Since God has already given unto us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), Christians do not need the psychological wisdom of men. They already have the truth of God. They do not need to seek solutions to life’s problems from the Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, Rogerian psychologies or any other such counseling psychology. Psychotherapy has greatly distorted and damaged the faith once delivered unto the saints, falling far from Scripture by giving psychological substitutes for the truths of the Gospel.
Prior to the Second World War mental health practitioners (psychotherapists) were almost nonexistent. By the early 1960s 14% of the U.S. population had received mental health treatment. Since that time the numbers have increased to over 50% of the American population.
One writer said:
Probably no single individual has had a more profound effect on twentieth-century thought than Sigmund Freud.… Freud has…changed the face of society.
Freud and his followers have altered the thinking of both society at large and the Christian church. Psychological thought opened an evil Pandora’s box with respect to many of the teachings of the Bible and has since invaded and pervaded much of Christianity.
The Bible communicates the truth about mankind. Contrastingly, clinical psychology combines information and misinformation, fact and fiction, and represents only the wisdom of man about which we are warned in Scripture (1 Cor. 2).
Based upon both Scripture and scientific research, we recommend that Christians do not go to psychotherapists or take personality tests. A summary of our position on psychotherapy is that psychotherapy is questionable at best (lacks scientific support), detrimental at worst (potentially harmful), and a spiritual counterfeit at least.
Three Violations of Scripture
While there are many psychological violations of Scripture, we will consider just three of them: the influence of family/parents, how one views the past, and one’s understanding of self. Following that we will look at three serious psychological distortions of God’s truth.
We read about God establishing parents and the family in Genesis. People throughout the world are family oriented. Someone once said, “Family is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” As for parents, in Exodus 20:12 we are given the commandment to “Honour thy father and thy mother.”
The family and parents in particular suffer greatly in counseling. Psychotherapists view the family and parents as a fertile field to explore and explain present problems. Prior to the rise of psychology, family was sacrosanct. Blaming parents and especially the mother for one’s present problems was not encouraged before the counseling movement. Now, psychotherapists often lead clients to focus on negative memories of parents and family and even to blame them for current difficulties.
The apostle Paul spoke about the past in Philippians 3:13,14.
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.
In psychology the past and particularly one’s early life is a minefield to explore, analyze, and use to blame others. Before the rise of psychology, one would not be discussing early life experiences as a means of explaining one’s current problems. The past and particularly early childhood were romanticized, not pathologized or psychologized. Contrary to the Bible, counselors have opened wide this area of blame for present life problems.
Jesus tells us in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it (Matt. 16:24,25).
In psychology individuality and autonomy are highly valued. The self by itself is important. Psychotherapy promotes a maximized individualistic modeland one to be discussed and explained in counseling.
Contrary to biblical teachings, psychotherapy too often leads to blaming other people and past circumstances and to exalting the very self that we are to deny. Instead of being other-directed and being concerned about one’s own sinful acts against others, the talk is self-directed and concerned about the sins of others against oneself. Self-orientation is a primary reason why we have a breakdown of social norms and values, as responsibility is shifted away from self to others.
Three Psychological Substitutes
Psychology is actually a false religion. Dr. Thomas Szasz, one of the best-known psychiatrists in the world, has said in his book The Myth of Psychotherapy:
[Psychotherapy] is not merely a religion that pretends to be a science, it is actually a fake religion that seeks to destroy true religion.
There are many other conflicts between psychology and Christianity. The Bible teaches about sin, salvation, and sanctification. In regard to sin, Scripture tells us: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In regard to salvation, Scripture tells us:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10: 9,10).
In regard to sanctification, Scripture tells us:
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 5:23).
While sin, salvation, and sanctification will nowhere be found in any of the psychologies, these psychologies do provide unbiblical substitutes. Each stream of psychology has a substitute for sin, salvation, and sanctification by describing the brokenness of man, the rescue from the brokenness, and the means of personal growth. All of these are found in the numerous counseling approaches.
Look, for example, at the teachings of Sigmund Freud, who is the best-known of all of them. He describes man’s brokenness as being the result of repressed early life experiences. Freud’s rescue from brokenness is, with the help of a therapist, examining what went wrong in the past and in the early family life and how the parents and particularly the mother were responsible for the person’s current unhappiness. Freud blamed mothers for creating dependence on the part of their children, thus causing them problems later in life. And, what is the means of personal growth? One textbook describes it this way:
The patient and the psychoanalyst must be prepared to persevere in the process for an indefinite period. Psychoanalysis takes time—between three and six years, sometimes even longer. Sessions are usually held four or more times a week for 45 to 50 minutes each.
