Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
If you’re a new listener or haven’t tuned in in a while, the subject we have been discussing in this first segment of our program is Psychology and the Church. We feel it’s an important topic because we live in a psychologized society, and for the most part that could be said about Christendom. The question is: is the influence of psychology a good thing or a bad thing? And the best way for those who call themselves Christians to tell is they need to compare the concepts and practices of psychological counseling with the doctrines of Christ—that is, His teachings, which are only found in the Bible.
Now, Dave, I think we need to do a little side note here. What about someone who calls himself a Christian but doesn’t go by the Bible?
Dave: Well, Tom, I was about to ask you a similar question: Why should psychology agree with the Bible? Does everything have to agree with the Bible?
Tom: Well, again, for those who call themselves Christians, you’d think that would be important.
Dave: Well, but not flying an airplane, and so forth. So anyway, we talked about it in the past, that psychology claims—this is not medical science now—it claims to deal with the psyche, the soul. It claims to deal with the very areas that the Bible says are its providence. You want to be happy, you want to be fulfilled, you want to rejoice, do you want to be fruitful for the Lord, do you want to get along with people, and so forth? That’s the Bible. The Bible tells us that we’re new creatures in Christ. He has become our life; the life of Christ should be reflected in us. Psychology imposed itself in that area and presumes to tell us how to do a better job of Christian living.
Now, as far as must a person who claims to be a Christian, must he go by the Bible? Well, where did he learn about Christianity? From the Bible, from Jesus Christ. Where did we learn about Jesus Christ? From the Bible. And furthermore, the Bible claims to be God’s Word. So if you are a Christian, but you don’t go by the Bible, I don’t know what kind of Christianity you have.
Tom: Well, Dave, many people out there, myself included—I was 30 years a Roman Catholic—we had a Bible in our house. You know, I described it sometimes kiddingly, but this is the way I remember it: it was about, it seemed to me like it was, at my age, it was about 30 or 40 pounds. It sat on a coffee table. It gathered dust. It was only opened when we wanted to find out some history with regard to our confirmations or baptisms and so on, but rarely did we go past that. So…
Dave: They were all marked in there, right?
Tom: Well, it was right there in front of the Bible. This is where we had some of that documentation, but rarely did we look at it.
Dave: But, Tom, how could you…
Tom: We weren’t encouraged to go through it. So, my point, Dave, is that I would have called myself a Christian. But growing up I had what I learned in parochial school, I had what was taught to me by nuns and priests and so on. But if someone would have asked me, “Well, you are a biblical Christian?” I would say, “No way! We weren’t even encouraged to go to the Bible.” So…
Dave: But, Tom, you would get an indulgence for reading so much in the Bible. Some Bibles offer that. I have some huge, old Catholic Bibles that offer that.
Tom: Well, let’s put it this way: we were encouraged to get indulgences wherever we could, but there was a disdain of the Bible. I mean, that’s what I grew up with. That was the attitude.
Dave: You’re kidding! Tom, say that…see, you grow up a Catholic—I was just on the radio with a Catholic station yesterday, and a lot of Catholics called in. They all claimed to be Christians. They didn’t say anything about the Bible. They did say they went to Mass. They said they went to church, but none of them ever said anything about the Bible.
You remember my debate with Karl Keating, probably the leading Catholic debater?
Tom: Yeah, at least at that time.
Dave: Right, and a lawyer, a young lawyer. And our subject was, Does the Catholic Church represent the early church, the doctrines of Catholicism? Are they what the church is all about? Would this be the true church? And he got really angry because I kept going to the Bible. He said, “No, no, no, we’ve got to go to history: what did the church fathers, and what did the early church do?” and so forth.
I said, “The early church—you get that in the Book of Acts. You get that in the epistles of Paul.”
So, Tom, I think it’s a bit difficult to get that point across, because I don’t know how you would learn about being a Christian except from the Bible. The gospel is in the Bible, that’s how I become a Christian. And Jesus did say in John 8, “If you continue in my Word, you are my disciples indeed. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So we have to continue in His Word to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It’s that simple.
Tom: So let’s go back to the original statement: If you call yourself a Christian, you need to go by the Book, by the Bible, by the Word of God. Maybe I have to qualify it somewhat—it’s not that I didn’t get anything in my education as a Roman Catholic from the Bible, because the Catholic Church accepts much of the Bible. They have their basic dogmas, would be considered orthodox with regard to the virgin birth of Christ, that Jesus is God, and so on. So there were a number of things, but that was always covered, qualified by the tradition of the Church, by the magisterium, the teaching aspect of Roman Catholicism.
Dave: Explain the magisterium, Tom.
Tom: Well, the magisterium would be the college of cardinals, the bishops of the Church, the princes of the Church. Whatever they deem…
Dave: Along with the pope.
Tom: Along with the pope, of course. He would be the chief bishop, as it were, of the Church. So they would have the say, the last say, in terms of what is true and what isn’t true, at least according to their perspective.
