Dumpster-Diving Christianity | thebereancall.org

T. A. McMahon

My best friend-in-the Lord, Dave Hunt, who is now in heaven delighting in the presence of the Lord, loved to repeat this poem, which I quote in part:

“Who would leave the noonday bright to grope ’mid shadows dim? 

And who would leave the fountainhead to drink the muddy stream 

Where men have mixed what God has said with every dreamer’s dream?”

In today’s lingo, this would be akin to dumpster diving. Many of the poor and homeless are driven to dumpster diving, i.e., scrounging through trash bins next to grocery stores hoping to find salvageable discarded food in order to help them survive. Amazingly, that method is the same for many Christians, although the circumstances, spiritually speaking, are as far apart as heaven is from earth.

First of all, true followers of Jesus Christ are not spiritually impoverished. As born-again believers, they have been given all they need to live their lives to the glory of God. Jesus declared, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John:10:10). The “life” Jesus referred to is a believer’s life in Him, and He has supplied—as in “made available”—all that we need in abundance! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ...” (Ephesians:1:3).

That supply began for us when we first believed the gospel, acknowledging that we were sinners separated from God, doomed to spend eternity apart from Him. Our confession also acknowledged that there was nothing we could do to save ourselves. The debt for our sins is infinite and beyond finite man’s ability to pay off. Only Jesus, who is both infinite God and perfect sinless Man, could and did pay the eternal penalty for our sins. Putting our faith in Jesus is our recognition of His immeasurable sacrifice and involves believing and receiving what He accomplished for us. It requires a full commitment of the heart to Him. When that takes place, we are reborn spiritually, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have immediate access to all that God has provided for our “abundant life” in Christ!

Why, then, are many Christians today acting like spiritual paupers—even to the point of spiritual dumpster-diving (examples to come)? These are certainly the days prophesied by the Apostle Paul, when those who call themselves Christians “will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy:4:3). The primary cause is that they do not truly believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word. Some give nodding agreement to it, but much of what they actually do amounts to mere lip service.

Regarding God’s Word being sufficient, let us be Bereans (Acts:17:10-11)! Does the Bible claim to be sufficient? Absolutely! God “hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter:1:3). Although there are many others, that one verse is loaded with information confirming the sufficiency of God’s Word. It says “all things”! It says He has “given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him….” The context is all those things that pertain to life and godliness and that ultimately have eternal value, as well as blessing us in our temporal lives. However, that doesn’t include one’s ordinary earthly attributes, such as mechanical skills, medical proficiency, intelligence, athletic abilities, artistic talent, and so forth—all of which have temporal value and none of which are gained “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (1:2). Nevertheless, our knowledge of Him instructs us as to how to apply our attributes through godliness.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 is also foundational for confirming the sufficiency of Scripture: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [that is, complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Let’s begin with “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” What does that tell us? Simply that the Bible is God’s communication to mankind. Other than God using men, His prophets, who transcribed what He communicated to them, no additional contributions were added to it. Paul explains, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians:1:11-12). We’re told that, “It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke:4:4).

Let’s go over that again. “Man shall…live by…every word of God.” But what if God left some things out for us as pertaining to life and godliness—things necessary for us to have a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit and pleasing to Him? What about having human beings fill in the blanks? That would mean looking to finite, sin-infected, self-serving mankind to complete the task that our infinite, omniscient, and perfectly good and holy God overlooked! Seriously? Of course not. Yet, we’re seeing Christians seeking out “experts on how life should be lived,” looking to those who supposedly have the solutions to all of humanity’s problems of living. We’re told that these “counselors” have supplied what God didn’t address at the time the Scriptures were given. You know, “People were different back then. It’s a cultural-difference thing. Besides, humanity’s wisdom has increased throughout the millennia, right?” Problems abound for those who promote and believe that, not the least of which is that the “new wisdom” is contrary to all that God had written. 

Additionally, there’s more than a slight problem with those who are the source of this latter-day wisdom. They would be the founders of psychological counseling, a.k.a. psychotherapy: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and a host of their disciples right up to our present time. They are all antichrist in the sense that the founders’ lives and their teachings have diametrically opposed God’s Word. Turning to them is in direct disregard of Psalm:1:1: “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.” The entire field of psychotherapy is reflected in that one verse.

If that’s news to anyone reading this article, I recommend searching the archives of The Berean Call, where you will find articles, books, sermons, videos, and radio programs on the subject. We believe the extensive information we present in critiquing the pseudo-science of psychological counseling is valuable, but it’s not critical. Why? Because simply knowing the fundamentals of what the Bible teaches and comparing that with the concepts of psychotherapy should be enough to turn away every believer from one of Satan’s foremost deceptions. Consider just a few of its antichrist characteristics: psychological counseling is basically atheistic. It neither recognizes God nor does it recognize sin. No sin means no need for a Savior. No God, no Savior, leaves man by himself to fix his own mess, which is what psychological counseling is all about. “Self” becomes one’s savior. It’s a “God replacement.”

Psychotherapy’s cornerstone principle is that humanity is inherently good, and when personal problems arise, they can be resolved through therapy under the guidance of a psychologist or psychiatrist. The umpteen therapies are subjective, contradictory, ineffectual, and often greatly destructive. They have no scientific basis. Psychotherapy, with its bizarre therapeutic practices notwithstanding, is simply talk, which is meaningless at the very least. Even when it’s not directly antichrist talk, it’s still a dumpster. You would think that Bible-believing Christians should be able to recognize the anti-biblical concepts and steer clear of them. They should be…but that’s clearly not happening.

