Tom: Thanks, Gary. Martin, Deidre, thanks for being on the program and for all of your truly edifying work.
Deidre: Well, we’re delighted to be with you and have this opportunity to share with your listeners.
Tom: Now, today we want to jump right in with a question I’m sure many of our listeners who have been following our series really would like to ask. While you have made a very strong case that professional psychotherapy with its underlying psychologies is questionable at best, detrimental at worst, and a spiritual counterfeit at least, so what then is a Christian to do who needs help?
Deidre: You know, people ask that, and they forget that through all of the 2,000 years that the church has been in existence since the death and resurrection of Christ, there has been a care - a cure of souls, and this all happened prior to the whole advent of psychotherapy. And it came to the fore again during the reformation, and in the reformation there were five - what were called “alones”, and we believe that these are basic to the care of souls: Sola scriptura, by Scripture alone; sola gratia, by grace alone; Solo Christo, by Christ alone; Sola fide, by faith alone; Soli Deo gloria, to the glory of God alone.
Therefore, God has created a body - Christ’s body, it’s called in Scripture - of believers to minister to one another, but more than that, He has given every believer His Holy Spirit to come in and live in that believer. He has given us His Word, and then we’re to draw alongside - not the one-up-manship like in any kind of a therapeutic situation where one is the expert and one is underneath. No, it is two people at the foot of the cross seeking the truth of God, the wisdom of God, the help of God through His Word, through His Holy Spirit and then also through the ordinances of the church: the whole thing of coming together in communion, remembering Christ’s death, looking forward to His return, and focusing more on God than on what must be way deep inside of us that we haven’t discovered yet.
Tom: Yeah. Saying this another way, Deidre, maybe with my bumper sticker mentality, God is the manufacturer; we’re His creation.
Deidre: That’s right.
Tom: He’s given the “manufacturer’s handbook” for how to go about life, how to live a life that’s truly productive and pleasing to Him.
Deidre: That’s right.
Tom: If He didn’t, then this is something that we sort of would have to make up as we’ve gone along, and as you’ve mentioned, this has been put in the hands of men and women who, for the most part, at least according to their writings, are anti-Christian.
Deidre: Now here’s what Paul urged believers: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.” You know, we have everything for living a godly life that we need.
Tom: Right. Well, verse 10 says, “And you are complete in him.”
Deidre: That’s right, we are complete in Him. He has given us so much; it’s almost like we’ve become blinded to all that he has supplied.
Tom: Yeah. You know, there are so many scriptures, and I want to not only address some of the scriptures in this segment, but just because they lay it out, and sometimes we’ve gotten so far away from it because we’ve been basically duped by so much that comes out of psychology and psychotherapy. But 2 Timothy:3:15: “And that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
But 2 Timothy:3:16,17 says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Now that’s either true or it’s not.
Deidre: Well, and what has happened is people have turned to the inspiration of Freud and Jung rather than relying on what God has given through His own inspiration.
Martin: They have been intimidated out of using the very thing that God has equipped us with, and they are intimidated by a variety of things. We live in a professional environment; we have all kinds of professionals that provide services, and so the psychological professionals come along and we think, “Oh, here’s another professional; they have to take care of our problems.” No, God has already equipped us. And one of my favorite verses is Hebrews:4:12: “The Word of God is quick and powerful,” and I could say the rest of it, but sometimes people read that, they see it, they say it, and yet they don’t really grasp it entirely; because (as you remember) as you go through Hebrews:4:12, “the Word of God, quick and powerful,” we don’t have any promises that can be proven from psychotherapists that they have something quick and powerful for us, we have the Word.
Now, we’re the resistant ones, but if we let the Word work in our lives, it’s quick and powerful. And as you get to the end of that, we know that it’s a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Now, there we’re really getting down to it, the inner man. We’re getting down to the heart that we have to work with. Only the Word of God, only the Holy Spirit knows the heart, and we don’t, and it gives us an opportunity to use the Word so that the Word might be used in a life, and that the Holy Spirit can convict the heart and work the change that needs to be done.
Tom: Second Peter 1:3 is one of my favorite verses along this line: “As his divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us by glory and virtue.” Martin, Deidre, it seems to me that all this other stuff out there displaces that. It moves us away. It doesn’t give us a heart for the very things, the very promises, as you said, Martin, that God has for us and will enable us to accomplish, “not by might nor by power, but by his Spirit.”
