Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Our topic for this first segment of our program is Psychology and the Church, and we recently produced a DVD titled, Psychology and the Church: Critical Questions, Crucial Answers, because we’re concerned about the influence of psychotherapy or psychological counseling. We’re concerned about the influence it’s had upon the church, among evangelical Christians—that is, those who claim that the Bible is their authority in all matters of faith and practice.
But why are we concerned? Well, the foundational teachings and practices are contrary to what the Bible teaches about the nature of human beings and how they are to resolve their mental, emotional, and behavioral problems of living. And, secondly, the evangelical church is one of the leading referral sources for psychiatric and psychological counseling services, and that’s an alarming indication that fewer and fewer evangelicals are trusting in the Bible as sufficient for their problems of living.
Now, Dave, last week we went over some of these differences between what the Bible teaches, as opposed to what psychiatry, psychology, psychological counseling teaches, and I just want to mention some of those things. One of the principles of psychotherapy is that man is innately good. I mean, how does that square with the Scriptures?
Dave: Well, I guess he would have to be innately good if you’re going to get any good out of him, and that’s all psychology has to work with is the subject of their talking and so forth, that he’s got problems. But also, he’s supposed to have the solution inside of him. So you talk about it, and supposedly help him.
On the other hand, if man is not innately good—if the problems that we have, or that we manifest in our behavior, don’t come from some trauma I have suffered in my childhood, or from some influence out there from society, but they’re actually my fault—then we need another solution, because how can I cure myself?
Tom: Right. The Scripture says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That’s Romans:3:23.
Dave: But, Tom, people would say, “Yeah, but that’s about sin and forgiveness and getting to heaven, but this is about everyday living. That’s where I need help, and the Bible is not going to help me with that.”
Tom: Well, Dave, it does say—I’m looking at Mark 7: 21-23: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…”
Dave: That’s Jesus speaking.
Tom: “…adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
Dave: Well, that’s what Jesus said. And that’s why David in Psalm 139 said, “Search me, O, God, know my heart. Try me, know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” That’s why Jeremiah said (well, God speaking through Jeremiah), “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I the Lord search the heart.” So we need help from God, and we don’t need help from Freud or Jung. And these men are pitiful. When you study their lives, they were frauds.
Tom: Dave, these terms that I just quoted in Mark 7, these individuals like Freud, Jung, Maslow, and so on, their lives prove these things. They didn’t have it together by any stretch of the imagination.
Dave: Rogers, the great preacher of selfism and self-love and so forth, he abandoned his dying wife for another woman, because, after all, you have to look out for yourself. So psychology…
Tom: Do you remember how he salved his conscience?
Dave: Yes, I remember.
Tom: Okay, he went to a séance, and supposedly contacted her in the afterlife…
Dave: Yeah, and she gave her approval!
Tom: Yeah, wasn’t that convenient!
Dave: Yes, very nice. But, Tom, in just simple terms, the Bible is all about daily living, and it promises us the answers that we need. Am I unhappy? The Bible gives me joy. I have, not a formula, but the way […]: be joyful to triumph over circumstances. You read Paul from prison—I mean, he’s been beaten! It’s horrible what he suffered. And from prison Paul writes to the Philippians, “My God will supply all your need, according to the riches and glory through Christ Jesus.” He says, “Rejoice evermore. In everything give thanks.”
So, again in very simple terms, Tom: if psychology—and that includes Christian psychology, which is the same as secular psychology—if psychology has anything to offer of any value, and it didn’t come along until the 1800s (but obviously for 1800 years the church was lacking what it needed for daily problems of living), how could Paul advise, or anyone advise, anyone else on how to live? Of course, Solomon did that 3,000 years ago. So that can’t be right.
Tom: Dave, it was certainly lacking in one of the cornerstones of humanistic psychology, and that’s self—that self is the solution to all of our problems.
Dave: That’s all you had to work with, Tom.
Tom: Now, the Bible does address that.
Tom: Certainly, 2 Timothy:3:1-2:“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves….” Not exactly a commendation for the self teachings.
Dave: Well, lovers of yourselves, narcissism—well, what’s wrong with that, Tom? You’ve got to look out for yourself, and that’s exactly what Carl Rogers said: “You have to look out for yourself.” And he taught other people to look out for themselves. Why would the Bible say that that’s selfish, and why do we innately recognize that selfishness isn’t good?
And so I dare tell a little story, reminds me of a story: These two gentlemen sat down to have dinner together in a restaurant, and the owner kind of served them family style. And the waiter brought out a platter with two steaks on it. One was obviously quite a bit larger than the other. The one guy stuck his knife in it, and he grabbed it, and the other guy complained and said, “What are you doing? You’re taking the biggest steak!”
The other fellow said, “Well, isn’t that what you would have done?”
“No, I would have taken the smallest one.”
“Well, that’s what you got! What are you complaining about?”
So you see a group of little kids, you bring in some cookies to a party or whatever—wow! They are just—it’s innate!
