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 tuning in. In today’s program, Tom will continue his discussion with special guests, Martin and Deidre Bobgan of Psychoheresy Awareness Ministries on the topic of “Psychology in the Church.” Here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Our topic for today is “psychology,” more specifically, “psychological counseling,” also referred to as “psychotherapy.” We are going to consider the influence it has had upon evangelical Christianity.
We’ve put one program together for this, [and] my guests are Martin and Deidre Bobgan. I can’t think of anybody who could speak to this subject as well as they can, certainly from a biblical perspective. And that’s what we’re about [at] Search the Scriptures 24/7. We want to keep holding up everything that’s coming into our lives—that we need to check it out by the Scriptures—and that’s what this program is about.
Martin and Deidre have written 21 titles, 21 books, most of them dealing with psychological counseling, the latter ones dealing with biblical counseling, but I’ve got their latest book right now, which is called Psychoheresy: Revised and Expanded. It’s available through The Berean Call.
Martin, Deidre, welcome back to the program.
Deidre: Thank you.
Tom: Psychoheresy: Revised and Expanded. Why this new book? Or why a revision of the old book?
Martin: Well, the original copy came out…now it’s 26 years ago, and as we’re heading for 25 years—it came out last year—we said, “So much has happened, and it’s all happened in a detrimental direction in the church.” And, you know, we see it doesn’t matter where you go in the church. Whether it’s churches themselves, locally, para-church organizations, Bible colleges, Christian schools, Christian universities, seminaries, and mission agencies, wherever you look, it’s all around. We did the original book, now 26 years ago, but when we were approaching the 25th year, last year, we decided we have to expand and load this with what’s been happening since that proverbial camel’s nose came into the tent in the 1970s. So we went ahead and we did this revision. It was a real necessity because so much had happened to invade the church.
Tom: I believe you guys have coined the term “psychoheresy.” What do you mean by that?
Martin: Well, psychoheresy is what we describe as a psychological heresy. And it’s a departure from the Scripture itself. It’s using the unproven, unscientific psychological opinions of men, which are really forms of religion themselves, instead of the confidence that the church has had, right up until the rise of the psychotherapy, in the biblical truth of God. And we say it in one sentence like this in our book: “It’s a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life, now very often treated with psychological counseling and that form of counseling actually utilizes the very wisdom of man, and it’s the very wisdom about which God has warned his people.” And, then, we give verses and Scripture to demonstrate how God has warned against this wisdom of man.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Martin, Deidre, when I have the opportunity to speak about this subject, especially…I mean even in conservative, evangelical churches…they’re not particularly happy because I’m addressing this. Although the pastor…you know, I’ve been invited to speak on the subject. But one of the problems that they have with it is—you know, we talked about this last week—the myths, of course. But here’s what it comes down to, and this is why I speak about it. You mentioned it just a minute ago, Martin. It has to do with sufficiency of God’s Word!
Tom: Is it sufficient or not? Most evangelicals…conservative evangelicals…they would say, “Well we believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word.”
And, then, they would say, “And we believe in the authority of God’s Word for all matters of faith and practice…”
Tom: …and so on. And that’s good.
But the third area here, they may say, “yes,” and that is, “Well, do you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word?” And they would hedge on that. Because, obviously, many believe that, no, we need to go out and find something from Freud, or Jung, or Maslow, or Rogers, or from some professional. We dealt with that last week. If that’s the case, then they really don’t believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word.
Secondly, if they don’t believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word, then it’s not their authority. They are looking outside for other authorities. And, if that’s the case, then, I mean, the inerrancy of God’s Word, it’s like…it’s nonsense. It doesn’t make any sense at all. So, this is a huge, huge issue for anyone who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian. They have just pulled the rug out from under themselves, in my view. What do you think?
Martin: Well, you had mentioned on the last broadcast about people who say, “Well if you have a medical problem, you go to a medical doctor. If you have a psychological problem you go to a psychological doctor,” either a psychologist or a marriage/family therapist—they don’t have doctorates, anyway the MFTs don’t.
But anyway, that particular—I minored in philosophy—I don’t want to get into this, because it would take the rest of the broadcast. But you can’t have that analogy, because it’s called in philosophy and logic, “a category error.” You can’t prove something in the nonphysical world by using a physical analogy, because it will lead you into all kinds of other errors that you’d be opposed to. So you can’t do that analogy logically, as far as that particular comparison.
And what happens with people is, they are soaked up into this stuff, it surrounds them, they see it on—Deidre mentioned in the last broadcast—it’s all around you. We know about Oprah Winfrey, we know about…
Tom: Dr. Phil.
