Originally published July 17, 2015
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, Tom concludes a two-part series with guests Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today’s program - this is a follow up, part 2, with Martin and Deidre Bobgan. They are prolific writers; they’ve written more than 20 books, titles; they have papers available, a newsletter…you can download many of their books from their website, which is www.pamweb.org; or you can order the books, the hard copies, from right here at The Berean Call.
Deidre, Martin, thanks again for being with me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Deidre: Thank you. It’s a pleasure and an honor.
Martin: Always a joy to speak with you, Tom.
Tom: You know, last week, as you know - you were there [laughing], I was there, okay - if you missed last week’s programs, folks, we established that psychological counseling is not a scientific endeavor. Martin gave you references in his books and other places where you could go for the documentation of what we’ve been saying, and it’s a myth that continues that Christians who are suffering from mental, emotional, or behavioral difficulties - that they need professional help to solve their problems.
Now, does the Bible give specific instructions for believers to minister to one another? Isn’t it insufficient, especially compared to the - something like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I mean, this is what we’re being fed, isn’t it, Martin? Comment on that.
Martin: We’re told that, yes. That’s the general expression that goes throughout the church.
Tom: Well, what about professional help? Deidre mentioned a little bit about it, but briefly, certainly it’s an attraction: “Ooh, professional! Well, I can’t do that. I’m not a professional.” That’s an incredibly intimidating issue with regard to believers not ministering to one another.
Deidre: Yes, well, everybody has raised the psychotherapist up to a level of “priest,” and, “This is the person who has the answers; this is the person who is professional and trained, and he has all of the answers.” And actually, he doesn’t have all the answers, but he does have a lot of answers according to the ways of the world that will look like good answers but will not really enhance the spirit, but rather, as we said earlier on the other program, will enhance the flesh.
And he’s got that wonderful Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to look at, which has - oh my goodness! It has now for children - instead of just children having temper tantrums, now they have a new word for that, of course: “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder.”
Now, if a child is, you know, kind of daydreaming in school, or just kind of not real into it, now they have another one: it is called “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo.” And it may just - as a matter of fact, some of the researchers who are bright in this area, one said, “This is possibly the dumbest and the most dangerous diagnostic idea I’ve ever heard,” because it’s one more area that they could give children drugs like for ADHD, which, of course, was a horrible label.
So we have all of these different labels. And then they have all of these different books that they’ve read, and all of these different things. And so then they have an office with all of their diplomas, and people really trust all of that. But you know, the ordinary Christian has the life of Christ in him. He has way more - he isn’t sufficient in himself. His sufficiency is of God.
Martin: If you look at the actual psychotherapeutic setting, and that’s what we need to look at, it’s really not like the real world - not like the real world at all. And in fact, there is even a book out that discusses - there are two authors, but they mention the curious set of rules that exist in counseling, and they say the rules are way different than ordinary relationships. Like in ordinary relationships, you have reciprocity: you talk, I talk, we interact. There is what’s called “turn-taking,” and so what happens in the therapeutic environment is you are listened to; you will not be offended or judged. The usual expectation of reciprocity disappears. There is not the turn-taking. There is the therapist who wants you to come back. He is not going to be judgmental, because the dropout rate requires him to get replacements if he wants to survive financially.
And so it’s a different environment altogether, and so what you find in this environment is that the therapist is wanting a return. He will say on his side, “Well, the more often I have them return, the more good that I can do them.” Well, no, because when you’re put in a position where you can’t be as upfront as you need to be at times, simply because you might offend, upset - the person won’t come back, and there is a significant dropout rate in psychotherapy. And so you don’t have a typical environment in the psychotherapeutic setting.
And again, Tom, you mentioned in the prior broadcast that there is a license restriction. Yes, I know in California - each state, of course, has its own licensing - in California I did check with the office that licenses, and they said, “No, you can’t have somebody who is licensed as a marriage and family therapist or clinical psychologist talking about sin and salvation,” and that’s what they’re doing with this client who comes in. “And if there is a person who files a complaint, we’re going to have to look into it.” Of course, the person at the other end didn’t say what would happen, but nonetheless, there is a restriction, a big restriction, and a significant restriction for those of us who know what the Word of God can do and has done in the years that we’ve ministered to others.
