The back cover of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality[1] (EHS) describes the author:

Peter Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a large, multiracial church with more than seventy-three countries represented. After serving as senior pastor for twenty-six years, he now serves as a teaching pastor/pastor-at-large.

Scazzero states in the “Introduction”:

I never imagined that the message it [EHS] contained would resonate so deeply with readers across all denominational and theological lines and with churches around the world—from Africa to Asia, to Europe, to South and Central America, to the Mideast, to Australia and New Zealand, to North America. Nor could I have imagined that it would develop into The Emotionally Healthy (EH) Spirituality Course—with a workbook, a DVD, and an eight-week devotional book—or that churches would use it to implement EHS principles into their own DNA and discipleship culture (p. 5).

As a result of Scazzero’s popularity worldwide, he reveals:

Fifteen hundred adults from seventy-three nations stream through our doors each week. This provides a very unique context for practicing this material in a community that represents the global church (p.5).

EHS is a highly popular book, used and valued throughout the Church worldwide. The EHS cover proclaims the worldwide sales of the book to be “More Than 1 Million Sold.” The Amazon book sales website indicates that over 5,000 readers who bought EHS gave the book a 4.7 out of 5 average rating.[2]

The Ultimate Authority

We have co-authored 26 books, some for Moody Press, Harvest House Publishers, and Bethany House Publishers. We have also written over 300 articles on a variety of subjects and have minister to others for over 40 years, 16 years of which we headed the soul care ministry in a church. Our writings have been endorsed by many highly respected Christians and esteemed academics. Between the two of us we have 6 university degrees, including a doctorate. However, the ultimate authority is not the number of books and articles written, the number of years of writing or ministry, or the number of college degrees, or even the number of favorable testimonies received. The ultimate authority is the Bible!

Peter Scazzero and we need to be judged by the ultimate authority, the final arbiter, the Bible. In addition, because Scazzero appeals to the world as major support for the theology he promotes, we will demonstrate that he is widely amiss there as well.

In our first book, The Psychological Way/The Spiritual Way (1979)[3], we warned the Church of the coming wave of what we later called “psychoheresy” enveloping it.  In our book titled PsychoHeresy,[4] we coined the term psychoheresy, to denote what is indeed a psychological heresy. It is a heresy because it is a departure from the fundamental truth of the Gospel. The departure is the use of the unproven and unscientific psychological opinions of men, such as Freud, instead of absolute confidence in the biblical truth of God. It is a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life now viewed through psychology, which utilizes the very wisdom of man about which God has warned His people (1 Cor. 2). The psychoheresy wave has become a tsunami and has infiltrated Christian schools at every level, denominations, mission agencies, churches, and parachurch organizations, and individual Christians throughout the world. Psychoheresy is also the intrusion of these theories into such books as EHS, especially as it contradicts and compromises biblical Christianity in terms of the nature of man, how he is to live, and how he changes. Such psychoheresy-tainted books are seductive; thus, we subtitled our book The Psychological Seduction of Christianity.

Any teaching that takes the place of or contradicts the clear, orthodox teaching of Scripture is guilty of heresy. We view any psychological view that takes the place of or contradicts the clear, orthodox teachings of Scripture is guilty of psychoheresy. Scazzero’s teachings are both scientifically unreliable and biblically heretical.

When we use the term “orthodox” we are referring to what would be orthodox for those who believe the Bible is the very Word of God and who focus on the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and not those of a mystical faith, such as those Scazzero quotes throughout his book, who have led him into a mishmash of mysticism and Scripture on top of his psychoheresy. If one were to throw out all the mystical teachings and unscientific psychological notions he promotes, Scazzero’s EHS system would collapse. The Bible alone is not enough for Scazzero as he promotes his psychological theology, which ends up being a self-centered theology, which fulfills the prophecy of 2 Peter 3:1-5.


In the “Introduction,” Scazzero describes two approaches to doing church: the “Traditional” and the “Transformative.” Is Peter Scazzero with his “transformative” approach a modern-day Martin Luther dramatically transforming what he calls the traditional church or is he a Johnny-come lately leading a parade with The Emperor’s New Clothes?[5] Before we dub Scazzero a modern-day Luther, we need to examine his theology and, also, whether he meets the necessary scientific standards for the examples to which he appeals.

