Many evangelicals in our day look to worldly methodologies for ministry. Christians, quite frankly, should find such dependence on the systems of ungodly men and women troublesome at best. When Rick Warren, for example, developed much of his church growth strategy under the influence of management consultant Peter Drucker, he clearly relied on worldly wisdom rather than on Scriptural instruction. Similarly, “Christian” counselors who utilize psychology employ atheistic and New Age philosophies developed by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, men who rejected Biblical Christianity.
I thought of both examples yesterday morning when our pastor preached on Psalm 1. The first verse describes, in negative terms, the type of person who enjoys God’s blessing.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. ~~Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
As he spoke, my mind went back over all the ways I’ve seen various churches and para-church ministries integrate worldly techniques into their teachings and practices (to my shame, I often participated in their deceptions). To my shock and humiliation, I realized how often, while thinking I adhered to Biblical principles, I’ve actually “walked in the counsel of the wicked.”
Like those in leadership over me, I fell for the idea that church management needed the expertise of marketing practices and Christian counselors benefited by employing psychological tools. In essence, however, that line of thinking betrays the belief that Scripture requires human wisdom to augment itself. And there are two serious problems with such augmentation.
Firstly, the supplementation of Scripture presupposes that God’s Word lacks something. Biblical Christians must categorically and vigorously reject that attitude! But since many of my essays here will argue for the sufficiency of Scripture (a topic I feel particularly passionate about), I don’t want to belabor this point today. Let me say simply that God’s Word offers us all the counsel necessary both for maintaining a church and for nurturing individuals (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
I’m troubled by the second problem with using the wisdom of man to prop up the Bible–namely, the mistaken belief that man’s wisdom can work in conjunction with the Lord’s. Scripture very clearly says the opposite, going so far as to make a distinction between worldly wisdom and the wisdom that comes from God.
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ~~1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (ESV)
Christians can find God’s wisdom in Christ (see Colossians 2:1-3). As we study Scripture, Christ reveals Himself and shows us how to conduct ourselves, both corporately and as individuals, in ways that honor Him. Why should we expect to find additional wisdom from human sources when all wisdom is hidden in Him?
Drucker, Freud and Jung all receive respect and admiration for their worldly wisdom, and many of their theories and methods produce the effects people desire. Yet those theories and methods all come from men who, in varying degrees, did not believe in God as He revealed Himself in the Bible. As a result, when we augment Holy Scripture with their worldly wisdom, we find ourselves “walking in the counsel of the wicked.” Please join me in repenting of such folly by taking delight in the wisdom of Scripture.