Denver Seminary’s full name is Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary. Like most seminaries, it began conservative and later departed from its roots. One clear evidence of this departure from conservatism is the infusion and adoption of the psychological wisdom of men and its acceptance throughout the seminary.
Denver Seminary’s own publication Focal Point clearly reveals this unbiblical departure. One issue (Vol. 17, No. 4) is devoted to what they call “Christian Counseling and Sanctification.” As we shall demonstrate, this title is a gross mislabeling of what goes on at Denver Seminary. However, what is described in Focal Point is neither Christian counseling nor biblical sanctification. Instead, one sees that what the seminary is teaching and promoting is an unholy mixture of Scripture plus the wisdom of men that adds to and compromises the true gospel of salvation and the true path of biblical sanctification.
In her introduction to Focal Point’s issue on “Christian Counseling and Sanctification,” the editor introduces the faculty from the counseling department and says, “It is our hope that you will find Christ within their words and burning within their hearts.” However, it is hard to believe that within the counseling department Christ is “burning within their words” or “within their hearts,” since God’s Word is found added to and contaminated with their psychological mindset at the seminary. While exegesis will be taught and promoted at Denver Seminary, eisegesis is extensively used to promote psychoheresy.
In a Focal Point article, Denver Seminary chancellor Dr. Vernon Grounds says in defense of the counseling program at the seminary, “Our touchstone of truth [will] always be Holy Scripture” (Vol. 17, No. 4, p. 4). While the Bible as the “touchstone of truth” is promoted at Denver Seminary, the gospel of psychology is falsely rationalized as added truth.
The first article in that issue of Focal Point is titled “Who Needs Counseling?” which presents six “key presuppositions . . . on counseling.” Because of its importance and for the sake of brevity, we will only discuss the first one, which states:
The Bible is sufficient in its inspiration and its scope of truth to teach us what we need for sanctification (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 peter 1:3-4). But the Bible doesn’t tell us all we know about people. Any humanly discovered truth about people that is not contradictory to Scripture is helpful as “common sense” or counseling wisdom for therapeutic value.
If the seminary truly believed the first sentence of that presupposition and that God has given believers “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), they would not be adding to or contradicting Scripture by promoting the psychological wisdom of men. The next two sentences of that presupposition offer a wide doorway for almost any psychological ideas and results in both adding to and contradicting Scripture.
The seminary apparently does not accept the word “all” in either 2 Timothy 3:16 or 2 Peter 1:3 and therefore believes that extra-biblical teaching, based upon what they call “humanly discovered truth” that is “not contradictory to Scripture” and what they call “common sense,” will lead to a greater “counseling wisdom for therapeutic value” resulting in spiritual transformation (sanctification). However, there is no academic evidence to prove that adding these psychological ideas to Scripture will lead to greater “counseling wisdom for therapeutic value” resulting in spiritual transformation (sanctification). One is left simply with their say-so. In fact, what they call “humanly discovered truth” is merely the wisdom of men based on a body of often-contradictory psychological counseling theories, guesses, and opinions.
Dr, Michael Scriven, when he was a member of the American Psychological Association Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility, questioned “the moral justification for dispensing psychotherapy, given the state of outcome studies which would lead the FDA to ban its sale if it were a drug.”
If psychotherapists were required to meet the standards used by the Federal Drug Administration to qualify drugs, they would surely be put out of business, and Denver Seminary, as well as all other similar institutions, would be out of the psychotherapy business.
The seminary’s use of the words “our touchstone of truth [will] always be Holy Scripture” and “not contradictory to Scripture” ends up creating a broad way that leads to adding to and corrupting Scripture. Scripture does not need to be shored up with human theories about who man is and how he is to change. Neither is Scripture intended to be a framework on which to hang the worldly wisdom of who man is and how he should live. Of course all must be evaluated in terms of Scripture, but that does not mean that a theory or opinion that is not in Scripture is therefore “not contradictory to Scripture” simply because it is not mentioned. Anyone who seeks to evaluate the wisdom of men in the light of Scripture must follow the Bible rather than the wisdom of men.
How about using another criteria, such as “Only if it is not contradictory to other psychological systems”? Of course that would eliminate all psychotherapy entirely. Or, “only if it is not addressing problems already addressed in Scripture”? Their “touchstone of truth” and “not contradictory to Scripture” criteria are open to individual interpretation and this is why so many Christian psychologists use so many different, often-contradictory systems. Some use psychoanalytic psychology, some analytic, some cognitive behavioral, some humanistic, some existential, but most use a mixture of all the above. In addition, does this criteria for psychology not open Pandora’s box? For examples, graphology, use of the Hindu chakras, hypnosis and levitation could all be rationalized by Scripture by some Christians (not us!). But should a Christian use them if they don’t appear to contradict Scripture?
