Flashback Friday: Psychological Seduction

Originally published January 30, 2017.

The allure of  “Christian” psychology is twofold. First, it allows us to focus on ourselves without apology. Second, it promises wisdom over and above what the Bible gives us. As one might surmise, these two attractions intersect, offering us special understanding about ourselves. With the aid of a “Christian” therapist, we can unravel mysteries explaining why we continually fall into  sin (usually discovering that our sin patterns arise because someone or something caused us some type of trauma).

The more I learn about psychology (“Christian” or secular), the more I believe it betrays a propensity toward Gnosticism. We love thinking that we can “go deeper” than the Bible to explore the complexities of the human psyche. After all, not every Christian gets to understand the deep workings of the human mind, right? Psychology lets us join the spiritual elite.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians addressed false teachers who offered a deeper level of wisdom to Christians. Obviously, Freud and Jung hadn’t yet developed psychological models, but the principles Paul put forth regarding the source of wisdom and the necessity of rejecting proposed wisdom apart from that source speak just as well to the deeper wisdom of psychology as they did to the early seeds of Gnosticism in Paul’s day.

Paul roots his argument against looking for secret wisdom squarely in the supremacy of Christ.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. ~~Colossians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Did you notice verse 3? We find wisdom, not in the supposed enlightenment of humanity, but in Christ. And He reveals His wisdom through His Word. The apostle Peter made it clear that what we know of the Lord fully equips us for all the eventualities of the Christ life.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ~~2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)

Not very esoteric, admittedly, but that’s precisely my point! In Christ, we have every resource we need in order to overcome sin. We don’t need psychoanalysis to help us identify the roots of our personality struggles. Unless our physician can find a medical reason for psychological problems (which can, and should, be treated with appropriate medication), we can find everything we need to combat recurring sin issues in the Word of God.

Gnosticism, in any form, denies the sufficiency of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture. Girlfriends, we mustn’t succumb to that temptation. Don’t fall for psychology’s seductive lie that it will help you better understand yourself. Instead of desiring self-knowledge, seek to know the Lord by studying His Word.

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Saturday Sampler: November 4 — November 10

Flower Outline Sampler

What causes so much compromise in the church? Mike Ratliff raises the possibility that much of it results from a disdain for God’s Word. His article, Bible Inspiration, appears in Possessing the Treasure as an encouragement to remember the very Source of Scripture.

Have you ever tried to understand God’s holiness? As Allen S. Nelson IV shows us in his post for Things Above Us, Comprehending Holiness is a daunting and wonderful duty for all believers.

Reformation 21 runs The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel Explained: Sexuality and Marriage by James White. In our social climate, his common sense is sadly lacking as well as necessary.

I’m not a parent, and I’m only an honorary grandmother, but I have definite beliefs about child rearing. So I appreciate Denny Burk for his Biblical response in his post, Pediatricians say spanking is bad. Are they right? Remember, the world opposes God on every level.

Sinclair Ferguson examines Apostasy and How it Happens on the Ligonier blog. Having watched many of my friends turn away from the Lord over the years, I find this article quite helpful in understanding their actions.

Do you know what I admire about Michelle Lesley? She bases her reasoning squarely on Scripture. Throwback Thursday: Can a False Teacher be Saved? is a splendid example of drawing conclusions through the study of God’s Word.

Who Is Jesus? Leslie A of Growing 4 Life distinguishes between the popular conception of Jesus and what the Bible actually teaches about Him.

Some missionaries I know often email me requesting that I pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to Muslims in their area through dreams. I absolutely refuse to do so, of course, but I couldn’t figure out why Muslims seem to have these dreams. Praise God for Elizabeth Prata’s essay Blasphemy: Jesus is not Isa, Isa is not Jesus in The End Time. Elizabeth explains this disturbing phenomenon well, showing why Christians should never celebrate it.

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The Allure Of Wounded Healers

WoundedAs a Charismatic, I attended my share of seminars on physical and emotional healing. I quite vividly remember a friend of mine, who had struggled with eating disorders and a divorce (among other traumas) expressing joy and relief when someone at a seminar prophesied that she was a “wounded healer.”

Even then, I wondered where the Bible supported that concept.

