 and is known for his work in pastoral counseling. In 1932 he combined his medical and counseling practices into one, realizing that the physical and the spiritual go together.

“I have mentioned the danger of overdoing self-analysis….‘Overcome evil with good,’ writes St. Paul (Rom. 12:21), and in doing so he invites those who are getting lost in the labyrinth of self-analysis to turn their eyes away toward the positive call of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Meditation is a way of analysis, but it is also a way of synthesis. The mind finds in it not only a conscious analysis of past faults, but also a vision of the task to which God is calling it. ‘Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal,’ writes St. Paul again (Phil. (3:13-14). Conscious of God’s forgiveness, the mind, without going analytically into all the remote factors in its difficulties, can resolve them all by making the leap of faith. It abandons the fruitless search into the past, and the empty analysis of the present, and can turn its thoughts toward action.” Paul Tournier, The Healing of Persons

Tournier goes on to say that many people’s natural tendency is to take pleasure in losing themselves in the “labyrinth of problems” that psychoanalysis brings to light. Meditation (not in the New Age sense, but in the sense of thoughtful considering) misapplied is solely analytical. It must instead seek the “dynamic element of faith, courage, and action,” which will help us to rid ourselves of whatever sin or personal flaw we are expunging. In this way, writes, Tournier, we find “assurance, joy and liberation.”

The main problem with self-analysis is self. Until we allow God’s analysis of our self, we will be caught in a dead-end. As I always say, “how can I help me if I am the problem?”

(Disclaimer to the theology of Tournier: Some who see the name of Paul Tournier may raise their eyebrows because they have heard that Tounier is a Universalist. I have briefly looked into it, and it is not clear to me. Tournier did not study to be, and did not claim to be, a theologian. Based on the writings of his that I have read, there is no doubt in my mind of his right handling of each person’s need to claim the gift of Jesus for themselves in this life. His writing on the power of the Gospel and faith in Jesus to regenerate broken hearts and minds is much needed today in a world that not only compartmentalizes mental and physical health from the spiritual, but has basically cut the umbilical cord linking the three.)

For a further study of Tournier, click on the following link:

“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37 (note the mind-body connection here that Tournier is talking about).

“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31b-32

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-2

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