Tom: Thanks, Gary. 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 today’s program is psychology, specifically psychological counseling, also referred to as psychotherapy. And we’ve been discussing whether or not psychological counseling has any value for Christians, and what we’ve concluded thus far lines up with the research of Martin and Deidre Bobgan who state, and I’m quoting, “Psychotherapy with its underlying psychologies is questionable at best, detrimental at worst, and a spiritual counterfeit at least.” And they add, “For the Christian, there is no psychotherapy that should be used instead of the Bible or as an adjunct to the Bible.”
Now, Dave, those words may be rather shocking to many of our listeners, so if they’re hearing it for the first time, I’d recommend that they call us for copies of our previous programs on the subject. But nevertheless, Dave, are the Bobgans saying anything they can’t back up or we can’t back up with the research in Scripture?
Dave: Well, Tom, you don’t even need research. Research would find many more quotes from secular psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical psychologists, and so forth saying that their own profession does not have any answers. But now, for a Christian, all we have to do is look at the Bible and use a little logic, and – I mean, look, is the Bible all we need or isn’t it? Well, He’s given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Jesus Christ is our life. He is supposed to be living within us.
“When Christ who is your life shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory,” Colossians 3. Now, that being the case, Paul didn’t find any need for psychotherapy, psychological counseling. Those in Hebrews 11 who were tormented and tortured and so forth, who triumphed by faith, didn’t need it. I don’t think Charles Wesley or the great evangelists down through history – Charles Spurgeon, men like this – they didn’t need psychotherapy. They seem to have gotten along without it. If we need something, psychotherapy… Now, the Bobgans stated it very well: “…in addition to Scripture or as an adjunct to it.” In other words, if the Bible is not sufficient and we need some further help, well, then the Bible isn’t complete, and the Bible isn’t true; and the Holy Spirit somehow through ignorance or oversight left out of the Scriptures these things that were so essential, so the church was without them for 1,900 years. I think the Holy Spirit knows what we need, and could just as well – if psychotherapy were important and it were biblical, the Holy Spirit could just as well have had Paul include it in some of his counseling with the various churches that he wrote to.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, in John:8:31-32, we quote it often, Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But isn’t there…I know we’ve mentioned this before, but I think we really have to underscore it again: how does truth set you free, and isn’t there other truth out there, outside of the Word of God?
Dave: When Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” He said, “Thy word is truth. I am the truth,” not a truth. So we would be set free from our phobias and fears and anxieties if we believe the Word of God. This is what the Bible says.
Now, the mantra for the Christian psychologist is, “Well, but all truth is God’s truth.” Well, I’ll agree with that. All truth is God’s truth. But what do we mean by truth? That’s the question. In John:8:45, Jesus said to the Jews, “Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”
Now, just logically, think about that: if the truth is some scientific truth, or a mathematical truth – you know, you stand before a judge and you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help me God, that could put people in prison [laughs]; it’s not going to set them free. And why would Jesus say, “Because I tell you the truth”? Not something that’s true, not a scientific or mathematical fact, but, “Because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.”
Now, obviously the truth is something that natural man, the ordinary person, does not want to hear. And what would that be? Jesus wouldn’t say, “Because I tell you that 10 times 10 is a hundred, you don’t believe me.” Or, “Because I tell you that, you know, some other fact…that Caesar died the other day, or whatever, you won’t believe me.” No, He’s not talking about something that is true, He’s talking about the truth. When Jesus says to Pilate in John 18, “I came to bear witness to the truth,” He’s not talking about, “I came to bear witness to certain factual events,” or whatever. He’s talking about something special. I think we talked about this a couple weeks ago, Tom.
Dave: You go to John 14, Jesus says to His disciples, “I am not going to leave you alone; I will send the comforter, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.”
And in John:16:13, He says, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will lead you into all truth.” Now, I don’t believe that the Spirit of truth comes to tell us mathematical truths, or that E=mc2. That’s not what He’s talking about. “Thy word is truth.” The truth that sets us free comes only through the Word of God. It is only understood by those who are born again of the Spirit of God and taught by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches truth, and He teaches all truth. He doesn’t leave some out. So to say, “Well, all truth is God’s truth,” yes! I’ll agree with that. But Freud didn’t have any of it. Carl Rogers had none of it. Carl Jung had none of it. The psychologists and psychiatrists who do not know Jesus Christ have none of it. Well then, when they get to know Christ, doesn’t that make it possible for them to give us some psychological truths?
Tom, you know, it’s so clear: where does Christian psychology come from? I often say to people, “Go to any university library, get every book of psychology off the shelf, go through the indexes: you will never find a listing for Christian psychology.” You’ll find a listing for Freudian, Jungian, Rogerian, transcendental, humanistic, behavioristic, all kinds of psychologies; there’s no listing for Christian psychology, because there is no Christian who is the founder of the school of psychology known as Christian psychology. What is Christian psychology? They just borrowed it from the world. They took Freudian ideas and tried to Christianize them, or Jungian ideas, tried to Christianize them, and just exactly as the Bobgans said, it’s something in addition to or as an adjunct to, and then we’re going to integrate it, and that says the Bible isn’t sufficient! The Holy Spirit didn’t give us all we need, and that is not true.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, you make a distinction between how a believer in Christ is to go about solving the problems – although we’re not to be problem solving-oriented, we’re to be Christ-oriented.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Right.