Scazzero claims that in the traditional approach “the level of change in people’s lives tends to be minimal. So is the impact” (p. 6). Scazzero through EHS confesses the failures and minimal impact of his own faith and that of others as proof for what he says (pp. 15-19). Scazzero is guilty of projection, i.e., seeing in all others in the church his own bankrupt spirituality. This global accusation of all others in the church is a false generalization, which Scazzero projects onto those in the “traditional” church. which he describes in his section on “Diagnosing the Problem” (pp. 21-37). His description of himself and others includes various problems that come from trying to walk the spiritual walk according to self-effort rather than by faith in Christ. However, the salvation he provides does not stand the test of Scripture or science.

In contrasting his EHS system with the “traditional” way, which Paul and faithful Christians have followed through the years, Scazzero says:

In contrast, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality books and resources are designed to help people experience beneath-the-surface transformation—spiritually and emotionally. Why? Because deeply changed people have a more powerful and more sustainable impact in the world. Changed people change the world (p. 6).

To illustrate the difference between the two approaches, he uses the “Iceberg Model” in his Transformative diagram. He says:

As a result of EHS, the transformation we experienced as a church—members and leaders—has led us to frontiers of life in the Holy Spirit that we could not have imagined (p. 6).

In addition to the transformation in his church and in his own personal life, Scazzero adds:

Other examples include the global impact our church has around the world, the creative outreach EHS has unleashed in people’s witness to Christ in the marketplace, and the change it has produced in the culture and community in churches as a whole (p. 7).

Scazzero then invites and challenges his readers by saying:

Now it’s your turn. I believe with all my heart that the principles and practices that have changed my life and lives in churches all around the world can change your life as well (p. 7).

At the very beginning of the book, Scazzero makes claims about his Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course and Emotionally Healthy Relationships Course.

  1. As a result of EHS, the transformation we experienced as a church—members and leaders—has led us to frontiers of life in the Holy Spirit that we could not have imagined (p. 6).
  2. The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality—the heart of the message found on these pages—will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life. This revolution will, in turn, transform all your relationships (p. 6).
  3. I invite you to receive what you read here as a painting that directs you to a richer, more authentic encounter with the living God in Christ (p. 8).
  4. If you are hungry for God to transform you as well as those around you, I invite you to continue reading (p. 8).

Scazzero continues like claims and promises throughout the book, none of which he has proven, other than its popularity.

The Iceberg Model

Scazzero uses the iceberg as a metaphor for what he wishes to communicate in his “Transformative Model.” Scazzero has obviously obtained his Iceberg Model from Sigmund Freud as many of those who have rated EHS on Amazon have observed. Academic transparency requires him to note his source, which he fails to do. Freud popularized the iceberg metaphor and the 10% and 90% figures. Freud postulated three layers of the mind as conscious, preconscious, and unconscious.[6] Scazzero uses Freud’s preference for the use of the term unconscious rather than subconscious.[7]

Scazzero says:

As the following illustration shows, only about 10 percent of an iceberg is visible. This 10 percent represents the ways we conduct ourselves and the changes we make that others can see (p. 17).

Scazzero comments about this illustration:

Contemporary spiritual formation and discipleship models address some of that 90 percent below the surface. The problem is that a large portion (see below the dotted line) remains untouched by Jesus Christ until there is a serious engagement with what I call “emotionally healthy spirituality” (p. 17).

First and foremost, Scazzero’s statement is an accusation and illustration of how far off he is biblically. To say that there is any portion of our being that is “untouched by Jesus Christ until there is a serious engagement with what I call ‘emotionally healthy spirituality’” is to question what the Bible and the entire history of the Church in the pre-Scazzero era have revealed and declared. Indeed, he has set himself and his system above and over the Bible and God as he insinuates that neither God nor the Bible could do what they declare to do (2 Peter 2-4) until Freud and Scazzero came along. That sounds like blasphemy.[8]

Scazzero’s “emotionally healthy spirituality” is a sleek and seductive offer to suffering souls in need of a biblical antidote instead of a Freudian iceberg model of life. The Bible offers and supplies far more than Scazzero can ever supply.

