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.
Our topic for this first segment of our program is “Psychology and the Church,” and the series we’ve been doing on the subject is loosely based upon the DVD we produced with the same title, Psychology and the Church: Critical Questions, Crucial Answers.
In past programs we’ve established that psychotherapy is not scientific, but rather it’s comprised of, well, the subjective opinion, speculations of people who think they have the concepts and methods for fixing the problems of humanity.
Dave: And, Tom, what you just said is not based on our opinion, it’s not based upon the opinion of the critics. The psychologists and psychiatrists themselves have come to this conclusion.
Tom: Right, and these would be research psychologists, psychiatrists as opposed to practitioners, those who are in the field trying to help people.
Dave: And, Tom, a little interruption here—it’s very simple actually. If you could make a science out of human behavior, you’ve reduced us to stimulus response mechanisms without a will, without choice, without any real emotions? Come on, you cannot do that! So it cannot possibly be a science.
Tom: Right. Dave, along that line I’d like to discuss the subjective nature of psychological counseling, especially its emphasis upon self—you know, one’s feelings—and I want to begin with Proverbs:14:12, 16:25. Twice in Proverbs we have this: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Now, today’s current thinking is—what? “How can it be so wrong when it feels so right?” So what about this whole area of feelings, and how it has influenced many in the church?
Dave: Well, Tom, that just puts its finger right on the problem here. You see, there would be a place for psychology in the church if, and only if, the Bible did not have the answers that we need. Now, that would be rather odd, considering the fact that for thousands, literally thousands of years, men and women of God, who have gone through trials like most of us have never even imagined…. Read in Hebrews 11: they’re stoned, they’re sawn asunder, they’re hated and persecuted, they’re chased here and there and they dwell in dens and caves of the earth. Or think about Paul, you know, all that he went through. And yet they found the Bible, they found the Lord and His Word sufficient. In fact, they triumphed by faith in Him!
Now, if that history has gone by, and these are the great heroes and heroines of the faith, and we have a testimony of Scripture itself that says that He has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, wouldn’t it seem really odd that along comes some atheists, occultists, really evil men, Freud, Jung, and Rogers…
Tom: Whose lives—just check their biographies!—whose lives were so messed up, you’d figure…well, you’d think, Why would anybody go to these guys for counseling or advice?
Dave: Right, but here they come, and somehow now, through them, we have been given another part of the truth, apparently. “All truth is God’s truth,” is what the psychologists say. We have been given another part of the truth that was essential! How did these flaming souls down through history triumph and put us to shame, and let alone put Freud and the rest of them—they weren’t even Christians, they were anti-Christians.
Tom, on the very face of it, it’s just absurd. It’s more than absurd, it’s laughable! It’s ridiculous! And that the church would then turn to these men for counsel and say—well, Tom, I don’t know if we’ve even talked about this—integration. Well, now we are going to integrate these godless theories of these atheists that don’t work and we’re going to integrate it into the Bible. And that implies that the Bible is lacking something all of these centuries, all of these thousands of years. Now, Tom, it doesn’t make sense. I cannot buy this!
Tom: Dave, I want to get back to the subjective nature—the Bible, some have called it the Manufacturer’s Handbook.
Tom: God creates us. He knows everything about us. He’s the Alpha and Omega. He knows every thought we’ll ever have. He knows why we do this or why we do that, and so on. And He gives, in the Manufacturer’s Handbook, He gives instructions, so this is objective. This is not something that some men made up, and so on; it’s God’s Word for our lives. As you quoted 2 Peter:1:3, “God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” They come from our Creator, and if we will do those things, and follow those things, our lives at least are going to be pleasing to Him, which is, to me, Dave, that’s the greatest thing anybody could say about anyone. “He lived a life that was pleasing to God,” right?
Tom: But I’m not going to make those things up. I’m not going to come up with ideas and concepts that solve my problems that are contrary to the Word of God, or that I think, maybe in my ignorance, I just want to help Him out here.
Dave: Or make you feel good about yourself. It’s mainly about self.
Dave: So, Tom, the whole thing doesn’t make sense.
I was just reading something by John Cole, and, well, he gave a talk, as you may recall, why biblical counseling is not biblical, do you remember that? And what he has to prove, you see, to justify his position as a psychologist and a Christian, what he has to prove is that the Bible is not sufficient. So that all these people through these thousands of years who triumphed gloriously—wow! their lives put us to shame—somehow, they got along without something that was really missing from the Bible. And now he’s going to show why we need more than the Bible has, why we need to turn to these humanists and atheists and so forth—because the Word of God is not sufficient, contrary to the testimony of the lives and of the Bible itself.
