Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Here I Come To Save The Day!

Don't worry--I'll have lots more to say about psychology's influence on evangelicals in future posts. But I need a break from writing about it. So here's  a fun Mighty Mouse cartoon that sorta fits the general tone of this blog:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Foundational Counseling

Why shouldn't Christians take advantage of psychology just as they take advantage of medical procedures and treatments? Actually, many evangelicals do regard psychology as a viable component of pastoral counseling or (if they use professional counselors) a supplement to Biblical teaching. Even though most evangelicals will say otherwise, they clearly deny the sufficiency of Scripture.

But should Bible-believing Christians add psychology to their arsenal of spiritual weapons? Of course, my regular readers already know my answer. But let me offer my basic reason for rejecting the blending of psychology and the Bible.

Most of us, I believe, would consider Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung as the fathers of modern psychology. For that reason, we ought to know something about their spiritual outlooks. Did they hold views that agree with Biblical doctrine? Obviously, a thorough examination of their spiritual convictions lies well beyond the scope of this small blog post, and you'll need to do your own research, but let me prime the pump just a bit.

Freud, in his later life, embraced his Jewish heritage only in response to anti-Semitism. In all other respects, he demonstrated great contempt for religion.
"Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. [...] If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man's evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity." –Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, 1939
Jung, on the other hand, had no trouble with spirituality, as his father was a Reformed minister. But he rejected the idea of specific creeds and approached the idea of God from a New Age perspective.
“It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us, but we are unable to distinguish whether these actions emanate from God or from the unconscious. We cannot tell whether God and the unconscious are two different entities. Both are border-line concepts for transcendental contents. But empirically it can be established, with a sufficient degree of probability, that there is in the unconscious an archetype of wholeness. Strictly speaking, the God-image does not coincide with the unconscious as such, but with this special content of it, namely the archetype of the Self.”
Neither of these  men believed the Bible, and therefore they constructed psychological models based on human reasoning. Yet Christian counseling, like all form of Christian ministry, must rely exclusively on God's wisdom, which sets itself apart from human theories and philosophies.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
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 1:18-25 (ESV)
Freud and Jung offer the sort of  human wisdom that appeals to unregenerate human  nature rather than having its foundation in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That being the case, psychology has no business mixing with the pure counsel that can come only from God's Word. Please, dear sisters in Christ, don't settle for  counseling that adulterates God's pure Word with atheistic and New Age principles. Not when you have access to the wisdom of your Creator.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Disturbance Of Psychology

Some psychological conditions, such as bipolar disorder and clinical depression, have physiological causes that legitimately require medical and psychiatric intervention. Please bear in mind, as you read anything I write about psychology, that I appreciate the fact that some people, including friends of mine, need medications for such chemical imbalances just as surely as I need muscle relaxants to control my spasticity. Remember this disclaimer, please.

The practice of appending psychological models in the context of Christian experience in general, however, troubles me. And it does so for a number of reasons. Indeed, psychology encourages a large amount of self-focus that diverts attention away from the Lord Jesus Christ. It also fuels expectations of fulfillment and/or emotional satisfaction in this life in contrast to Christ's call to self-denial. Additionally, it opens us up to New Age philosophies which contaminate pure devotion to the Lord by drawing people into mysticism.

I've personally struggled with all three problems due to my involvement in fellowships that incorporated psychology into their counseling and teaching. As time progresses, I hope to narrate some of my experiences and observations in these posts in order to illustrate the ways psychology undermines the obedience to God's Word.

But today, I want to address my primary objection to so-called Christian psychology. Above all the serious problems I've mentioned, Christian psychology tacitly argues that Scripture doesn't  quite give us all we need in order to  live complete Christian lives. This underlying belief directly contradicts Paul's words to Timothy.
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
 According to these two verses, God's Word thoroughly equips Christians to minister to each other. Paul makes no mention of exploring troubled childhoods, hypnosis or guided visualization as necessary tools in Timothy's ministry. Scripture, he said, gave Timothy everything he needed to shepherd his flock.

Sadly, all too many present-day pastors either incorporate psychological tools into their counseling or they  helplessly refer their people to professional counselors. Such actions communicate the notion that the man-made discipline of psychology supersedes the words of our very Creator. That supposition makes absolutely no sense! It denigrates Scripture while exalting paradigms of Freud (an avowed atheist) and Jung (a non-Christian mystic). In short, it demonstrates an attitude that God's Word, despite being authored by the Holy Spirit Himself, just doesn't have everything Christians need.