Tom: But nevertheless, we have problems, and the Bible tells us how we are to deal with those problems. Now, the world doesn’t have that. It has what the Bible says is our problem, and that is self. So the world through – not just humanistic psychology, but all of the 500 or more approaches, they’re based in self. If you can’t find the answer in self, then they have no answer, and there is no answer in self, Dave.
Dave: Right. But, Tom, I remember being called upon by a pastor and a group of elders, and they said, “Dave, we want to set up a counseling ministry in our church, and we’re looking for someone. Could you recommend a good Christian counselor who has his Ph.D. in psychology?” And I said, “Well, wait a minute! Why must he have a Ph.D. in psychology? Isn’t the Bible enough?”
“Oh, well, we believe in biblical counseling, but you understand you can’t charge for it unless you’re licensed by the state, and we want someone who is licensed,” you know, and so forth. And I said, “Look, why do you want the counseling in your church to be licensed by the state? You know what these counselors – if they have a license, they took the same courses that the non-Christians took, they had to give the same answers on the licensing board exams, and now you’ve got someone who – are you going to counsel from the Word of God and be led of the Holy Spirit, or are you going to have the state looking over your shoulder? Why don’t you have the state…” And I said, “You’re going down this road, pretty soon the state is going to want to license your pastor.”
“Oh, well, no, they wouldn’t do that.”
“Well, is it more important for the pastor to stand there and give a sermon to a group of people, or wouldn’t it also be just as important for someone to give individual counseling to someone?”
Dave: It doesn’t make sense, Tom. Why do I have to turn to the world…and let me quote it again, because we did last week or the week before. I remember James Dobson saying – and I’m not trying to run James Dobson down, but this is a fact; he is telling you the facts. He said, and I think Gary Collins was on the programs with him agreeing to this, that Christian psychology is a wonderful profession for any young person to aspire to, provided that their faith is strong enough to withstand the humanism to which they will be exposed. Now, why must I study under the humanists at danger to my faith, because they’re anti-Christian, in order to somehow glean some kernel of truth out of there that isn’t in the Bible, or that will supplement the Bible? Tom, it does not make sense. All I’m saying is you don’t have to do much research, you just have to think about it.
Now, there are people who have done research. We’ve done research. The Bobgans – I certainly recommend their books. And when you do the research, it’s overwhelming.
Dave: The secular psychiatrists and psychologists, they themselves acknowledge they have nothing to offer. They’ve done many tests. They’ve taken a group of college students, for example, who were diagnosed as desperately needing counseling, and they divided them into two equal groups, you know, equally the same from the diagnosis. One group they kept delaying, and saying, “Well, we can’t get an appointment for you,” and you know, they delayed them and delayed them and delayed them. The other group they gave – they very promptly gave them psychological counseling, and the group that didn’t get any counseling, they worked out better on their own than the ones who got the counseling.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Dave, people think we make this up just to reinforce our own position. Folks, I’m telling you the research is out there for anyone who wants to take the time to look at it.
Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld, clinical psychologist – what is his advice? He knows the field better than most. He said if he had a problem, the last person he would go to, in his words, would be a shrink! So where would he go? Depending on what the problem was, he’d go to friends or relatives who maybe had experienced these problems and worked it out! Or with regard to relationship and marriage, he’d go to somebody who he felt they had a good relationship and find out what they do. But the last place he would go would be to somebody of his own profession. Now, he’s just one of the guys!
Dave: Right, just one of them. But, Tom, you remember the case of the psych professor at Stanford [laughing], and he’s just debunking his own profession. He got some of his friends together. He didn’t do it, but a number of his friends got together, pretended they were hearing voices or, you know, various symptoms, and got themselves admitted to various psychiatric hospitals in California. When they got in there, they couldn’t get out! [laughs] And the patients said, “Hey, these guys aren’t crazy like we are. Let them out!” And they finally had to have some intervention from outside to release them. Well, the psychiatric hospital in California that claimed to be at that time, at least, the number one psychiatric hospital, they said, “Look, you couldn’t fool us!” And the man said, “Okay. Over the next six months, we will send you an unspecified number of people who are faking their symptoms.”
“Okay, we’ll spot them all!” It turned that hospital upside down. [laughs] The doctors are arguing with one another, “I think this is a phony.”
“No, I don’t think so.”
And at the end of the six months, they said, “Okay, we identified 20 of these frauds. Tell us, how many did you send and what were their names?”
The professor from Stanford said, “Sorry, we didn’t send you any.” [laughs] Tom, it doesn’t work, okay? Let’s be realistic about this. But the Bible does work. Jesus Christ – one of His names, Isaiah:9:6, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor….” I will take Jesus Christ as my counselor over anybody else.
