“The Blasphemy of the Religious Psychologist”
In 1972 a missionary to Japan by the name of Marvin L. Fieldhouse wrote a short book titled And Tender Blasphemies in which he purposed to:
… expound and uncover blasphemy in a different, more subtle, and much more ruinous form—namely, that of silently (often tenderly), by implication and innuendo, showing Christ our contempt for Him by setting up over His truth or His person or His righteousness a rival, superior authority, another alternative or point of loyalty (p.1).
Fieldhouse began his chapter titled “The Blasphemy of the Religious Psychologist” by quoting Colossians 2:8-10:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.
He then declares: “There may be no more rabid—yet unrecognized—blasphemy in all of Christendom today than this one of religious psychology.” He clearly states his concern about the gross implications of Christians embracing this man-made substitute:
Never before in world history has man declared himself more boldly and confidently as absolutely fit to meet man’s moral and spiritual needs than he has today. Man understands man, so go to man, and he will solve your unsolvable problems. Stated simply that is the case in a nutshell—but of course minus the blasphemy! As usual the blasphemy is voiced with a vengeance that even a deaf man could not mistake: The Word of God in the hands of the Holy Ghost is inadequate, insufficient in Itself to dothe perfect, satisfying work which our Christian psychologist can do! (p. 14).
Considering that private practice psychology began in the late 1940s and early 1950s and considering that this was about twenty years prior to Fieldhouse’s book, one can see how rapidly Christians were willing to embrace this man-made substitute.
Fieldhouse was concerned about how many pastors were seeking psychological therapy and how many were sending their flocks to psychologists “when the Word of God ‘failed’ to meet their need.” He considered those numerous pastors and missionaries who were taking psychology courses to “better equip” themselves for ministry to be actually demeaning the Word of God—making it “a second or third rate power.” He declares:
This sly system of psychology changes God’s order of man getting to know God by obeying His Word in all matters pertaining to this life and the next—changes this order into man getting to know himself and others by following a man-made system (p. 15).
Indeed, this is a sly system whereby people think they can add psychology to the Bible and have God’s blessing as they place their trust in psychology to give them special knowledge about themselves and each other. With the huge variety of psychological counseling systems, one can find all kinds of ways to attempt to know the inner man of self and others. However, Scripture is very clear about how bankrupt these systems of self exploration are since the “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Only the Lord can see into the human heart: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:9,10).
God uses His Word to reveal what people need to know about themselves and others. The Word of God presents the truth about who man is, why he is the way he is, and how he changes.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Heb. 4:12-13).
What psychologist can see into another person? Many think they can through the theories they have learned, but they end up with guesses based upon their theories and their own limited perception. In contrast, God sees into the very soul of man to the extent of knowing what he is thinking about and even what he will say before he speaks.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it (Psalm 139:1-4).
Psychological theories about a person’s nature, purpose, condition, and means of change rely on limited human perception, personal experience, and creative imagination. Each theory has its own system of rules about how to analyze a person’s psyche and evaluate one’s progress towards a desired goal, such as self-improvement, personal comfort, and “cure.”
Man’s theories and methods proceed in the direction of strengthening the flesh and are doomed to make man into his own self-improved image, but God created man in His image. Thus, Fieldhouse reminds us that “God has therefore reserved to Himself alone the only perfect plumbline of man, the only accurate method and means of measuring his glorious depths; and the sole right of meeting these deep needs of Mansoul—namely, by the blessed Holy Spirit and the Word of God.” Fieldhouse further reminds us:
Man is fearfully and wonderfully made. The Bible not only declares and proves this fact, but man himself has also demonstrated it for science and history to verify. And in saying that only God Himself properly can satisfy man, the Bible in principle rises up in waves of fiery protest against any and all who fain would assume any other standard, any other measuring tool for him, any other means of touching his spiritual vitals or in any way dealing with or controlling the depths of his innermost being (pp.15-16).
When Christians use psychological means to explore the depths of their own souls for help and healing, they move into subtle deception whereby they understand themselves through a man-made theoretical system rather than finding the truth that only God can reveal. Moreover, they miss out on the great blessings God has waiting for those who seek Him with all their heart.
In reference to Psalm 139, Fieldhouse affirms the truth that believers can rest in the assurance that they are fully known by the Father (Ps. 139) and declares, “God Himself is the supply of every one of the deep and dark and desperate needs of his soul.” Considering the complexity of mankind, Fieldhouse asks, “Is it not wonderful to realize that God plans us and fashions us from the very beginning, even down to the finest fibre of temperament and emotional make-up?” (p.17). He further declares:
A man needs God like a flower needs sunshine. And when a man by the help of God gets a few clear glimpses of his own unfathomable depths and of how utterly futile it is either for himself or for others to plumb them and satisfy him, only then does he grow in zeal and holy dedication, turning in full faith and trust to the One Whose thoughts and plans and solvents and comforts are precious and without number!
When a person turns to psychology for help and understanding he becomes more self-absorbed and self-centered, but when he turns to God, he grows in zeal and holy dedication. People are being deceived when they think they can use both psychology and the Bible, because they draw individuals in different directions. Nevertheless, this deception is subtle—so subtle that most of the church has been deceived. Fieldhouse saw this deception and the evil that was being perpetrated to the extent that he applied verses 19-22 to Christian psychologists:
Now a spiritual word for brother psychologist in all of this, because such an one as the psalmist does not just turn to God for His consolings, but he also turns away from every false consolation—and with a vengeance! “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (vss. 19-22).
Could you not verily feel the jealousy of the psalmist? his holy insistence that no man tamper in the sacred works of his soul, a place which God Himself is preparing for Himself as His own habitation through the Spirit? (p. 17).
We are grateful that this faithful missionary wrote this strong polemic against the kind of psychology being embraced by the church and perpetrated by Christian pastors and missionaries. We are grieved that his strong appeal did not stem the tide, but we also know that God is not surprised by this takeover of psychological counseling systems. Indeed, He has warned us of the deception and the departure from the true faith that would mark the end times. The integration of psychological explanations of mankind and the psychological solutions to problems of living are a primary means of making people believe they are following God when they are actually going in the opposite direction.
PAL V13N2 (Mar-Apr 2005)