Psychoheresy continues to thrive both in the world and in the church in spite of the lack of biblical and scientific support. Christians have come to trust psychological theories created to understand and improve the human condition, even though the hodge-podge of approximately 450 different, often-conflicting theoretical systems have failed to fulfill their promises.
Because of the inherent conflict between the psychological systems of therapy and the doctrines of Scripture, Christians were wary of psychological therapy until such men as Clyde Narramore, Henry Brandt, Frank Minirth, Paul Meier, James Dobson, Larry Crabb, and Robert McGee made it palatable and enticing, by assuring trusting Christians that, when secular ideas are “filtered” through Scripture, they are helpful and even essential to them.
Those who sell psychological counseling theories and therapies to Christians mix them into Scripture in such a way as to conform the Bible to whatever psychological systems take precedence. When dispensers of counseling use psychology they are generally eclectic; that is, they borrow from a variety of models and methodologies and then combine them with Scripture. That they have been successful in distorting Scripture with their mixtures becomes very evident when individuals who have never been trained in psychology teach and preach such ideas, without even knowing that what they are saying or writing contains worldly, psychological poison. For instance, most Christians believe in the importance of high self-esteem as a result of psychology’s input.
When it comes to understanding who we are and how to change, the church halts between two opinions. People want the “best of both worlds,” in the same way that the Israelites sought to gain help from Baal as well as from Jehovah. Isaiah challenged them with these words:
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).
Just as idol worship originated from the opinions of mere humans and idols were fashioned by human hands, so too psychological counseling systems are based on human opinions and the therapies are fashioned by their hands. Spiritually speaking, the church is as bad off as Israel. The reason surveys reveal so little difference between the morality of Christians and nonChristians is because Christians have brought the world into the church. Much of what is brought in is obvious, but we contend that one of the most dangerous worldly intrusions is the incorporation of psychological ideas and techniques.
Articles in local newspapers promote blending psychology and religion. For example, an article from Tulsa World reports that the medical director for the Rapha program in Tulsa “said psychology can provide tools to assist Christian values. . . . He also said he believes all good ideas have a divine source and that Christians can take what is useful from any source—even an aggressively secular one” (Dana Sterling, Tulsa World, Nov. 19, 1996). But, if “all good ideas have a divine source and that Christians can take what is useful from any source,” why not take the “good ideas” from the Hindus, Buddhists, Moslems, Zoroastrians, and other religions? We ask that question because the theories behind psychological counseling (clinical psychology) are more religious than scientific. They deal with the same issues as the Bible and the same issues as other religions. Yet, there is no solid base of truth in clinical psychology. Instead there are now approximately 450 different competing and often conflicting systems of psychological therapy with none showing greater efficacy than the other. (For more information about Rapha, see “Rapha: The Golden Key to Mental Health? or PsychoHeresy?” in PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 2, No. 2.)
Psychologists regularly use pastors to help them get counselees. They introduce themselves to pastors and convince them that their psychological training enables them to give the best kind of help to people who are suffering from problems of living. One such therapist sent letters to local clergy in his area with a “Free Evaluation Certificate” for the pastor to use “when referring individuals, couples, and/or families.” Besides counseling “patients,” this licensed psychologist leads men’s groups “for dealing with men’s issues of character and secret problems” and declares that what he does “brings Promise Keepers to a whole new level.” Not to leave anyone out of his psychological offerings, he also conducts a “Clergy Support Group.”
Churches, seminaries, and other Christian organizations foolishly and eagerly embrace psychological counseling theories and therapies that originated in the world. More and more Christian colleges and seminaries are adding graduate schools of psychology to train “Christian psychologists.” Advertisements for these programs reveal how completely they espouse psychology. For instance, Wheaton College Graduate School has an ad with the cross embedded in the psi symbol [y], which stands for psychology. The caption says: “Symbols for a new century in Psychology.” The school offers the Psy.D. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology. The ad declares: “commitment to scripture [sic] and the integration of psychological theory with Christian faith.” That is blatant psychoheresy, promoted and taught by Wheaton. The same is true for Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Seminary, and many other Bible colleges and seminaries. They are evidently proud of their integration of the world into the Christian faith and convinced that psychology is necessary, even though it fails to meet the criteria of science and thus must be labeled “science falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20).
It is time for church leaders and other Christians to examine the research. There are several books that reveal the false scientific status and inefficacy of the very kinds of psychology that have been promoted and merchandised by those who refer to themselves as Christian psychologists or counselors and others who incorporate these theories into their teaching, preaching and writing.
We have written several such books, including PsychoHeresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity. There are other books in the secular market that give good solid research why the church should divorce itself from the psychological way. A recent title is Manufacturing Victims by Dr. Tana Dineen. She clearly demonstrates that providers of psychological therapy do manufacture victims. We would add that certain Christian radio programs, connected with psychological treatment centers, have done a large share of the work of making Christians believe they are victims in need of treatment. We wrote about one of those people nearly destroyed by listening to a Minirth-Meier New Life Clinics program that did indeed turn him into a victim (see PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 3, No. 5).
Dineen knows the profession from her experience of twenty years on the inside. Contrary to most practicing therapists, Dineen knows the research regarding the efficacy of psychotherapy. Through the years she saw more and more problems with the profession and finally closed her practice. In her book she provides enough scientific research to discourage anyone from ever wanting to combine psychology with Christianity. She also reveals the many ways in which therapists do create victims. We believe every Christian leader should read Manufacturing Victims.
Another eye-opening book is House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth by Dr. Robyn M. Dawes, who is a widely recognized researcher and a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University. His book demolishes all pretensions of psychological counseling theories and therapies and relegates clinical psychology to the realm of pseudoscience.
As long as Christians look to the gods of psychology to make them feel better and change their lives, they will deprive themselves of real Christian growth. God works through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the Body of Christ to conform believers into the image of Christ. As believers turn to Him in their struggles He does a far greater work in them.
Rather than strengthening the flesh as psychological therapy tends to do, God calls believers to take up their cross daily, to walk according to the Spirit, and to live by the life of Christ in them. In his book The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion, O. Hobart Mower poses this question: “Has evangelical religion sold its birthright for a mess of psychological pottage?” Yes, that is exactly what evangelical Christianity has done! Isn’t it time to confess that horrible sin, throw out the psychological stew and cleave to the Lord and all He has given through the New Birth?
(From PAL V5N2)