Thinking Christianly About Trauma

The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score is a book detailing how one’s body reacts to trauma. Its author, Bessel Van Der Kolk, is a medical doctor with over thirty years experience in treating trauma victims.

Van Der Kolk argues that trauma is prevalent throughout our society and that it, besides painful memories, it produces neurological changes that keep people from healing from it. So profound are these changes, Van Der Kolk claims, “survivors of trauma often begin to fear that they are damaged to the core and beyond redemption” (2).

That phrase, beyond redemption, got my attention. As a pastor, I know there is redemption available, not just for trauma victims, but for the entire creation (see Rom 8:18–39). The question becomes, “How do we access this redemption when our brains aren’t working well?”

In response, I hope to review Van Der Kolk’s book over the next several weeks. I will give you a summary of his arguments and proposed solutions to the problems trauma presents. Then, I will give you a Christian take on Van Der Kolk’s information. My goal isn’t to put forth a fighting fundy[1] argument that says, “Since this doesn’t come from the Bible, you shouldn’t trust it.” No, I aim to understand Van Der Kolk’s observations in light of a Christian worldview. I want to think Christianly about the subject of trauma.

So, please, join me as we learn about the intricacies of the human brain. Let’s discover more of the truth we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Have you ever wondered why people with past traumatic experiences act so frightened in the present? Do you have a loved one struggling with trauma? How might this series of blog posts help you minister to them?

  1. By fighting fundy I am referring to the person holding the militant view that soul care must flow solely from the explicit teachings (or most notably, his or her sectarian interpretation) of Scripture. The view held by this author is the Bible is sufficient for all we need for life and godliness (see 2 Pet 1:3). However, common grace (as evidenced by the cultural mandate of Gen 1:28), also gives us valuable information upon which we can, and should, think biblically.  ↩