Narrow-Minded Christian Bashing?
In response to an ad in World magazine
for Jim Owens book Christian Psychologys
War on Gods Word, two people wrote letters to
the editor (World, June 5, 1993, p. 5). One
complained, "nothing disturbs me more than
Christian-bashing by Christians." The other said,
"I do not appreciate the narrow-minded approach of
this publisher to Christian psychology and the Christian
Are those of us who proclaim the
sufficiency of Christ and warn about the dangers of
Christian psychology "narrow-minded"
The following is excerpted from Jim
Owens letter to the editor of World
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Perhaps, since I am the author of Christian
Psychologys War on Gods Word (that
"awful" book advertised on the inside back
cover of Worlds April 24th issue), you will
let me answer my critics.
Ms. Franks letter accuses me of
Christian bashing. However, as even the title makes
clear, my book deals with the presuppositions and
counseling methods of Christian psychology, not
individuals or counseling as such. . . . Christian
psychology raises crucial questions about Scriptural
authority, proper exegesis, and sound doctrine. If these
issues cannot be raised, then the evangelical community
is in dire straits indeed. Our unity, then, will not be a
unity based on dialogue and argumentation to establish
the Truth, but rather a unity of silence and ignorance.
Minority dissent has more than once
rescued the Church from heresy and deadness. Consider,
for example, Athanasius, who almost single-handedly saved
the deity of Christ from politics and Arianism by
insisting that the Son shared in the same quality of
deity as the Father. One wonders whether our modern
"ecumenical" evangelicalism would be willing to
fight so valiantly for the word same instead of like?
Then, of course, there is Martin
Luther, who for the sake of the doctrine of Justification
by faith alone, rent asunder the unity of the
Catholic Church and set Christian against Christian. . .
. The pope banned the publication of Luthers books
and forbid their sale as well as their reading. By Ms.
Franks definition, Luther was a Christian basher.
One wonders, again, if our modern evangelical community
would line up behind Luther were he active today? I fear
the Reformation has died with a whimper, not a bang, in
More and more, it appears, the
evangelical community is reflecting the secular
therapeutic culture which views Truth (with a capital T)
as merely personal preference, not something objective
and absolute which is to be diligently searched out. Shared
experience is what now binds us together, not doctrine,
and feelings substitute for clearly expressed belief.
Ms. Medley, in her letter, does not
"appreciate the narrow-minded approach" of [my
publisher] (and by association my book) regarding
Christian Psychology and the recovery movement. Well,
then, let me recommend that Ms. Medley read David
Wells new book, No Place for Truth. David
Wells is one of the evangelical communities
outstanding scholars and theologians, and his book is
published by Eerdmans, hardly a "narrow-minded"
publisher. Dr. Wells believes that "feeling"
Christianity and psychology are bringing the evangelical
community to ruin. "It is, I believe," he
writes, "the dark prelude to death, when parasites
have finally succeeded in bringing down their host. Amid
the clamor of all the new models of evangelical faith
there is the sound of a death rattle," (page 134).
Strong medicine from one who can hardly be labeled
"narrow-minded." The issue is not
narrow-mindedness regarding psychology; the issue is
right-mindedness as taught in Gods Word!
Though David Wells and I might differ
in some points of theology, I dont doubt we
would both agree that evangelical Christianity must be
theologically grounded and theologically interpreted, not
psychologically grounded and psychologically interpreted.
The Christian life is one that is lived in the power of
the Holy Spirit, not the power of psychotherapy or a
recovery group. And may I humbly submit that the
Gospel is not about helping hurting people cope with, and
perpetually recover from, their past victimizations.
Something else comes through in the
letters. It is the demand for censorship. What is it
about the Christian psychology/recovery movement that
moves it to demand that its evangelical critics be
silenced? Surely we are not going to claim that because
"hurting" people are "helped" by
sensitive "caregivers," Christian psychology
and the recovery movement are above scrutiny no matter
how bizarre their exegesis or doctrine may be.
How far we are removed from Acts 15
when the "grace" Christians took on the
"law" Christians and won the day in open
debate. Scripture and Gods acts in history were
their weapons of victory. And how far we have removed
ourselves from the methods used by the leaders of the
Reformation, who won city after city to the Reformation
view through the medium of print and public disputation
with their Catholic opponents.
However, it seems the Christian
psychology/recovery movement will have none of this.
Those who raise questions about its Scriptural exegesis
or theology are not worthy of a hearing. Their books
should not be read, let alone published. And if
published, they shouldnt be allowed to advertise in
any decent Christian publication. Does this sound like a
desire for censorship? Well, it is. Is this really the
direction we wish the evangelical community to move? God
help us if it is, for we will no longer have an
evangelical church grounded in Scripture and possessing a
dynamic history. We will no longer have an evangelical
(From PAL, V1N3)