Psychoheresy involves trusting, believing, practicing, and pursuing the psychological wisdom of man for the issues of life where God has already spoken in His Word. The particular psychological wisdom of man that is running rampant throughout the church world, from Amish to Presbyterians, from Arminians to Calvinists, and from amillennialists to premillennialists, comes out of clinical psychology, which is the educational background for those who become licensed practitioners. All fifty states have licensing requirements, but the two best-known licensed practitioners are the clinical psychologists and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs).
One facet of this prism of psychological possibilities is the use of these professional practitioners and their psychological carpet-bagging approaches to weasel and wangle their way into all levels of the church. Any objective and collective look at the church at all levels from the pew to the pulpit and from the schools to the seminaries would lead one to conclude that the psychological wisdom of man masquerading as science has successfully ensnared almost everybody and almost everything with its tentacles as it infiltrates and influences.
A most egregious strategy of these egalitarians is their therapizing of Christians with the cooperation of pastors and pew sitters. The pastors cooperate by referring out and the pew sitters recommend and personally patronize these professional practitioners even though their high fees are often out–of-pocket.
As we wrote some years back, The present-day church has strained at many theological gnats but swallowed the camel of psychotherapy to such an extent that the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life has been overlooked for “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20).
Because they rest on different foundations, move in contrasting directions, and rely on opposing belief systems, psychotherapy and Christianity are not now, nor were they ever, natural companions in the healing of troubled souls. The “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) has been compromised by a substitute faith, often disguised as medicine or science, but based upon a foundation of humanism, which is in direct contradiction to the Bible.
In referring to the replacement of the biblical with the psychological, Dr. Thomas Szasz says: “Educated in the classics, Freud and the early Freudians remolded these images into, and renamed them as, medical diseases and treatments. This metamorphosis has been widely acclaimed in the modern world as an epoch-making scientific discovery. Alas, it is, in fact, only the clever and cynical destruction of the spirituality of man, and its replacement by a positivistic ‘science of the mind.’”1 He warns about the “implacable resolve of psychotherapy to rob religion of as much as it can, and to destroy what it cannot.”2
The psychotherapist offers humanity a less demanding, less disciplined, more self-centered substitute for religion—a false solution to problems of the soul, with another priestly figure. Now deceived people flock to this surrogate religion with its theology of therapy and its unproven ideas and solutions.
What does all of this say about the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of the saints when almost all pastors refer parishioners to psychological practitioners and parishioners themselves voluntarily seek such services? The psychological counseling movement did not even exist sixty years ago. The first clinical psychologist license was issued less than sixty years ago and the first MFT was issued less than 55 years ago. Fifty years ago only the most liberal churches were referring out and only the most liberal minded, biblically speaking, would have wanted such services.
The bottom line is this: Does one believe in the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit for soul care? If not, it begs another question: What did the church do for the care of souls for almost 2000 years without psychotherapy? Were the Word and the Spirit insufficient salves for suffering souls for almost two millennia? If the answer is “no,” then why has the sinful psychological gospel trumped the pure biblical gospel throughout most of the church and why have so many in the church trumpeted the psychological gospel? The trumping and trumpeting have resulted in a gross and grotesque burlesque of the good and the godly! Whoever abandons the traditional understanding of Scripture about the Word/Spirit work in one’s life and turns to these psychological Johnny-come-latelies of man’s mental machinations to deal with the soul is guilty of psychoheresy!
God declared through the prophet Jeremiah: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).
As we wrote 35 years ago, the psychological way is a broken cistern while the biblical way is the Living Water.3 The psychotherapists have filled their broken cisterns with water from the polluted streams of psychology. The church has waited too long, has drifted too far, and has largely given up the Living Waters for broken cisterns in the area of soul care. By preferring and proferring the polluted water, the church has poisoned its soul ministry nearly into extinction. Then, in order to fill the gap, the church has further turned to the world of psychotherapy in its attempt to replace the very ministry that was jeopardized by psychotherapy’s intrusion.
The church not only permitted the mendacity of the cure of minds to replace the ministry of the cure of souls without substantiation or proof, but it has embraced a multitude of psychotherapeutic theories, techniques, terminology, and theology in its blind desire to meet the needs of a suffering generation.
It is no mere, minor, menial matter to ignore the God-ordained means of soul care and to elevate the very wisdom of man about which God has warned His people (1 Cor. 1, 2). Spiritual, personal, and relational needs should be ministered to, first by the preaching and teaching of the Word and then by a one-anothering ministry in the church as God calls and gifts members to serve one another.
If you as a person or pastor are involved at any level of leveraging the leaven of psychology in place of or along with what God has already ordained in His Word by the power of His Spirit, you are guilty of psychoheresy!
1 Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy (Garden City: Double- day/Anchor Press, 1978), pp. 104-105.
2 Ibid., p. 188.
3 Martin & Deidre Bobgan. The Psychological Way/The Spiritual Way. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1979.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, September-October 2014, Vol. 22, No. 5)