by Marvin Fieldhouse
Preliminary Remarks by Martin & Deidre Bobgan
This article follows directly from “PsychoBlasphemy, Part One”1 with a section from Marvin Fieldhouse’s chapter titled “The Blasphemy of the Religious Psychologist” from his book And Tender Blasphemies.2
In this section of his book, Fieldhouse uses an excellent example of how the very words of the “religious psychologist” can be exposed for their blasphemy simply by using the very Words of God to examine them. Fieldhouse says this one example applies to “hundreds of men and books, and periodicals” that are “but a cross-section of an evil so prevalent and powerful today.”
The church at all levels has moved from fully trusting the Words of God in the Bible to believing the psychological words of men. The issues of life and the problems of living have always been the purview of the Word of God in the hands and hearts of believers ministering to fellow believers.
From the very beginning of the Christian church there was a method and a ministry for dealing with mental-emotional problems. The method depended on the Word of God, which describes both the condition of man and the process of relief for troubled minds. The ministry was a prayer, healing, and teaching ministry that dealt with all nonorganic mental-emotional disturbances. This entire process was known as the “cure of souls.” John T. McNeill in A History of the Cure of Souls describes this ministry as “the sustaining and curative treatment of persons in those matters that reach beyond the requirements of the animal life.”3 However, that has all changed with the arrival of the promiscuous pronouncements, promises, and practices of clinical psychology.
Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) fathered the idea of using conversation (words) as a method of mind cure. His influence extended throughout all of society, as E. M. Thornton asserts in The Freudian Fallacy:
Probably no single individual has had a more profound effect on twentieth-century thought than Sigmund Freud. His works have influenced psychiatry, anthropology, social work, penology, and education and provided a seemingly limitless source of material for novelists and dramatists…for better or worse he has changed the face of society.4
Talk therapy followed in his wake. However, because Freud’s form of talk therapy was very intensive, requiring meeting 3-5 times a week with a medical doctor over an extended period of time, it was also very expensive and, therefore, involved only a small number of individuals who could afford the time and money. Thus, following World War II, when so many veterans needed mental-emotional help, the U.S. government poured money into university clinical psychology programs in order to train therapists in less costly short-term therapy. This was then the seed for the surge of growth in clinical psychology departments, trained psychotherapists, and, according to many, a new-found hope for mankind. By 1958 the first clinical psychologist license was available, and in 1963 the first marriage and family therapist license was also available. Fieldhouse’s book And Tender Blasphemies was published in 1972.
Between 1958 and 1972 there was a mushrooming of clinical psychology programs at universities and seminaries, through which individuals became qualified for the clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and other psychology-related licenses, depending on state licensing requirements. Along with the licensing came further comfort and confidence in psychology to explain life and solve problems of living.
This hope for solving problems of living was latched onto by the media and soon everyone was interested in psychological help, not only for those suffering from serious problems, but also for people who looked to psychology for solving ordinary problems of living. Thus, psychology became the new panacea! These psychological sorcerers of the soul now set the standards for understanding the soul and providing psychological solutions for the soul—solutions that have not only been wholeheartedly embraced but also practiced and expected in the church.
In her comprehensive book The Romance of American Psychology, Ellen Herman says:
Psychological help was defined so broadly that everyone needed it. Because mental health became a prerequisite to social welfare and economic prosperity, and not merely a state of individual well-being, virtually no aspect of U.S. life, private or public, remained out of clinicians’ reach.5
During this rising confidence in psychology, the words and ideas of psychology saturated the spiritual world of the church and subdued the sacred words and doctrines of the Bible. These new human ideas eventually seduced almost every facet of the church from pulpit to pew and from schools to seminaries.
Mission agencies were among the first to use psychologists and psychological tests and to exercise faith in psychology to explain life and living in psychological terms where the Bible has already spoken. For this reason, Fieldhouse was appalled and thereby constrained to expose the usurper: the “religious psychologist.”