Martin: …Dr. Phil, yes, and all the rest. And, so, we get acculturated to it and we think it’s the thing to do. But the fact of the matter is that individuals who are going there—think about this—we have in the faith, we have an object of our faith, Christ himself. We have His sacrifice; we have His death and resurrection. We have certain terminology that we use, and we have a certain future to look forward to.
You don’t see in any psychotherapy the concept of sin, the concept of depravity—the human depravity, the goodness of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, and in no way do they talk about an eternity. They’re talking about time, not eternity. And when you look at the vocabulary, the very language of psychotherapy, what you’re finding is a vocabulary and approach that is a competing religion with that of our belief in the Bible, in God, in Jesus, His Son, and so on.
Deidre: Mm-hmm. It’s a competing religion just like the idolatry that was going on in the Old Testament. Because what happens is…it’s another religion. It’s a religion where self fixes self, with the help of some other person. In other words, it always ends up to be one person fixing himself, even though someone else comes along and is helping to fix the person. It’s all at the human level and it is at a very self-centered level. Whereas, Jesus knew what to do with the self…I mean, Romans 6-8 is so clear. Self had to go! The old man—in other words, we’re still here, we still have a personality, we’re still alive in that sense, but we’ve been given new life. We have the new life in Christ. The old was dealt with on the cross.
Whereas, with psychology, so many of the techniques are: you go in [to] the past in order to fix the present. But the past has been dealt with on the cross for a believer. And then the “where are we going with it?” We’re going further into self, rather than into Christ.
Deidre: So it’s the difference between Jesus in you, the hope of glory, and me and myself examining my belly button.
Martin: Let me go down the path of religion, because this is one that people are really—you know, they get upset when we say psychotherapy is religion.
“Well, no, it can’t be, it doesn’t have a god.”
Well, neither does Buddhism. I mean, there are religions that don’t have a god.
And we look at the writings of people in the field. Again, we quote in this area, Dr. Thomas Szasz, one of the best-known psychiatrists in the world. He says the following, “Traditionally, people sought counsel for problems in living and religion. Today, for the most part, they seek it in psychiatry and psychology.” And he goes on to say, “We are in grave danger of ignoring the competition and conflict between these two approaches, or worse, declaring the religious approach unscientific and therefore illegitimate.” He also says that, “The human relations we now call ‘psychotherapy’ are in fact matters of religion,” and that, “We mislabel them as ‘therapeutic’ at great risk to our spiritual well-being.” And he concludes in this way, he says, (And by the way, Tom Szasz is an atheist so you read this, and you say, “Whoa, wo-wow!” You know?) He says, “That psychotherapy is not merely a religion that pretends to be a science. It is actually a fake religion that seeks to destroy true religion.”
And when I lay that on people in the church, they balk at it, “I mean, well who’s this guy, Tom Szasz?”
Well he’s one of the most eminent psychiatrists in the history of psychiatry. Then we quote other individuals. We have a whole bunch of them in our chapter in the book Psychotherapy Is a Religion. We even have a book by a man who’s a professor who has Psychotherapy as Religion. That’s the title of the book, in other words. And he establishes all of the parameters for a religion. He shows [that] okay, this is a religion.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, let me do this. Let’s try and make this…not just for our audience’s sake…but for anybody’s sake, for my own sake. Let’s break this down to something that’s very simple.
If you call yourself a biblical Christian…somebody who goes by the Bible…this is, you know, it’s the Word of God. This is what you believe.
Now, let’s compare some of the biblical teachings with some of the ideas that have come through psychotherapy, whether it be self, whether it be aspects that they believe with regard to the nature of man and how he changes and all of that. Let’s start with this: the Bible says that man, mankind, is inherently evil. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?”
Tom: So the Bible, basically and fundamentally, says that mankind is sinful, and there’s nothing that man can do about it on his own.
Now let’s compare that with a psychotherapist. If that’s the problem—the psychotherapist—he’s not only out of his league, there’s nothing he can do about it. It’s just like trying to say that a leopard can change his spots. So, psychotherapy, for the most part, particularly humanistic psychotherapy, believes that man is inherently good. So, they’re starting with someone who they believe is inherently good, and they’re going to try and solve all of his problems, because it’s not really their problem, it’s their environment—we talked about this last week—it’s their parents, it’s all of these other things.
But the Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” There’s no one that can change that but God.
Deidre: That’s right. And the other thing that happens in therapy is there’s a lot of expression of that wicked heart in talking about other people, in—I mean, in self-justification, I mean, in just all kinds of stuff. It actually feeds the deceitful heart.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, what about—people are looking for solutions out there…
Deidre: Mm-hmm. They are.