Tom: You know, Martin, as you’ve described that, I would say, “Okay, so that sort of puts…” well, not sort of. It puts somebody who claims to be a Christian psychologist, that puts them in harm’s way if they decide, “Well, I want to lean on the side of the Bible. I want to minister,” and so on. They’re putting their position in jeopardy. Would you say that’s correct?
Martin: Well, beyond that, I mean, that’s true, but it’s just being professionally irresponsible when you know what you were trained for, you know what your license requires, and you practice above and beyond that, or in contradiction to it, it’s just that…well, it lacks (I’ll say…put two words together) Christian professionalism, because you shouldn’t do that.
Tom: Sounds like hypocrisy, as well.
Martin: Yes, it does.
Tom: Okay, now, so, secular - you’ve covered it, the problems with secular psychology, and there’s a lot more that we haven’t had time to discuss; and then the issue of Christian psychology - we can see some problems and some issues there, major ones. But what about biblical counseling? Now, doesn’t that solve the problem?
Deidre: Biblical counseling is basically the person… Initially it was the idea that we minister to one another in the body of Christ, and you have the preaching of the Word, which is the most important place where people can learn Scripture; the admonition is there, the explanation of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit then can work.
However, when we speak with one another, we still have to rely on the Holy Spirit. But what has happened is a whole movement has started - well, Jay [E.] Adams was the father of it; Jay Adams was pretty well trained in behavioristic psychology, and because of what he brought in from Scripture - and he used so much Scripture people thought that this was totally biblical - but he brought in a methodology that now everybody has to learn that methodology, or another methodology. I mean, through Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation they have added other ways that sound more like Freud - going into the inner man, and so forth. But what they have done is they have developed a system that is not only unnecessary, but can be very stifling, and really reflects the psychological way. And they talk about problems and become totally problem-centered rather than Christ-centered. Yes, they do bring Scripture in; that is good. They do minister in many instances freely, without charging, although some of them do charge. And they are bringing Scripture in, and they do pray, so there are good things about it. But what has happened is it has…the professionalism of that has now discouraged believers from ministering to one another. And when we minister to one another and our sufficiency is of God, that we are dependent on God at every moment - that’s different from being dependent on a system.
And if you observe any of the counseling, there is almost a ritualistic design - they do this, and then they do that. And then they’re very big on confronting sin very directly - not just sin that is there on the outside but what they suspect might be on the inside. And so there are just many problems with it, and one would be much better off simply bringing the Word of God, bearing one another’s burdens - not alone, but in the body of Christ so that you’re not having somebody dependent on a particular counselor.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well…
Martin: I can give you an example: If somebody is interested, if they purchase our book Stop Counseling! Start Ministering! either from The Berean Call (or we offer it free on our website to read online or download and print), in chapter 3 there is Randy Patten. Randy Patten at the time headed the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, which has been changed into the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, because they’re emphasizing certification more and more. But anyway, he is counseling a couple, and I would challenge somebody to make that - strictly sounding, because it starts out with the Bible, but it ends up in a regular marriage situation. And the married couple, his parents are talked about, her parents are talked about; even their sex life is talked about, and then you wonder, Okay, where does Ephesians 5 come into this? Is he loving her as “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it” by challenging her about their sexual relationship? Is she submitting unto him as unto the Lord when it comes to other issues of not expressing the kind of love that he should be expressing to her? And to compound it, doing all of this in front of a third party, we just shock people when we say, “If you have an issue similar to chapter 3 in our book, you should never, never expose your relationship to a third party - call that a counselor, a pastor, or anybody else. That is totally unbiblical for you to do so.”