“The Blasphemy Of The Religious Psychologist”
by Marvin Fieldhouse. 6
Calling It Tiger
For our edification, warning and enlightenment, it is high time that we go from philosophizing to interpreting; time that we take a concrete example of this tender blasphemy in psychology. I never did like the mere talk about big lion tracks out by the river, but have known it to he more profitable to God’s people and the Truth to track that lion himself down, recognize him, point him out, name him correctly, and then deal with him to the hurt of the lion and the profit of all who know that lions are harmful!
The example I have chosen (out of many which are unashamedly advertised and always available) is taken from “The Japan Harvest,” (Summer ’72, Vol. 21, No.3, p21). The title of it is, “Partnership Training (An Impelling Force for Personal Change),” and it is written by Mr. Morris Jacobsen of the Japan Evangelical Mission.
Observing a Fundamental
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34b). “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).
Shortly I will be quoting from and alluding to the above author and his article on “Partnership Training,” but first a word for all of us to ponder. Words mean a lot. They express what a man thinks, what he believes, how he lives, and what he is—therefore God is also going to judge every man by his words as laid over against His own Inspired Word.
In this life there is strong likelihood of gross misunderstanding and even deliberate misquoting among us when and if we go only by the spoken words themselves: we might think a man said so and so, and we may even put false words into his mouth to prove a personal point. But when a man studies over and works upon an article like “Partnership Training” (or any other author on any other printed phase of psychology), he chooses his words so that what he deems valuable will be communicated and transmitted the way he wants it understood. Labouring to be understood is as native to man as breathing….
A written article says what a person means and it means what that man says. Moreover, he should expect men to judge him by those very words which came out of his heart. They are not inspired words, of course; and we should not therefore demand or command others to live by every word which proceeds out of our mouths; but these words of ours nonetheless are a clear indication of what we ourselves think is great and what we ourselves have been living by and for: according to the Scriptures a man’s words are an honest and accurate gauge of where he lives.
If God is going to judge us for our words in the Last Day, then rather than becoming huffed or surprised in this life if someone takes us up on them and faces us with them, we should rather insist that they in no wise divorce us from them. We should demand that men, too, in this life judge us and handle us and treat us as they handle our words.
If at 10:00 AM. they crumple up something you have written and with a hiss stomp it into the waste can and then greet you with a sweet smile at twelve o’clock, with a vigorous right hand extended for a warm and friendly shake—well, brother, something is wrong!
Words mean a lot, especially a lot more than we are willing to admit; and we should insist that men treat us in accordance with our words and not the way a man treated me the other day, who has too long feigned friendship with me. From several vantage points in Scripture I tried to face him up with some subtle hypocrisies which were keeping him from being useful in God’s hands. But no, he was fully armed with rationalizings aplenty, fully determined in these matters to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.” He simply fenced and hedged and boxed and shadow boxed. (It was educational if nothing else! ) And when finally we parted, he gave me a warm embrace and a kiss of charity upon my cheek, adding in tender tones: “God bless you, brother. We love you and are praying for your ministry.” But I said little, nor did I tell him I knew that only recently to a friend of mine he had completely lost his testimony as a sincere and honest man of God by the way he maligned my ministry to him, speaking ungodly and unbiblical things about me behind my back.
But was not this the very thing he is doing with God and His Inspired Word on a much deeper level than just friendship? He has given me the impression that he is a uniquely anointed favourite with God, with the kind of holy burden for lost sinners which gives him license to trample on God’s Word to the saints, while at the same time “to snuggle up” close to the God who authored those words.
Back to that kiss of charity: while the hug and kiss was going on, I did like Jesus did and said of Judas, “Friend.” And some will say, “But how can you call a man of that calibre a friend?”