Granted, Freudian analysis takes longer and is more intensive than the rest, but all have some explanation about the brokenness of man, the rescue from brokenness, and a means of personal growth. But, none teach about sin, salvation, or sanctification. Just substitutes for them.
Psychotherapists have unbiblical substitutes for how to view family and parents, unbiblical substitutes for how to deal with the past, unbiblical substitutes for how to view the self, and unbiblical substitutes for sin, salvation, and sanctification.
But wait a minute! There is one important crucial teaching of Scripture they do not have. In all the psychologies, you will not find any teaching on the rest of the story. Look in all the psychoanalytic, behavioristic, humanistic, and transpersonal psychologies and you will not find that outstanding promise for believers called glorification.
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8:17).
Four Forces of Psychology
There are four forces or branches of psychology referred to in the literature. The first is behavioristic theory; the second is classical psychoanalytic theory; the third is humanistic psychology; and the fourth is transpersonal psychology, which emerged out of humanistic psychology in the late 1960s.
In spite of the fact that the transpersonal psychologies merge Eastern mysticism and Western rationalism and involve a variety of Eastern meditation practices, there is no doctrine of a future eternity with God as taught in the Bible. There is striving towards a complete loss of self-centeredness and attempts to become one with people and nature. The biblical doctrine of glorification is obviously absent from the first three forces of psychology, and, when examined, transpersonal psychologies offer nothing close to glorification and the promise of eternal life.
Thus, while the four forces of psychology offer their varied and sometimes conflicting understandings and resolutions to life’s problems, none have anything to say about this most important question about man’s future.
When life really gets bad and things are tough, when death itself is at the door, when the need is greatest, the psychologist has nothing to offer beyond this present life. Psychology is a flesh-oriented, ego-fixated, superficial attempt at solutions to the most important issues of life, which are spiritual. Counseling psychology essentially looks backward and inward. The child of God looks upward and forward.
Psychological systems fall short of answering the most basic human question, that of eternity. In fact, if you want to expose a psychotherapist, ask “What about eternity?” “What does psychotherapy have to offer where it matters most?” The answer is clearly: Nothing!
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, spoke of a desire to depart and to be with Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, he says, “We are confident, I say, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” He looked forward to a glorious eternity with Christ.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote about life in this way:
More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No! there is more yet—awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fulness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. O be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for—”He who hath helped thee hitherto / Will help thee all thy journey through” [to eternity].
All the psychotherapies in the world have nothing to offer mankind compared to Christianity. Psychology is only for the here and now. Christianity is for both here and there. What a big difference between a here and now belief system and a both here and there belief system! Christianity offers an eternity far greater, far better, far more glorious than anything psychologists offer.Psychology offers unbiblical substitutes for sin, salvation, and sanctification, but these substitutes will never lead one to the eternity promised by God in His Word.
For years we regularly drove an elderly widow to church. Her name was Mary Lewer. She and her husband had been missionaries to mainland China prior to the communist takeover. As we drove back and forth to church together, she would tell us about her missionary experiences. One Sunday the pastor preached a sermon about questioning God. He gave several examples from Job and other places in the Old Testament of asking God, “Why?” She seemed somewhat disturbed on the way home. After a short silence, she said, “I lost my husband to the Mekong River and two children to disease, but I never questioned God.” Mary Lewer’s husband had drowned in the Mekong River, one child had died from disease as an infant, and the other child as an adult soon after returning to China to serve with her mother.
But, in spite of these adversities, she could say, “I never questioned God.” Mary knew God in the depths of her being and she had her eyes on eternity—for her husband, for her two children, and for herself. She did not love the world; neither did she look for answers from worldly psychological counseling systems. Over and over she had turned to God in the midst of trials and troubles. She trusted Him and found Him faithful. We knew how ready she was to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.
Indeed, if we can trust God for eternity, should we not trust Him with present problems of living and daily cares? While psychology may give a false and fleshly sense of comfort and consolation, it draws people away from God and into self and has nothing to offer beyond the grave.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, November-December 2013, Vol. 21, No. 6)