In Freudian psychology, using Scazzero’s illustration, above the solid line is consciousness. Between the solid line and the dotted line is the preconscious. Below the dotted line is the unconscious. The existence and function of the unconscious is very important in Freud’s scheme of the mind, which Scazzero has adopted. For Freud and Scazzero, it is the unconscious, established from early family life, that influences (determines) our current conscious thoughts and behaviors. In addition, Scazzero later adds past generational influences.

The definition of imprint in the following is “to fix an event or experience so firmly in the memory that it cannot be forgotten although you do not try to remember it.”[9] Scazzero says:

We often underestimate the deep, unconscious imprint our families of origin leave on us. In fact, my observation is that it is only as we grow older that we realize the depth of their influence. Each of our family members, or those who raised us through childhood, has “imprinted” certain ways of behaving and thinking into us. (Likewise our cultures, the media, our interpretation of events that happen to us also imprint us.) These behavioral patterns operate under a set of “commandments.” Some of them are spoken and explicit. Most are unspoken. They were “hardwired” into our brains and DNA, so much so that apart from the intervention of God himself and biblical discipleship we simply bring these expectations into our closest relationships as adults (bold added, p. 77).

Scazzero further declares:

POur families and traumatic events in our histories often hand us negative messages or scripts that unconsciously direct our lives. These decisions we make, often forgotten, are replayed over and over in adult situations—even when they are not necessary (bold added, p. 94).

Scazzero stresses throughout his book the degree of influence of the past and the unconscious. He says:

Regardless of our culture, country of origin, education, social class, or age, the early messages and scripts we took in from our histories powerfully influence our present relationships and behaviors as well as our self-esteem (bold added, p. 76).

Instead of beginning with a biblical model, Scazzero begins with a defunct, academically questionable psychological model. The biblical model begins with the doctrine of sin, human depravity, the rescue by Jesus for all who will listen and respond. If Scazzero had begun with the Bible instead of a Freudian iceberg model, any of the mystical/psychological of what he offers would not be there.

Understanding the past as in Freud/Scazzero is totally unnecessary as the “gold standard”[10] of therapy today is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT therapists are not interested in the unconscious and past, but rather the conscious and present.

There are four vocabulary words that denote the difference between Scazzero’s theology and that of the Bible. These four words are conscious, current, unconscious, past. The first two words (conscious and current) describe how the Bible transforms individuals through all it teaches about those matters of life and godliness. The second two words (unconscious and past) describe a psychological view (Scazzero’s) of life and godliness. Simply said, one is a biblical view, and the other is a psychological view.

Conscious and Present

The Bible works with the conscious mind in the present. God uses His Word to teach, inform, reason, and motivate individuals who must hear and understand with a conscious mind in the present. Individuals then respond consciously whether or not to believe and obey. Genesis to Revelation are words given by God to be understood consciously and learned, followed and obeyed.

Unconscious and Past

We have shown that scientifically speaking Scazzero is in grave error in the use of a Freudian iceberg model and his 90%/10% breakdown of the unconscious and even with some theorists indicating that the Freudian unconscious does not exist.[11]

This Freudian model adapted by Scazzero is both scientifically and biblically in error. We will demonstrate Scazzero’s scientific errors by discussing the anatomy of the human brain, indicate a common and mistaken error about the human brain, and then discuss the human mind and reveal Scazzero’s errors about it.

The Complexity of the Human Brain

An article in the Psychotherapy Networker describes the human brain as “the most complex biological entity known on earth.” The author adds, “The number of possible interconnections among its neurons exceeds the estimated number of atoms in the universe.” [12] Christof Koch declares, “The brain is by far the most complex piece of highly excitable matter in the known universe by any measure. We don’t even understand the brain of a worm.”[13] An article in Psychology Today reports that there are “100 billion neurons in the human brain” and that it would take 32 million years “to count each synapse in the human brain at a rate of one synapse per second.”[14] Dr. Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology says:

One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor—with both memory-storage and information-processing elements—than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.[15]

David Cloud reports:

The brain receives signals from 137 million light receptors in the eyes, 100,000 hearing receptors in the ears, 10,000 taste buds, 5-6 million odor detecting cells, 30,000 heat sensors on the skin, 250,000 cold sensors, and 500,000 touch sensors (adapted from Bert Thompson, The Revelation of God and Nature). The hearing receptors alone send up to 25,000 auditory signals per second to the brain, which interprets them as voices, thunder, music, or a million other sounds (Jackson, The Human Body).[16] 

Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey reveals:

There are chemical and neurological components to all activities of the brain. Each thought, wish, memory, or impulse has a chemical or neurological component.[17] (Italics in original.)