Tom, you have five children, we have four. I don’t recall ever having to teach our children—even little kids before they could walk—"Mine! Mine!” You know, it’s in us. It comes from Adam and Eve. Now, what are we going to do about that? The Bible says you’ve got to be born again. You’re going to have some help from God. He’s going to have to make a new person out of you, and this is what it offers. And psychology has nothing to offer, and it doesn’t work. And as you intimated earlier, the lives of these “great” psychologists Freud, Rogers, Jung—wow, Jung! These men had such emotional problems, problems of living and immorality, and we’re going to look to them?
Tom: Yeah. Dave, the prophetic aspect of this verse, 2 Timothy 3, which I just quoted, people say, “Well, come on, men have always had problems with selfishness from the Garden of Eden on.” And it’s true, but…I don’t know, help me out here—I don’t know any time in history in which teachings about self, that self was the solution to man’s problems. I don’t know when that was ever promoted until at least my generation. You know, we’re talking about from the 1940’s up to today, and it’s progressively getting worse.
Now, the Scripture tells us that loving self, the context of 2 Timothy:3:1 and then ongoing, it begins with self-love, and then all these problems that come after: “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” and so on. It just opens the door to the rest of the problems that the Scriptures lay out.
Dave: Well, Tom, it’s very recent. And the amazing thing is in the church there are seminars teaching you how to love yourself. They justify it from—Christ said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It seems astonishing on the one hand. On the other hand, it’s not so astonishing that it was a non-Christian atheist, rank unbeliever, who gave the church a new interpretation to this verse. Robert Schuller quotes him in his book, Self-Love: The Dynamic Force of Success. And he quotes Erich Fromm, who, way back in 1945, went to this verse and he said, “You see, we all innately hate ourselves and we have to learn to love ourselves. And look there, Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ So you can’t learn to love your neighbor or anyone else until you love yourself.”
So we have seminars in the church…
Tom: Dave, if you remember, Erich Fromm got that from Friedrich Nietzsche. You know what sources…
Dave: He said so, actually. Friedrich Nietzsche, who was…
Tom: Well, he was chiding Christians for not loving themselves enough.
Dave: Right, and Nietzsche, of course, was a real mess! But anyway, Schuller picked it up. He began to preach it from the pulpit. Well, Norman Vincent Peale, I guess he had it before Schuller did, because he was Schuller's mentor. And then, Tom, soon you had, from some of the best pulpits and some of the finest Christian writers—Josh McDowell, great friend of mine; our friendship goes back many, many years—and he wrote a book about self-love, self-image…
Tom: It’s called, In His Image.
Dave: Right. So it simply isn’t biblical. Where did it come from? Well, Bruce Narramore tells us—he says, “It was humanistic psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers who first made us aware of the need of self-love and self-esteem.
So, Tom, as you know, in very simple terms, just speaking to our audience out there, nobody ever got that idea out of the Bible in 1900 years of studying the teachings of Jesus. Where did it come from? They tell you—they admit it!—they got it from the godless, atheistic, God-hating humanists, and they did not get it from the Bible for sure.
And so, what did they say? Well, Bruce Narramore says, “Hey, now there’s an idea we never thought of! Now let’s see if we can’t go back to the Bible and massage some verses around and make it seem…Look at this! Why that’s what the Bible was always saying and none of us Christians realized it, but we’ve learned it from the world!”
Tom: But, Dave, what then did Jesus mean when He said, “You are to love your neighbor as yourself”?
Dave: Well, Tom, I often tell Christians: Please, when you read the Bible think! Think! Well, Jesus obviously is not saying we all innately hate ourselves. It means saying, “Love your neighbor like you hate yourself”? Or, “Love your neighbor like you inadequately love yourself”? Obviously what He is saying is, “You already love yourself too much.” What do you do when you get up in the morning? Well, I presume you brush your teeth, you comb your hair, you feed yourself, you clothe yourself. Give a little of the attention to your neighbor that you give to yourself. In fact, love your neighbor like you love yourself. Self-love is innate. I’m afraid we overdo it. So come on, let’s get away from this and give some to your neighbor. Jesus is not encouraging self-love, He is correcting it.
Tom: Dave, last week, as you remember, we quoted Colossians 1: 21-22. I want to read that: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he [that is, Jesus Christ] reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight.” Sounds like a solution to the problems that we’ve been talking about that man has, isn’t it?
Dave: Well, Jesus is the one who does it. Paul put it very succinctly, and any Christian out there listening knows exactly what Paul said—Galatians:2:20: “I am crucified with Christ.” Oooh, that’s a little bit different! Instead of learning to feel good about yourself, you need to be done away with!
