Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Psychological Mess

As a college sophmore, I took a class in psychology. By the end of the semester, I recognized a tremendous disparity between the curriculum's assumption that man is basically good and the Bible's insistence on human depravity. Mixed with other factors in my life that school year, the exposure to psychology contributed to me backsliding from my Christian beliefs.

Let me be very clear: that class was only one of several factors leading me to compromise my convictions, so please don't misinterpret me as blaming that one class for my spiritual  failings. At the same time, understand that I took no subsequent classes in psychology because I saw the damage that had occurred through that class.

Several years later, working as a correspondence counselor for Love In Action (this Wikipedia article, though biased, gives accurate facts), I struggled with the ministry's incorporation of psychology. In some respects, I considered  some of the psychological models useful, and regretted not going to graduate school for a degree in counseling. At the same time, I noticed an increasing dependence among leadership on psychology resulting in a minimized trust in the sufficiency of Scripture.

I also saw the trend in evangelical churches to deal with a variety of sin issues by referring people to professional counselors. This practice, while intending to show the humility of pastors, communicated to me that hurting Christians needed something beyond God's Word and the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with sin and its effects.

Thankfully, I couldn't afford to see a professional counselor when I wanted help in dealing with my anger. My pastor  did suggest that  my anger stemmed from some repressed childhood trauma, leading me to more unprofitable navel-gazing. Now I realize that anger, like any sin, simply requires submission to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. I blow it all too often, but I increasingly find victory merely by obeying His Word. I strongly believe that professional counseling would have conjured up some convenient excuse for my anger, thereby intensifying it.

So, I  now view psychology as a hindrance to Christian maturity. The apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made it clear that God has given us far better tools than Freud or Jung ever could:

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. ~~1 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)
Why, when God gives us everything we need as we grow to know Him through His Word, do we turn to something as humanistic as psychology? I confess having fallen for the lie that it offered something more than I could find in the Word of  God. May I  never believe such a lie again.

1 comment:

  1. I took 3 college psychology courses thinking I could make it a career path however I found myself arguing with the course materials. The tests required that I answer the questions according to their books, but in the essay portions I got to say what I really thought about it. I found it much too frustrating.

    I read the link, good that Tennessee decided the way it did, however I think it's a temporary reprieve because this world is literally going to hell in a breadbasket. I truly see it accelerating and it won't be much longer before we see Jesus returning for us...but it will get much worse before that blessed moment.

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