That’s very simple: at least in one sense I think I know why Jesus did it to the man who thought he could divorce the Man Himself from His words. A Judas is a friend because he encourages you to go on with God by the way he manifests the blight of deceit! The rot of double talk, the strain of a double life, the confusion, the blasphemy and the utter contradiction to everything righteous and holy if you should go back! I say, such men must be called “friend,” for they encourage you to go on with God lest you become like them, displaying the exact glory that their thirty pieces of silver in self-interest and human politics, have netted them. This is far from any prize to be coveted by the man who knows what God’s glory is!
God says that words are important, both ours and His; and we had just better know that He was not philosophizing. He is definitely going to judge us by our words; and not as some do, either, by the words of others about us, especially those of our enemies or false friends. It might just be high time for you also (if this applies) to stop judging others either by what you think about them or what others say about them and begin taking them at face value, word value. Even God is going to be that merciful on you and me; or would we rather that He, too, divorce us from our own words and deal with us as we have with others—namely, passed sentence on a man by the hearsay, gossip and evil speaking of someone else and not by the words of the man himself as weighed with the Inspired Word of God?
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”: we know God on that scale, and we also know man, as well as we need to know him.
Quoting for Clarity
We are now going to quote about 500 words from the aforementioned piece, “Partnership Training,” which altogether embraces 971 words. The purpose of my quoting at such length is to layout the clear train of thought which runs through the article, along with the modes of expression which communicate this thought. Four dots between paragraphs means that certain material has been left out, not needed here for our purposes of clarity and brevity, but in no wise omitted for any deceitful or unfair reasons .
[Jacobsen quote follows]:
“The emphasis is upon the experience to be gained through participation, and the myriad of insights that follow this for the thoughtful person, rather than a cognitive description of the principles of group dynamics, group therapy, sensitivity training, syntality, social psychology, or any of the other disciplines that are brought to bear in working with groups….
Normally “participation training” occurs when a group of ten to fifteen people can spend an undistracted period of time together. . . . The format for operation is rather simple. The trainers of the group normally model the first session. One acts as leader, electing from the groupexpressions of their present personal concerns. . . . A topic is then elicited from the largest common denominator of concerns expressed… . .
A second trainer, doubling for the first session as trainer and observer, sits apart from the group and may make periodic interruptions—verbal interpolations—to sensitize the group to functional hindrances in procedure and the like. . . . Generally speaking he deals with techniques in the early stages and moves on to the deeper psychological levels of attitude, motivation, inter-personal relationships, and group awareness in the advanced stages. . . .
A casual observer who drops in on a group for an hour or two, but has not participated with the group from the start and has not struggled with them through the sometimes frustrating processes of adjustment and group growth, may leave the session with a most incomplete and distorted view of what is going on. Far more is going on than what meets the eye.
On the superficial level, much can be said for the value of such training. The mental gymnastics involved in stating a topic, goal, and outline with lucidity is no small matter. … The joy of communication with others on problems of mutual concern at deeper levels than before can be immensely satisfying. . . .
Far more precious than these utilitarian values, however, are the psychological and spiritual ones involved. In a trainer controlled situation where emotional smoke screens are virtually eliminated—where one is taught to hold another participant’s opinion in relief from his opinion of the person himself—a steady stream of miniscule but emotionally unbeclouded feedback on one’s own personality adds up to a decisive factor for personal change. It is in this situation a person begins to see himself as he really is. No one is out to pick at him. Indeed all are encouraged to drop their defensive armor and to react to each other as down-to-earth needy individuals. As a group jointly struggles with problems, the rough edges of a person’s personality come to light as never before. It is this revelation of one’s self vis-a-vis the group, conducted within an atmosphere of love and understanding acceptance, that becomes such an impelling force for personal change.
A greater understanding of one’s self and how he relates to others can be a very satisfying spiritual experience. It need not be traumatic. Fear of personal exposure is more than compensated for by the warm fellowship and spiritual intercourse with other members of the group. Small wonder that groups who have experienced participation training are usually so reluctant to break up.” (Italics added.)
