Tom: Thanks Gary. Dave, as we wrap up our revisiting the book we coauthored fifteen years ago, it’s only fitting that we discuss what I think was the most controversial subject we addressed, the growing influence of psychology in the church. Now people were shocked that we would include that as a part of the seduction taking place. After all, some of the rising stars in evangelical Christendom from James Dobson, to Minirith and Meyer, I mean they were psychologists or psychiatrists. More pastors were turning to that field to assist them in their calling. Did we blow it on that one?
Dave: You mean by saying that there was something unbiblical about so-called Christian psychology?
Dave: No I don’t think so. Maybe we should at this point Tom, mention something. After we wrote that book any number of talk show hosts, Christian talk show hosts, I think some secular ones as well, [on] radio or television approached those that we had mentioned in the book, approached them about coming on radio or television, coming on their programs with me. Not one of them agreed. Well, I take that back. There was José Silva, the founder of Silva Mind Control, now called Silva Method, an outright occultist. He came on the John Ankerberg Show. Now that includes all of the well known Christian psychologists. They were all asked. “Would you come on?” John Ankerberg asked and others asked them. Would you come on and discuss these issues from the scriptures? They wouldn’t do it. Not one of them.
Now I find that unfortunate, because I think that the church would benefit greatly from an open forum, an open discussion. We have raised some serious questions, not only we, but other people like Martin and Deidre Bobgan and a number of others have addressed this. The issue of self esteem, the issue of self love, self acceptance, self image and so forth. It wasn’t just the Christian psychologists, but many leading pastors and others who had picked this up and were teaching the same thing. I think that the church would benefit if we could have an open forum of discussions.
As you know, recently Christianity Today, frequently has not only ads but articles. And not too long ago they had an article written by a Christian psychologist specifically attacking me by name. Well let’s say not attacking me, let’s say saying that Dave Hunt and John McArthur (he was also mentioned)—
Tom: For him writing about the problems you—
Dave: The sufficiency of Christ, right? And saying the scripture is sufficient. We don’t need psychology. This is a Johnny-come-lately, this is something new. The church didn’t have it for nineteen hundred years, why do we need it now? I wrote what I thought was a good article in response. Christianity Today would not allow it. So it’s been very difficult to bring this discussion into the public arena in the church.
Tom: Dave, I just want to interject this because we are referring to the book The Seduction of Christianity. Now most of the complaints as least initially, well I won’t say most of the complaints, but we did have complaints for mentioning those who are in the word faith, for those who are into inner healing, for those who were into particular things that we at least, you know at the very least challenged them as whether these things were biblical or not. But nothing created a furor— You know it’s almost as if one part of the church—well it’s okay to deal with these hyper-faith guys, but now you’re talking about highly visible main street evangelicals. Now there was a problem.
As a matter of fact, as I remember it, for all of your speaking on this subject throughout the country, psychology—when you addressed that issue you’ve been asked not to come back. From what you would consider to be conservative evangelicals. Why is that?
Dave: Well Tom, you just said it. You said highly visible, you didn’t use the word popular, but they are very popular, well accepted personalities. So people took offense at that. How dare you question this person or that person! I mean he is so highly respected!
It wasn’t that they said now wait a minute, let’s go to the Bible and let’s check this out again. You are disagreeing with the Bible. Nobody ever said that to me. They said well, but this person is so highly respected! How could you possibly even entertain the idea that they might be wrong?
Well I don’t care how highly respected a person is, the issue is, is it biblical or is it not biblical? That’s what we have to decide. So when you go to the scriptures—
Tom: Let’s go to 2 Timothy:3:1-2, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves….” Let’s look for an example, or let’s address an example. Self-esteem, that’s the cornerstone of most “Christian psychology”. Is that biblical?
Dave: No it’s not biblical.
Tom: Well it’s biblical in the sense that it’s a problem which this scripture just addressed.
