About once every year or two one of our supporters will ask us, “If the individuals you critique are guilty of psychoheresy, why don’t you question their faith?”
To answer this question, we must first clarify what we mean by “psychoheresy” and what we mean by “faith.” We coined the term psychoheresy, which is a combination of the word psychology shortened to psycho and the word heresy.
In our book PsychoHeresy, we refer to psychological leaven in the church and say:
When we speak of the leaven of psychology we are not referring to the entire field of psychological study. Instead, we are referring to that part of psychology which deals with the nature of man, how he should live, and how he can change. It involves values, attitudes, and behavior. We will be using the words psychology, psychological counseling, the psychological way, and psychotherapy interchangeably when referring to such man-made systems of understanding and treatment (p. 4).
We also say that “by psychologizing we mean teaching, trusting, and promoting unscientific and unproven psychological opinions in areas where the Bible has already spoken” (p. 9).
Some, because of ignorance, condemn all psychology, not recognizing that it is a very broad word covering many fields. The American Psychological Association (APA) has over fifty divisions representing a variety of fields of psychology. One person, in ignorance of the diversity within the broad field of psychology, condemns all psychology as “a humanistic atheistic religion.” In contrast, our concern is with psychotherapy and its underlying psychologies and its invasion into and almost total takeover of many Christian schools, seminaries, and churches.
This same person uses an analogy between psychotherapy and evolution. By the use of the logical fallacy of false analogy, this individual concludes that both psychology and biology are “to be completely rejected.” According to one logic book, “An argument from analogy draws a conclusion about something on the basis of an analogy with or resemblance to some other thing. The assumption is that if two or more things are alike in some respects, they are alike in some other respect.” Both psychology and biology are alike in that they are fields of study. Both involve some facts. However, the analogy then breaks down. Evolution is an idea that lower living organisms evolved into higher living organisms and eventually to man. Evolution is one of the many fields of biology just as psychotherapy is one of many fields of psychology.
Psychology is a word that is far more diverse and covers a multiplicity of fields, as mentioned earlier. The critic calls both psychology and evolution “a humanistic atheistic religion.” While this may be true of some psychology, it cannot be said of all psychology, as the critic would want us to believe. For example, an individual who works in educational psychology and deals with reading disorders needs to learn about the eye and its movements as well as how the eyes are used in reading and the brain in comprehending what is read. The educational psychology practitioner needs to know about the iris, pupil, fovea centralis, optic nerve, etc. This practice of psychology has nothing to do with “humanistic atheistic religion,” as the critic would lead us to believe. We could give other examples from other divisions of the American Psychological Association. To be consistent, the critic would need to say that psychology and biology are humanistic atheistic religions. We understand this critic’s concern about evolution, but his false analogy to psychology and his lack of understanding of the obvious differences reveals an inability on his part to discern beyond the most superficial level.
After narrowing the focus to our real target of psychotherapy and its underlying psychologies we say: “We have chosen the term psychoheresy because what we describe is 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 instead of absolute confidence in the biblical truth of God.”
Over the years we have named individuals, Bible colleges, seminaries, churches, and mission agencies that have been guilty of psychoheresy. If we include all individuals who by endorsing, recommending, or practicing psychoheresy and add those individuals who encourage and support its existence in all these organizations and churches, we are including literally millions of individuals who profess personal faith in Christ.
In PsychoHeresy we say: “In this book we name people in reference to what they have taught or written. However, we want to make it clear that while we are critical of their promotion and use of psychological theories and techniques, we are not questioning their faith.” The dictionary defines faith as “the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.” What we had in mind when we used the word faith was the individual’s salvation, conversion, or new birth.
Some have come to the erroneous conclusion that we are saying that these individuals are indeed saved. We want to make it clear for the reasons that follow that we are saying neither that they are saved nor that they are not saved.
There are two reasons we do not question the faith (salvation) of those who are involved in psychoheresy. First, we do not know the faith of any of these individuals as it pertains to salvation. We have not read their statements of faith regarding salvation nor have we heard their testimonies. We know what fundamentals one believes if one is saved or converted, but have no idea whether or not these essentials are truly believed by the various people who promote psychoheresy. If any do not affirm faith in the essential fundamentals necessary for salvation, we could then question that individual’s salvation, whether or not that person may be involved in psychoheresy. However, there are certainly other fundamentals of the Gospel related to sanctification that are violated by these psychologizers of the faith. Thus, they are guilty of psycho-heresy. The psychological corrupters of the clear fundamentals of Scripture regarding sanctification have been the target of our criticisms and our ministry.
The second reason is that it is doubtful that all of the millions of individuals who by commission, participation, or recommendation are guilty of psychoheresy are not saved. Since we have not heard their testimony as to the essentials of the faith, it would be presumptuous of us to conclude that they are not saved. However, if individuals call themselves Christians and believe in ideas that are contrary to essential biblical doctrines regarding salvation, then we would question their faith whether or not they are guilty of psychoheresy.
There are people who will disagree with our definition of our coined word psychoheresy and will want to apply it in a way we never intended. Others will disagree with our need to know an individual’s testimony as to the fundamentals of the faith before questioning their salvation. Sad to say, there are even some who would question the salvation of the millions of such individuals practicing or participating in psycho-heresy or say categorically that they are not saved when they do not even know the individual’s beliefs in regard to salvation.
PAL V10N6 (November-December 2002)