An Evangelical Suicide
I had an interesting conversation recently with one of the secretaries at the office. This was in the wake of the September, 2019, suicide of Jarrid Wilson, the youth pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. He and his wife started the nonprofit “Anthem of Hope” to help those “battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide,” among other accomplishments he was noted for.
I was approached because it is known I attended Harvest Christian Fellowship for many years (well over three decades). This was in the early 80’s when it was still known as Calvary Chapel, Riverside.
This lady’s teenage daughter, like most young people attending area Evangelical ministries and outreaches, had been in the orbit of Jarrid Wilson’s ministry at some time. Especially through social media. She had articulated to her mom some alarm at the suicide of this youth pastor, ostensibly one who was supposed to “help” those contending with this very same thing. I was very familiar with her concern and confusion. I recall in years back counseling with a young, active duty police officer on an AOL forum in the late 90’s after one of his lieutenants in his department committed suicide. He had looked up to him greatly. The deep concern of this young cop was, “If this can happen to him, what can become of me?”
It was a valid concern. When role models in positions of leadership and influence end like this, the sense of vulnerability and sudden frailty is very tangible. As it was with this young cop, so was it with this young women. Yet, from what her mother was telling me, I could tell she was already pretty solid in her foundation of reality and a Biblical understanding, and how this situation was terribly wrong.
What did I say to her?
Some back ground first…
“Mental Health” ~
It has been well over a century since the ideas of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, among many others, have spread through generations of Western culture. Like most humanist world views (and directly at odds with a Biblical one) they have their own lexicon and familiar terminology. Few have noticed the spread of these ideas and terminology (reference the frog in the pot slowly boiling alive, here) unopposed into mainstream American Evangelical culture in recent decades. James Dobson, an American evangelical Christian author – and psychologist, is one of the more prominent spokesman I know to spearhead and mainstream this secular humanist field within mainstream Christian culture.
Conversely, it was and is Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon of The Berean Call, among a very few others, to oppose this cancerous spread of unBiblical ideas as valid ministry through this, what should be, an exclusive culture founded on nothing else but Biblical truth. The lexicon, the terminology, birthed out of the sewer of ideas from a lost world, mainstreamed into the Church like a Trojan horse; “mental health,” “depression,” “anxiety” and “self-harm,” all extra-Biblical terminology conveying humanist ideas reinforcing secularism, instead of the exclusivity of the Bible and the Word of God, as a corrective to the sinful, fallen nature of man.
Why is this so poisonous? Everything within this worldly/humanist field, the victimization and language of defeat, the spiritual weakness, is opposed to pretty much everything within a Biblical world view that promises mental strength and “victory over the world.”
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The Word of God ~
What do you really believe? Are you a professing Christian? I understand the vast majority of our culture says they are. That means nothing. Does your family and friends recognize you are? If you were put on trial for being a Bible believing, born again Christian, would you be convicted?
Do you read the Bible? At all? Do you read it like, perhaps, a Reader’s Digest or a best selling self-help book? Carelessly; casually, “hoping” the good parts apply to you, skimming over the difficult parts with little effort to dig deeper, uncomfortably skipping over the parts that convict your heart and challenge your world view? Yes, I’ve done that. It’s a waste of time and pointless.
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” (James 1: 23-24)
Or do you take your relationship with a very real God, the Lord of all creation and His Word to mere men, preserved through the centuries and proven again and again, seriously? Dead serious. Reading, do you practically apply it? Even if it comes down to a moment to moment “war of ideas” in the mind, holding to the very real promises of God and His providence in opposition to your circumstances, whether situations real or just imagined.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Because carelessly handing such things is serious, and with the rise of suicides in the modern professing Church, irrefutable evidence of the rotten fruit of the negligent handling of these same things. The spiritual realm is a mysterious thing, “ideas” fronted by an adversary Jesus stated was a murderer, contrary to the clear Word of God and leading down some dark and sometimes deadly alleys. And to be soundly rejected right at the door of heart and mind!
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:4)
Do you believe that?
A Generation Being Brainwashed ~
I was talking about this further with a family member, how day to day her generation is being brainwashed in a secular humanist world view marinated in a culture that has largely rejected and abandoned a Biblical one. The media, social media; certainly the schools, rife with humanist delusion and vulgarity, and how regularly reading the Bible and holding to its precepts is the only antidote. I read one secular source (of course again promoting “mental health”) portraying David as a “manic depressive” in the Psalms. What was “depressed” David’s response?