Dave: Nowhere does the Bible encourage us to think well about ourselves. Philippians:2:3, “…but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others [others!] better than himself.” If you want to go the examples of scripture, go to Moses at the burning bush. Remember, God came down and said Moses I want you to go to Egypt and deliver my people. And Moses said don’t ask me, I’m no good. I don’t deliver, I can’t do anything. He apparently had very low self esteem. And God didn’t say to him, “Well Moses that’s your problem. I’ll give you about six months of Christian psychological counseling and I’ll teach you how to feel good about yourself and have a high sense of self worth and self esteem and a good self image so forth. Then you’ll be fit to be a deliverer. No! God said Moses I have chosen you because you are the meekest man on the face of the earth. And I am going to take the meekest man on the face of the earth and I am going to use you to confront the mightiest emperor in his palace on his turf to deliver my people so that God will have the glory. No man will have the glory.
Or you could go to Job. Job said, I’ve heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye hath seen thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Christian psychologists say that’s horrible. Don’t let anybody feel that way about themselves. I mean you have to have a sense of self worth. Otherwise if we’re not worth anything, why would God love us? Look at the cross, that shows the value. That’s how highly God values us. No, if you want to be honest with yourself, you would have to say that the cross would do anything but give a sense of self esteem and of self worth. Because it was my sins that nailed him there. And it was because of my sin that he had to reach so deep into the depths of the muck and mire of evil that is in my heart. That’s what the cross is all about—redeeming me from sin and myself. It’s not a measure of my self worth. I can’t walk the golden streets one day and say, “Oh God it’s wonderful about your grace and your love and how you died for me. But after all you did [it] because I was worth it, because I was of such great value to you.” No! John the Baptist said, “You say we’re Abraham’s seed [he’s talking to the Jews], God is able of these stones to raise up seed unto Abraham.” So why am I of such great value? God doesn’t need me. It’s because of his love. And love doesn’t just love those that who are valuable or loveable. In fact, he loves us in spite of our unworthiness.
Tom: The point I was trying to make is that in earlier shows we talked about how an erroneous teaching, call it a false doctrine, whatever, but something that’s taken from fallen, finite humanity, some concept that’s developed. It’s introduced into the church and it might be a small thing that the church begins to build on. I mean some of the leading—I’m not talking about psychologists, but some of the leading evangelists who have been the major promoters of self esteem being a doctrine of the church, that’s shocking! But what they don’t recognize is that when you start with a false idea just as you laid out the development in terms of ideas related to self esteem, you end up changing or altering the character of God. Now I’m worth so much that Christ went to the cross because I was worth it. What does that tell us about God? Did he die for my sake, for my worth or because of who he is? You see I’ve got a big problem there.
Dave: Right. The cross is about the vindication of God’s holy character and his justice and he does not compromise. These people teach for example, one of the leaders says God died for us—Christ died for us because we’re really somebodies. And if we realize that he died for us, then we realize that we’re somebodies. No, he didn’t die for somebodies. He died for sinners. And that’s not going to build up my self esteem. It’s contrary.
I mean Tom we could go on and on about this, but I would like to move to something else a little bit related to it. But just to put a closure on this topic, Californian John Vasconcellos, the assemblyman, he started the self-esteem task force. They worked for years. They spend hundreds of thousands researching this. And even the secular psychologists and psychiatrists came to the conclusion that self-esteem is a false teaching. The idea was that it was low self-esteem, a bad self image that was bringing about pornography, and drugs and—
Dave: Yes, and poor grades in school. If you would build up their self esteem, everybody would act properly. Well they found out it isn’t true. And even some of the students said, “What’s point of even trying? No matter what you do, they praise you for it. Now if you did something worthwhile, you worked hard and you got good grades then that might cause you to feel good about yourself. Although if you’re a Christian, you realize that that’s pride. But to tell somebody how wonderful they are is not going help them to do a good job. And so when the students—graduating high school students take exams around the world—and they grade them all around the world. They find out that American students are number one in self esteem. They think they’re the best. But they are down near the bottom with the third world countries as far as math, science, and language and so academically we are near the bottom. But they build up their self esteem. So now even the secular psychologists and psychiatrists have been saying this doesn’t work. What we need is self control. That’s what the Bible teaches.
Dave: What we need is some motivation to work hard, not to just look in a mirror and say I love you, I love you, I love you. But this is what the Bible has been saying all along. Now where did this idea come from?