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, what has concerned me, and - Martin, Deidre, listen, you guys have been my heroes in terms of addressing these issues and so on, and certainly Dave Hunt had also a lot of influence. But as I’ve been able to observe what goes on, going from the problems with, as I mentioned earlier, the problems with secular psychology, and then so-called Christian psychology, and now biblical counseling, as these processes have developed, especially biblical counseling - well, you say, “Oh, well, there’s great hope there, because they’re going to do this and that.” But there are - you know, what I’m seeing is that there’s a mimicry of the way the secular psychotherapists set up. As Deidre mentioned, you’ve got an individual now - this person in the church could be a woman who therefore is counseling men, or men counseling women - you know, there are going to be some issues with that. And the secularist - the researchers have said, “There are some problems here. It’s not going to work out well for you.”
And there are a number of other issues that the researchers in psychology said, “No, the psychotherapists are making a mistake here. This leads to problems.” But the church, under the label of biblical counseling, is emulating those things and running into the same kinds of problems.
So underscoring all that, I think what you said, Deidre, is "it is body ministry." There is no guy with a silver bullet or woman with a silver bullet who’s going to solve all your problems, but that’s the mentality coming in. No, we need to minister to one another!
Deidre: Yeah. A person goes to somebody else expecting that other person to solve the problem, or to help or whatever, and a lot of times the real ministry happens in ways that we really don’t say, “Oh, that’s ministry.”
Let’s say that there is somebody in the church, they’re having marital problems; and so another couple, older in the church, invites them over for dinner, and they just befriend them. And as that couple sees the other couple interact, it’s kind of an eye-opener. You see, what we need to do is we need to learn how to live the Christian life by the Holy Spirit living in us. And so there’s a lot of teaching in Scripture that can be just brought out just naturally, you know, through the Word.
But in one instance, which I really love (and we did put it in our book), but this one couple had been ministering to a younger couple, and there was - the person…the wife of the couple, the hostess, got up and poured water for her husband, and then sat down. And the woman said, “Why did you do that?”
She said, “I just noticed that my husband probably needed water, and so I poured it for him.”
And she said, “I don’t get that.” She said, “In other words, you’re serving him all the time.”
She said, “Well, yes. We serve one another. This is what marriage is all about: loving and serving one another.”
Well, this was a real eye-opener to this woman. You see, she didn’t know that, and sometimes we may hear a sermon about different things, but we don’t really catch on to it. And so if the body of Christ is interacting, they are loving one another, there will be opportunities when one can encourage another in the right direction, or can bring a Scripture.
But you see, it’s more than sitting and talking about problems. It is living the Christian life in community with one another in the family. This is where we learn how to do things: in the family! And so if you kind of just get rid of some of the professionalism of the biblical counseling movement and just simply have people ministering to one another, I think that’s much better!
Tom: Yeah. Well, let me - Martin, Deidre, it was interesting: As I was driving in today, I had a CD in my player in the car, and I was listening to Dave. And I want to play this for our audience, because as I mentioned earlier, you’ve been dealing with this; I have, to a certain degree; and certainly has Dave. But let’s get Dave’s perspective on this. Here we go.
Dave: The first purpose of the Bible is to convert us, to win us to Christ! And we quoted 2 Timothy:3:15 - you remember? Paul writes to Timothy, and he says, “From a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are…” What? “…able to make you wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” So there’s the first purpose of the Scriptures.
We are in bad shape, folks! You are, I am. We need to be brought back into a right relationship with God. We are spiritual beings. God is a Spirit, and we have a soul and a spirit within us. And we’ve got to be back in a right relationship with Him, and then Christ becomes our life, and He begins to live His life through us! And I don’t think that Jesus Christ living His life through you needs any help from a psychologist. What we need is to allow Christ - and, you know, one of the names of Christ, Isaiah:9:6: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,” and so forth. One of His names is Counsellor. Why do we neglect His counsel? Why don’t we go to Him for counsel instead of to someone…
You know, one of the problems - I’m trying to get off of this subject, but it’s an important one. You know, one of the problems is we’re supposed to bear one another’s burdens. I’m not saying people don’t need counsel. I’m not saying they don’t need help; they do! We have a lot of hurting people in our churches.
