How far can church leaders and institutions wander from their beginnings? Harvard University has slid from training godly pastors to raising “leaders” who label Moses and Jesus as psychotic.
Fifteen years after the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, American churches were increasing while the preachers were aging. To solve this problem, they started New College. Later they named it after a popular minister, John Harvard. For the first 70 years, every Harvard president was a pastor, and then the shift began.
Where is Harvard now? In 2012, The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences published an article by three Harvard scholars. They “analyzed the religious figures Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St. Paul…. [T]heir experiences may have been manifestations of primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorders….”
Moses’ “flight from Egypt occurred before the onset of audio hallucinations and visual hallucinations…before the onset of psychosis…. The period over which Moses had these experiences was in excess of 40 years…. It should be noted that the religious writings attributed to Moses’ authorship, the Pentateuch, could suggest the presence of an exaggerated urge to write….hypergraphia….
“Although schizophrenia is associated with an increased risk of suicide, [Jesus] would not be a typical case…. Suicide-by-proxy is described as ‘any incident in which a suicidal individual causes his or her death to be carried out by another person.’ There is a potential parallel of Jesus’ beliefs and behavior leading up to his death to that of one who premeditates a form of suicide-by-proxy.”
Summarizing their study of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and St. Paul, “the term ‘psychotic’ refers to a constellation of symptoms that may vary to some extent across diagnostic categories, but it generally refers to delusions, any prominent hallucinations, disorganized speech, or disorganized or catatonic behavior. A delusion is a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary….”
The Harvard scholars then compare Abraham, Moses, Jesus and St. Paul to “David Koresh, of the Branch Dravidians, and Marshall Applewhite, of the Heaven’s Gate cult.”
The scholars’ reassurance/nonapology at the end of the article may lack a persuasive edge to the newly labeled psychotic Jews and Christians who read the Bible from an orthodox frame of reference:
“No disrespect is intended toward anyone’s beliefs or these venerable figures.”