The brain is obviously central to the mind-body relationship because it controls each of the 79 organ systems in the body. In addition, the brain also responds to every organ system within the body.[18] This interaction of body to brain/mind and brain/ mind to body is a complex process, and the enigma of it prevents us from knowing much truth about the underlying causes of mental symptoms. Knowledge is limited because the secrets of human behavior are locked up in the brain-mind-body relationship. Michael Chase, in an article entitled “The Matriculating Brain,” wrote:

The human brain, for all our intimacy with it, has surrendered less to scientific research than have the distant moon, stars and ocean floor, or such intimate processes as genetic coding, immune reactions or muscle contraction.[19]

As tangible and biological as the human brain is, one cannot put percentages on its activities. Unfortunately there is a myth about its usage believed by many that is as erroneous as Freud’s iceberg myth. By using and promoting Freud’s iceberg myth, Scazzero is doubly responsible for its use. First responsible for promoting that which is a scientific failure and then, second, as we shall demonstrate, for promoting that which is a biblical failure.

In an article titled “Myth: We use Only 10% of Our Brain,” the author says that “this misconception (hereafter called the 10% Myth) is one of the most prevalent misconceptions among the public.” He asserts, “There are a plethora of articles and videos debunking this myth both in popular media and from neuroscientists.”[20]

The Mind

The brain is a physical part of the body and can be measured, but no percentage can be attributed to its use; the mind is a nonphysical part of the person and cannot be measured. The mind is invisible. Being invisible, there is no way to divide it up by visible, physical means. There is no way to prove Freud’s unconscious/conscious 90%/10% breakdown of the mind, nor can one disprove an unconscious/conscious breakdown of the mind with any other percentage. Wikipedia reports, “The notion that the unconscious mind exists at all has been disputed,” and then lists a number of distinguished individuals who do so.[21]

Sir Karl Popper, who is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of science, examined Freud’s theory, which includes that of the unconscious. Popper says: “Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it”[22] (italics in original) and, “Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory.”[23] (Italics his.) Furthermore, Popper declares that psychological theories formulated by Freud and others, “though posing as sciences, had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science; that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy[24] (bold added). He also says, “These theories describe some facts, but in the manner of myths. They contain most interesting psychological suggestions, but not in a testable form.”[25]

Scazzero is in serious error many times with respect to his adaptation of the Freudian therapeutic model. In introducing the iceberg model, Scazzero says:

In our more honest moments, most of us will admit that, much like an iceberg, we are made up of deep layers that exist well beneath our day-to-day awareness (bold added, p. 16).

As we said earlier, the psychoanalytic iceberg model of the mind is not the gold standard of psychotherapy as a theory or in practice. Freud’s psychoanalytics and the iceberg model are just one of 500 approaches to psychotherapy. As stated in Frontiers of Psychiatry: “If gold standard is defined as best standard we have in the field at the moment, then we argue that CBT is, indeed, the gold standard.[26] The theory and practice of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) emphasizes the conscious and present rather than the unconscious and past, as the model for the mind.

Nearly all psychotherapists today do CBT or some form of it. Search Psychology Today for psychotherapists and check out their fields of therapy In other words, what is called Freudian psychic determinism is not in vogue. Using only 10% of one’s brain and 90% of the mind being unconscious are myths that have occurred from the guesstimated opinions of many. The truth is that no one truly knows, and no one can scientifically prove either one.

Psychic/Unconscious Determinism

“Today, thanks to Freud, the man-on-the-street knows that, when he thinks a thing, the thing he thinks is not the thing he thinks he thinks, but only the thing he thinks he thinks he thinks.” W.H. Auden, 1952.

