Back in July, I started this blog in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states. This ruling all but guarantees that those of us who believe Scripture’s teaching, and especially its teaching regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality, can expect persecution for our beliefs. Jesus minced no words in telling His disciples that following Him necessarily means that the world (made up of unbelievers who unwittingly embrace a system devised by Satan) would hate us as it hates Him.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. ~~John 15:18-19 (ESV)
I fear that most people who claim to be Christians will probably collapse under persecution. Most 21st Century churches in America fail to teach sound doctrine that would prepare true believers to expect the world’s animosity. Sermons no longer equip people to stand for the Lord. Instead, they offer practical advice or motivational messages that differ very little from the drivel we read in secular women’s magazines or mid-morning talk shows on TV. As a result, postmodern “Christians” align with the world to such an extent that the thought of persecution truly puzzles them. In short, they simply aren’t prepared to suffer for Christ.
In part, their collapse under the weight of persecution will result from their self-centered approach to “Christianity” which preaches a false gospel of therapy, counseling and earthly fulfillment. Rather than calling people to worship and serve Christ for His sake alone, this false gospel presents a christ who builds our self-esteem by making us the object of his worship. Consider this popular writing that often crops up on the Internet:
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you! ~~Max Lucado
(I really shouldn’t post that garbage this close to suppertime.)
The evangelical church has, as evidenced by things like this Max Lucado quote, embraced psychology (and particularly psychology’s emphasis on raising self-esteem). Does this fact trouble you? If it doesn’t, it really should. Let me suggest just two reasons that I believe the attempt to mix psychology and obedience to Scripture weakens Christians.
First, and most obviously, psychology keeps the emphasis on self. “Christian” psychology portrays the Lord’s mission in terms of how He can “free” us from sin by meeting our deep emotional needs (usually through some form of mysticism and out-of-context Bible verses). Evangelicals who apply psychological principles to their lives almost universally imagine themselves as the focus of God’s attention.
This self-centeredness, of course, leaves evangelicals ill-prepared for a world that holds Christ’s people in contempt. When real persecution hits, the world is going to come against us with a venom that we can’t begin to imagine, and we’ll need an incredible amount of humility (rather than the pride that self-esteem breeds) to bear the indignities that we will encounter.
Secondly, psychology is rooted in theories by men like Freud and Jung, who were openly hostile to Scripture. Supplementing the Word of God with the philosophies developed by men who hated Him simply makes no sense. And even if these theorists had claimed sympathy for Christian principles, the very premise that Scripture requires augmentation assaults the sufficiency of Scripture.
Persecution will demand that we lean completely on God’s Word, not the humanistic theories of men that rejected the Bible. God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit, which must not be dulled by human invention.
I am blogging about psychology’s dangers for the same reason that I’ll blog about other trends that engulf 21st Century evangelicals. The world no longer tolerates Biblical Christianity, and we need to purify ourselves in order to survive the persecution that awaits us.