"Friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James:4:4). It would be both illogical and unscriptural to imagine that those in whom the One now lives who was "despised and rejected of men" and through whom He now expresses Himself on this earth would not themselves be despised and rejected by the world. Popularity with the ungodly requires a compromise of faith.
It is an insult to God to modify Christianity to reflect worldly wisdom. He who does so forgets that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Cor:3:19) and imagines that God's Word needs supplementation with human ideas. To adjust the gospel in order to make it appealing to the ungodly is dishonest; while to supplement the Bible with worldly wisdom as though it were inadequate where it claims to be fully sufficient is to deny the faith. Yet such fatuous adjustments are being made increasingly, causing unbelievers to despise and ridicule Christians—not for our Christlikeness, but for our folly.
The cause of Christ is not discredited by failure to keep up with modern science (which has nothing to do with spiritual reality), but by the substitution of "science falsely so-called" for God's unchanging truth. This is a modern abomination.
A prime example of such dishonor to the cause of Christ took place at the 1988 Christian Booksellers Association annual convention held in Dallas last July. The scene was one of CBA's biggest events, the Evangelical Publishers Association banquet. Author Gary Smalley, the featured speaker, was a humorous and a polished communicator, but his speech was humanistic nonsense. His entire talk was based upon today's popular left-brain/right-brain myth spawned by pop psychology—a myth which brain researchers call "whole-brain half-wittedness."
I was embarrassed because of the many non-Christians present who knew that what Smalley was saying was ludicrous. Yet they observed hundreds of Christian leaders, representing the cream of evangelical publishing, applauding in enthusiastic approval. I was angry because I knew this event could only make the unsaved present even more cynical of "Christianity." Moreover, instead of biblical truth that sets free, a deluding lie that would enslave was being passed off upon trusting Christians who thought that the "expert" addressing them knew whereof he spoke.
How bad was Smalley's information? An Omni article recently said, "Everyone knows that the left [brain] hemisphere is rational, logical and Western, and the right is creative, intuitive, and Eastern. Everyone knows, that is, except the scientists who did the research on which the whole notion of left and right brains is based." The determined efforts by brain researchers such as Jerre Levy of the University of Chicago "to undo the 'mythology' that has sprung up around right and left brain" have had little effect. As one writer explains: "...the left/right brain myth has a lot of pizzazz." Smalley used that "pizzazz" to dazzle and delude his audience.
Showing the contempt with which brain researchers view this fad, another article in Psychology Today was titled "Left Brain, Right Brain, Broccoli Brain?" In a third magazine, Sally P. Springer, co-author of Left Brain, Right Brain, writes, "The concept that the human brain is divided into two halves or hemispheres, each with specialized functions, is now firmly entrenched in popular culture....[Yet] by all of our current measures...both hemispheres are active and involved in any situation. ...Those who seek to modify our educational systems and implement assessment and training programs based on our knowledge of brain asymmetry are indeed on shaky ground....their ideas receive no [scientific] support."
Then what must be said for those who reinterpret the Bible and counsel Christians based upon this humanistic myth! 2 Timothy:4:3-4 warns, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." The fulfillment of that prophecy seems to have come upon today's church with a vengeance.
Unlike some of the more devious theories of humanistic psychology honored in the church today, the left/right-brain error is obvious and easily refuted. It deals not with the soul/psyche but with the physical brain. That people favor or use only one side of their brains is as absurd as the notion (also promoted by "Christian psychologists") that we use only 10 percent (or less) of our brains and thus have a huge untapped potential. It is ludicrous to imagine that most brain cells lie unused—or that husbands need to "develop" or "activate" the right side of their brains in order to communicate with their wives. Yet such myths, couched in Christian terms, are more appealing to the carnal mind than biblical truth.
Instead of sound doctrine, Gary Smalley's talk offered a series of humorous anecdotes presenting an oversimplified perspective on the communication problems husbands and wives experience—all explained by the myth that males are left-brained while females are right-brained. The solution he offered was to paint "emotional word pictures," which allegedly activate the dormant right side of men's brains and communicate with the dominant right side of their wives' brains. There was nothing of spiritual value, no teaching from God's Word. Men and women were depicted as stimulus-response mechanisms whose failures to love and forgive were simply due to poor communication caused by brain hemispheres being out of sync.
The only reference to Scripture was to tell us at the end of the talk that he had explained left/right-brain thinking so that we could fulfill the admonition in Ephesians 5 for husbands to love their wives. Then he prayed. For the first time in my life I did not close my eyes and could not join in a prayer. It seemed an insult to God to seek His blessing upon this deceitful and harmful mixture of misinformation and pop psychology.
