Human suffering and problems of living are inescapable in this fallen world. Through the centuries people have attempted to alleviate and address problems of living. Yet, in spite of all the technological advances, humans continue to suffer the ravages of living in a sinful world.
Much of the suffering has to do with human emotions, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. The three major ways of helping people meet these challenges of living are the psychological way, the biblical way, and the syncretistic way.
The psychological way uses psychological counseling theories and therapies, which wear the garments of science but are actually an array of religious beliefs and practices regarding who man is, how he changes, and whether or not a deity other than self is invoked. Most psychological counselors are eclectic in that they combine aspects of various theories and therapies.
The Biblical way is the way of the cross. Paul preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and he declared that if Christ be not raised we are of men most miserable. The core of biblical faith and biblical ministry to those who are suffering from problems of living is the death and resurrection of Christ and how those two most essential events in the history of this world affect the believer. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of God the Father, along with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, comprise the only true cure of souls.
The syncretistic way is an attempt to integrate the Bible and psychology. Those who use both the Bible and psychology are actually involved in syncretism because of the combining of differing and even contradictory religious and philosophical beliefs and practices. Such compromise and resultant idolatry are the fruit of Adam and Eve’s choice of gnosis instead of God. At the heart of gnosticism is self as god and syncretism.
When professing Christians read our books and articles, which warn people of the dangers of the psychological way and the syncretistic way, they invariably demand an alternative way, in spite of the fact that we consistently say that the Biblical way is the way to go. Somehow that is not enough. They are looking for a scheme, strategy, system, seminar, or series of specific teachings similar to what psychology offers.
We declare that Christians do not need psychological counseling theories or therapies! They do not need to integrate one iota from the psychological way combined with the Bible. And they do not need an “alternative way”! The Biblical way is not an optional alternative. It is the way of truth. The Bible reveals God’s one and only way for salvation, for living the Christian life, and for dealing with problems of living. He has already provided everything that is needed.
Why do people receive such good news with disappointment, as if the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit are not enough? Why is there such incredulity in regard to suffering souls? Why do Christians demand an “alternative” and ask that we spell it out? Do they not know the Lord and His moment by moment work in the believer? Have they not been born again? Or have they forgotten what it is to live in Christ? Have they forgotten who they are in Christ? Have they forgotten that He died for them and rose from the dead to give them a brand new life in Him?
Do they not see that God can use problems of living to form them into the image of Christ? Indeed, turning to anything other than the Lord and His Word will only strengthen that very monster (the “old man”) which they are to put off and count dead. God’s Word tells believers:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).
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. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him (Rom. 6:6-8).
If the whole Bible is too much to absorb as an “alternative” to the psychological or syncretistic way, begin with the Epistle to the Ephesians. Here the identity of the believer is established, the work of God in the believer is explained, the Christian walk is described, and spiritual warfare is defined.
Remember, God is the one who heals and restores the broken, wounded, hurting, and suffering sinners. He does not do it through any man-made scheme, strategy, system, seminar, or series of specific teachings. He has His own strategy of living His life in each believer, His own scheme (plan) of salvation, and His own system of sanctification. Instead of seminars filled with the wisdom of men and science falsely so-called, He has given His Word to be faithfully preached, taught, and obeyed. His has given His Holy Spirit to work together with the Word to bring the exact specific truth each individual needs to know and to obey.
Instead of looking for some means of help that looks enough like the psychological way to be an alternative, Christians need to return to their first love and live according to their new life in Christ. This does not mean that all suffering will cease or even that the problems will go away, but believers will find that in Christ they do have all they need to meet those challenges with grace, courage, and the hope of final victory in Christ.
PAL V12N1 (January-February 2004)