Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness, By Matthew S. Stanford

Grace for the Afflicted

A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness

Revised and Expanded Edition

by Matthew S. Stanford

Grace for the Afflicted
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: September 07, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4507
  • ISBN: 9780830845071

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Why has the church struggled in ministering to those with mental illnesses?

Each day men and women diagnosed with mental disorders are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demonic possession, weak faith, and generational sin. As both a church leader and a professor of psychology and behavioral sciences, Matthew S. Stanford has seen far too many mentally ill brothers and sisters damaged by well-meaning believers who respond to them out of fear or misinformation rather than grace.

Grace for the Afflicted is written to educate Christians about mental illness from both biblical and scientific perspectives. Stanford presents insights into our physical and spiritual nature and discusses the appropriate role of psychology and psychiatry in the life of the believer. Describing common mental disorders, Stanford probes what science says and what the Bible says about each illness.

Consistent with DSM-5 diagnoses, this revised and expanded edition is thoroughly updated with new material throughout, including eight new chapters that cover

  • bipolar disorders
  • trauma- and stressor-related disorders
  • dementia
  • cerebrovascular accidents (stroke)
  • traumatic brain injury
  • suicide
  • a holistic approach to recovery
  • mental health and the church

"Having been a pastor for almost four decades and having an undergraduate degree in psychology has created a personal interest in both theology and psychology for many years. I'm well aware of the deep division between these two disciplines. That being said, Dr. Matthew Stanford does a masterful job of showing the truth in how these two seemingly divided groups can find a common and honest intersection. Skillfully done, Dr. Stanford shows how Scripture applies to real life and speaks truth about deep psychological issues. It's written in a way that is understandable and applicable. I believe this book will minister to many in the days ahead. "

Frank S. Page, president and CEO, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention

"Matt's deep commitment to the gospel, coupled with his preparation as a scholar-practitioner, makes him a trusted voice to me and so many others."

Ed Stetzer, executive director, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, Billy Graham Distinguished Endowed Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College

"Grace for the Afflicted offers the church an account of mental illnesses from a medical and biblical perspective. Stanford speaks a word of hope and grace to those who bear the burden of mental illnesses—patients and families alike. He examines illnesses not often covered in such studies: from traumatic brain injuries caused by accidents, violence, and strokes to personality disorders and dementia. A highly significant addition to the pastor's bookshelf."

Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Christ Church, New Haven, CT, author of Darkness Is My Only Companion

"When responding to mental illness, our churches often start from a place of ignorance, faulty assumptions, or simple hopelessness. Matthew Stanford uses his knowledge and experience to battle all three. As a fellow believer that the Christian community has much to offer people affected by mental health challenges, I applaud and recommend this book, which offers much-needed education, sound biblical thought, and practical ways to help. It's a must-read for every pastor, ministry leader, and concerned Christian who wants to be informed, wise, sensible, and truly helpful."

Amy Simpson, author of Troubled Minds

"Jesus began his ministry by blessing the 'poor in spirit' (Mt 5:3), and none are better qualified for that designation than people with mental disorders. Yet they remain profoundly stigmatized to this day, even in the church. There is a tremendous need, therefore, for books like this one. An accessible overview of mental disorders written for the church, it offers a welcome dose of scientifically informed common sense, undergirded with sound, biblically based wisdom. It deserves a wide circulation and will make an excellent gift for friends, family members, and ministers looking for a sympathetic Christian guide to this complex area."

Eric L. Johnson, Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Pastoral Care, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"I wholeheartedly recommend Grace for the Afflicted for any pastor or church leader who is looking for a reliable resource on understanding mental illness and treatment from a biblical perspective. Dr. Matthew Stanford's extensive background as a neurobiologist is shaped by his vibrant and personal faith in God as our wounded healer who has compassion on his children who suffer."

Kay Warren

"This book contains detailed information and biblical perspective about various types of disorders. It is an excellent reference to better understand the problem as well as help people with mental illness."

Amy Simpson, Christianity Today, January/February 2013


Section 1: Psychology, Psychiatry, and Faith
1 Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
2 The Adversary
3 The Secular and the Sacred
4 A Cake of Figs
Section 2: Mental Disorders
5 A Lost Mind: Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
6 Tormented: Bipolar and Related Disorders
7 In the Valley of Darkness: Depressive Disorders
8 Overwhelmed: Anxiety Disorders
9 Broken and Crushed: Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders
10 Distressed and Destructive: Personality Disorders
Section 3: Neurological Disorders
11 Stricken in Years: Dementia
12 Struck Down by Violence: Cerebrovascular Accidents
13 The Golden Bowl: Traumatic Brain Injury
Section 4: Caring for Those Who Are Suffering
14 A Fatal Decision: Suicide
15 A Holistic Approach to Recovery
16 Mental Illness and the Church


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Matthew S. Stanford

Matthew S. Stanford (PhD, Baylor University) is CEO of the Hope and Healing Center & Institute in Houston, Texas, and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Methodist Hospital Institute for Academic Medicine. His research on the interplay between mental health and faith has been featured in such national publications as The New York Times, USA Today, and Christianity Today. A Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, he is the author of several books including Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness and Grace for the Children: Finding Hope in the Midst of Child and Adolescent Mental Illness.