Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom launches a two-part series with guests, authors Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. On today’s program and next week, as well, we’ll be discussing what the Scripture has to say about believers ministering to one another, which, sad to say, is foreign to the way most churches with rare exceptions go about counseling, even under the label of “biblical counseling.” My guests to discuss this important subject are Dr. Martin and Deidre Bobgan. They are prolific writers with more than 20 titles to their credit, nearly all addressing the scriptural problems with psychological counseling and Christian psychology, so-called. Many of their books can be downloaded from their website, which is www.pamweb.org, or you can order their books, their hardcopies, from The Berean Call.
Deidre, Martin, thanks for being with me again on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Deidre: Well, thank you for inviting us. We always enjoy talking about these issues with you, Tom.
Martin: Yeah, thank you, Tom. It’s always a great pleasure to speak with you and interact.
Tom: Before we get to the topic of the instruction of the Scriptures regarding how we’re to go about ministering to one another as believers, for those not familiar with your ministry, tell our audience about the mission of Psychoheresy Awareness. And it’d probably be a good idea to start with the term “psychoheresy,” in case some of our listeners try to look it up in the dictionary.
Martin: A little background to this: We put together a manuscript back in 1985-86, and we were already published by Bethany House and Moody Press, but neither one wanted this manuscript, and other publishers did not want the manuscript. And what happened was we were looking around for a publisher, and we had a meeting with Dave Hunt, 1986. And he asked what it was about, and we said, “Well, what’s happening in the church is that the church, whether it’s parachurch organizations, Bible colleges, Christian schools (it goes on and on), they are less and less believing in the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life, and they are more and more sending their people out to psychotherapists. And so this particular book,” we are speaking to Dave, “is speaking about the Bible, the Bible, the Bible.”
And as we described the difference between what the Bible had and what the - what it is is the psychological wisdom of man, particularly what God has warned us about.
And then we said, “Dave, we have titled this Psychoquackery.” And his comeback is a classic Dave Hunt. After talking about the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, he says to us, “Well, where is that in the Bible?”
So we went back to the drawing boards, and we came up with “psychoheresy,” because as we went back over it, we said, “Now, wait a minute - we are stressing in this book the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life, and the church, all these - whether it’s mission agencies, or whatever - they’re all turning over a leaf towards the psychological wisdom of man.” And so we were saying that, “Wait a minute, we’ve got to use this word ‘heresy,’ and we’ve got to put it with psychology,” and so we came up with “psychoheresy.” And Dave said, “Good.” And so we went ahead with that. And so he was the inspiration for it.
Now, as far as the mission that we have, it’s really in the title, like Psychoheresy Awareness. And what we want to do is to make all of these organizations, individuals, pastors, etc. - we want to make them aware of the psychoheresy that has permeated their ranks. And that was in 1987 we came out with the book Psychoheresy, and since then - and you know it better than others across America what has happened in the church - in various facets of the church, how they’ve swallowed hook, line, and sinker this whole business of psychologizing the faith.
Tom: Right. Would it be wrong to label psychotherapy (also known as psychological counseling) as a pseudoscience, say, like evolution, which is basically a false science? Would that be pushing the envelope on this, Martin and Deidre?
Martin: Well, actually we’ve written a lot about this, and I guess a lot of people aren’t listening, because the other side is just multiplying exponentially into more and more places and more and more often used.
And then we come with Karl Popper, who says that these psychotherapies, and I’m quoting him - he’s probably the best-known and most highly respected philosopher of science of the last century - he says, “Though,” I’m quoting him, “though posing as sciences, that they had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy.”
And so we look at this according to, “What would a philosopher of science say when they propose that this is a science?” And this is one of many responses that we have put into our writings, quoting others - not saying “the Bobgans say…” No, these experts, these individuals who know what they’re talking about when it comes to defining science, they say, “No, this is not science.”