Tom: We’ve been talking about psychotherapy—the pillars—you guys mentioned last week: Freud, Jung, Maslow…these people were antichrists. Folks, if you think I’m pressing this, all you need to do is look up the biographies of these individuals—from Freud and so on. I mean, the perversions in their own lives—the demonic aspect of Carl Jung—again, in their biographies. This isn’t Christians just throwing stones at these guys and so on.
Now, that brings me to another point, kind of along this line. As I read—well, first of all, we couldn’t say—based on just the three that I mentioned…and we could to the other pillars of psychotherapy—…you could hardly say that they were godly individuals. Just read about their lives, folks.
So what does Psalm 1 say? It says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.”
Tom: Now, wouldn’t that be a heads up? Wouldn’t that be something that Christians out there who are buying into this stuff, mostly through—because they’re uninformed, or they’re ignorant of some of these things that are going on—which you guys, for decades, have presented to the church? But if they recognize these things, you would hope that it would give them at least pause and pull them back to God’s way, not man’s way.
Deidre: Yes, and look how that verse goes on. It says, “But in his law (and in God’s Word) he meditates…” he thinks about God’s Word. And this is exactly the difference.
You are either following the wisdom of men, or you are feeding on the Word of God. And it is only the Word of God, feeding on the Word of God, by which our new life in Christ is nurtured, really. I mean, that’s the food we need, the nourishment.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, if a person says, yeah, they believe the Bible, they believe that it’s God’s Word, well, if it’s God’s Word, then it’s His instruction manual.
Tom: We can’t make these things up.
Tom: So, if you want your life to not just align with God, but to please Him in what you’re doing, and to allow your lives to be fruitful and productive in Christ, you’ve got to go by His Word.
Deidre: Yes. And, you know, everything in His Word that is for believers today, particularly all of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus…those teachings from the New Testament particularly, but also the teachings from the Old—I’m not talking about the Mosaic Law, the food laws and stuff like that…but even some of the food laws were good for those people. It kept them from getting sick in those days. But everything that He has for us in there that we are to do is for our own good. I mean, it really, it gives a rich life. And, it also then benefits others. I mean, to love God is tremendously beneficial to ourselves, besides the fact that, really, the main reason is because He has loved us so much that we don’t really drum up that love. It’s the response to His love.
And then we’re to love others. It’s actually the flowing down from God’s love out to others—and it’s funny how some psychology has picked up some of the same ideas, and they’re just so thrilled to be able to tell people that forgiveness is good for them.
Deidre: But then what happens is the forgiveness…it isn’t a biblical forgiveness…it’s, “I’m going to forgive that person, because I will feel better.”
Deidre: So, it always gets distorted when it ends up combining with psychology.
Tom: Deidre, you and I, we just quoted from the Old Testament…the Tanakh…some of the verses. You see, Old Testament and New Testament…
Tom: …I’m thinking about Psalm:119:9.
Deidre: Yes, yes!
Tom: “Wherewithal shall a young man…wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” How? “By taking heed thereto according to thy Word.”
Tom: God keeps bring us back to His way.
Deidre: Back to His Word. Always, and throughout Proverbs, there is so much great advice in Proverbs. I mean, it’s not just advice.
Deidre: It’s the Word of God telling us things that we need to know, and this is why if we’re going to a psychotherapist—we were talking to one couple and this couple had been going to therapy for over a year. And when Martin asked, “Well, how much time do you spend in the Word?” Well, they hadn’t had time to even spend any time in the Word because they were so busy going to therapy.
Tom: Right. Well, here’s a solution that’s offered by some. It’s called “Christian psychology.” Now, you guys know, there’s a host of Christian psychologists who are really influencing millions of Christians…
Tom: …mostly those who, believe it or not, would call themselves conservative evangelicals. Now wouldn’t that be a good alternative to the secular counseling we’ve been talking about?
Martin: Well, let me quote something that I’m sure you quote in your talks and you’ve quoted in the past. This is from the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, CAPS is the acronym. It’s an organization of psychologists who are professing Christians. So this is quoting them: “We are often asked if we are ‘Christian psychologists’ (that’s in quotes), and find it difficult to answer since we don’t know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists, but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues.” It goes on to say, “As yet, there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research, or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian.”
And what happens—we did a survey of CAPS…this organization…and we found out that basically those individuals who are practitioners are eclectic. What does that mean? They take a little bit here, a little bit there, and they have their own individual combination that they use. But what do they dip in? They dip into these various psychoanalytic, behavioristic, humanistic, and transpersonal systems that suit themselves and then they typically, although they say they vary per client, they typically don’t. The research has shown they’re pretty uniform in the way that they treat them. And so that’s what Christian psychology and those practitioners are all about.