Contained within the theory of the unconscious is Freud’s theory of psychic determinism:

Psychic [unconscious] determinism is a type of determinism that theorizes that all mental processes are not spontaneous but are determined by the unconscious or preexisting mental complexes.[27]

Psychodynamic (psychoanalytic) theory flows from two inter-locking assumptions. The first is that there is an Unconscious…. The second major assumption of psychodynamic theory is that of Psychic Determinism. The principle of Psychic Determinism holds that everything we do has meaning and purpose and is goal-directed. To put it another way: there is no such thing as random or meaningless behavior for a psychoanalytically-inclined observer.[28] (Emphasis in original.)

According to this theory, we are what we are because of the effect of the unconscious upon our entire life. Freud believed that “we are ‘lived’ by unknown and uncontrollable forces.”[29] These forces, according to Freud, are in the unconscious and control us in the sense that they influence all that we do. Thus, we are puppets of the unknown and unseen unconscious, shaped by these forces during our first years of existence. As we pass in early life from one psychosexual stage of development to another, our psyches are shaped by people in our environment and especially by our parents.

Psychic/unconscious determinism establishes a process of blame that begins in the unconscious and often ends with the parent. Freud removes a person’s full responsibility for his behavior by teaching that everyone has been strongly influenced by his unconscious, which has been shaped by the treatment given him primarily by his parents. The result of the parental treatment and early life experiences, according to Freud, reside in the unconscious (90%) and influence our current thoughts and behavior.

Scazzero is seriously contradictory when he says, “The great news of Christianity is that your family of origin does not determine your future. God does! What has gone before you is not your destiny!” (p. 82). Either one must go through the EHS process so that “your family of origin does not determine your future” or God transforms lives according to His Word! He cannot have it both ways. Under Scazzero’s EHS system, God cannot do it without EHS. Either God truly is the one who changes lives by means of His Word, Christ’s death, resurrection, and coming again, and the work of the Holy Spirit in believers (“traditional,” biblical way), or God needs Scazzero’s psycho-mystical EHS system.

In trying to be biblical, Scazzero compartmentalized his thinking. People compartmentalize to handle what is called “cognitive dissonance,” which describes “the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes.”[30] Scazzero’s statement “The great news of Christianity is that your family of origin does not determine your future. God does! What has gone before you is not your destiny!” (p. 82) conflicts with what he teaches throughout his EHS book. This inconsistency causes mental discomfort, so Scazzero has compartmentalized here. In other words, the two inconsistent thoughts become “isolated from each other in the mind.”[31] A few paragraphs later, however, Scazzero returns to his EHS position of needing to uncover and expose the unconscious before one can move ahead with God and asserts: “Sadly, when we look deep beneath the surface of our lives, most of us are not doing anything fundamentally differently from what our families did” (p. 83).

Scazzero may deny that he believes in Freudian psychic determinism, but his very words would discredit that. For example, Scazzero uses the word past 37 times in reference to its influence and thereby reveals that he is teaching a psychic/unconscious determinism. He has devoted an entire chapter to the unconscious power of the past: “Going Back in Order to Go Forward: Breaking the Power of the Past” (pp. 71-96). Quite revealing to what Scazzero believes are the following quotes:

Family patterns from the past are played out in our present relationships without us necessarily being aware of it. Someone may look like an individual acting alone—but they are really players in a larger family system that may go back, as the Bible says, three to four generations. Unfortunately, it is not possible to erase thenegative effects of our history (p. 75, bold added).

We often underestimate the deep, unconscious imprint our families of origin leave on us. In fact, my observation is that it is only as we grow older that we realize the depth of their influence. Each of our family members, or those who raised us through childhood, has “imprinted” certain ways of behaving and thinking into us. (Likewise our cultures, the media, our interpretation of events that happen to us also imprint us.) These behavioral patterns operate under a set of “commandments.” Some of them are spoken and explicit. Most are unspoken. They were “hardwired” into our brains and DNA, so much so that apart from the intervention of God himself and biblical discipleship we simply bring these expectations into our closest relationships as adults (p. 77, quoted earlier, (bold added).

A search will reveal that Scazzero is neo-Freudian when it comes to psychic/unconscious determinism and the strong influence (determinism) of early life experiences and past generations.

