If you’ve read my various complaints against “Christian” psychology on my old blog, you may wonder how I have the audacity to insist that Scripture could adequately address all the psychological problems that 21st Century evangelicals face. Such an inquiry seems reasonable, I must agree. But let’s think carefully about a couple underlying presuppositions of “Christian” psychology.
To begin with, the introduction of psychological principles into Christian counseling presupposes that 21st Century struggles differ in complexity from the struggles faced by ancient people. And I readily admit that present-day technology has intensified life in many ways, while at the same time reducing the depths of relationships. We get away with narcissism much more easily, and we have greater access to sexual stimulation with less perceptible consequences. Fewer children grow up in homes with married, heterosexual parents, and society increasingly redefines both gender roles and acceptable sexual conduct. As a result of all these factors (and perhaps others), of course we feel as if we suffer in ways unique to our day and age.
If we think carefully, however, we realize that the outward trappings of 21st Century life merely expose the same tired human sins that have typified mankind since Adam first let Eve taste that forbidden fruit. The particulars may look different, and the temptations may lie more closely in reach, but the human heart and mind really haven’t changed from Paul’s description in Romans 1:18-32. In fact, Ecclesiastes 1:9 says that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Human wisdom has not advanced beyond the wisdom of God’s Word.
Isn’t it arrogant to believe that the “scientific discoveries” of modern psychology offer greater insight into the human mind than the inspired Word of God? Doesn’t such a presupposition directly contradict what the writer of Hebrews asserted?
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
Biblical counseling uses Scripture alone to reshape thinking that traps people. The book, Counseling The Hard Cases presents truly stunning examples of men and women finding freedom from very complex problems (such as multiple personality disorder, homosexuality and bipolar) by relying on the sufficiency of Scripture. The true stories chronicled in this book highlight that the Bible has not lost its power to address humanity’s deepest struggles.
Similarly, we also presuppose that our modern “understanding” of human nature gives us an intellectual advantage over the men who wrote the Bible. We believe Freud, Jung and other pioneers of psychoanalysis gave us tools and insight that the world sadly lacked prior to their “discoveries.” Yet, as I hope to point out in future posts, Freud and Jung (the two main founders of modern psychology) based their “science” on either atheism (Freud) or a spirituality that merges “Christianity” with mysticism and Eastern religion (Jung). Thus, we betray our conviction that psychology, although an invention of men who openly rejected Christianity, can offer us a greater depth of insight than the Word of God can.
Paul’s words in Colossians directly refute that line of reasoning.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ~~Colossians 2:8-10 (ESV)
Psychology’s very essence is that we can delve into ourselves to find resources for resolving our problems. Biblical counseling, on the other hand, directs us away from ourselves and human wisdom to the Lord. There’s no way for those two traditions to work together without compromising (and therefore rejecting) the sufficiency of God’s Word. We must chose between the world’s philosophies and God’s wisdom (see James 4:4). Doctrinal purity demands that we turn away from humanistic systems like psychology.
Dear friends, the Lord Who created our minds knows us infinitely better than theorists in psychology ever could! In His generosity, He has revealed His Word through His prophets and apostles. 2 Peter 1:2-3 maintains that the knowledge of Christ (which comes through God’s Word) provides us with everything we need for godly lives.
We Christians are filled with the King of all creation! As we incorporate His Word into our daily lives by reading, studying and acting on it, we honor Him. We may or may not “feel better about ourselves,” but we will bear fruit for His kingdom. Our energy will go into loving, serving and adoring Him, causing us to put our lives in proper perspective. We will then presuppose that Christ really is all we need!