“Could it be that Jesus Christ was schizophrenic?” Dr. Lear queried at the beginning of tonight’s class.
My classmates and I were sitting in Dysfunctional Behavior class like we would do every Wednesday evening for three months. The class covered virtually every diagnosis found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5. I’d been looking forward to Dysfunctional Behavior and it didn’t disappoint. Until tonight, though, I’d never heard Dr. Lear make any references to God, Jesus or any other biblical figure.
Even so, I thought it was brilliant how Dr. Lear had asked this attention-grabbing question about Jesus in order to introduce tonight’s topic. He explained how some who are diagnosed with schizophrenia feel they are chosen by God to fulfill His mission. He said it was also common for some schizophrenics to believe they had direct communication with God.
“Does that remind you of someone from around 2,000 years ago? Maybe Jesus had undiagnosed schizophrenia. Can we know for sure that he didn’t?” Dr. Lear challenged us. “The disease is as old as mankind, even if it wasn’t referred to as ‘schizophrenia’ in biblical times. So if Jesus were alive today, what do you think? Would we believe He was the Son of God or would we more than likely diagnose Him?”
People whispered to each other. One classmate, Nadine, said, “That’s blasphemous, Dr. Lear! You shouldn’t talk like that!”
Another classmate, Matt, defended him, “Well, wait a minute, Nadine. What if Dr. Lear is right? Maybe Jesus was schizophrenic – think about it − Jesus thought He was on a mission. He believed He was the Son of God when most people at that time thought he was a fraud. He also claimed that He and God could talk directly to each other. If Jesus were alive today, I think most would think he was just another crackpot. He probably would end up being diagnosed.”
Amused, I finally threw in my two cents. “Well, I guess that all depends on whether or not you believe the literature of the time. If you give the Bible the benefit of the doubt, though, the reason we believe Jesus is the Son of God isn’t just because Hesaid so − Jesus had witnesses – people who were able to provide first-hand accounts that Jesus could literallywalk His talk − in His case − on water. As far as I know, schizophrenics can’t do that. And that’s why Jesus isn’t schizophrenic.”
Laughter rang out in class. No one, not even Dr. Lear could argue with that.
Dr. Lear’s eyes blazed in my direction for a split second as if to say, “Thanks for screwing up my point!” before turning back to the class. Without skipping a beat, Lear addressed the class again, “Okay. Forget about Jesus, then. What about Paul? Could Paul have been schizophrenic?”
I heard Sally whisper to Josh, “Was Paul able to perform miracles?”
Josh whispered back, “I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.”
“Crap,” Sally whispered again.
My classmates eyes turned toward me. At that point, I said, “Hey, y’all, I defended Jesus, not that he needs me to, but I don’t know anything about Paul. Someone else will have to defend him.”
Then I wrote in my notes: “Jesus – 1; Dr. Lear – 0; Humankind – W.”