Yom Tov, Friends:
Often within the counseling, inner healing and deliverance ministry which I regularly facilitate, I will draw upon a counseling or therapy modality which I rather deem to be a ministry-model; known as Logotherapy.
To quickly pacify my mainstream-ministry colleagues, I wish to assure you that Logotherapy firstly, is not representative of classic psychology and psychiatry as you may understand it. I say this as I am keenly aware of the depths of the darkness which lurks within the corridors of much of secular psychology and psychiatry. Nor secondly, is Logotherapy a form of psychoanalysis as psychoanalysis is commonly understood—Logotherapy rather supersedes the common definition of psychoanalysis. In fact, Logotherapy, the elemental essence of Logotherapy, is in my experience an authentic ministry-model created by a godly Jewish survivor of the Nazi death-camps of World Word II.
My time is limited this morning as I pen this article, so I must therefore keep this concise (concise to me, that is), to perhaps expand upon it sometime later. I will therefore offer the simplest sketch possible on this topic, yet a sketch which will hopefully more so yield a broader brushstroke of understanding, in the end.
Firstly, something seemingly extra-biblical does not necessarily make it counter-biblical. An example of this concept is that of the myriads of books written in my lifetime which portray profound personal experiences and dealings with God—experiences and dealings which seem to parallel the Apostle Paul’s experience portrayed in II Corinthians 12:3, wherein he was “…caught up into the Third Heaven…and heard inexpressible words which man is not permitted to speak.” Many of these heavenly experiences that I have read and heard are accounts of those I have known personally. Additionally, I too have had many experiences with God which would alarm most, however I know them to have been more authentic than daily life as we know it. The nature of many of these experiences, both mine and others, cannot be found within the pages of scripture, yet I know them to be true and authentic—carefully cultivated discernment affirms this. Most within mainstream Christianity typically opt to quietly categorize such things as one having experienced “an epiphany,” to then safely say nothing further as they internally equate “epiphany” with delusion (a conclusion quickly and neatly filed within their left-brain).
Secondly, I have been a formal student of Psychology, Human Behavior and Theology, as well as an informal student of Psychiatry, for decades. Within my studies I have found the bulk of the fruits of the teaching and application of secular psychology, human behavior and psychiatry to be rather wanting and even pale when contrasted with the life-giving and life-changing dynamics of daily meditation upon Scripture, the Bible–the Torah, the Tanakh, the Old Testament; and the B’rit Hadasha, the New Testament, as well as the accompanying divine romance which Scripture beckons our souls to engage. For when it comes to helping human beings to meet with authentic and lasting freedom from emotional and psychological torment, the inner transformation and healing which results from immersing ourselves in Scripture, and yielding to its transforming effects upon our souls, subsequently conforming ourselves to it, we meet with thee most potent avenue on the planet for terminal personal change.
As I allude to the potency of Scripture, the Word of God, I wish to insert a brief analogy which came to me many years ago. I had just finished an extended time of quiet-time with the Lord, a time of lingering stillness with Him, when I recalled my first experience with a microscope in a high school science class. I recall placing a small drop of tap water on a small glass slide. Looking at the drop of water, I saw translucent matter—nothing to be seen in it beyond clear water. However moments later, as I carefully slid the slide under the microscope, zoomed-in on the drop of water and then further magnified it, I discovered this small drop of water to be alive with living organisms. As we therefore drink common tap water, we are ingesting living organisms, most of which are quickly destroyed by the components of our immune systems. Scripture, to the transverse, is very much like the still and apparently lifeless drop of water on the slide, in that as we meditate upon the pages therein; and though the ink on the page appears dry and lifeless; if you were to place a spiritual microscope over but one letter of such, you would see what is called in Hebrew, “Mayim Chaim,” or “living water”; you would see elements of life, which when meditated upon, are ingested into our souls and which transform us each time we absorb such.