Cradles of Eminence

Individuals are not stuck with their early upbringing if it happened to be bad, nor can anyone guarantee that someone with good upbringing will turn out well. However, people have been convinced by the Freudian fallacies that early childhood growth determines behavior in the adult. Thus, if an adult is poorly adjusted, people conclude the person must have had poor early parenting.[32]

Victor and Mildred Goertzel investigated this fallacy. In their book Cradles of Eminence, they report on the early environments of more than 400 eminent men and women of the twentieth century who had experienced a wide variety of trials and tribulations during their childhood.[33] It is surprising and even shocking to discover the environmental handicaps that have been overcome by individuals who should have been psychically determined failures according to Freudian formulas. Instead of being harmed by unfortunate early circumstances, they became outstanding in many different fields of endeavor and contributed much to mankind. What might have been environmental curses seemed to act, rather, as catalysts to spawn genius and creativity. This study is not an argument for poor upbringing; it is an argument against psychic/unconscious determinism.

The psychoanalytic idea of unconscious determinism is absolutely contrary to the biblical doctrine of responsibility. From Freudian/Scazzero determinism it follows that people are not responsible for their behavior. After all, if their behavior has already been determined by unseen forces in their unconscious, how can they possibly be responsible for what they do?

The Bible teaches that people do choose and that they are responsible for their actions. Psychic/unconscious determinism with its accompanying freedom from responsibility is contrary to God’s Word. People do make choices and God does hold them responsible for what they do.

Psychic/unconscious determinism supports the natural tendency in the human heart to blame circumstances or someone else for one’s actions. This pattern emerged in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. In supporting the natural tendency to place blame elsewhere, Freud provided extensive explanations and rationale for aberrant behavior. Those who say they are determined or even greatly influenced by circumstances and other people’s actions are naive, fooling themselves, or have truly capitulated to the fallacies of Freud and Scazzero. In denying responsibility, a person can do what he pleases; that is, he can exercise his own volition under the guise of psychic/unconscious determinism.

For example, an extensive study of the criminal personality asserts that criminals commit crimes by deliberate choice.[34] Psychic determinism and the usual so-called insights of modern psychotherapy that tend to blame the environment remove responsibility from the individual. Part of the outcry against the criminal personality study occurred because those who conducted and reported the study placed the blame for wrong behavior back on the criminal himself. Responsibility for one’s behavior, criminal or otherwise, is not a popular idea in many psychological and sociological circles.

“Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind”

In contrast to searching the past to understand and fix the present, the apostle Paul declares:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14.)

Scazzero does not quote Philippians 3:13-14 in ESH. This verse would threaten his theology. He insists that, since “the great news of the gospel…does not mean that our past won’t continue to influence us in different ways,” believers must examine their past in detail when Scripture says otherwise. The old nature with all its influences, good and bad, (“old man”) is still with believers, but instead of examining how it got that way by looking back, believers are to be looking towards the goal. With Paul they are not to spend their time looking back. Paul had his eyes on the goal. He was looking at Jesus instead of self: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). The natural, sinful condition of humankind is to focus on self, not the Lord.

How could Paul and the early Christians, many of whom had suffered excruciatingly painful childhoods, live their Christian lives “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”? How could they stand strong in the face of torture and a martyr’s death without having the benefit of Freud and all those who think they must understand how their past was strongly influencing their present? They believed the Gospel, which not only includes forgiveness, justification, and new life, but death to the “old man” (“flesh,” “body of sin”).

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom. 6:3-6).

Paul further explains that, while all has been accomplished positionally, believers need to actively “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:5-6).

The Christian life cannot be lived according to the old ways of self; it can only be lived according to the new life in Christ. Thus, believers are instructed to put off the old ways of living and put on the new, which is lived by grace through faith. From the point of new birth, believers are in a spiritual battle between the flesh and the spirit.