Important Notice to the Reader
The following comments on this subject, while referring to Mr. Jacobsen and “Partnership Training” are, notwithstanding their personal references, dealing with a vast and ugly system. There are hundreds of men and books and periodicals which we herein intend in principle to touch and expose by our thus handling of the example chosen. “Partnership Training” is but a cross section of an evil so prevalent and powerful today as to cause everyone within it to honestly wonder if there can be anything worth living for outside of it. And that is a mild understatement of the fact!
The Revelation of Human Words
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (I Cor. 2:12-1 3).
Note carefully that Paul says there is a speech, a communication, which is couched in “the words which man’s wisdom teacheth”; as well as a speech which talks to men in words which the Holy Ghost teacheth; and that God’s people have received His Spirit (for at least this one reason mentioned here): “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
The words which man’s wisdom teacheth . . . the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth—a Christian can know by words, the spirit of words, whether God is teaching him or whether a man is imparting something human to him, albeit calling it Divine.
Let us face it squarely and recognize it clearly: there is a set of words which man’s wisdom teaches, and these words are used to express human values and ideas, which the human spirit will receive. Know it well, for this wisdom is not only different from God’s, but it is also hostile to it, because clearly it springs from a different source for a different purpose.
Follow me carefully. Whenever a man wants to express Divine thoughts or in any way convey Divine values or a Divine message, he must employ at least some of the following words: God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, the Word of God, repentance, the cross, atonement, the resurrection, the blood of Christ, hell, heaven, redemption, propitiation, holy, eternal, life, faith, unbelief, inspiration, grace, power of God, the Gospel, Jesus of Nazareth, the Law, the flesh, etc.
Anyone with whom the Bible is infallibly final and for whom these Scriptures have been doing any serious thinking at all, simply cannot express what is in his heart without a liberal sprinkling of this vocabulary through either his speech or his writing. That sample list is among the words by which the Holy Spirit teaches men His eternal truth, expresses His unknowable mind, reveals His holy nature and displays His spotless wisdom. No man can speak correctly for or about God, therefore, and not be completely taken in the network of heavenly communication as found only in the words which the Blessed Spirit teaches and uses!
But you will read and re-read Mr. Jacobsen’s entire article on “Partnership Training,” and even though written to and for nationals and missionaries, it does not contain one of the above inspired words. In 971 words of careful effort to express a truth of great value, not one mention, not one need, to use even one of the most important words which the Holy Ghost teacheth. Just let any man even think that words do not express a volume, or the lack of them when they should be there! “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”—or is it that out of this abundance of heart it cannot speak? Ah, words reveal the very depths of a man’s thinking, his very motivation for living and breathing: “By thy Words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee. . .”
Exactly where in the Bible are words like these to be found: cognitive description, group dynamics, group therapy, sensitivity training, syntality and social psychology? And words like participation training, group expressions, and common denominator of concerns? Are they found in Corinthians, Acts or Jeremiah? Or yet words like these: verbal interpolations, sensitize, and functional hindrances—are they found in The Revelation, Proverbs or Galatians? Or yet greater and more swelling words like these (all taken from “Partnership Training”): inter-personal relationships, processes of adjustment, mental gymnastics, utilitarian values and emotionally unbeclouded feedback. I ask, are such words found in Genesis, Psalms, Job or the book of Ephesians?
Not only has the above-mentioned author left God’s words out of his thinking and his writing, but he has also inserted his own. And there is a definite reason why the religious psychologist, the worldly-wise man, will not and cannot employ God’s words to express himself: very clearly, God’s words are slanted to express God’s mind on God’s values, after God’s standards for God’s glory. These Divine words are only an awful shame to the man who is puffed up with human pride; they are useless and offensive to the individual who seeks self-glory and human recognition. Hence, he will not stoop to using them because they are not good enough for him. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).*
One hates to think that pieces like “Partnership Training” are a modem fulfillment of texts such as Romans 1:28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
“The truth that’s used with bad intent
Beats any lie you can invent.”
