Piggy-backing off of Wednesday’s post about self-esteem, I want to explore some of the ways psychology in general has infiltrated evangelical circles. Obviously, I’ve chosen to address a big topic, so I anticipate writing several posts covering various aspects of this matter. I don’t claim any expertise on the topic, although during my twelve years as a correspondence counselor I accepted some models of popular psychology.
My acceptance of psychology went further than it should have. That fact properly shames me. Yet, because of the Holy Spirit’s activity in my life which always drew me back to His Word, I always felt a nagging tension between Scripture and some of the ministry’s assumptions and techniques. Years after resigning my position (for a reason completely unrelated to the ministry and its policies), I began seeing how wrong I’d been to incorporate tenents of psychology into the counsel I gave.
At the time, of course, I adored my job so much that I chose to ignore the things that pricked at my conscience. Now, almost 19 years later, the Lord has moved me into much more Biblical theology, graciously causing me to repent of many doctrinal errors I held, including the belief that psychology could augment the Bible.
Before I write about how psychological models wormed their way into evangelical churches and ministries, I want to state a few reasons that I feel concerned about this issue. Since I propose to write expanded posts regarding each concern as time progresses, I won’t link to any documentation today. I just want to offer an overview of my objections to psychology. Hopefully you can take my preliminary observations back to the Word to test my thoughts against Scripture.
Let’s begin where we left off Wednesday. Modern psychology heavily promotes the idea that people need high self-esteem. I believe the emphasis on self has severely weakened the visible church by distorting our concept of Who God is and His purposes for His people. Certainly, it’s quite tricky to see ourselves as “special” by virtue of our own existence while embracing the doctrine of total depravity. Psychology would minimize the fact that our self-worth comes only from His grace in dying for those that He predestined to believe in Jesus.
I want to note that the two main architects of psychology, Freud and Jung, completely rejected Biblical Christianity. Freud, as we’ll see in later posts, was openly hostile to religion of any sort. As a result of the unbiblical worldviews of these two men, the basis of psychology depends on philosophies that stand in opposition to Christian doctrine. Again, it elevates self.
“Christian” psychology gives lip-service to the Bible’s authority while at the same time insisting that God’s Word only goes so far in helping us work through life’s issues. That assertion angers me! I regret times when I turned to psychology with the attitude (and sometimes even the point-blank statement) that I wanted “more” than the Bible offers. What arrogance! And it breaks my heart that so many evangelicals make the same mistake of supposing that this “science,” pioneered by two men who hated Biblical Christianity, could possibly supplement the very Word of God.
I’ve only begun to introduce my concerns about psychology and its influences on the visible church. You can see that a great deal more needs saying. Sometime next week, I anticipate digging in to the idea of self-esteem by examining Scriptures on that very subject. I also plan to discuss how “Christian” psychologist James Dobson smuggled the self-esteem philosophy into evangelical circles. I look forward to drawing attention back to the Lord as I examine this critical topic.