Gary: Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from a news release issued by Thomas Nelson Publishers, November 8, 1999, in Nashville, TN.
Thomas Nelson, Inc., today announced that it has exercised options for the purchase of approximately 60 percent of outstanding shares of New Life Treatment Centers, Inc., from a group of investors. New Life, whose annual revenues will approximate $50,000,000 in a calendar year of 1999, operates in two primary businesses. Perhaps best known is its Women of Faith division, which last year hosted 24 conferences, drawing approximately 400,000 participants. These inspirational programs are designed to foster a community setting for Christian women and to provide a forum where attendees may explore and strengthen their own faith and meet others who are likeminded. Each even also provides the opportunity for marketers of Christian and inspirational products to display and sell their goods. Thomas Nelson, Inc., is a leading publisher, producer, and distributor of books emphasizing Christian, inspirational, and family value themes, and believes it is the largest publisher of Bibles and inspirational books in the English language.
Tom: Dave, this, to me, raises some interesting questions. Why would a publishing company take over an organization which is to provide psychotherapeutic counseling of people with mental and emotional problems?
Dave: As I recall the news clip in which—Gary didn’t read all of it—there was a profit motive. And this was really good news to the stockholders and so forth. These are publicly owned companies now. They’re not even necessarily owned by Christians anymore.
I remember the early days of Christian bookstores. I’m thinking of one in particular—Van Nuys, California. It was mostly a ministry. They had a back prayer room where they would take people. They were leading them to Christ! But gradually it changed. You had more “holy hardware” in some of these stores, and they had all kind of “Holy Spirit” T-shirts and all kinds of paraphernalia that really have nothing to do with the gospel.
But the big motive now seems to be profit. And that was the thing that mostly concerned me about this news release. It was talking about the money that they’re going to make on this. On the other hand, you’re raising another question: the whole idea—$50 million a year! This is a psychotherapeutic network. They’re offering psychotherapy and so forth—something that the church never knew for 1,900 years. When I read Hebrews 11, for example, the heroes and heroines of the faith—they’re slaughtered! They dwell in tents and in dens and caves and they are destitute, tormented, afflicted, the scripture says. “Of whom the world was not worthy,” and they triumphed through faith. They didn’t need these psychological counselors back then, and we don’t have time to get off on a rathole…
Tom: No, that’s…we’re going to put some major time on that, but, Dave, I attended one of the Women of Faith Conferences in Portland, I think about two years ago, and it was interesting. They had it at the Rose Garden, basically a basketball arena, and just walking in, there were table after table after table of product. And the speakers at this conference were all psychologists or psychotherapists—Christian psychotherapists. They called it the Dream Team.
It was just astounding that…Scripture says we’re to “bear one another’s burdens.” I mean, this is supposed to be ministry of helping people in their concern—not profit oriented. At least it seems to me.
Dave: Well, Tom, the whole thing of…oh, my goodness, Christian psychology! Christian Psychology? It’s a misnomer. You know, how can you put a label of “Christian” upon something that Jesus Christ did not formulate it. He did not originate it. It does not come from the Bible. It does not come from His Word. You don’t talk about “Christian Physics” or “Christian Chemistry” or “Christian Auto Mechanics” or “[Christian] Aerodynamics,” then why does the “Christian” label fit psychology? As a matter of fact, psychology does not come from the Bible. It was not invented by Christians. It’s not something they derived from Scripture. But it was invented by the humanists. In fact they are atheists to a man, whether it’s Freud, Jung, Rogers.
I mean, Rogers was…he was in a seminary—professing Christian—when he got sidetracked into psychology, left the whole thing, and Rogers began to talk about selfist—selfist—psychology! He said “self” is the God you must worship, you know, at the throne of “self.” You’ve got to be true to yourself, and so forth. So, all I’m saying is this is not a biblical idea, does not come from the Bible, 1,900 years of studying the Bible on their knees—Moody, Spurgeon, Torrey, Finney, Wesley, Whitfield, Luther, Calvin—you go back and name them. None of them came up with this. It was the humanists. In fact, Bruce Narramore, the nephew of Clyde Narramore, said, “It was humanistic psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers who first gave us the idea of self-love and self-esteem.”
Now, this is something that is not biblical. It doesn’t come from the Bible, but now they’ve taken it from the ideas of the humanists, who are antichristian, and they are trying to integrate it with the Scripture. They are addressing something that is anti-biblical, anti-Christian, in biblical and Christian language.
Dave: And I think it’s deadly, Tom. I’m sorry, but they think I’ve just stepped off from another planet or something because I’m so “out of touch.” But I want to get back in touch with the Bible—with God’s Word and His truth. And Jesus said, “You continue in My Word, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” That’s what we’re interested in.
Tom: Right. And it really is overwhelming here. We’ve used the phrase, “The world in the church and the church in the world.” And now we’re seeing it big time, for profit, in ways that are staggering.
You know, another example—you mentioned earlier about Christian organizations, bookstores and so on. Well, Zondervan, for example—long-time Christian publishing company—is now owned by Rupert Murdoch, you know, who brought us Fox Television, 20th Century Fox—he owns that. He owns now The Family Channel, which he purchased from Pat Robertson. I mean, this profit orientation among Christians is staggering.
Dave: He’s not a Christian. Why did he buy Zondervan? Obviously because it’s making money, and that’s what he’s interested in. Now, if you have someone in charge of a publishing house who is not interested in truth, but who is interested in making money, then you are going to cater to the lower desires of people. You’re going to give them what they want to hear. And that is a major problem, Tom. We’re not trying to be critical of people out there. We are trying to say, “Something is going wrong. Let’s get back to the Bible. Don’t trust us. Don’t trust these other people, the supposed experts. But let’s trust Jesus Christ and put our confidence in Him and in His Word.