But error used to help the truth
Is error when it’s most uncouth.
Indeed, the psychologist is bringing something new and “wonderful” to the scene of men to aid them; something, in fact, which God never thought of as important. God never commended and made provision for it in Scripture, therefore a thing which none of His very limited vocabulary embraces! The thing is so deep and unique, penetrating and important, that the psychologist cannot stoop to using Bible language and God’s words to express what he feels and sees: he is on a course, towards a goal, which is going to help his fellow men in a deep and needful area which God in his partial wisdom seemed to have let slip. When reading a piece like “Partnership Training:” one is tempted to suspect God of overstating His case somewhat when He said, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain” (I Cor. 3:20). Then again, we need to read passages like I Cor. 2:1-6 many times to see if God ever really overstated any case of His:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought” (I Cor. 2:1-6).
But then there are readers and writers who will stoutly defend any psychological approach with, “But such articles as ‘Partnership Training’ are slanted to particular ends, and they do not profess to be at all dealing with Divine issues.” More blasphemy! And I will show you exactly why such evasive talk as that is nothing but more of this ridiculous and subtle blasphemy.
You are parading as a foreign missionary, supported as such by folk in the homeland, and are supposed to be speaking for God. You bring along an issue important enough to publish—one so important that you cannot find Bible words to express its message; it has to do with the correction and perfection of men—“an impelling force for personal change”—yet it is not important enough to God for Him to make provision for it in Holy Writ. Fancy it! speaking of perfection for any Christian along any line apart from the righteousness of Jesus Christ! But in order to write it, it was important enough to you that you give precious years of study and energy to cope with it.
You say it is no spiritual issue with which you are dealing? Any issue that is big enough and important enough to change your Christian vocabulary so drastically, your interest so radically, the course of your own life and that of your family’s so utterly, making you serious about it, and equipping you to lead people to believe it is something which requires your obedience and attention—to say it is no Divine issue is straight blasphemy. And yet this is being done with God shut out of it—and that really is a Divine issue! And if you as a missionary are not dealing with Divine issues in peoples’ lives, then, why, pray tell, are you even called a missionary?
*A word of caution is needed here, since the use of God’s words is not beneath the dignity of all these psychologists; quite the opposite! In fact, you touch psychology on a very subtle, a really difficult strata, where God’s words and man’s are well mixed and used interchangeably. Any psychologist can use or leave out just about anything he wants to, depending upon his purpose. If you exposed and rebuked him for being too “group therapish,” in his speech he could publish another article next month so full of evangelical talk as to make the world wonder! But the point we should notice just here is this: If he uses only man’s words at one time, he can, if forced to, use only God’s the next; he can also use them interchangeably. But the fact that he can and will use both with equal skill and with equal taste brands him as a blasphemer.
Editor’s note: We have long said that Christians should not be practitioners (psychotherapists) or participants (clients) in psychotherapy. We call such ungodly activity “psychoheresy.” The church offers the best for believers, namely the Word of God, applied by the Holy Spirit and ministered in the fellowship of the saints who are willing to let God be their guide.
Marvin Fieldhous books are available from Bethel Baptist Church, www.bethelbaptist.ca. Click “Bookstore” and then go “PDF Catalog.” Toll-free phone number: 1-866-295-4143.
- Marvin Fieldhouse, “PsychoBlasphemy, Part One,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 28, No. 6., November, December, 2020.
- Marvin J. Fieldhouse. And Tender Blasphemies. Japan: Biblia Books, 1972; reprinted by Bethel Baptist Print Ministry, London, Ontario, Canada, www.bethelbaptist.ca.
- John T. McNeill. A History of the Cure of Souls. New York: Harper and Row, 1951, p. vii.
- E. M. Thornton. The Freudian Fallacy. Garden City, NY: The Dial Press/Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1984, p. ix.
- Ellen Herman. The Romance of American Psychology. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1995, p.311.
- Fieldhouse, op. cit.