The name Theophostic is still there. But instead of TheoPhostic Counseling, as it was originally called, and Theophostic Ministry, to which it evolved, the new name is Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM). Dr. Ed Smith, the originator of TPM, describes his system as “prayer not counseling.” Any ministry that charges a fee for prayer is unbiblical. Therefore, we would hope that TPM practitioners would never have charged a fee for prayer in the past and that Smith would have to be opposed to anyone charging a fee then or now, including himself, when using his TPM system. If, indeed, he has charged people for prayer and/or referred clients to anyone who charges a fee for prayer, he would be egregiously unbiblical.

In spite of the name changes, Smith’s theophostic system still contains all of the errors that we enumerate in our book TheoPhostic Counseling: Divine Revelation or Psychoheresy? This man-made combination of psychotherapies (known and practiced by its founder, Dr. Ed Smith) and mutilated Bible verses (to fit his theophostic contrivances) is a prime example of psychoheresy.

When reading Smith’s writings, one often notices his unique interpretation of Scripture to support his theophostic brainchild. Smith’s “prayer ministry” is problem-centered, with the primary emphasis on early-life problems, and thus dependent on a faulty remembering that he irresponsibly ignores.

Smith claims that putting our past behind us “has a very low success rate.” His claim is not based on scientific research, but solely on his say-so. Smith gives the distinct ­impression that if he thinks something is true, it must be true. But, he never provides research evidence for such statements. ­Scientific research is clear on this issue of whether it is ­necessary to even refer to the past in counseling. Scientific research reveals that there is no advantage in counseling that depends upon the past over counseling that avoids it (see Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change). For example, one of the current and often-used approaches is cognitive ­behavior therapy (CBT). This approach is distinct from insight therapies such as TPM in that it deals only with the “here and now.” CBT’s success rate, as reported in the research literature, contradicts Smith’s “has a very low success rate.”

In his desire to plunge into the past, Smith claims that in Philippians 3:13, the Apostle Paul is “NOT referring to his painful past but rather the great accomplishments of his life.”

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are ­behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13, 14).

Smith says, “The Apostle Paul is not referring to the bad things or his wounding experiences that have happened to him over the course of his life here.” In saying that Paul was only talking about forgetting his accomplishments, he is ignoring the fact that Paul also had to forget his sinful past. Consider 1 Corinthians 15:9: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Paul is referring to his entire past because it was dealt with at the cross. Paul was a new creature in Christ; he was no longer in bondage to any part of his past.

But the main thrust of Smith’s argument is that for Christians to benefit from what Christ accomplished on the cross, they must deal with their woundedness by remembering the past. And since Smith says that all people carry wounds from their childhood, everyone must go through a prescribed process of remembering and dealing with these wounds. Thus, he contends that Paul could not have been including past hurts in his “forgetting those things which are behind.” In fact, he would no doubt believe that Paul had to deal with his early childhood woundedness, for he claims that everyone has past wounds that need healing. In describing the need for dealing with wounds of the past, Smith makes it an ­essential part of sanctification and spiritual growth.

The Lord used Paul to explain the essentials of the faith and of sanctification, growing into the likeness of Christ. He gave details of what to put off (the old man) and what to put on (the new man created in Christ Jesus). However, Paul never did instruct believers to remember wounds from childhood in order to abound in the fruit of the Spirit. If having to resurrect the past through faulty memory had been even remotely important, let alone essential, the Lord would have led Paul or one of the other New Testament writers to make that very clear.

What is clear is the fact that believers have been given all they need for life and godliness through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, through the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit living in them, and through their new life in Christ with God as their Father. The Lord has given a way to deal with the past, but not through a process of remembering hurtful things and getting at some “original lie” invented by Smith. Our life in Christ must be focused on Him, not on ourselves or on what might have been painful in the past. Any painful past is to be put off with the old man. It belongs in the same place as the old man that is to be put off, that is, buried. It is not to be resuscitated. Its wounds are not to be reopened. Because of the limitations of memory, the process of remembering is more likely to create new lies than reveal old truth. Rather than focusing on themselves and remembering the hurts of the past, believers are to be looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.

We went through what dozens of Bible commentators had to say about Philippians 3:13 and other verses pertaining to it. None mentioned woundedness as being not included in what was to be forgotten and none gave support to Smith’s unique interpretation. It is clear from reading these well-known Bible scholars that Philippians 3:13, in the context of the entire New Testament, refers to both one’s own sins and those sins perpetrated against one, in addition to one’s accomplishments. Correct exegesis makes it clear that Smith’s contrived excising of “woundedness” from what is to be forgotten is merely an attempt to change the meaning of the text to support his perverse view. The truth of Philippians 3:13, interpreted correctly, should topple the entire theophostic house of cards.

PAL V12N4 (July-August 2004)