I am crucified with Christ. When Christ took my place on the cross, I acknowledge that I deserve what He took. I’m there with Him. He’s dying for me! He’s not dying for His own sins, He is dying for me. And Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ.” When I realize what He did, that’s the end of me. Boy, that’s great news! That’s wonderful! I’m my own worst enemy. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, because he rose from the dead, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
So what is the solution for the Christian? Not for a Buddhist, not for a Hindu, not for an atheist, not for anybody. The solution for a true Christian is to believe, to recognize that Christ is living in me, that I have been crucified with Him, and to allow His life to express itself through me.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, Dave, you’re getting into something that I’m sure the people listening to us say, “Yeah, but this problem and that problem….”
I did a seminar, as you know, over in Europe, dealing with psychology in the church. And after going through and laying out so much for the people, there were two young ladies there, in early 30s and late 20s, and they both looked very puzzled. They seemed to be encouraged by what I had to say, but then they said, “Well, wait a minute, so what are we supposed to do? Just pray and take a Bible verse?”
And there was a pause over the audience, and I just let it hang there for a minute. And I said, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” In other words, what is it that we should do without prayer? Everything, as a Christian we begin with prayer, seeking the Lord, and so on.
And then, as a Bible verse, you don’t dispense Bible verses, but you take the full counsel of God. You learn what God has to say and you do what He says, “not by might nor by power but by his Spirit.”
So, Dave, my question to you is, let’s say we have some pastors listening to us, and they say,
“Yeah, but, you know, there are so many problems. And how do we do this and do that?” How should we go about ministering? How should members of the church go about ministering according to the Scriptures to one another?
Dave: Well, we use the Scriptures, and we believe the Bible. We believe what it promises; we believe what Christ said. We believe that we live by faith, we walk by faith, we live by faith, we’re saved by faith. So, the problem is…I hate to say it because people out there will say, “Well, I tried to believe. I believe the Bible, but it just doesn’t work.” Well then, I guess God’s a liar. I guess the Bible isn’t true.
“In everything give thanks. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you, rejoice evermore.”
Tom, I’ve faced some horrible difficulties in my life. I don’t get worried, I don’t get frustrated, because I’m in the Lord’s hands and I trust Him. There’s no point in getting angry, and there’s no point in taking it out on somebody else. There’s no point in sinking into depression. I’m not the one in control of the circumstances, but let me put myself in God’s hands. This is what Paul did. This is what Peter and James and John…well, Peter had to learn some hard lessons. And I’m not saying that it’s easy. We stumble and we fall and we get on our faces, and we say, “Lord, I just blew it!”
What is it that is wrong, Tom? A basic misunderstanding, for example, about confessing sin—I’m going to confess my sin to the Lord. No, most people—and I’m not the expert, I’m just giving you what I’ve learned over the years from studying the Bible and from experience—most people when they set about to confess sin don’t really confess sin. What do I mean by that? Say somebody committed adultery—horrible. I mean, we’ve got all kinds of pastors falling by the wayside for that very thing, and they get on their knees and they confess they committed adultery. They still haven’t confessed their sin. What is the root of this sin? I turned my back on Jesus! I pulled myself out of His hands! I was no longer trusting Him. I was no longer walking by faith.
You know some of my old illustrations, Tom. I’ve got all kinds of them, and you’ve heard them many times. You’ve got a dead man lying in the coffin. You can run 50 naked dancing girls up and down in front of him and he doesn’t sit up in his coffin. He doesn’t feel lustful because he’s dead! And Paul says, “I am dead. Reckon yourselves dead to sin,” Romans 6. “Alive unto God, alive unto righteousness. I am crucified with Christ.”
When you say, “Yeah, I’m trying to believe that, but I don’t feel like it.” Well, but do you really want to? Are you really willing? I mean, you really think Jesus can do that? Have you really believed in Jesus? Have you really gotten born again? Have you really accepted His death as your death? Do you realize that He endured what you deserve? Have you ever really faced that, and thanked Him? “Lord, You took the punishment I deserve. I should have been there. Well, praise God, I was there in You, and You took my sins.” You think about that. It would bring some joy, it would bring some gratitude, some thanksgiving from our hearts for our Lord!
Tom: See, Dave, I think what many of us miss is that our growth, our maturity in Christ, that will solve 90 percent—I mean, I’m just picking a number out of the air—but certainly that would solve most of the problems that people now go to see a psychotherapist for. Well, check yourself out: are you walking with the Lord? What’s your relationship with the Lord? Are you growing in the Word of God?
Now, you know, it’s like the young lady said, “Well, do we just dispense a Bible verse?” Well, too many people are into Bible verses that have just been dispensed as opposed to growing in the faith. This is…the Bible is Gods, the “Manufacturer’s Handbook.” It tells us how we need to live our lives, that they might be fruitful, productive, and pleasing to the Lord.
Dave: And it has a spiritual power. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word….” That’s how we get nourishment for the Christian life is meditating upon the Word of God.
Tom: And next week we’re going to go over some real particulars, Dave. We’ve mentioned that we’d do a number of weeks just talking about this generally, but now we’re going to get into the details of how we don’t need—I mean, I shouldn’t say it negatively, but we don’t need psychology, psychotherapy to improve our lives, because that doesn’t work. But the Word of God does work.