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: ‘but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.’” (I Samuel 30:6)
This unregenerate writer of course failed to mention the pinnacle of power and prestige he finally achieved in the end, after holding to the reality of a God who loved him and had a final purpose for him. Not wallowing in self-pity, choking down a bunch of Xanax proscribed by a “therapist” on the payroll of Big Pharma – or suicide. But, such is the lost world and their mishandling of things they don’t understand. Even Elijah was downcast and distraught when he was running from the death edict of Jezebel, yet he didn’t “off himself,” the Lord providentially took him directly.
The Bible is rife with stories of people through the ages who overcame whatever circumstances they found themselves, yet trusted in a very real and loving sovereign God they knew intuitively – intimately – placed them there and continued to choose to push forward. No matter what, and to the final conclusion, whatever that would be.
I read a few of Jarrid Wilson’s writings, rife with the terminology of this age, this whole generation marinated in these hell engendered ideas, allowed to pollute, to dilute the power of the Word of God. An uneasy alliance, a compromise with a deadly enemy that finally struck in the end. Very disappointing. This, instead of a no quarter, no compromise stance, in heart and mind, rejecting all this poisonous slop – this spirit, and holding daily, moment to moment, to the truth and reality of the presence and promises of God.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)
What was worse, was as a youth pastor, the young, impressionable minds he was presumably tasked with ministering to, were the ones most negatively impacted. What was Jarrid even doing behind a pulpit, let alone a youth ministry pulpit? His serious personal problems were certainly not private or hidden in a corner. 1 Timothy lists the qualifications for leadership. Titus 3:2 requires “sober mindedness.” (…not “intoxicated,” figuratively speaking, and is therefore calm under pressure, self-controlled in all areas, and rational.)
That he had issues was pretty clear for some time and should at least raise an eyebrow at the discernment of church leadership overseeing him, to not remove him from that influential pulpit.
Like many of his younger generation, many of the same high profile Evangelical celebrities who have committed suicide in recent years, are products of the superficial “Evangelical Industrial Complex,” and victims, really, of “theological malpractice,” as one friend put it. “Decisional” salvation/regeneration without counting the cost to follow Jesus. This is an unfortunate byproduct of the modern day, affluent Laodicean church entertainment oriented, social media driven, celebrity obsessed Evangelical culture initially introduced as an “alternative” to the world, yet inevitably no different than the world. A celebrity pastor being removed from the pulpit by “the industry” is as rare as a blue moon.
Yet many of these celebrity “leaders” who should know better, hobnob with some of the most notorious wolves in sheeps clothing, on the Presidents advisory council, and call for revival and days of prayer, while giving lip service to an ambiguous “repentance,” with no intentions of doing any such thing. I don’t think many are capable at this point, trapped in what Evangelicalism has warped into over the last thirty years. The Bible based discernment of our times is abysmal! It’s a truly bizarre situation.
Also, my intention is certainly not for any already entrapped in the psychological/therapeutic machine and already on psychotropic drugs to recklessly stop. That would be irresponsible. There is supposed evidence of carelessness when individuals stop their medication cold turkey and ending up in some getting hurt, which is further used to attack valid Biblical based counseling. An individual disentangling themselves from this is possible, yet a personal journey and long process.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound….” (Isaiah 61:1)
Rather, that young Christian people today and still relatively free, targets of so much recruitment through these ideas propagated by a corrupt, fallen world, would choose to resist, and continue to resist the confusion and delusion of these times and hold to Biblical truth. Modern day “mental health” and addicting Big Pharma pill “therapy” is a black hole which few ever escape, ever in need of new victims. Unfortunately at this point, even many in their church leadership are derelict in their duties in ministering to them effectively, to keep them safe.
So, back to this mother and her teenage daughter. I certainly encouraged her to stand fast and not be moved. No, she is not wrong for questioning. No, the situation isn’t right and by no means whatsoever discredits or diminishes the truth of the Lord’s presence, providence, or the validity of His many precious promises to His Church, His bride. Yes, yes she can, like anyone else who chooses to embrace truth and resist the suffocating lies of this corrupt culture and our times, overcome!
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4)
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:5)