And so what’s happened in the church is we hear this quite often: “Well, if you go to a medical doctor for medical issues, then for a psychological issue you go to a psychological individual.” And I don’t want to expand on this, but this is what they call in logic a “category error.”
And so we have a lot of information in our books that are available, as you mentioned, through The Berean Call. And you could find that information, one quote after another, substantiating the fact that this approach called psychotherapy - whether it’s clinical psychologists doing it, a marriage and family therapist - this approach is definitely not science.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And I suppose we could point to Freud, a psychiatrist, for really introducing this into a pseudo-medical model. But because a doctor says it - and I’m not talking about a Ph.D., but an M.D. - come on, it must be science. It must be medical.
Martin: Well, the history here is - you know it, and I’ll just repeat it: Sixty years ago, none of this was around. The only thing around was - speaking of Freud - was Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis. And then following the second World War, this is where this came about, and it was less than 60 years ago the first clinical psychologist license was issued in California. It was less than 50 years ago that the marriage and family therapist license was issued in California (California and Connecticut being two states that were first into it). And then from then until now, we have the proliferation of individuals involved. They’re getting trained - the young Christians going to universities - getting trained in this, and discovering a new way (they thought) of understanding self and sharing it with others. Then what happens is the pastors get to listen to these young Christians coming out of the universities, and eventually, they’re giving into it. And then it’s getting into - what? it’s getting into the Bible colleges, Christian schools, Christian universities, seminaries, mission agencies, you name it. And today it’s there, and it’s there big time.
Deidre: Yes, actually, when you think about it, the theories behind these various forms of psychotherapy are all based upon just people thinking these things through. In fact, psychotherapy based upon these psychological theories, these are not theories like scientific theories, they are more like philosophy. In other words, thinking about man, who he is, why he does different things… And you see, this is the whole thing: you have the suppositions of, “Well, let’s see - I feel this way, and other people feel this way, and therefore somehow we construct something.” But it is more like philosophy, it is more like religion, and as a matter of fact, it is the secular religion of this country.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, Deidre…okay, so that’s the secular side. That’s - you know, we call it pseudoscience, false science, but we have something now called, as Martin mentioned - maybe not going back 60 years, but at least within the last 30-40 years - we have something called Christian psychology. So haven’t Christians come aboard on this and got it all straightened out so that it’s more legitimate for a Christian, a believer, a Bible-believer?
Martin: Well, you know this quote, because you’ve used it yourself, but it’s from a meeting of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies - CAPS for short. And it starts out, “We are often asked if we are Christian psychologists…” I’m quoting now; this is the CAPS organization, collection of Christian psychologists: “We are often asked if we are Christian psychologists and find it difficult to answer, since we don’t know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists, but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a matter that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues.” And he goes on to say, this speaker at their meeting, “As yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research, or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian.” And that’s them speaking about what they do.
Deidre: Now, because most of the psychologists in the early days were secular, and pretty much the theories of all of these people were anti-Christian, basically - if not anti-, at least they were fully secular atheists, or something that would not be comfortable for a Christian. And so they said, “If we could just have Christian psychology, then people could feel comfortable, because they wouldn’t feel embarrassed about their faith. Their faith would not be mocked in any way.” However, what happened was in bringing the two together, they have really contaminated people’s minds regarding Scripture. Instead of the pure Word of God, we have now a psychoheresy intrusion into that which colors the Word of God.
I mean, one example (and there are many places where this can happen), self is so central, of course, in psychology, because this is the self that we’re dealing with. And the self must somehow improve one’s self, and that self is the one who determines everything. And then they have to have someone come along and help the self discover the self so that the self will not have to be doing things that maybe part of the self doesn’t want to do.
So they take the Great Commandment, and they take the second commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself, and, “Oh! that means I have to love myself.” And so they’ve added a third commandment.
So that’s one of them.
