Recently someone on our mailing list ordered a copy of TheoPhostic Counseling ~ Divine Revelation or PsychoHeresy? to be sent to a friend who was involved in TheoPhostic Counseling. The TheoPhostic-involved friend wrote a letter to the person responsible for sending the book.

The woman began her letter by quoting Acts. In Acts 5 Gamaliel, a Pharisee and doctor of the law, interceded on behalf of the apostles and gave the following advice:

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God (vs. 38,39).

This supporter of TheoPhostic Counseling has misapplied Gamaliel’s words to promoters and practitioners of a highly questionable psychological inner healing system, which distorts and misuses Scripture. But, are we to apply these verses to every person and activity that involves Christians? Are we to apply them to cults and false teaching in the church? No, not if we want to follow the whole counsel of God! One should be careful about using verses out of context. One old example of poor exegesis based on two verses is about the disasterous results of combining Matthew 27:5, which refers to when Judas “went and hanged himself,” with Luke 10:37, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

Ed Smith, the originator of TheoPhostic Counseling, claims to have received TheoPhostic Counseling directly from God. When a person claims to have received teachings, principles or methods directly from God, Christians have a duty to be like the Bereans, who were commended because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Believers are to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21). Moreover, believers are to confront error and expose it (Galatians 2:11-14). It is actually biblically irresponsible not to examine the teachings of those who claim to have a direct revelation from God.

The TheoPhostic supporter said in her letter, “Today I received an evil book that calls the type of [TheoPhostic] prayer for people a PsychoHeresy. I didn’t crack the cover.” Although we have received a number of letters regarding our book critiquing TheoPhostic Counseling, no one thus far has documented any errors. The fact that Ed Smith maintains that he received his approach from God Himself should have been enough of a warning to people. However, this woman who adamantly supports TheoPhostics and who will not even open our book has had a TheoPhostic experience, which in her case is powerful enough for her to avoid reading our book or any other critique. She is not willing to do what Scripture requires.

The following is a brief description of TheoPhostic theory and practice: Present problems are due to past (usually early-life) events, early interpretations of those events (“lies”), and their accompanying emotions. The “lies,” which drive present thinking, feeling, and behaving, are embedded in early-life memories, located in the “dark room,” which must be accessed through “drifting” into the past in search of early “memory pictures” that feel the same as the negative feeling accompanying the present problematic situation. During this search, the client is encouraged to find Jesus and describe what Jesus is doing and saying. Once the memory holding the “original lie” has been located, the therapist must identify the “lie” (e.g., “I’m bad,” “It’s my fault,” “I’m worthless”). Then comes “stirring the darkness,” which involves having the client repeat the “lie” over and over again to intensify his emotions and prepare him to hear God speak “truth” directly to him, thereby replacing the darkness with “light.”

Is TheoPhostic a divine, latter-day revelation from God as Smith claims, or is it a Smith-devised variation of one or more of the many psychotherapies he learned and used, to which he added inner healing concepts and techniques? Christians need to know the answer to this question about this burgeoning movement. The TheoPhostic supporter said, “There are over 33 thousand people who have been trained in the Basic Training program.” According to her, there is “also a large number” who have been trained in other TheoPhostic programs.

We are living in an intensely experientially-oriented era of the church where the Bible is twisted to fit emotional experiences of all kinds, such as provided by TheoPhostic methods. Our ministry is organized to oppose the psychologizing of the faith and TheoPhostic Counseling is one of the numerous psychological approaches that have psychologized the faith by using psychological techniques, methodologies, and theories all combined with Scriptures, most of which are eisegeted and quoted out of context. TheoPhostic Counseling may look and sound biblical, but it is just another psychoheresy. And, it is proliferating rapidly throughout churches, some of which have formerly attempted to be biblical in holding to the fundamentals of the faith. This rapid advancement reveals the growing deception about which Jesus warned.

Throughout the twentieth century psychological ideas of Freud and others have greatly influenced the way the world thinks. Moreover their ideas have seeped into the church both directly and indirectly through sermons, books, radio, seminars, Bible colleges and seminaries. We have seen the intrusion accelerate over the past three decades to the degree that psychological thinking often takes precedence over biblical thinking, meeting one’s emotional needs seems more pressing than seeking the kingdom of God, increasing one’s self-esteem is more avidly sought than humbling oneself under the mighty hand of God, and counseling is more often recommended than taking up one’s cross. Along with the psychological intrusion has come an emphasis on feelings and an acceptance of extrabiblical religious experiences and practices. For many, the meaning of divine revelation has changed from a closed Canon of Scripture to whatever comes to mind under certain circumstances and engendered expectations.

With these changes in place, TheoPhostic Counseling appeals to many Christians who are looking for a way to help themselves and others who are hurting.

PAL V10N1 (January-February 2002)