As we consider the posture of meditating upon Scripture as a life-transforming activity, I offer by contrast what I believe to be a grave misnomer in this regard, largely spawned by what I believe to be a mistranslation of II Timothy 2:15, wherein we find it in the King James Version (Olde English) to read, “Study to shew thyself approved…” The concept of “study” within the Western mind is that in simple terms to dissect and analyze text, and then cram as much as we can into our left-brains, to then be spewed-out at test-time upon examination, later. We call this regurgitation, “education.” Such the model and paradigm has graced Bible colleges and seminaries for 100s of years in this country, producing 10s of 1000s of graduates who have left-brains packed with Bible trivia and knowledge—but no intimacy with the God therein.
The actual Greek-translated “study,” reads, “Be diligent.” Further, a Hebrew translation of this verse begins, “Give diligence…” (הֱיֵה שָׁקוּד). As well, Psalm 119:97 in Hebrew translation reads, “Oh how I love Your law; it is my [King David] meditation all day long.”
With the above in view, I am thoroughly convinced that the Holy Spirit rather prefers we are diligent to meditate upon Scripture, verses “study” it (as we understand the concept of “study” in the West). As we still ourselves, calm our left-brains, and breathe-in the life-transforming properties of Scripture, our souls are then cleansed (by “Mayim Chaim” – “living water”) and further transformed.
Returning again to the application of secular psychology, psychoanalysis and psychiatry; I contend that “professionals” largely and woefully ignore the spiritual construct of a person—the most critical component of the human being. And because the spiritual aspect of people is largely ignored, lasting inward change rarely occurs. Instead, what appears to be changed behavior (outwardly) is very often that of the result of the experimental application of psychotropic drugs—lifelong experiments. The spiritual makeup of a person then ignored, a patient or client will go on to ingest drugs which include chemical properties which purposefully induce violent withdrawal symptoms, leading the victim to believe that they must then succumb to a “lifestyle drug” (a very clever phrase used by the pharmaceutical and medical industries to suggest patient-agreement that a given drug should simply be taken—for life).
Of course, the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry quietly laughs all the way to the bank, while the physicians who quietly receive untold kick-back’s for pushing such, laugh with them.
I believe it timely at this point in my musings to issue a disclaimer of sorts. I know many people who are presently on psych-meds. It is not my purpose to unduly inflict guilt, remorse and condemnation towards you. Most if not all of those who know me, know also that I view psych-meds as serving some limited purposes (key word: limited). I define these “limited purposes” as follows: psych-meds can serve the purpose of a bridge over troubled waters; troubled waters defined as seasons in our lives which are sometimes marked by mental and emotional trauma. Once we have fully crossed this bridge however, and we have placed both feet firmly on the bank, on the other side of the troubled waters, it is then time to plan a deliberate path which leads away from the bridge—leaving the bridge behind. This is where I often differ with secular psychiatry, secular psychology and general medicine. It is also why my ministry is classified as “Scripture-Based and Prayer-Based.” The other side of the “troubled waters” to which I refer, and the other “bank” on the other side of the “bridge” to which I refer, looks very different from the bank defined by the medical and pharmaceutical industries, who rather define this bank as the threat of the cessation of the revenue-stream they have managed to carefully and deceptively extract from your wallet. We are therefore talking about two very different “banks.”
Please understand also that I am not unduly encouraging the reader to flush their meds and be done with them at a moment’s notice—unless God has clearly spoken to you to do so. I am simply saying that medical treatment in this age represents a hybrid of those who truly want to help you—and monstrous corporations which fuel their appetites by brainwashing you into believing you must be dependent upon their advice and services for the remainder of your life.
Please understand, friends, that I do acknowledge the small minority of medical practitioners and pharmaceutical chemists who enter these fields with pure motives. However, the monstrous corporations that they go on to serve out of college foster a goal quite removed from the pure origins of these young, fledging professionals. For anymore, upon a visit to your local physician you are quite fortunate to have the opportunity to make eye contact with them before they become preoccupied with writing-out your next prescription—a transaction which often occurs within 3 to 5 minutes of your entrance into the examination room (i.e., “drive-through medicine”).
