Is Your Religion Neurotic??

Is Your Religion Neurotic??

by David L. Antion, Ph.D.

“Can a religion be neurotic? The word “neurotic” is derived from the word “neurosis.” It has to do with forms of mental disorders in which the person is not delusional – i.e. seeing things that are not there or hearing sounds that are not there (psychotic). A person who is a hypochondriac (believes s/he is sick all the time) would be neurotic. So would a person who is depressed. Depression is a form of neurosis.

The late psychologist, Rollo May, suggested three main features that characterize a neurotic religion. In this article we will paraphrase them and expound on each.

1. A religion is neurotic when it separates people from, rather than strengthening their attachment to, fellow human beings.

 Many churches and religious leaders cause their followers to shun others and look on them as polluted or inferior. Even when religious leaders claim they preach to the contrary, you will find their followers shunning and avoiding neighbors and oftentimes relatives too.

 A prime example was the sect of the Pharisees. Their very name meant “separatists.” They separated themselves from those they thought to be sinners and looked on them with disdain. Jesus used their neurotic tendencies to teach His disciples better ways. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9), the Pharisee compared himself and his righteousness to the lowly publican. He even thanked God that he was not like other men (or women for that matter)—extortioners, unjust, adulterers. And he was also glad that he was not like the publican (v. 11). But Jesus pointed out that it was the publican in his total humility in admitting his sins who went away justified!…”

(this article is an excerpt from the March–April 2005 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 19, click this link:

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