A major reason for this is there is a more devious and highly seductive dumpster that has waylaid Christians. Although there is no field of psychotherapy recognized as Christian, that hasn’t slowed down the acceptance of the myth of “Christian psychology,” which has grown exponentially since the 1970s, and its “muddy stream,” mentioned earlier, has turned into a torrential landslide. Christian psychologists have flooded the church with unbiblical self-love and self-esteem teachings, which one of its leading practitioners revealed as the source of the new “'self doctrines.” He wrote, “It was humanistic psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow who first made us aware of the need of self-love, self-esteem.”

It’s a rare church that does not refer its members to professional counselors, whether secular or “Christian,” for mental, emotional, and behavioral problems. That may seem reasonable to some, but the question should be asked, “Which of those psychotherapeutic issues would not be sin-related?” Tragically, many church leaders who claim to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture are among the chief advocates in such referrals.

As the days draw ever nearer to the return of Jesus, the End-Times apostasy increases. As that takes place, Christianity is being refashioned, subtly for the most part, to conform to the false religion of the Antichrist. Remember, he is called “Antichrist,” as in “anti-Christian,” meaning a false Christian leader (not Hindu, Islamic, or Buddhist!). Therefore, discernment in regard to our recognizing what is true to the Scriptures—and what isn’t—is critical. We need to take to heart the words of Jesus, who characterized the deception that would take place just prior to His return: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew:24:4). Jesus again indicates a lack of discernment among Christians in Luke:18:8: “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” There’s little doubt that the prophesied abandonment of “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy:4:3) and Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders, is happening right before our eyes. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts:20:29-31).

Jude exhorts us to earnestly contend for “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). “Contending” for the faith, however, can’t take place for those who are ignorant of the teachings of Scripture. Being somewhat familiar with what the Bible teaches doesn’t cut it! If they can’t recognize what is truly biblical in contrast to what seems to be, but is not, they are ripe for deception.

I’ve chosen to focus on psychological counseling because it appeals to those Christians who want help for themselves or for others, which makes them highly susceptible to being misled. And as the apostasy creates more problems for Christians, increasing numbers of churches and their leaders are turning away from the sufficiency of God’s Word and looking elsewhere for solutions. Recent examples include such high-profile pastors as Greg Laurie and Rick Warren, both of whom have had to deal with tragic suicides—the former, a counseling pastor at his church, and the latter, a family member. That is heartbreaking. Yet the response by both was an exhortation to the church to cease its abandonment of guidance from the mental health community! Abandonment?! As I mentioned, since the 1970s the leaven of so-called mental health teachings and practices began to work its way throughout the church, with only a handful raising biblical red flags.

An alarming example of the rejection of the sufficiency of God’s Word is a well-known counseling program called Celebrate Recovery. It was birthed at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in 1991 and has grown ever since, with participants numbering 7 million and involving 35,000 churches. One such church that has turned to Celebrate Recovery recently is Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA, under the leadership of Brian Brodersen. This is a classic case of dumpster-diving. How so? Although Celebrate Recovery (CR) claims to have a biblical base in the Beatitudes, the program is infused with teachings and practices derived from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its 12 Steps methodology. The creator of CR, the late John Baker, drew upon his personal experiences of rehabilitation through AA and attempted to mix the teachings of AA founders Bill Wilson and Bob Smith with the Bible. The entire program is based upon an amalgam of erroneous science, e.g., that alcoholism is a disease, that Bill Wilson’s spiritism, through which he was given the 12 Steps, through the belief that a participant is always “recovering,” never fully recovered, with AA’s model of compulsory meetings, and much more. (See “A Way Which Seemeth Right…”, TBC October 1, 2005, for details regarding Celebrate Recovery.)

Counseling programs are not the only examples of Christian dumpster-diving—they are merely the most obvious. Many Christians, whether professing or even true believers, follow after popular yet clearly heretical preachers or ministries, all the while isolating certain aspects that appeal to them, such as with Joel Osteen (“Yeah, I know…but he’s so positive!”) or Benny Hinn (“God must be healing through him”). Many women are drawn to Joyce Meyer (“She’s so biblically knowledgeable!”) or Beth Moore (“I want continual conversations with Jesus like she has”). Christian media, such as TBN or God TV, among others, attracts thousands worldwide to a melting pot of doctrinal errors mingled with bits of truth. Christian music often leads to such thinking as, “I know Bethel Church has serious doctrinal problems, but I just love the music of Jesus Culture!” What then of the spiritual dumpster of Roman Catholicism? “Sure, we don’t have the same gospel, but we need to close ranks with them to fight against abortion!” We’re told to take the same circle-the-wagons-approach regarding political conservatism: “How else are we going to restore ‘Christian America?’” Regrettably, the chief rationale for all forms of Christian dumpster-diving is “The end justifies the means.”

Twice in the Book of Proverbs we are warned: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs:14:12; 16:25). Death always involves separation. Physical death, when the soul and spirit separates from the body, or spiritual death, when a person separates himself from the truth of God’s Word. Spiritual dumpster diving, as I’ve pointed out, seems reasonable to many. But it is ultimately a rejection of the sufficiency of what God has communicated to mankind. It is based upon the false belief that God’s truth can be generated by finite and sinful humanity, e.g., “All truth is God’s truth.” Scripture makes it clear that this cannot happen: “O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans:11:33-36).