With these primary introductory points in view, I begin my brief expose of Logotherapy by first introducing you to the man who birthed this work.
The late Victor Frankyl, a Jew, survived imprisonment at no less than four Nazi Death Camps during World War II. During this period Frankyl was subjected to unspeakable suffering, as were all Jews, Jewish Sympathizers and Nazi-Opposition who shared the same fate. During Frankyl’s nightmare in the death camps, he witnessed many truly noble acts committed by men and woman who were often only hours from death, weakened by sickness, starvation, and internal resignation to life—the will to die. Within Frankyl’s observance of the many noble acts, he discovered a truly revelatory dynamic which he later coined the “Will to Meaning.” In essence, and in short, what Frankyl observed was that while in the face of unspeakable suffering and agony, a given person would find purpose in for example forfeiting their last scrap of moldy bread to be fed to someone who appeared to them to be in worse shape than themselves; perhaps only minutes away from death, versus the hours allotted to themselves—the “meaning” exemplified in their mission to get this final morsel into the mouth of their dying and fellow inmate, and which subsequently elevated them beyond their immediate suffering. They had then “willed” (read: made the internal and calculated decision) to engage a mission far beyond the immediate concern on their own survival, and in so doing had tapped “meaning” (read: divine purpose), which gave them the internal resolve to carry it out. Subsequently, the all-consuming satisfaction which was then injected into these noble beings—came that in the form of life-sustaining purpose (meaning) which propelled them into the next day. Whereupon had they not “willed” to carry-out such “meaningful” noble acts (read: The Will to Meaning), their longstanding and internal resignation to the clutches of death would have run its course within a matter of but a few hours.
In very simple and corresponding terms therefore; written particularly for those seeking to understand the basis for my implementation of a very real symbiosis between Logotherapy and Prayer-Based/Scripture-Based Counseling Ministry; I offer what is nothing less than a profound parallel to one of the more beautiful and passionate exclamations of the Apostle Paul; namely that found in Philippians 3:13-14, which reads:
“…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
This one scriptural excerpt powerfully encompasses the core philosophy of Logotherapy—that of taking our eyes off of our own suffering long enough to engage a divine purpose which speaks life into others (i.e., “the upward call of God”).
Victor Frankyl had practiced psychiatry prior to his capture and imprisonment. It was not until he had survived the death camps however, that he then returned to civilized life as a visionary—one who had received an acknowledged “download” from God, which would then reshape his practice for the remainder of his life, and which would spawn a large following of therapists who would go on to perpetuate the same.
What is little known about Frankyl, is that his parents, recognizing “the writing on the wall” with respect to the implications of Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe at the time; agreed that Frankyl would flee to the U.S., to sustain his practice—and his very life. However, only days before making the clandestine voyage, Frankyl’s heart altered his plans. Knowing full well that he could very well be soon exterminated along with his parents, he found a great deal more meaning in forfeiting his life for the sake of spending the remaining waking moments with his parents. As divine providence would then have it, he yet emerged from the holocaust, alive.
I should insert at this point, two things: 1) I do not consider myself a “therapist.” I rather consider myself a “minister”. And 2), I have opted to utilize Logotherapy as a “springboard” for ministry, versus that of a formal therapy—which only ends in therapy, and nothing more. This to say that I draw upon an essential tenant of Logotherapy as but a springboard into the greater reality of helping others to discover their spiritual mission in life, as well as also helping them to dig a deeper well of their personal intimacy with God—through new life in Y’shua—Jesus. For it is in and through intimacy with God; or renewed intimacy with God; and deeper intimacy with God; that we more clearly see the unique mission (meaning) that we have been given in this life—a mission larger than life itself—and a mission which will elevate us above our deepest suffering, pain and turmoil, so much so that our suffering, pain and turmoil is overshadowed by the wake of our much larger purpose (i.e., “…forgetting what lies behind [and] embracing the upward call of God…”).