In justifying a so-called need to examine the past, Scazzero says, “For years, I was under the delusion that because I accepted Jesus, my old life was no longer in me” (EHS, p. 27). Indeed, his old life was in him, but instead of insisting that he must understand how it got that way, the Bible explains how it is to be dealt with in the ongoing spiritual battle that ensues as soon as believers are born again. So many Christians who receive Christ and believe they have been given new life in Christ fail to recognize the battle that is going on between the flesh and the spirit, because they are operating under the flesh. Scazzero and others who have many natural gifts of intelligence and cleverness can very easily be fooled into thinking they are living the new life when indeed their flesh is doing a great job of appearing to live the new life. However, the ugliness of the sinful flesh seeps through to the point at which Scazzero says he felt “unhappy, frustrated, overworked, and harried” and “angry, bitter, and depressed” (EHS, pp. 17, 18). Indeed, these emotions were the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5: 22-23).

However, instead of identifying the source of his problems according to the Bible, Scazzero turned elsewhere. The biblical answer is to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” and to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph 4:22-24). This is not a one-time act, but a continual choice for believers as they grow in Christ. This is a spiritual battle that calls for ongoing choices to put off and put on throughout every day whenever evidence of the “old man” appears on the scene. Somehow Scazzero missed these truths, not intellectually, but experientially. When he reached the depths of experiencing a disconnect between himself and how he believed a Christian should live, he turned to another way: a psychological construct of a vast unconscious housing all the pain of the past, which he contends greatly influenced his present emotions, thoughts, and actions. He insists on the necessity of going back to the past in order to move forward with God:

The work of growing in Christ (what theologians call sanctification) does not mean we don’t go back to the past as we press ahead to what God has for us. It actually demands we go back in order to break free from unhealthy and destructive patterns that prevent us from loving ourselves and others as God designed (bold added, EHS, p. 28).

Therefore, instead of following the course outlined by Paul in Romans 6-8, Scazzero contends that we must revisit our past and sort out the ways we were all wounded, at least to some degree, by our parents and others in our early childhood, to enable us to move past the barrier of our wounded sinful self. The Scriptures do not divide the old nature (the flesh) into two compartments with only 10% conscious and the rest submerged in a deep, unknown, wounded self, which he illustrated with the image of an iceberg (pp. 6, 17). Romans 6 clearly says that there must be a death blow to the old nature, and that is the entire “iceberg,” the good, bad, and ugly!

In contrast to the biblical description of the human condition as being corrupt according to deceitful lusts, Scazzero’s system, with its Freudian unconscious there to erroneously explain why people feel, think, and do what they do, will prevent believers from identifying when they are acting according to the flesh rather than the spirit. For instance, when bitter thoughts or self-pity attack, believers can recognize that they need to put off the old and put on their new life in Christ. They can take up their spiritual armor from Ephesians 6 and follow Paul’s course of action:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:4-5.)

Every trial in a Christian’s life can be used for spiritual growth, to become strong in Christ rather than in self. Believers grow in the knowledge of God and His faithfulness as they look to Him and trust Him rather than looking at self and seeking to know self.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)

No one can run a race with continued backward glances. We repeat Paul’s words:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14.)

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was a Jew who believed that religious doctrines are all illusions, and that religion is “the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity.”[35] For Freud religion was the source of mental problems. He argued that religions are delusionary and therefore evil. He was specifically anti-Christian. According to the eminent professor of psychiatry Thomas Szasz, “The popular image of Freud as an enlightened, emancipated, irreligious person who, with the aid of psychoanalysis, ‘discovered’ that religion is a mental illness is pure fiction.’’[36]

Szasz, also a Jew, contends, “One of Freud’s most powerful motives in life was the desire to inflict vengeance on Christianity for its traditional anti-Semitism.”[37] He also shows how Freud made his hostility towards religion look like an objective conclusion from the realm of science. Szasz says, “There is, in short, nothing scientific about Freud’s hostility to established religion, though he tries hard to pretend that there is.”[38] Freud was surely not an objective observer of religion. According to Szasz, he was a man who incorporated his personal feelings towards Christians into a supposed scientific theory about all religion.

Why or why would Scazzero use a scientifically questionable model of personality proposed by Freud, who was anti-Christian with his evil theory about all who are born on earth? Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of penis envy for all girls born on earth and castration anxiety for all boys born on earth should be enough for all Christians to avoid Freud. Freud’s theory of the unconscious is intrinsically tied to his proposed four early stages of life he calls oral, anal, phallic, and genital, and particularly the phallic stage of development with its Oedipus complex, which is named after a Greek tragedy in which Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.

