The subconscious seems to be a taboo subject in many western Christian circles. In some instances this aversion seems to be a relic from the Age of the Enlightenment, when rationality was regarded as the measure of all good. In some instances this aversion seems to have more superstitious roots, as if, as in ancient nautical maps, off the edges of explored territory there be only dragons and demons. But are these discounting and demonising approaches to the subconscious the only approaches open to Christians?

I would suggest we consider a few things first:

  • That if everything we are is God-given, that necessarily includes our subconscious mind, or as some would put it, our peripheral consciousness
  • That the scriptures testify to God using dreams (as with Joseph and the Magi) and visionary trances (as with Peter and Paul), so the subconscious can’t be irredeemable
  • That the call to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2 should be interpreted holistically and not be artificially limited to the rational intellect
  • That the “self-control” spoken of in Galations 5:23 will not be our experience if our subconscious is running wild

In essence, not only would I say there is a biblical basis for working with the subconscious towards a renewed mind and improved self-control, I would say the subconscious can also be a powerful way through which God works in us and through us.

However, this does not mean I automatically endorse secular approaches to personal transformation, for the Christian understanding of healing differs to secular understandings. I would instead suggest a more Christ-centred approach, a more gospel-soaked approach. Only as the gospel permeates to our depths can our most habitual sins and darkest personal demons be brought into the light and uprooted.

One thought on “Working with the subconscious as a Christian

  1. Who is doing work on the subconscious that is balanced and healthy not woo woo? My list so far is: carl jung, father richard rohr, poets william stafford, robert bly, psychologists robert grant, harvey l. Schwartz, judith herman & anne wilson-schaef.

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