Tom: Certainly, Martin, Deidre, we agree with what Dave has laid out for us. But why do you think pastors (many who claim to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture), why do many, if not most, rarely preach and implement the very things that we’re talking about?
Martin: It’s a mystery to us, but from answers to questions, when we’ve done surveys, what we find out is they have an enormous amount of confidence in the psychological way, in psychotherapists, in licensed individuals. And it’s almost like they have…
Martin: …logic-type compartments. You know, on the one hand, they will preach sufficiency, but on the other hand they don’t practice it. It’s a mystery to us.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, even though it seems impossible to turn the increasing influence of psychotherapy…I mean, I’m thinking about 2 Timothy:3:1-2 - it says, “Mark my words, in the last days, there will be perilous times…”
Martin: “Perilous times,” yeah.
Tom: “That men will be lovers of their own selves,” and I don’t know anything that underscores the whole selfist psychological…well, there’s a prophecy that tells us this is going to happen.
But what are some of the steps that our listeners can take to help implement the truly biblical way of ministering to one another?
Deidre: I believe one thing that they can do, and that is each person to commit to a daily moment-by-moment walk with the Lord. This is what we minister to people ourselves. We say, “What is your daily? What are you doing today? Are you in the Word? Are you studying the Word? Are you praying? Are you looking to the Lord? Are you recognizing His presence?” Not that we feel His presence, necessarily, although sometimes when we are really thinking of Him a lot, our feelings will make us feel as if we’re feeling His presence. But that He has said that He is there: “I will never leave your nor forsake you.”
And so I think that each one of us needs to just spend more time, more thought, in fact, through the day referencing to the Lord, because, you know, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” And the whole idea that He - we have to put Him first in everything. And so as each believer does this, and encourages, within the church, this to happen, and does what he can, then, you know, at least each believer is getting ready for things getting worse.
Martin: As you know, Tom, we were at a church for 16 years, and we just said upfront to the individuals that we trained the following: we said, “Okay now, we begin with the premise that any counseling situation that a talk therapist can handle, we can handle much better.” And what we do is we teach that we are looking for individuals who are filled, gifted by the Holy Spirit to minister to others. We see that in their relationships. We have looked at these individuals; we see their behavior in the church. We know what they’re like. We know that they’re, you know, growing in the things of the Spirit or not. You can’t see that with a psychotherapist.
We want to know that they are knowledgeable of the Word, and we want to know that they have walked with the Lord and been dependent on Him through the trials in life. And when we get someone like that and put them to work, we let them know we have far better to offer those individuals who are experiencing trials, tribulations, and sufferings than any licensed individual. You won’t get to know those licensed individuals. You don’t know about their private lives, but in the church we know about one another’s private lives, because - why? Because we fellowship with one another, we hear the Word, we respond to one another about the Word, about the life, and about the walk. And so we can know one another, we can minister to one another, and we can do it if only the pastors would take the initiative and claim what we claim, which is: any issue, problem, anything that happens in life - death, life, illness, whatever - that we can handle better in the church than any talk therapist can ever do.
Tom: Mm-hmm. I couldn’t agree more, and I would encourage our listeners, if you see these things happening in your church, in meekness, in humility, you need to go to the pastor. And if it’s a biblical - if it’s a Bible-believing church, I think a reasonable question is, “Pastor, what do you think about the sufficiency of God’s Word? What can you tell me about that in terms of the church’s position?” And then these other things are going to come up: “Well, why then are we referring out? If it’s sufficient, why isn’t it sufficient…” you know, as it says in - what is it - 2 Peter:1:3: “Why isn’t it sufficient for all things, as the Scripture said?” So that’s my encouragement.
Martin, Deidre, we’re out of time. But thank you so much for joining me in this, and it was a very important discussion, and I hope it will bless our listeners. But thank you, guys.
Martin: Thank you, Tom. It’s always a joy to speak with you and interact.
Deidre: Yes, and I pray for the people who are listening, that they will just have a wonderful walk with the Lord.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring 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 be here, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.