Let me quote Bruce Narramore. Bruce Narramore is the nephew of Clyde Narramore who I would call one of the godfathers of Christian psychology. You remember, here’s Clyde Narramore on CBN being interviewed by Pat Robertson. And Pat says, “Dr. Narramore, what do you think about someone like Jay Adams?
Now Jay Adams says basically if you are a Christian, you know the word of God, you are mature in the faith, you are filled with the Spirit, you are competent to counsel. Well Clyde Narramore gets a rather patronizing look on his face and says, “Well you understand he doesn’t have a degree.”
He doesn’t have a degree? He was teaching at a seminary. He has several degrees, but they are in theology, not psychology. So what Clyde Narramore means is you are not competent to counsel from the Bible unless you have degree in psychology.
So now we have a whole new concept that was unknown to people like Luther, and Calvin and Wesley and Whitfield and Spurgeon and so forth. Nobody ever had such an idea that you have to go back to school and you’ve got to get a degree in psychology in order to be competent to counsel from the word of God. But these are now the real heroes. So here’s Bruce Narramore now, the nephew of Clyde Narramore, and he says—these are not the words of Dave Hunt or Tom McMahon, this is Bruce Narramore.
He says, “It was humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers who first made us aware of the need of self love and self esteem.”
Now you could read the writings of the Christians down through the centuries and go back to the Bible itself, you will never find that idea. Nobody ever got that idea out of the Bible. Where did it come from? This is the wisdom of the world which Paul says in 1 Corinthians is foolishness with God. This is an idea that the world came up with because they don’t believe in God and they’re trying to explain human behavior on purely scientific basis without God and without the soul and without the Spirit and without the word of God. They came up with the idea “we need to love ourselves”, “we need to esteem ourselves”. You know that was Eric Fromm back there.
Tom: Right and then Nietzsche before him.
Dave: And Nietzsche before him, the guy who inspired Hitler. They were the ones that came up with this idea and now it’s in some of our finest pulpits. So again, we’re talking about the seduction of Christianity. How is it seduced? By these ideas that come in from the world. Then we want to be academically respected.
Now Tom, I’m talking too much. Let me make it clear and plain. Whether a psychologist or a psychiatrist is a Christian or an atheist, please anybody out there listening, understand this. You have to take the same courses, you have to give the same answers on the same exams, you are licensed by the same licensing bureaus whether you call yourself a Christian or not. So there is no such thing as Christian psychology. Christian psychology you say well, this is a Christian psychologist. We’ve got a lot of Christian psychologists. They talk about Christian psychology. Well go to any library, go to any textbook. Look it up and try to find a listing in the index of any psychology textbooks for Christian psychology. It does not exist. Why? Because there is no Christian who is founder of a school of psychology known as Christian psychology. You’ll find Freudian, Jungian, Rogerian, humanistic, behavioristic, transpersonal, existential, all kinds of psychologies, not a listing for Christian psychology. So what is Christian psychology? Well it’s an attempt to take the wisdom of this world, the ideas of godless, they are all anti-Christians from Freud, to Jung, to Rogers, you name them, they are anti-Christians and they come up with these theories. Now we’re going to take their theories and we’re going to integrate it with the Bible, as though the Bible needs some help. And now we’re going improve the scriptures by integrating psychology with theology and we come up with a hybrid called Christian psychology that never existed. Now Tom, I’m just getting a little worked up here, I’m sorry.
Tom: (chuckling)Come on Dave.
Dave: Let me keep at it. Christian psychology furthermore, and I’m just being logical, it didn’t exist until a very few years ago. So if it has anything of any value to offer, the church was without for nineteen hundred years.
Now apparently God somehow through ignorance or oversight—whoa, I hate to say that, but how are you going to explain it? He left out of the manufacturer’s handbook, the scriptures, something that is really important and this is what they say.
Well how are you going to help people with their problems today because we need psychology. Well, but the Bible says He has given us all things that pertain unto live and godliness to the knowledge of him who’s called to glory and virtue. And the whole secret of the Christian life is not me struggling in my flesh to live up to some standard that I couldn’t possibly live up to, but it’s allowing Christ to live his life in me. Well I don’t think Christ in me, who is my life the scriptures says, I don’t think Christ in me needs any help from Freud or Jung or Rogers or anybody calling themselves a Christian psychologist who has drawn from the wisdom of this world.
