Question: Would you please respond to CRI’s Journal articles on biblical counseling by the Passantinos? Thank you!
Answer: While warning that Christianized psychology isn’t perfect, the Passantinos promote it and deny the sufficiency of the Bible. (Similar confusion is expressed in the December 1995 New Covenant, a leading Catholic charismatic magazine.) In their final article the Passantinos state,
The Biblical Counseling Movement (BCM)...falls short of a comprehensive program [quite an indictment of the Bible!]....[Dave] Hunt and some other BCM advocates take 1 (sic) Peter 1:3 out of context....The verse reads, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness....” Its context is salvation, not the details of daily human living. [Dave is not part of the BCM movement.]
On the contrary, one could hardly say that “life” means only eternal life in heaven; and surely “godliness” involves our behavior here on earth. The context continues: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature....” Peter then exhorts to diligence, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness and brotherly kindness, which are to characterize the very “daily human living” which the Passantinos claim is not Peter’s subject.
Does the “divine nature” within us need psychological help? No! Peter assures us that “if ye do these things ye shall never fall...” (v 10). Paul agrees that through heeding biblical “doctrine,...reproof,...correction,...[and] instruction in righteousness...the man [or woman] of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Tm 3:16-17). The Bible is sufficient. Even the watered-down NAS says, “adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The Passantinos assure us that the Bible, lacking the new wisdom of Freud, et al., is deficient in its understanding of “human nature” and therefore needs to be supplemented with psychology. They offer Christian psychology’s new good news for the troubled heart: humanist apostles of psychology have discovered new truths to make up for biblical deficiency and to provide the church at last with the under- standing and tools it has lacked for 1,900 years. They write,
[N]ot everything about human nature is completely explained in Scripture...we can come to a more complete, comprehensive understanding of human nature by a variety of [lately discovered] truth-gathering activities, including observation, rational evaluation, assessment, and application of what we already know to be true....
The CRI articles reflect a tragic misunderstanding of what Jesus meant by “truth” when He said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn:8:31-32). The Passantinos consider anything factual to be part of “God’s truth”: “100 times 100 equals 10,000, and we can count on that as ‘God’s truth’ because it corresponds to reality....” On the contrary, the Jews would have readily acknowledged that 100 times 100 equals 10,000—yet Christ said they would not believe the truth.
Jesus promised that through obedience to His Word His disciples would know the truth—all of it, not part of it. It takes just three verses to expose the folly of the Passantinos’ (and Christian psychology’s) position: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive...” (Jn:14:17); “[T]he Spirit of truth...will guide you into all truth” (16:13); “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor:2:14).
If the Spirit of truth guides into all truth, and the world cannot receive or know Him, nor can the natural man receive His truth, then the world knows not the truth. When Jesus said to Pilate, “I came to bear witness unto the truth” (Jn:18:37), He didn’t mean science, much less psychology. Nor did He mean worldly wisdom when He said, “[B]ecause I tell you the truth, ye believe me not” (8:45). Clearly, the article reflects a false view of what Christ meant by the truth. Only the Holy Spirit teaches the truth, and only to those whom He indwells and guides. This truth alone can set men free from fear, anxiety, insecurity, selfishness, anger, frustration, a sense of hopelessness and inadequacy and the other symptoms of sin.
Paul writes, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor:2:12). The “things that are freely given to us of God” are sufficient for “life and godliness” and to make us “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” Paul continues: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth….”
In contrast to Paul, the Passantinos consider at least some of “the words which man’s wisdom teacheth” to be an essential supplement to the truth of God’s Word. God promise, however, that “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” are the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal:5:22-23), not the fruit of therapy.