Sadly, now many non-Charismatic churches embrace similar ideas. And why not?

There’s something comforting in hearing someone confess their flaws and Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: No Need To Choose

Originally posted on October 21, 2015, this article seems even more relevant now.

Cross and Bible 3A few years ago, someone scolded me on Facebook for holding to the “dead letter of a book” rather than enjoying a “living relationship” with God through His Spirit. I thought of her reprimand a couple days ago when one of Tim Challies’ links to a Kindle deal providentially misdirected me to Tom Olson’s January 22, 2015 blog post, Is It Possible for Christians to Idolize the Bible?

Olson produced helpful arguments as he reasoned from 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21 (please read both verses). He maintains that Scripture is breathed out from the Holy Spirit. That being the case, it makes little sense when people try to represent Scripture and the Spirit as being mutually exclusive (as my Facebook critic suggested). Olson explained that God’s Word, as given through the agency of the Spirit, facilitates our relationship with God.

Consider the primary descriptions of Scripture from the Bible itself:

  • All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)

Add to this that one of the favored names of Jesus Christ is “The Word,” and you have a Trinitarian testimony that the Bible is not divorced from the Godhead, but is the tangible work of the Trinity in perfect harmony speaking to us.

Simply put, the Bible is the voice of God. The Father breathes out the Word. The Son is the Word incarnate. The Holy Spirit carried along the biblical authors so that they would speak “from God”. The Bible is the voice of God – not just the red letters – the whole Bible. As such, the question “Is it possible for Christians to idolize the Bible?” is inaccurate, because it forces us to drive a false wedge between God and his voice. Prioritizing God’s voice is prioritizing God, and thus prioritizing his voice cannot be thought of as idolatry.

Please know, I get it. The Scriptures and Jesus Christ are different entities. The Bible and the Spirit are unique from one another. But that does not mean we can or should treat them as such, divorcing them from one another.

So why did my love for and reliance on the Bible’s authority offend the woman on Facebook? I can’t judge her motives for certain, nor should I try to do so, but I can think of two possible reasons. Usually, people who accuse Christians of bibliolatry operate from one of two positions.

The less prevalent of the two (I hope) comes from a desire to accommodate sin without outright rejecting God. If we can minimize Scripture’s authority by hearing from “God” as we imagine Him, perhaps we can wiggle out of some demands that the Bible imposes on us. Maybe translators made mistakes, or maybe culture has advanced beyond the antiquated notions of the prophets and apostles. Surely God wouldn’t confine His expectations of us to a 2000-year-old book!

Typically, however, the people who make that accusation believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to people directly. They do agree that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, and they’ll even say that it’s the final authority for Christians. Furthermore, they actually do wish to live in obedience to its precepts. But they also insist that “relationship” with Jesus must extend beyond the Bible through personal communication from Him. They want to feel His presence and to believe that they have unique relationships with Him.

Yet His Word does retain its authority and it is able to speak to us personally.

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)

As we read these precious Spirit-breathed words, He shows us how they apply to us in the 21st Century. Far from being a dead book, the Bible overflows with more treasures than we know what to do with! In holding the Bible in high esteem, we use it as a vehicle to worship its Author in spirit and in truth.

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Saturday Sampler: October 7 — October 13

Symetry Sampler 02Looking at how believers should handle personal sin, Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure rhetorically asks, Do genuine Christians need to confess their sins and seek forgiveness and cleansing? You undoubtedly know the short answer, but Ratliff provides Scriptural substantiation for that answer.

As happens every October, Reformed writers turn their attention to the 16th Century. You’ll see plenty of articles about Luther and Calvin, which makes Steven J. Lawson’s Zurich Revolutionary: Ulrich Zwingli so refreshing. You can find this article on the Ligonier blog.

Leslie A, in Growing 4 Life, passionately declares I’m Not the One Who Moved. She addresses quite a few problems in present-day evangelicalism, rightly tracing them back to an abandonment of three of the five Solas.

As the owner of Berean Research, Amy Spreeman is Holding On to Scripture as she reevaluates the role and implementation of discernment ministry. Join me in praying for Amy and her blogging partner Marsha West as they go through this season of searching God’s Word for wisdom.