What I need is to get back to the Word of God. But now what Christian psychology has done—it has undermined our confidence in the Word of God and they will blatantly say that the Bible is not enough.
I remember when Moody Monthly—and I’m not saying that Moody Monthly—that these are bad people. These are Christians, they love the Lord, but again they have been seduced by these ideas. On the front cover it was Sam, this woman, you remember, who she had some problems. She went to a Christian psychologist who regressed her into the past. We haven’t had time to even talk about all of that stuff, but anyway, these are occult techniques and Christians are using them now.
He regressed her into the past, [and she] came out with memories, these are false memories. False memory syndrome we call it now. But she came out with memories of having been sexually abused by her father and being involved in Satanic ritual and so forth, SRA, Satanic ritual abuse and then after a couple more years of therapy, she began to manifest multiple personalities. I mean this has gotten to such an extreme that now I’ve got twenty personalities in me and they were only able to lead nineteen of them to Jesus. Well wait a minute, am I going to go to hell because one of my personalities—or they will make such statements as “You should let the dominant personality rule and so forth”? This was never even heard of, but then the point I’m trying to make is Moody Monthly tragically, said in that article “now you couldn’t just lead a person like this to prayer and Bible study and repentance. They’ve got to have professional help.”
So that brings us back to Clyde Narramore on the 700 Club when he says, well he doesn’t have a degree. Jay Adams doesn’t have a degree in psychology. How can he possibly counsel from the Word of God? So we have undermined confidence in the Word of God. We now have a new clergy class. In fact it’s a new priesthood in the church. They have degrees. PhDs and something that Paul never heard of. You can’t be a Berean because the Bereans checked Paul out from the scriptures. But they say but there’s another source of God’s truth. Freud, Jung and so forth and you don’t have a degree in that. So Tom, it is a seduction, I would have to say it is one of the major problems in the church. And I don’t know whether we mentioned it on another program or not, but you remember we had lunch with J. Vernon Magee?
Tom:Yes, no we haven’t mentioned that.
Dave: You remember one of the things that he said?
Tom: I think he was in his mid-eighties and I think he just lived a couple years after that, but he was a distraught guy when we had lunch with him.
Dave: It was even less than that. I think a number of months. But in those days he was promoting The Seduction of Christianity wherever he went and he had just been removed from his time honored position at Moody Radio of his noonhour to a less desirable time to put in Minirith and Meyer. And he said (this is J. Vernon Magee now, not Dave and Tom), this is J. Vernon Magee, he said, “ This is symptomatic of the decreasing biblical and increasing humanistic content that we’re getting from Christian radio and television and Christian pulpits and books and so forth.” And he said, “If this trend continues, Christian psychology will be the destruction of the evangelical church. Now that’s how strongly I feel about it. I am very concerned.”
Well the problem is that it isn’t biblical. It wasn’t in the Bible. You won’t find it there. The church knew nothing about it, and therefore either the church was at a disadvantage for 1900 years or now suddenly we have this new thing that’s going to help us and we ought to be a whole lot better than the apostles. I mean read of the martyrs and so forth. How did they get along without Christian psychology? Well I guess they were at a disadvantage, but we should be a lot better. Or this is not what we need at all and what we need is to get back to God’s Word plain and simple.
Tom: Yes, you know Dave, the scriptures are not only clear that this is not biblical, it actually speaks against it. You know we quoted earlier 2 Timothy:3:1-2, “Mark my words, in the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves…” Now it talks about the last days. We are referring to the seduction of Christianity, spiritual discernment in the last days. Well we know that humanity has always had a problem with pride, self-love. I mean from the garden on we’ve had that problem, but try and point to a generation in which the problem is being offered as the solution in the church!
Dave: Yes, seminars teaching you how to love yourself.
Tom: Exactly. This is scary stuff on one hand, but on the other hand, the Lord is still in charge and what we want to do in this program and the programs to come is to continue to encourage people. Yes, there is a lot going on out there. We don’t have to be nitpickers about this and that, but there are things that are being promoted that you have to ask the question: Where do we find this in the Word of God? Are the scriptures sufficient? Can the scriptures guide me through these things?
Dave: Is the Bible our guide or isn’t it?