Smalley's talk at the CBA Convention was based upon his new book (co-authored with John Trent), The Language of Love, published in 1988 by Focus on the Family and distributed by Word Books. The prestigious Focus on the Family magazine for November 1988 featured Chapter 4 from that book, sending out to hundreds of thousands of trusting Christians such false statements as, "By using the power of emotional word pictures to open his right brain, a man can move beyond 'facts' and begin to achieve total communication with a woman....If a woman truly expects to have meaningful communication with her husband, she must activate the right side of his brain....Indeed, a world of colorful communication waits for those who learn the skill of bridging both sides of the brain." This is pure nonsense and is condemned by the very brain research which Smalley and Dobson naively imagine supports it.
There are almost no references to Scripture in the entire Smalley/Trent book. The very few there are consist of attempts to use the Bible to support the fallacious humanism being presented. For example, it is suggested that Nathan the prophet activated the right side of King David's brain by using "an emotional word picture that would change the course of a kingdom and echo throughout the ages....shattered by the blow of one emotional word picture... [David] was forced...to feel...." Talk about a trivialization of Scripture! It was the Holy Spirit who convicted David!
Not only does a technique (activating the right brain and thereby arousing the emotions through the use of "word pictures") become the key, but its appeal is not to conscience or truth but to feelings. The technique is self-centered and independent of the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin and the power of truth to reach the conscience. There is no moral obligation or motivation by the fear of God and His love, but it is all feelings- and experience-oriented. The fact that such techniques, like placebos, often work for a time makes them doubly dangerous.
While Smalley's book does point out the necessity for communication, it promotes a feelings-oriented pseudospirituality unrelated to truth. The only "faith" it offers is divorced from fact and vulnerable to further delusion. From church leaders we are increasingly getting pop psychology under a Christian label but with basically no biblical content. Thinking non-Christians recognize this folly and belittle the gospel and Christianity on that basis.
Take for example the following from The Association for Humanistic Psychology's October 1988 AHP Perspective: "Christians claim to know that Jesus died for their sins because they experience relief and new life when they 'accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.' They fail to grasp that such a sense of renewal flows naturally from releasing guilt feelings and experiencing acceptance, no matter whether the belief that brings us to this new freedom is based on fact or fiction." This is a valid criticism of a psychologized and self-centered "Christianity," that justifies itself not on the basis of truth but as a means of producing a more positive self-image and greater sense of self-acceptance and self-worth. Such "Christianity" has no valid claim to superiority over other humanistic methods that produce similar placebo effects. Today's pop "Christian" psychology is setting a generation up for a huge fall. The only hope is a return to propositional truth (sound doctrine).
The same issue of AHP Perspective also comments, "Many of us grow up with little or no awareness of how often and how much we adjust our perceiving to accommodate our needs for acceptance, approval and belonging." Certainly a valid point. Yet these very "needs" are placed ahead of objective truth in the church today—and catering to them is the foundation of much Christian psychology. Substituting psychology's latest fads for solid biblical exegesis will produce a new generation of "Christians" whose "faith" makes them feel good and may even temporarily help their marriages, but has no moral/spiritual/biblical content. Such "faith" will fail them in times of real crisis.
The popularity and pernicious influence of fallacious humanistic theories in the church is indicated by the fact that even before publication, bookstores had ordered more than 100,000 copies of Smalley's book. Yet this "Christian" book published by one of the most trusted and influential Christian leaders today gives to millions the false impression that the reason husbands and wives have problems is not that their hearts are evil and selfish but simply that there has been a failure to communicate one's feelings adequately. While communication is indeed important, it must convey not only feelings but commitment based upon God's truth.
Jesus was the perfect communicator, yet there were multitudes who heard His parables (which Smalley says are designed to activate the right brain), experienced His miracles and rejected Him. He was crucified by those He healed and fed and taught, because they would not accept His admonition: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn:8:31-32). That truth is absent from Smalley's book.
Let us not shrug our shoulders and go on about our business when we see obvious and serious error promoted by Christian leaders. Ask God what he would have you do in each specific instance and do it.
The cross of Christ and our crucifixion to the self life, so missing from popular evangelicalism, is the only way to heaven and the only basis of joy and genuine victory in this life and of His "Well done" in the life to come. Let us remain true to our rejected Lord in spite of popular fads and the reproach attached to His cross. TBC
Postscript: Dave Hunt met with Smalley and Trent and their pastor in Phoenix at their request as a result of their article. They subsequently removed from Language of Love the references to left-brain and right-brain mythology. Unfortunately, however, they have continued to promote other myths from psychology.