Dave: Exactly, so the Catholics go by the Bible and tradition.
Dave: And they have made the tradition, and they haven’t followed the Bible in that tradition. But anyway…
Tom: What we are saying here—I mean, the name of the program is Search the Scriptures Daily. We say you need to go by the Scriptures. So when we are critiquing, evaluating psychology, the concepts and the beliefs that come to us from Freud, Jung, Maslow, Rogers, and so on, we are holding them up to the Word of God.
And, Dave, what I’d like to do is—we’re speaking generally about this. The Lord willing, in weeks to come we are going to get into very specific detail about the teachings of psychology and how they are contrary to the Word of God. But just, for openers, let’s make a brief comparison of some things. The foundational concept of psychological counseling is that humans are inherently good, yet the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So how do you reconcile that, those who are Christians and claim that psychology is really a way to go?
Dave: Well, Paul says, “O, wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from [myself],” really? The Bible says the heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” “All have sinned. The wages of sin is death.” So psychology, of course, does not acknowledge that.
We have to explain it, I guess, probably repeatedly. What are we talking about? Well, wait a minute, you’re not talking about Christian psychology, are you? Of course, Christian psychology is based on the Bible. No, Christian psychology is not based on the Bible! Christian psychology is based upon psychology. The psychological principles that have been discovered and taught by godless atheists, every one of them, as far as I know, that are opposed to the Bible. So, psychology actually is an attempt to explain human behavior and to improve or adjust human behavior without God and without His Word. In other words, the answer is within myself. As you said, “I’m okay, you’re okay. The problem is I suffered some traumas in my childhood. Now I’ve got to go back and get rid of that, but other than that, I just follow the principles of psychology.”
Tom: And, Dave, without that concept, without that foundational belief, they have nothing to do. There would be no way they could solve man’s problems, because—think about it logically: if I am innately, inherently evil, you know, within, then I can’t change myself and you can’t change me. It’s like a leopard trying to change its spots. It just can’t happen. But if I’m good within, and my problems are external to me—my environment, my parents, just something that’s outside of me—then they’ve got a way to go. They can change those things, at least even superficially, and make changes in my life. But if I’m, again, inherently evil, as the Bible says, there’s no hope for them, and there’s nothing they do. Again, they don’t deal with sin, as you mentioned, Dave.
Dave: Now, Tom, that’s a tough one to get across. I remember, many years ago, we had a Bible study in our home. Our landlady had a house next door to us, and she came to the Bible studies. She was a good Presbyterian, but she could not get this idea that she was a sinner, that I was a sinner! She would tell me what a good person I was: “You can’t say you’re a sinner!”
William Law, I like the way he put it many years ago—well, almost 300 years ago. He said, “Is there anyone out there who would like to have all of his secret thoughts exposed to the world?” Every imagination he ever had! “The imagination of man’s heart is only evil continually,” the Bible says. Now that means that this is the bent of man’s—it doesn’t mean that every thought that he ever has….
But no, we are self-centered, selfish people, and I think he wanted to get onto self. Self is really our problem, and it had its awful birth (Andrew Murray put it that way) in the garden of Eden, when Eve was told by the serpent, “You don’t have to follow God. You don’t have to do what God wants. He’s holding out on you. You’ve got a lot of experiences that you could have if you’d just kick over the traces. Come on now, and this—you eat of that fruit, that will open the door to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That will open the door to such fantastic experiences. You can be your own person—you can do your own thing! Don’t just listen to God, putting all these restrictions on you.”
So, that’s pretty much the idea. That’s where it had its birth. What was Eve interested in? Well, the Bible tells you: how delicious the fruit would taste to her, how it would make her wise, how beautiful the fruit looked to her, and so forth. And she had no thought for Adam, her husband, and no thought for God, who created her and put her in the garden. It was all “I, my, me.” And that’s where it began, and that’s the basic problem ever since, Tom. And no one can escape it.
Tom: So because of sin entering the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, their offspring, you and me, everyone, we have a sin nature. We have a heart bent toward sin.
Dave, for those who may have just joined us, we’re making a comparison between psychological concepts, the teachings of psychology versus what the Bible says. Now, the Scripture says—regarding our heart, it says, “For from within, out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murder, theft, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile the man.” So that’s out of bounds for psychology.
Dave: And how does that come about? Well, society gets in the way and teaches—a child is innocent to begin with. I know that there are some people out there who are thinking: You’re saying that an innocent child is sinful, has a will of its own, is rebellious?
Tom, I remember our youngest son—he’s a fine Christian, I think he would testify; a good father, husband, and so forth. Really a nice guy. But when we asked him when he was a little child, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
“I’m going to be a villain!” Wow, what does that do to you? And one day he came in—I think he was about four or five—from playing with his neighbor friend: “What have you been playing?” He said: “Stomp the little people!” Now, where did this come from?