So, what are we going to rely upon? Well, as you’re pointing out, our subjective feelings. And I’ve talked to people who…I’m sure you have: “Well, it doesn’t work. Well, the Bible doesn’t work. Well, I tried.” Well, then I guess God is a liar. And I guess these other…all I can call them is blazing souls who burned out for God, and who left a mark on history that would inspire you as we read the Word of God, or you want to read about some of the saints since then—men like Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth, C. T. Studd. I mean, you can name them, or great preachers like Spurgeon…
Tom: Let me go back to these missionaries. You know, of course, now today missionaries have to go through psychological profiles. We have to see if they’re really equipped mentally, emotionally, spiritually to enter into the mission field. Do you think those guys that you just mentioned went through that?
Dave: No, they were called of God, and they triumphed by faith.
Okay, but now here we are, Tom: “It doesn’t work. I tried it.” Well, then either there is something wrong with the Bible, which makes it very odd that all of these thousands, down through thousands of years, found the Bible sufficient; and somehow, you have detected, in contrast to all of them, that there is something missing from the Bible, and that’s why it won’t work for you. Wow, you are really setting yourself up as the great expert on spirituality and truth, and this is what Christian psychology does.
I shouldn’t say it again, but I will, and I get angry, Tom. I get angry, not so much at these men who certainly know better, but I get angry because of the lives that they have destroyed and the lies that they have told to the church, and convinced people that God’s Word is not sufficient and that we need some help from Freud, Jung, Rogers, Maslow—you name them—Adler, and so forth. Tom, it’s wicked!
Tom: Dave, we’ve received letters, you know, more than 25 years now. We started talking about psychology, psychotherapy in The Seduction of Christianity—that’s 21-22 years ago. Yet the common complaint about those who have seen either secular psychologists or those who call themselves Christian psychologists—even those who promote family marriage counseling, and so on, or integrationists have added the concepts of psychotherapy—they’ve all said, almost uniformly, “We were turned to self. We came in, we were trying to resolve some issues between, you know, husband and wife,” or issues in their own life, but over and over again they were turned back to self. Because, as we’ve said in past programs here, Dave, that’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Self is the solution to man’s problems according to not just humanistic psychology, but all the other ones to some degree.
Dave: Well, where else are you going to turn? If God is not sufficient and His Word isn’t sufficient, it doesn’t really work—Christ living in you, the hope of glory, being crucified with Christ, there’s no more I, but Christ living in me—now, if that doesn’t work, then what do we have left? Well, you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and somehow, you’re going to have to straighten out your life. Well, if you follow…
Tom: Without denying self, by the way.
Dave: Right, yeah. If you follow these principles now, we can help you.
You know, Tom, I don’t think we’ve mentioned this, or maybe we have, but it would be a long time ago—not in this context—I can’t help but think back to the lady who called in to a program run by two Christian psychiatrists all across the country. And you remember, she said, “I just get in bed with everybody. I just can’t help myself! And what can you offer to me?”
What did they say? “You have an addiction to sex. Now, probably your father was a milquetoast, and your mother was overbearing. And this goes back to your childhood, and this could take months, probably years, of therapy.”
Tom, therapy for what? “Well, I’m going to help me get my life straightened out again.” No, you need to be crucified with Christ. You need to realize that you are dead. Christ has come to live His life in you. You can accept this by faith, if this is what you really want.
But first of all, Tom—you put your finger on it a couple of minutes ago—you must give up your own life. You must give up your own ideas, you must give up your own self, your own ambitions, and first of all say, “Lord, not my will, but thine be done. Now, what do you want to do with me, Lord?” And when you do that, you put yourself in His hands, everything is going to change.
Remember, Tom, I often use the illustration of a young man—he’s praying for a wife. He says, “Oh, God, lead me to the woman you have planned to be my life’s partner, but please let it be Joanne!” Well, how can God lead him to Mary or Alice or somebody else who may be the one God has picked? He already has his mind made up what he wants.
So, prayer—we go back over this many times, Tom, but very basic—prayer for many people, probably for most Christians, is a religious technique to get our own way. We decide what we want, and then we try to talk God into working it out for us. And Jesus said, “You haven’t begun to pray until you say, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’”
It’s a difference, Tom. It’s pretty basic, very basic. It’s the difference between persuading God to give me what I want, and to make my life what I would like it to be, or allowing Him to give me what He knows I need, and to guide me in the path He has chosen.
Tom: And, Dave, you know, we’re not denying that there are not struggles out there, that people have gotten into habitual sins that it may be more difficult, but that doesn’t change anything! The solution is still what you said: you have to be willing in your heart, and God can help you with this, the Holy Spirit, to want what He wants before what I want, Dave.
Dave: Tom, it’s actually—and I don’t want to become too rational, too intellectual, but it is a rational choice. Years gone by I’ve counseled a lot of university students, high school students, and so forth. We used to have meetings in our home, which I can’t do now because I’m traveling too much. But I’ve often said to them, “Look, if Satan has a better deal, follow him. If Satan has a better deal than God, follow him. Think it over carefully. Is what he offers you better? Well, how is it going to turn out in the end?”