But so many of the understandings of Scripture become contaminated through this - what they call integration of psychology and Christianity. What happens is they do not see now how antagonistic they are to each other, one serving the self and being carnal, the other serving the Lord and being spiritual, being conformed to the image of Christ. You see, we can be more conformed to the image of our counselor or to the image of whatever that theory wants to bring us to, or we can be more conformed to the image of Christ. Which way do we want to go eternally?
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, let me give you guys - I know you know this, but for the sake of our listeners, our audience that aren’t aware, you know that my father was a psychiatrist. And back in the ’50s, just to give a little background as to how at least the seeds of so-called Christian psychology got started, my dad used to attend luncheons which the American Psychiatric Association throughout the country set up for priests and pastors, and psychologists and psychiatrists. And the idea was, “Come on, we can all work together here!” Certainly the psychiatrists, psychologists would deal with the mind, the priests and the pastors would deal with the spirit, and of course we have the medical side with the psychiatrists with M.D. degrees they could take care of. And that started off really well, and many in the church - pastors and so on - everybody thought, “Oh, this makes sense! This is a good way to go about it.”
But eventually, and not too soon after, all of a sudden the academics, or those with the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees said, “Well, you know, you pastors and priests, you’re not really qualified for this. What you need to do is go back to school and get a degree in psychology,” and so on. And that happened! Many went back, and then either they stayed out as psychotherapists, or they came back and introduced that way of so-called “ministering to the sheep” through psychological concepts and ideas, because that’s where they were trained. Well, it was intimidation, but it continued the role from there as - Martin, as you described earlier.
Martin: Yes, what’s happened, what you’ve just described, happened here in Santa Barbara where we are. There was a meeting at the local hospital, and yes, there were psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health “healers,” so to speak, there, meeting with pastors and priests and rabbis and whoever would come. It was open to the religious community, and they were, at that point - this was way back when - they were willing to say, “Well, you know, you take care of this and the small problems you can take care of, and then when they get to a certain point,” it was described, “that then it’s time to refer.” And so they started out with the serious problems being referred, and nowadays, it’s just everybody is actually referred. Because if you interview the pastors in whatever community you are in listening to this - I can tell you that in Santa Barbara…I realize we’re in Southern California, and that means something to some people different than the rest of the country. But in Santa Barbara, CA, there’s only one church that does not refer out.
So it’s gotten to that point where it’s not a matter of referring out serious issues or semi-serious issues, but referring out whenever there’s an issue or a problem. Here locally there are pastors who will meet with you once, but if it goes beyond that, then you are referred out to whoever their favorite marriage and family therapist or clinical psychologist is.
By the way, I don’t think you knew this, Tom, but when I complete my doctorate at University of Colorado and came to California, I actually qualified for the clinical psychologist license; and years later when the marriage and family therapist license was issued, I qualified for that. But I wasn’t interested in therapy, I was interested in education.
Deidre: Besides, by that time we had read so much, both of us, of the research having to do with the efficacy - you know, whether it works - and we had just totally given up on the field, because we did not see what was happening. And then the Lord did a wonderful thing to us: He revealed Himself through the Word, and we said, “Wait! This is it! This is it!”
We read one theory after another, one book after another, every one of the books saying, “Now, this is a better way than the other way,” and all of that. And the research was showing, you know, “Hey, wait a minute, just ordinary people can do as well as psychotherapists,” and also the detrimental effects, negative effects. People don’t realize that they can have many negative effects through psychotherapy. And, of course, the worst negative effect, I think, is that they turn to - they enhance the flesh rather than really learn to walk with the Lord and know Him.
So anyway, with the revelation of who Christ was and what He’s truly done, that just made us not want anything to do with the other. And then when Martin would start talking about other Christians, you know, about this, they looked at him as if, you know, “What’s going on?” I mean, these people had grown up in the church and they were adding psychology. They had not seen the difference between darkness and light the way we had, because we had come out of darkness and had the light shine on us.