Tom: Mm-hmm. But Dave, somebody who becomes a Christian, what happens to them? They’re born again. They are born of the Spirit of God. They are made new creatures in Christ, and God has given them not only His Holy Spirit to dwell within them, but He has given them His Word. We’ve talked about it week after week: the Bible is the Manufacturer’s Handbook. You know, if you can’t get it from the Manufacturer – information, the content of how you’re to live your life – where are you going to go?
But as a Christian, then, why would I subject myself to a non-Christian – or let’s say it’s a halfway house, so called – a so-called Christian psychologist who now is going to give me anti-biblical ideas that are supposed to be scientific which are not?
Dave: He’s going to give me what he learned from non-Christians at university.
Dave: It’s that simple.
Tom: Right, but the problem here is why would a Christian go outside for content to change his life or her life, or solve his or her problems? It just doesn’t make sense.
Dave: I’ll tell you why, Tom: because when you say, “Look, let’s go to the Word of God. Let’s go to Jesus Christ. Let’s go to the Holy Spirit. If there’s unconfessed sin in your life, let’s take care of that. He’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins. He’ll cleanse your conscience, and Paul says, ‘Forgetting those things that are behind, reaching forth unto that which is before.’ You know, I press forward. Let’s not go into the past. We don’t have to go into the past, but what is your relationship with the Lord right now? Do you know the Bible? Are you in the Bible? Are you feeding on the Word of God?”
And you know what the response often is: “Well, I tried that and it doesn’t work.” Okay, so then what the Christian is saying: “Well, the Bible doesn’t work. I mean, the Bible needs some help – a little help from some secular ideas.”
Paul says, “The wisdom of God is foolishness with the world, and the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world.” We don’t turn to the wisdom of the world. But now they are turning to the wisdom of the world, saying that actually ungodly anti-Christians, most of them are – psychology is the most anti-Christian profession out there – now they’re saying, “Yeah, but they know more than the Bible does,” or, “They’re going to help the Bible out.” Now, let me just go back over one verse, Tom, that we already quoted at least once: 2 Timothy:3:16 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. It’s profitable,” or to be used for, “doctrine, reproof, correction…” Do you want to be reproved? Do you want to be corrected? If you are a wise person, you want to be corrected, and you couldn’t go to a better source of correction than God himself in His Word, okay?
But then it goes on, and it says, “…that the man of God…” That includes women, boys, and girls, “…that the man of God may be perfect…” that’s in the King James. That means mature, complete. You have all that God wants for you. “…thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” You want to be thoroughly furnished unto every good work? You want to be able to please God? Do you want to be able to help others?
One of the problems, Tom, you mentioned it earlier: self. It’s all about me. I, my, me. It’s a pity party. And I’m not saying that many people don’t have problems, but listen to Paul: “Thrice was I shipwrecked. I was stoned. Thrice was I beaten with rods. These five times received I forty stripes save one.” You know, he got 40 lashes five times. The man is suffering. He is starving at times. He’s in prison. He’s just been lashed; his back is bleeding, and he’s lying on his back in a filthy prison with his feet in the stocks, and he is singing praises to God to such an extent that there was an earthquake, and the doors came flying open. Paul writes from prison, “My God shall supply all your needs through Christ Jesus.” He says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” Now, when you read these words, “Rejoice evermore. In everything give thanks,” that’s not coming from somebody sitting in an ivory tower, that’s coming from Paul who has suffered like I don’t think most Christians today are suffering – certainly not in America, okay? We’ve got trivial problems: somebody’s rubbed me the wrong way, my pride has been hurt…
Tom: I’m a victim.
Dave: Right, and they’re going to – I need to have my self-esteem restored. I’ve got a shattered self-image. Please help me feel good about myself. I’m sorry, the Bible would straighten that out very quickly if we would be willing to follow it and obey and believe. We walk by faith, not by sight, and our faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us, and who wants to take us and use us! Think about other people; stop thinking about yourself and your own problems. There are some people in this world who have got far worse problems than you have.
Tom: The tragedy in all of this is that, and we’ve mentioned it before, the evangelical church – Christian church – is the largest referral service for professional psychotherapists. As we’ve looked at many of the church growth programs – whether it be Saddleback or Bill Hybels’ church, Willow Creek – you look at those programs, they’re all supported – or major programs within their large program have to do with psychotherapy, whether it be Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback, or the programs and the teachings – the philosophy – of Bill Hybels. We find psychotherapy [and] psychological counseling to be maybe not a cornerstone, but certainly a major player in their church growth program.
Dave: I don’t know what more we can say. Is the Bible sufficient? “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
Jesus said in the temptation of the wilderness, and He’s quoting what Yahweh said through Moses, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Now, someone who is listening to this – and I hope you don’t feel we’re being harsh. We’re trying to be straight with ourselves, and with everyone - if you’ve got some of these problems, maybe you are not feeding on the Word. Maybe you’re living by bread alone – that is, physical food.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord.” You could ask yourself, “Is this your delight?” Or are you feeding yourself on television and, you know, various things that this world offers to entertain people? Is your delight really in the law of the Lord? “In his law doth he meditate day and night.” Are you doing that? That’d be a good place to begin. The Word of God is the truth, and the truth will set you free.