A Christian family who have seen family members suffer with mental illness, including schizophrenia, have donated a substantial sum of money to Puritan Reformed Seminary to direct research into the complex question of how much does a mental disorder like schizophrenia affect faith, personal responsibility, etc.

I do not have the time nor the expertise to conduct this research myself, but I’m inviting interested and qualified applicants to submit proposals for part or all of this research grant.

The Question

The particular question as framed by the donor is:

Since acute mental illness and schizophrenia affect a person’s ability to reason out his faith day by day, with the result that the fruits of the Spirit are often absent, to what extent is the Church able to bring comfort to the family of the sick person regarding his salvation?

1. The research would begin by examining the premise. In what ways does schizophrenia affect a person’s ability to reason out his faith day by day?

2. The study would need to determine what mental abilities are needed to have faith as the instrument which leads the elect to Christ.

3.  Does the lack of these mental abilities preclude a personal and saving relationship with Christ.

4. Does the person being a baptized member of the covenant community have any bearing on the question?

Although the donor’s last question is coming from a paedo-baptist perspective, it does not rule out credo-baptist researchers who would be sympathetic to exploring this question.

The Process

We envisage a three step process in advancing this project:

1. We invite applicants to submit 2-3 page proposals for the study of this question. This would outline the thesis, the questions to be answered, research methods, estimated budget, etc.

2. We would select one or more of these proposals for further development. Each approved proposal would attract a grant of $3000 to produce a 20-25 page initial findings submission.

3. We would then hope to be in a position to offer up to $30,000 for twelve months work on completing the work and producing:

  • A 100-150 page academic paper containing findings and proposals
  • A popular level book that would help the church minister to believers suffering with schizophrenia and those who care for them.

If you have any other ideas for how to proceed, I’m very open to your suggestions.

For further details, please contact me at davidmurray@puritanseminary.org