Having studied at length the lives and works of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Ivan Pavlov, Jean Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Pee-Wee Herman and many others (hey, just kidding about Pee-Wee—just making sure you’re still paying attention); I have come to conclude that these contemporary pioneers of formal psychology and psychiatry have unduly perpetuated what Frankyl has coined the “Existential Vacuum”—a phrase which, in very simple “layman’s terms” means: the vanity of perpetual focus upon self, and which King Solomon (much earlier than the above-named “pioneers”) called, “vanity of vanities, striving after the wind” (or, in cattleman’s vernacular, “wrestling a greased pig”).
We cannot cure our selfish beings by looking yet further inward. To the contrary, we cure our selfish beings by looking upward—to God—and to His larger purpose (meaning) for our lives. Once we then grasp the larger purpose, gaining His view of our “issues,” we can then resume our inward gaze to meet with divine perspective—a cure to our inner turbulence within the soul and spirit (what psychologists and psychiatrists call “the psyche”).
In simple terms therefore, the more focused upon self that we become, the more separated we become from gaining the divine perspective which will enable us to cure the very pain which has successfully lured us into perpetual self-focus, or narcissism, to begin with.
The only image that remains with me vividly, and that within the 100s of children’s books I have read, is that of a young boy laying on a rich green hillside, all alone, and gazing up at a turquoise sky adorned with cotton-white and puffy clouds on a warm sunny day. He imagines animal shapes formed therein, and he is smiling. I recall intently observing this image within a children’s book when I was perhaps 10 or so—wishing that I were that boy; wishing that I could be so carefree and at-peace that I could lay on a hillside, on a warm sunny day, and forget time while imagining the animal shapes in white puffy clouds.
It is in Mathew 18:3, that Y’shua (Jesus) reminds us that unless we can embrace the simplicity of His message like a child, and with child-like simplicity and trust, we will not see the Kingdom of which He preached, taught and modeled. Much earlier in time, Y’shua’s ancestor King David, in the Book of Psalms, chapter 131, verse 2, muses: “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”
King David was describing his heart-posture as he drew near to God in his daily time of prayer and meditation, as he poured-out his heart to God in prayer, meditated upon His Word, and then sat in stillness and in silence, to be deeply affirmed by the permeating presence of God drawing near to him. Y’shua’s call to become “like a child,” and King David’s description of feeling “like a weaned child,” describe the profound act of looking upward and into the arms of a Father—Father God to be more precise, to the extent that we escape the trappings of our narcissistic natures, and find the true essence of meaning in our lives. Once we discover this meaning, and we make the conscious and deliberate decision to act upon this meaning, we have then engaged what Victor Frankyl coined “the will to meaning.”
Minutes after Victor Frankyl was permanently freed from his final death-camp, he wandered several hundred yards from the place of his previous captivity; a bastion of perpetual misery, agony, torture, suffering, hideous stench and death; and began to quietly walk upon a railroad track. In a state of post-traumatic shock that few of us can imagine, he eventually fell to his knees, looked up into the sky, raised his hands, began to weep, and simply said, “My Lord and my God.” It was at that moment, after having inspired countless fellow prisoners to will to continue with life, that he fully acknowledged and embraced God as his medium of sustenance and salvation from eminent death. It was also then that he embraced the profundity of his purpose, his meaning. He had survived, that he could then go on to help many others survive. Therefore, not unlike the illustration of the young boy on the hillside, looking up into the sky with complete freedom to imagine, Victor Frankyl met with the same freedom—the freedom to imagine the endless possibilities of meaning—when our lives are submitted to the embrace of the God who created us to find and fulfill such meaning.
As you ponder what I’ve just written, please be reminded that my purpose in penning this brief article is that to offer but a very simple glimpse into the work of Logotherapy as it is interwoven into the ministry of pastoral counseling which I regularly facilitate. It is the symbiosis between the two which has been my focus. My article herein was not by any means that to represent a formal study of Logotherapy. Much rather, at best this has been but a cursory glimpse, a subjective glimpse into but one primary tenet of Logotherapy, coupled with corresponding tenets of scripture.
May you soon discover, embrace and act upon the depth and breadth of the calling to which you have been uniquely equipped.