Tom: I remember the first time I was asked to speak at a prophecy conference. You know, that was not exactly my long suit at the time. That was a couple dozen, well, a dozen years ago or more. So I told the director that I’d pray about it, think about it, and I’d get back to him. And I did. I thanked him for inviting me and I told him it would really be an honor for me to be able to come and speak. And he said, “Well, Tom, great! That’s fantastic! What are you going to talk about?”
Tom: And I said, “Well, I’m going to talk about psychology.” And there was pause…it was one of those pregnant pauses, (laughing) okay? He said, “But Tom, you don’t understand, this is a prophecy conference.” And I said, “Well, brother, let me quote something to you: 2 Timothy 3, verses 1 and part of 2.
Tom: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Sounds like prophecy to me.
Tom: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves…” and as we go through, as we encourage through this program, for our listeners to not only be in the Word, but to check us out through the Scriptures, but if you follow 2 Timothy 3 on, verses 1 through… I think it’s at least down through 8, you see that all of the issues that Paul is warning Timothy about, “being perilous times, covetous, proud, blasphemers…”
Tom: …disobedient to parents…” it goes on and on and on, begin with “lovers of their own selves.”
Tom: Now, just to add to that, Martin, and I would like you guys to address this, people say, “Well, yeah, but you know self, self-love, those have always been issues, you know, from the Garden of Eden, the fall of man, and beyond.”
But my comment to that is: wait a minute! Try and find me any time in history, in which teachings about self have been brought forth as the solution to mankind’s problems. You can’t find it. And it’s so contrary to the Bible.
Martin: Mm-hmm. First, we have to understand that this psychotherapy is actually having to do with women. When the whole movement started out, when there was just counseling, there weren’t any licensed individuals, it was primarily men who counseled and the audience was primarily women.
Okay, now, when psychotherapy came in, and the first license was issued just 51 or 2 years ago, what happened at that point, the clientele was still primarily women. But there was a reversal that happened. Instead of the counselors being primarily men, today, as we’ve evolved, they are mostly all women—marriage and family therapists—and the clinical psychologists are catching up.
Now, this is women’s territory, and we mention in our talks that men who are reluctant to be in it, don’t understand that, generally, all men are reluctant to be in it. They’re dragged into these therapeutic situations contrary to their very nature.
This follows the nature of women. This is a women’s territory and it’s women’s gifts by God that are being corrupted in this environment. And so, what we see here, is…and warn men about is, hey, your instinct is correct. Stay out of it.
But typically, the researchers and the book writers, they have books and articles like “What Does It Take to Get a Guy in Therapy and Keep Him There?” And the typical joke is the skid marks at counselor’s door: those are the heels of the guys being dragged in.
So we warn men: stay out of it. And we warn women: when you get in there, your greatest gifts that the Lord has given you, nurturance, etc., they’re going to be corrupted. Stay out of that environment.
And we say, “Furthermore, with respect to licensing, no Christian should be licensed into psychotherapy.” And I won’t pursue that, but that’s in the book if you want to see it.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Right. I want to close with just a couple…well, a verse twice in Proverbs. “There’s a way that seems right unto a man…
Martin: “The end thereof…”
Tom: “…but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Tom: Now that death doesn’t mean physical death, per se.
Martin: No. Uh-uh. Spiritual.
Tom: It means a separation. So it’s a separation from truth, moving to error. And so, again, I thank you guys so much. We’re running out of time, and I’m going to have you back because there’s so many issues that we haven’t been able to cover in this time. But I know you guys would be willing to come and we can talk about it.
Martin: Yeah, let me just say one thing.
Martin: Aside from ourselves, The Berean Call, you and Dave have been, you know, just on the leading edge of confronting this issue over the years. And so, you know, we’ve teamed up with you, you’ve teamed up with us, and we have the same object, goals, and so on to bring people back to the Bible and to be real discerners, you know? You are The Berean Call and you’re calling them back to the Word. Thank you.
Tom: To search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. And that’s our heart.
Martin, Deidre, again, I thank you so much for being with us, and I can’t wait till we get after this again, the Lord willing.
Martin: Yes, amen.
We offer a wide variety of materials 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 www.thebereancall.org.
In our next program, Tom will be joined by special guest, Caryl Matrisciana, of Caryl Films to discuss the topic of “Can Yoga Be Christian?”
I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for joining us and we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.