And yeah...that attitude bothers me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I'm Not Having Fun

"Mom...I'm bored!"

Trying to keep a straight face, my mother would suggest cleaning  my room. That task, besides being completely disagreeable, would have consumed several hours that I wanted to invest in more pleasurable pursuits.

Lately, I approach blogging with a similar, though more subtle, attitude. I have plenty of topics at my disposal, all of which need to be discussed, but all of which I consider distasteful for various reasons. I'd simply prefer to spend my time on other things. In short, I don't want to do the hard work of examining topics through the uncompromising grid of Scripture.

Yet I know that, even though the circulation of my blog is relatively modest, God has entrusted me with writing ability and a  concern to address certain problems in the professing church. As a result, He holds me responsible to use my ability, as well as my concern, for His purposes (Matthew 25:29).

In keeping with my conviction that the Lord holds me accountable to blog about matters that I strongly believe threaten the integrity of the professing church, I feel the need to voice my views regarding Christian psychology. I'd rather avoid this topic, since several people I know either hold degrees in psychology or receive "Christian" psychological counseling. Writing on this subject risks at least one friendship. Probably more.

I don't suffer from writer's block; I suffer from the fear of man. So I need to act like a grown woman, write what I believe aligns with God's Word and trust the Lord with any fall-out that may occur. Ultimately, He calls  me to please Him, not myself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Okay--I'll Grovel!

If you aren't already watching or listening to the Pyromaniacs Conference, Sufficient Fire, you really should be! Dan Phillips, Phil Johnson and Frank Turk, bloggers for Pyromaniacs, assembled last month at Copperfield Bible Church (where Dan pastors) to present this two-day conference on the Sufficiency of Scripture.
Image courtesy of TeamPyro
Long-time readers of my blog, unless they have severe comprehension problems, know that I treasure the doctrine that Christians need nothing to supplement the Bible. I critique various trends and teachers within the professing church precisely because these trends and teachers threaten either the authority or the sufficiency of God's Word. Most of the time, I make a less-than-adequate case.

Team Pyro, being far more studied in Biblical theology than I'll ever be, thankfully makes up for my shortcomings with this conference. Yes, I know we all lead busy lives, but I urge you to watch these videos, listen to the audios or download the podcasts to play during your commute. This topic deserves attention. I beg you not to ignore this crucially important conference.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Integrated Ideas

This past Christmas season, John and I again watched It's A Wonderful Life, choosing to overlook its glaringly flawed theology regarding the creation of angels in favor of enjoying a Christmas tradition. And I certainly did enjoy all the familiar lines. For example, when George fails to kiss Mary outside the old Granville House, a disgusted neighbor on a nearby front porch mutters in exasperation, "Oh--youth is wasted on the young!"

Looking back on the episodes  of my own life, I quite agree with that crotchety old neighbor. I look back on my 20s and 30s (and even my early 40s), when typing took far less physical effort than it does now, and I wish I'd done things differently. The Lord has changed my theology so much since those days that I wince at many of the ways I used my writing ministry.

I cherished my role as Correspondence Counselor at Love In Action. Despite my self-centered attitudes that will undoubtedly result in fewer heavenly rewards (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15), part of me honestly wanted to serve the Lord through that ministry. From my vantage point now, however, I see that my longing for acceptance and affirmation as a staff member motivated me to compromise my belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.

Love In Action claimed to be centered on the Bible, but in practice we augmented Scripture with psychology. Thankfully, my position protected me from having to lead clients through techniques like visualization and "healing prayer," which most of the staff knew I couldn't endorse. But I still accepted the premise that Scripture alone couldn't fully address the complexities of homosexuality. Or any other life-dominating sin.

As years passed, I found myself often confusing pop-psychology with Biblical Christianity, even to the point of considering that Oprah Winfrey might be saved because she said many of the same things about the effects of childhood trauma on adult behavior that we asserted. Essentially, I'd begun viewing psychology as a necessary component of Christianity. In order to experience victory over sin and the power of the Holy Spirit, I believed, people needed a good grasp on psychological principles.

Since the Lord sovereignly pulled me out of Love In Action 18 years ago, He has slowly restored my commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture. Psychology can't augment the Bible because, as God's Word, only the Bible offers God's answers.
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)
My youth certainly lacked the wisdom of trusting Scripture as the only authority in dealing with sin. How I wish I had a young body that could type as much now as I did then, so that I could direct people exclusively to God's all-sufficient Word!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Quotation

Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning.

Polycarp

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