Deidre: Yeah. See, it removes the concentration and focus away from God and His Word to me and to my therapist as someone who is going to change me. And so here, when we look at the Christian walk, we see that when a person is born again, when he is saved, justified, that is a work that God does instantly. However, through the Christian walk, that is the process of sanctification. God works through His Word, through His Holy Spirit, and through the body of Christ - the various Christians in our lives - to conform us to the image of Christ. He uses all the circumstances in our lives in order to work that in us so that He can - He is in the process of creating something that’s far beyond our comprehension. Psychotherapy attempts to relieve guilt, to make people feel better about themselves, to kind of deal with daily things (that’s what they try to do). But you see, God is in a process that is so much greater than we can even imagine. And so when we get side-tracked with all of these other things, we are slowing down God’s process.
Martin: Yeah, I think there’s another danger here, too, and another danger is we not only warn about psychotherapy and its underlying psychologies, but there is a whole biblical counseling movement that has come along. Much of the biblical counseling movement is just a kind of, if you will, reflection of the psychological counseling movement in that you have somebody with a certificate or a degree in biblical counseling; you have an office; you have somebody coming in, one person after another; there’s sometimes a fee, etc., etc. And even the use of the terminology - I mean, you have “counselor,” you have “counseling,” and you have “counselee.” Well, even the term “counselee” - that’s a term that if you look in the OED, the Oxford English Dictionary, you will find it was coined in the 1930s. Why? Because they didn’t want to call a person a patient anymore, and so they came up with this term “counselee.” It’s not a biblical term, and even when you talk about the counselor and the counseling he does, we trace this back in one of our books and we point out how this isn’t what these terms meant in the Bible, and we point out what’s happened in the biblical counseling movement too often is you’ve just replicated what’s out there in psychology.
What we’re interested in is encouraging people to use what they already have. We first want to make sure the individual knows Jesus Christ as Savior. He is a saved, born again, converted individual. We want to make sure that this individual puts God first - he has the maturity of the faith in his life. Even at the beginning stages he can minister to other people, and those who are more mature in Christ, they can come alongside and help bear the burden without fear that they don’t have a psychology degree or a biblical counseling certificate. We’re putting it down at the layman’s level: the person who isn’t a theologian, he doesn’t have a four-year Bible college degree - not that we’re going to exclude people like that, but people don’t need these things. They are able to do what God has empowered them to do through the use of the Word and by the Holy Spirit.
Tom: Mm-hm. Martin, I’m thinking about some pastors out there who I know they are thinking, “Well, I’m so busy. I don’t have time for counseling. I’m going to refer them either to an elder or something like that, or to some individual.” But the pastor is really missing it, because if he has believers in his church or are walking - have some maturity - but you said even maturity…you know, God has given us what He’s given us and we can use that to His glory!
Deidre: I think, also, the Lord has - the way he has set up the body, we have that older women are to minister to younger women. Now, this is not only for the benefit of the younger woman, but the benefit of the older woman. You see, when we minister encouragement, when we minister to one another - care might just be something really as simple as bringing meals, taking care of children, [and] giving people rides to sitting and listening to someone who has lost a loved one. But whatever it is…
Tom: Ministering truth, giving godly counsel. Now, you know, I know we’re trying to make a distinction here, but ministering God’s Word to these individuals for whatever problems that they might have. And as we’ve quoted from Scripture, God has given us all. He’s the Manufacturer, this is the Manufacturer’s Handbook, and we can be used of Him to that end.
Deidre: That’s right, and when you draw alongside someone and you are looking to the Lord to be the counselor, the Holy Spirit to minister, you are looking at the Word together, guess who is ministered to? Both individuals. Both begin receiving, and sometimes we’ve talked to people who have done this, and they’ve said, “You know, I get more out of it than the person who’s there, probably, because the Lord is just ministering to me through His Word. The Lord is convicting me by His Holy Spirit as we look together into Scripture.” So that it is not someone kind of who is this change agent who is going to change the other person, and I think this is a lot of what people expect in counseling. Someone else is going to bring about the changes that will be comfortable so that the person doesn’t have to go through really having to do… You see, people talk about the hard work of psychotherapy that the person has to go through, and a lot of it is very painful, but it’s the wrong kind of pain. Yes, the work of sanctification can at times be painful, because there can be painful situations in our lives that we need to walk through, and as we walk with one another through the valley of the shadow of death, when we go through these dark places with one another, it’s not that one is going to fix it for the other person. It’s that we are together in Christ; we are going to see what God is going to do here. Let’s look into the Word; what is the Word saying here in this situation to encourage or direct? And so it’s not some expert, it is a fellow believer who is looking together with you into the Word and to the Lord.