Complementing Amy’s post, SlimJim of The Domain for Truth writes Beyond cage stage: Beware of being a Nurmagomedov rage phase Calvinist/Apologist. Given the angry climate on social media these days, all of us could probably benefit from his counsel.

I’m happy to share Who will separate us from the love of Christ? by Mike Ratliff. Although I’ve already placed an article of his in this edition of Saturday Sampler, the Perseverance of the Saints is taught so seldom that I adamantly believe as many people as possible need exposure to this encouraging doctrine.

C.T. Adams of Faith Contender answers a question about Universal Consciousness with a compelling argument for loving God with our minds.

Reflecting on an encounter she had with morning glories, Elizabeth Prata reprises Why can’t they see she’s a false teacher? One reason: “Deception by investment” in The End Time. If you’ve ever experienced backlash for warning someone about a popular teacher, this essay will encourage you.

History really doesn’t have to be boring. And even church history can include a little romance. Don’t believe me? Then check out Simonetta Carr’s Anne Bohemia and her Multilingual Scriptures on Place for Truth and prepare to enjoy a wonderful love story. As an added bonus, you’ll learn some lesser known tidbits about things leading up to the Reformation.

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“Anyone Can Read A Commentary”

Dear DebbieLynneA.J. Metcalf, an avid reader of this blog, wrote a thoughtful (and thought-provoking) comment on my post this past Wednesday. I published his comment with that article and wrote a brief reply, but I believe it warrants a fuller response than I can provide in the Comments Section.  So allow me to quote the meat of his comment here and then offer my thoughts.

Your controversial topics likely get more hits because so many of us depend on your great research and great writing on topics, subjects that we can’t get in enough places. We depend on you and your distaff compatriot discernment writers to bring us information we need.
We can read Scripture, our creeds/confessions and commentaries on 1 Corintians 15 “On the Resurrection”. We have our Systematic Theology books for this and other great and important doctrines.
BUT, WITHOUT YOU and a few others, WHO ELSE will bring us these “controversial” topics?
Many of us do not have time to pursue these even though we should pursue them.
Because we know we can depend you, however, we know where to send our loved ones.

First of all, I’m honored by A.J.’s high opinion of me. I question to what degree I deserve such confidence, but I appreciate his kind words and his faith in whatever analytical abilities I may have. Truly, his words encourage me.

But they also raise some important points that I’d like to think Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: September 2 — September 8

Twist Blend Flowers Sampler

There’s nothing like studying Scripture itself, ladies. I love the way Michelle Lesley constantly encourages us to turn away from canned Bible Studies (which usually aren’t doctrinally sound) in favor of cracking open our own Bibles. Look at The Mailbag: How can I get started studying the Bible itself? for her practical suggestions.

Dealing with people who say God spoke to them or talk about other manifestations can be tricky. Never fear! Clint Archer of The Cripplegate offers great counsel with How do I evaluate claims of supernatural experiences? He has some superb ideas. But we need to question his assertion that he’s Clark Kent.

Hannah Roberts-Antunes invites us to #CheckYourHeart in her post for Biblical Woman. Notice the encouraging twist she brings out from Scripture to distinguish godly self-examination from morbid introspection.

Is It God’s Will to Always Heal? by Tim Barnett of Stand To Reason tells the heartwrenching story of his friend Alex, who has brain cancer. Learn how false teaching multiples this young man’s suffering.

In Things Above Us, Allen Nelson IV writes How to Cut Up Your Bible as an encouragement to cherish the Word of God. In the current evangelical climate, we sadly need reminders like this one. As an added bonus, Nelson produces some of the finest writing I’ve ever seen in a blog post.

Check out John Ellis’ Why Sex Outside Marriage Is a Sin in adayinhiscourt for a perspective that often gets ignored. Whether you’re struggling with sexual temptation yourself or you’re raising teenagers who need guidance in this area, you can certainly benefit from this article.

Why is personal holiness dependent on avoiding false teaching? Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure answers this question with Personal holiness is not an option. I love this demonstration of using discernment for godly reasons.

Take a look at Phil Johnson’s Biblical reasoning in A Gospel Issue? He gets to the heart of why so many of us see serious danger within the evangelical embrace of the Social Justice Movement. And, if you haven’t done so already, please consider signing The Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel.

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