See, the Bible speaks of, deceitfulness, youthful lusts that war against the soul. You have to be kind of rational. It can’t be just emotional, because—how I feel about it and what I want—because we can be deceived. And what seems to be so desirable for the moment—it overwhelms you with the passion to do it—it turns out not to be the right thing in the end. Well, then we’d better ask God to help us to see things clearly from His perspective, and to have the wisdom to recognize…well, it doesn’t take too much wisdom, Tom. We want to obey Him. We want to follow His will. He’s our Creator. You said it: He’s the Manufacturer, and we want to please Him. Well, what else could there be? Why are we here?
Tom: But, Dave, somebody comes to you—you’ve counseled a lot, I counsel, probably too much of the time. But no, we have to make ourselves available. We have to minister to one another, so forgive me for that. But, Dave, somebody comes and they say, “You don’t understand, Tom, I just can’t help myself. Yeah, I beat up my wife every once in a while, but something just comes over me, and I just can’t control myself. And, you know, is this a spiritual thing?” I mean, what is this, Dave? Help me here.
Dave: Well, you remember what I said…
Tom: I’m setting you up, Dave.
Dave: Yeah. I’m counseling a young couple, and that’s basically what he said. He’s physically abusing her, not all the time, but just like that. He says, “Well, I can’t help it. That’s the way my father did to my mother, and it just comes over me.” And I just looked at him and I said, “Don’t give me this nonsense. If she was a 6’8”, 300-pound, 10th degree black belt in karate, you wouldn’t haul off and slug her, I guarantee you that!” This guy had a business, and if she was a…
Tom: Why wouldn’t he? Maybe people haven’t heard that punch line.
Dave: Why wouldn’t he? Well, any idiot knows you don’t haul off and…
Tom: He might do it once, and then when he got out of the hospital, okay, got out of traction…
Dave: Right! Yeah, it just isn’t rational. Okay? That’s what we’re talking about—what’s rational. And then I said, because they had a business and they needed some money at the time, “If she was a multibillionaire, and she was ready to put 10 million dollars in your business, and you’re negotiating about this and talking about it, and wanting to get a contract, I don’t think you’d haul off and slug her!”
Tom: I think self-control would be the item for him.
Dave: Exactly. And, Tom, we live here in Oregon, and this is a New Age place to a large degree and a very liberal state. But I cannot forget the—was it an editorial, or was it an article in The Oregonian or one of the Oregon papers here about California? Remember, California had their self-esteem task force started by John Vasconcellos, assemblyman in California, and they’re going to show that our big problem—which, I’m sorry, James Dobson has been saying this for years…
Tom: Well, it’s been through the church, Dave. We’ve heard sermon after sermon preached on this, building your self-esteem.
Dave: Dr. Dobson said, “If I had a…what we need—I’d give them a prescription for a heavy dose of self-esteem three times a day.” Okay?
Now, California was going to prove that that was the problem. That’s why kids get into drugs, and crime, and all kinds of things, and so they had a task force. They worked on this to prove that self-esteem is what they needed. You remember some of the students said, “What’s the point of trying? No matter what you do, they praise you.”
And I remember this article or editorial in the Oregon newspaper that said, “California? Self-esteem? What you need is self-control instead of self-esteem!”
And, Tom, our young people are out of control. Because you remember the tests (very quickly) they give to graduating seniors around the world? The Americans came out #1 in self-esteem. They’re way down on the bottom of third world countries for math and science and so forth.
Tom: Say, Dave, if our listeners—maybe we’ve upset many, I don’t know—but all we’re trying to do is reason with them, present the documentation, present statistics, but also just to appeal to the common sense. Self is, as we’ve said, the solution for the world. It’s all they have to work with and so on, but that’s not the biblical way. The biblical way is to deny self. Do what’s pleasing to God. He’s given it to us in His Word. If we’re truly believers, we have His Holy Spirit to give us understanding and to enable us to do the things that God would have us do.
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t think anyone can argue with that. What then is this psychology in the church? Well, you know, you guys—remember, we were meeting with one of these psychologists, the leaders—one of the best known, most highly regarded—what does he say? “You guys just dispense Bible verses like pills, you know.” Well, no, we’re trying to call people to the Word of God.
God says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” Isaiah:1:18: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, or they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
And God says, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land. If not, my judgment will come upon you.” It’s very simple, Tom.
Tom: Well, Dave, we’re just trying to call the church back to that, that’s all.
Dave: This is God’s universe. He made it. I think He has the right to make the rules. Not only does He have the right to make the rules, but as you pointed out, He knows what's best for us. Wow! Well, then let’s obey Him, and let’s give heed to His Word and allow Him to…. In fact, Tom, driving in here today I was just saying, “Lord, you’re living in me? I wish I could see more of that.” Really? “Christ in you, the hope of glory”? That’s what the Bible says. “Lord, that’s what I want.”