Dr. Brian Maier, Assistant Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Dr. Philip Monroe, Assistant Professor at Biblical Theological Seminary, made a joint presentation on Theophostic Ministry at a conference of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS). Instead of a complete theological analysis of Theophostics, Maier and Monroe limited their talks to the two important areas of sin and healing. In their CAPS presentation Maier and Monroe dealt with these two substantive issues in a very useful manner.
We hesitate to quote extensively from Maier and Monroe’s talks since they are preparing their material for a future article. In one part of his presentation, Maier said the following about Smith’s theology concerning sinfulness and woundedness:
So I have three concerns with [Smith] making woundedness more serious than sinfulness…. First, it minimizes the seriousness of sin. Again, pain often inflicted by others—and the resulting effects of this pain—is the deepest problem according to Theophostic doctrine. Sin is merely the pursuit of illegitimate pain relievers….
This is my second concern. Predictably, when sin is minimized a predictable result will be a corresponding minimization of the need for repentance and forgiveness. According to Smith, we need to be healed more than we need to be forgiven. This, in turn, minimizes the stunning realization that we have been forgiven by the One we have offended the most….
And third and finally, putting woundedness as more serious than sinfulness minimizes the power of spiritual discipline. When sin is minimized in Smith’s view, pain and woundedness are portrayed as such severe problems that they can even render normal spiritual disciplines impotent. Here’s a quote: “You can have me memorize all the verses that declare that I am the righteousness of God fully acceptable through Christ, holy and perfected in Him, and I will still walk in defeat until my experiential lies are displaced with experiential divinely provided truth.”
Monroe likewise exposed Smith’s unbiblical theology as it relates to healing.
The issues of sin and healing form the basis of Maier and Monroe’s concerns and are deeply imbedded in what Smith does. They are to be complimented for exposing some of Smith’s many theological failings. However, even with Maier and Monroe’s look at two serious problems with Smith’s theology, both should have known enough from their conclusions to proclaim a stringent warning to others in the church about the unbiblical theology underlying Theo-phostic counseling. Maier and Monroe criticize Smith’s theological failings and alert Christians who are caught in the snare of Smith’s biblically insupportable and potentially damaging theology. However, their theological conclusions should have led them to warn the church with more urgent language. Instead, what one hears is the usual academic language that would lead one to conclude that these critiques are of no great prophetic or protective use. The obvious conclusion that should be drawn from Maier and Monroe’s analysis is that Theophostic counseling is theologically insupportable and should not be practiced or utilized as a biblical approach. Based on Smith’s unbiblical teachings, the condemnation of Theophostic Ministry should be an open-and-shut case.
While we would be in disagreement with Maier and Monroe on the biblical and scientific reasons why Christians should reject psychotherapy, we nonetheless believe that their analysis of Smith’s theology is worth considering.
We compliment Maier and Monroe for their critical theological analysis of Ed Smith’s Theophostic Ministry, but believe that, as “watchmen on the wall,” some of the blood is still on their hands for not sounding the warning loudly enough for believers who either have fallen or will fall into Smith’s Theophostic morass.
PAL V10N5 (September-October 2002)