And a baby, you’re trying to change its diaper and it fights you, way back then! And Jon’s first word that he learned, or at least the first one he used to say, he said it in his sleep: “No! No!” So I don’t think any parent had to teach their children to be selfish, had to teach their children to want things for themselves rather than for others. My goodness!
Tom: Well, Dave, that’s another word—we have five children, and I know early on, their first words may not have been “no,” but they were, “Mine! Mine!”
Dave: Yeah, there you go. Okay. So, because Adam and Eve sinned, you say, “Well, it’s not fair,” but it’s inside of each of us. And, well, but death passed upon all men because of Adam and Eve. But also it says, “Because all have sinned.” So, this is the way we are innately, and psychology can’t handle that. It starts off as though we don’t have a problem within ourselves. I’m okay, you’re okay, positive thinking, just get good thoughts—and, Tom, it won’t work!
Tom: Dave, talking about self, again, this is the part of humanity that psychology says is man’s solution, it’s all found in self. Yet the Scriptures say—this is 2 Timothy:3:1-2, prophetically—I think it’s talking about our times specifically. It says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves.”
Dave: Well, they always have been, but today we’ve got new ways to love our own selves.
Tom: Well, plus, look at history. This is the first generation that has ever regarded self as the solution to mankind’s problems. As you say, Dave, selfishness has always been a part of humanity from the Garden on, but where has it ever been extolled as being the solution to our problems?
Dave: Right. Tom, we hear it in the church: You’ve got to love yourself; self-love; self-esteem; you don’t esteem yourself highly enough, that’s your problem. They tried to say that, you remember?
You and I both used to live in California. John Vasconcellos, an assemblyman, he started the self-esteem task force. California spent a few million dollars on that one trying to prove that the problem in school—why do kids get bad grades? Why is there drug addiction? Why is there fighting, and so forth? Well, because they lack self-esteem! If they had self-esteem, then everything would be okay.
Well, you know what happened: they did these tests, and they found out it doesn’t work. In fact, the students themselves said, “What is the point of trying? No matter what you do, they praise you!” They’re going to build up their self-esteem.
And, Tom, you know that the tests that are given to graduating high school seniors, all over the world, they test them in math and science, and so forth, the students from America come out number one on self-esteem. “How do you feel about yourself?” Wow, they are at the top of the list! Where are they when it comes to math and science and so forth? They are way down near the bottom with developing Third World countries, because, “Why should I try? I just want to feel good about myself,” and it doesn’t work.
But it’s a tragedy. And, Tom, I’ve heard you say it in the past: it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire that’s out of control. I’m going to build up my self-esteem? No, my problem is I think too highly of myself.
Now, then the critics would say, “Well, wait a minute: Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” So we have the teaching in the church: “Well, you can’t love your neighbor as yourself until you learn how to love yourself.”
Tom, it’s incredible! We have seminars in self-love, in self-esteem, how to build up your self-image. And they say, “Well, but Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself.” Yes, I guess Jesus was saying, “Love your neighbor like you inadequately love yourself.” Oh, we all hate ourselves. Oh, love your neighbor like you hate yourself. No, obviously Jesus was saying you already love yourself. You love yourself too much. What do you do when you get up in the morning? You brush your teeth, you comb your hair, you feed yourself, you clothe yourself. How about giving a little of the attention you give to yourself, give some to your neighbor? Jesus was saying the opposite to what these people are interpreting from what He said.
Tom: Plus, they’re accusing Jesus of faulty math here. He said, “On these two commandments….” Yet they say, “No, no, there’s three here, actually: First, you need to love yourself, then you love God, and then you love your neighbor.” No, that’s so erroneous.
What we’re trying to do here is point out why Christians who, like everybody else, we have problems of living, but we need to go to the Word of God. That’s where our answers are.
Dave, I want to…we’ve got just a couple of minutes left, but…
Dave: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path. I have sworn and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.” Psalm 119 is all about the Word of God, the statutes, His judgments, and so forth. That’s the subject of the whole thing.
Tom: Right, and it points to reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ as the solution to man’s mental, emotional, behavioral problems. It’s really simple.
Let me quote Colossians:1:21-22: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he [that is, Jesus Christ] reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight.” Wow, that’s the answer right there!
Dave: Well, I don’t think that that needs to have psychotherapy or psychological counseling added to it. And if Christ lives in me, it’s no more I, but Christ living in me. He has become my life. It would be an insult to Jesus Christ to come to a psychiatrist or psychologist and say, “Well, now Christ is living in me, but He needs a little help from Freud or Jung, and so forth. Could you counsel Jesus so He could do a little better job of living His life through me?”
Tom: Dave, next week, the Lord willing, we’re going to talk about churches, and then how they need to minister. For example, should the pastor be the only one counseling or ministering, or should there be a professional on staff, and so on? So I’d encourage our listeners: if your church is wrestling with these issues or going a way that you think leans more to psychology, encourage them to listen in, and I think we’ll have some insights for them.