Tom: We’re simply to be God’s instrument. Let me give you - I mean, our listeners here - another encouraging verse. First Peter 4:10,11: “As each has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks let him speak as the oracles of God; if anyone ministers let him do it with the ability which God supplies: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Now if that is not an encouragement to people out there, I don’t know what is!
Deidre: Exactly. That is so much…and you see, when people step out and they do this, they find God faithful. But if people step out and do this and they start relying on all the psychological stuff they have picked up, forget it! It is going to be distracted away from the Lord and His Word. We have to really “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.” And this is kind of a standard for ministry, too, as well as for living the Christian life. And it doesn’t mean we are not going to think; it’s not that we’re going to just kind of let God just kind of do whatever without us thinking, but rather that we are involving Him in everything. And as we start thinking this way and walking this way ourselves, we find the Lord faithful in our own lives, and we can encourage other people. And sometimes people think that they already have to be arrived and already perfect Christians before they can minister to somebody else, but then there would be nobody who could do it.
Tom: Right. I mean, God is going to use us where we are if we’re willing, if we make ourselves available. You know, we’re earthen vessels. God fills us with His Holy Spirit. He gives us wisdom, He gives us insight and, you know, as we’ve said, what God is going to give us is His way as opposed to all of these bogus - I mean, I’m being kind with that term - ideas and concepts and so on that are only destructive because they’re not true.
Sometimes they think what professional counselors, psychotherapists have to offer, and if they could even hope to offer this, I think they would be the wealthiest people in the world, and what I am referring to is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…they don’t have it. But God’s people, God’s Word, provides it.
Deidre: That’s right. And this is what He’s working in each person, and those qualities that are the fruit of the Spirit are…this is what we want to exercise when we are ministering to somebody else. We don’t want our love, however, to be a mushy love that is going to exclude truth. The love here would be a caring love, the agape love that would be not separated from truth so that we wouldn’t just say, “Oh, everything’s fine.” No, if we see something that needs some correction, in such deference and gentleness we would bring forth that truth, recognizing that we ourselves are subject to the same possible sin (that may not be our sin at the time), so that when we come alongside somebody, those qualities need to be there.
And another - what does a person want to be like if he’s going to minister to someone else in the body of Christ? Then first of all, besides this fruit of the Spirit, I think first of all, all of us as believers are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourself. So that has got to be the basic thing that we are striving for, that we are aiming for: to love the Lord. Some people who are biblical counselors, when I’ve heard them, sound more like Job’s counselors, bringing accusations and all of that. No, it’s really not that we are - if we are ministering to somebody else, that we have already arrived. It’s not that we have all the answers, but we want to really honor the Lord in the situation. We want to express the love of Christ in the situation which is never separated from His truth.
Tom: You know, 1 Corinthians:2:2-5 offers more encouragement along this line, Deidre. It says, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (there’s a heart of humility), And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Now, we just have a minute or so but I know we have some pastors listening and hopefully some elders, as well. What would be your encouragement to them?
Martin: Well, I would encourage them to be confident in what they know, be confident in what they’ve lived, and be confident in the work that God will do if they will trust Him, use His Word, and know that the Holy Spirit will convict hearts and change lives for those individuals who truly want the change. And so I would just encourage them to do it, and doing it means that they’re not doing it, it means that the congregation is doing it, because, again, we are all competent to minister provided we have been saved, born again, converted, we’ve lived the life, we’ve been bruised and battered at times, and yet we’ve trusted God, and we can minister that to another person. So I would just encourage them to do it.
Tom: Martin, I’m thinking of Bible-believing pastors out there who have been convinced that only those specially trained are qualified to minister to the problems of living experienced by their church members. So they feel overwhelmed, knowing that they can’t personally minister to everyone. And that sets these shepherds up to refer their sheep out to what the Bible calls a hireling, a professional. Yet the Bible not only teaches all believers how and what to minister, it commands them to do so. So the shepherd, in fact, has a whole flock to help minister, if you’ll simply trust and obey God’s Word.