Scazzero is inviting his readers to use his version of Freud’s defunct notions of the unconscious and psychic determinism rather than to depend solely upon God and His Word regarding human nature, why we do what we do, and how to change. Believers need to believe God’s Word and act upon it because He has given them all they need for life and godliness:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4.)

A person need not be trapped in negative patterns of behavior established during the early years of life, for the Bible offers a new way of life. Put off the old man; put on the new. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” and He said elsewhere that new wine could not be put into old wineskins. Jesus offers new life and new beginnings. One who is born again has the spiritual capacity to overcome old ways and develop new ones through the action of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, and the sanctification of the believer. One wonders why so many have given up the truth of the Bible for the false claims of Peter Scazzero.

To be continued.

[1] Peter Scazzero. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Updated Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014, 2017. (Hereafter page references to this book appear in the text.)


[3] Martin and Deidre Bobgan. The Psychological Way/The Spiritual Way. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1979.

[4] Martin and Deidre Bobgan. PsychoHeresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity. Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 1987.

[5] “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Wikipedia,, 02-05-2023.

[6] Freud’s Iceberg Model,

[7] “Subconscious vs. Unconscious mind,” Diffen,,memory%2C%20affect%2C%20and%20motivation.

[8] “Blasphemy, in a religious sense, refers to great disrespect shown to God or to something holy, or to something said or done that shows this kind of disrespect; heresy refers a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief or opinion of a particular religion,

[9] “Imprint,” Cambridge Dictionary,

[10] Daniel David, et al, “Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Current Gold Standard of Psychotherapy,” National Library of Medicine, Frontiers in Psychiatry,

[11] Unconscious Mind,” Wikipedia,

[12] Mary Sykes Wylie and Richard Simon, “Discoveries from the Black Box,” Psychotherapy Networker, Vol. 26, No. 5, p. 26.

[13] Christof Koch, quoted in The New York Times, Oct. 14, 2018,

[14]Psychology Today, Vol. 35, No. 3, p. 17.

[15] Stephen Smith quoted by Bruce Goldman, “New imaging method developed at Stanford reveals stunning details of brain connections,” Stanford Medicine News Center, 11/17/2010, new-imaging-method-developed-at-stanford-reveals-stunning-details-of-brainconnections.html.

[16] David Cloud, “The Human Brain,” Friday Church Notes, 10/19/2018,

[17] Torrey, The Death of Psychiatry, op. cit., p. 39.

[18] Rose Eveleth, “There are 37.2 Trillion Cells in Your Body,” Smithsonian,

[19] Michael Chase, “The Matriculating Brain,” Psychology Today, June 1973, p. 82.

[20] Stephen L. Chew, “Myth: We Only Use 10% of Our Brains,” Association for Psychological Science,

[21] “Unconscious Mind,” Wikipedia,, 12-24-2022.

[22] Karl Popper, “Scientific Theory and Falsifiability” in Perspectives in Philosophy, Robert N. Beck, ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1975, p. 344.

[23]Ibid., p. 345.

[24]Ibid., p. 343.

[25]Ibid., p. 346.

[26] Daniel David, et al, “Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Current Gold Standard of Psychotherapy,” op. cit.

[27] “Psychic Determinism,” Wikipedia,

[28]  “Psychodynamic Theory-Part 1,”Partners in Psychology,

[29] Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id, Joan Riviere, trans., James Strachey, ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1960), p. 13.

[30] “Cognitive Dissonance,” Verywellmind,

[31] “Compartmentalization (psychology),” Wikipedia,

[32] Jerome Kagan, “The Parental Love Trap,” Psychology Today. August

1978, p. 61.

[33] Victor and Mildred Goertzel, Cradles of Eminence. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962.

[34] Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow, The Criminal Personality, Volumes One and Two. New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1976, 1977.

[35] Sigmund Freud. The Future of an Illusion. Translated and edited by James Strachey.  New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1961, p. 43.

[36] Szasz, op. cit., p. 1.

[37]Ibid., p. 146.

[38]Ibid., p. 140.