Martin: Yeah, there are so many psychotherapists out there and so many people - you know this from correspondence, Tom - that will write to you and object to what you say about it and what we say about it. However, they need to look into the research to see what it says about it, and one book that we recommend to others is Manufacturing Victims by Dr. Tana Dineen. Now, I don’t know if she’s a believer or not, I never discussed that with her, but I know that she has given up hope on her profession. What’s her profession? She’s a clinical psychologist and was one for 30 years, but has totally given up. And her book Manufacturing Victims is an expression of why she has given up, and what happens is once you get a Ph.D. or a Masters degree and all that training, all that background, it’s a matter of, “Okay, what do I do now?” Well, you need to speak to the Lord about that, because there are places where you could go to teach what this psychotherapy is truly all about, scientifically speaking and practically speaking.
Tom: Yeah. I want to go back to something that Deidre said earlier, because to me, this really simplifies - and hopefully it will for our audience - simplifies the problem. Deidre, you mentioned self. You see, if you don’t believe in God, okay - and whether you call yourself an atheist or whatever - you don’t believe in God, then the only thing you’ve got left to work with is self.
Tom: And that - so they’ve got to make that work, and of course the views of self…I don’t care - of all the 500 different psychotherapies and the variations, the combinations of it all, it all comes back to, “We’ve got to make self work,” because that’s the only hope.
Now, folks, compare that with what the Bible says about self: That’s the huge problem of mankind! That’s where salvation comes in: we’re delivered from self! “Take up the cross and follow Christ,” that we need to be new creatures in Christ. Psychology can’t…you know, and psychiatry, they can’t change your heart, but the Word of God says we can be new creatures in Christ - not only the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but we can have a life that’s more abundant. I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy road or whatever, but it’s eternal life, and there’s no way that anybody hanging up a shingle with a Ph.D. or an M.A. or an M.D. degree can do that for you.
Deidre: No, and the thing is that God is always working on us, to conform us to the image of Christ. So if problems and trials come along, then…you see, if we turn to the world for that, we lose an opportunity to know God better. We lose an opportunity for growing in Him, and what we do is we just enhance and strengthen the flesh, which is in opposition, rebellion, to God, because the carnal self is in rebellion to God. We don’t believe it, because we think we’re so wonderful, you know, so many times, and psychology tells us how wonderful we really are: “Underneath it all, we’re good.” Psychology is based upon a philosophy that says that man is born good, and circumstances are what bother him and hurt him and all of that. And believe me, even Christian psychology has bought into this hook, line, and sinker.
The thing is that the old man has been put on the cross, and we are to die to that in the sense that we trust that God has given us new life, and as we walk according to the new life, we’re going to find that we are in constant conflict of some sort, because then we are entering into the conflict between God and Satan, really, because we cannot… You see, everything in life is going to either be in the direction of God or in the direction of the world, the flesh, and the devil. And so here we are - let’s say a problem comes along - we turn to the Lord.
Tom: You know, folks, if you’re listening to some of this and you’re having trouble with it, if you’re struggling, if you are indeed - you consider yourself to be a believer…what does it take to be a believer? It’s your faith in Christ, who has paid the penalty for all your sins. So if you’re a believer, you believe that sin that you’ve been delivered from - in other words, it doesn’t have control over you, even though we may continue to sin… However, the point I’m trying to make here is that what can a psychiatrist, a psychologist, even a Christian psychologist, how can they deal with sin? They can’t! And therefore, if you believe that sin affects your life and you’re being referred out to somebody that can’t even talk about sin based on their licensing, that’s why we are - and hopefully, the Lord willing, in our next session we’re going to deal with how we go about ministering to one another. But think about it: if sin is a reality, which every believer knows it is, then there’s no hope, no help from psychology.
So Martin, Deidre, thank you in this first session that we’ve had, and we look forward to next week when we’ll discuss more of the issues. Thank you.
Martin: Thank you.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.