It is interesting to note that the originators of the psychological systems, which are taught and used by Christians, were not believers. The originators of these often-competing systems did not begin with Scripture; neither did they ever compare what they concluded with Scripture. They devised their systems out of their own fallen opinions about man. (See Dr. Harvey Mindess’s book Makers of Psychology: The Personal Factor, pp. 15, 16, 46, 169.)
While Denver Seminary’s counseling program is supposed to be controlled by “our touchstone of truth [will] always be Holy Scripture” and “not contradictory to Scripture,” all Christian psychotherapists will claim they meet both of these conditions, regardless of how contradictory their approaches. Thus, since all Christian psychotherapists would consider themselves to fit Denver Seminary’s two controlling conditions, no matter which of the over 450 approaches they use and no matter how contradictory the approaches are with each other, the end result is a contradiction of logic which results in a corruption of Scripture. As we have demonstrated over the years, Scripture and “common sense” have been twisted to justify all sorts of unbiblical and illogical psychological ideas in hopes of gaining “therapeutic values.” (See our books PsychoHeresy and The End of “Christian Psychology.”)
We challenge Denver Seminary to name one Christian psychologist who says he practices contrary to those two controlling conditions. We also challenge Denver Seminary to name one Christian organization and clinic that claims to practice contrary to those two conditions. Failure to meet these two challenges reveals the subterfuge of Denver Seminary’s two conditions.
Dr. William Backus (cognitive-behavioral psychology), Dr. Richard Dobbins (eclectic and Freudian psychology), Dr. Lawrence Crabb (need psychology); Dr. M. Scott Peck (transpersonal psychology), Dr. H. Newton Maloney (Transactional Analysis); Dr. Joseph Palotta (hypnosis and use of the Freudian Oedipus Complex), Dr. Cecil Osborne (primal therapy), and Drs. Paul Meier and Frank Minirth (eclectic with a strong Freudian oriented psychology) are all professing Christians, and not one of them has ever claimed that he would fail to meet the Denver Seminary two conditions, in spite of the fact that there are huge contradictions among these various approaches.
The diverse differences of opinion in psychotherapy led Dr. Joseph Wolpe to confess that “an outside observer would be surprised to learn that this is what the evolution of psychotherapy has come to—a Babel of conflicting voices.” The differences, which result from the range of therapies and therapists could easily lead one to label all psychotherapies as “Babble from Babel.”
From the unconscious determinants of Freud to the congruence, accurate empathy and positive regard of Rogers, and from the archetypes of Jung to the I’m-OK-You’re-OK of Harris, the field of psychotherapy is saturated with confusion and subjectivity. The whole array is simply subjectivity garbed in the pseudosophistication of a scientific-sounding vocabulary and garmented by academic degrees and licenses. But it nonetheless stands naked before the eyes of true science and research.
As we have said elsewhere: “Our primary objection to the use of psychotherapy and Christian psychology is not based merely on its confused state of self-contradiction or its phony scientific facade. Our primary objection is not even based on the attempts to explain human behavior through personal opinion presented as scientific theory. Our greatest objection to psychotherapy and Christian psychology is that, without proof or justification, it has compromised the Word of God, the power of the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit among Christians.
“How long shall Christians halt between psychological opinions and biblical truth? Christians have a living God, the source of all life and healing. They have His living Word. His Word contains the balm of Gilead for the troubled soul. His Word ministers grace and restoration to the mind, the will, and the emotions. We pray that the Lord will fully restore the cure of souls ministry to the church. We pray that He will use pastors, elders, and other members of the Body of Christ who will confidently stand on the completeness of God’s Word and minister under the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit. We pray that all Christians will rely on God’s principles outlined in His Word, serve as a priesthood of all believers, and minister God’s love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, wisdom, and truth to those who are suffering from problems of living. We pray that many will voluntarily give their time to love, pray, and serve to lift the heavy burdens” (CRI Guilty of Psychoheresy? p. 142).
The issue of Focal Point devoted to “Christian Counseling and Sanctification” reveals how thoroughly psychoheresy is supported at Denver Seminary. All of the following individuals are listed on the Denver Seminary Doctor of Ministry faculty: Dan Allender, James R. Beck, Larry Crabb, Gary Oliver, Les Parott III, Dan Trathen, Joan Winfrey, Everett Worthington, and H. Norman Wright. All are integrationists and believe in using the psychological wisdom of men, which the Apostle Paul would no doubt call “science falsely so-called” (1 Timothy 6:20). Nobelist Sir Peter Medowar and one of the most recognized philosophers of science, Sir Karl Popper, as well as many other scientists would agree that this type of psychology is “science falsely so-called.” Popper contends that psychological theories formulated by Freud, Adler, and others “though posing as sciences, had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science; that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy” (Karl Popper in Perspectives in Philosophy, Robert N. Beck, ed., p. 342).
A visit to the Denver Seminary web site will demonstrate how saturated the institution is with the psychological wisdom of men. One of their highly recommended books is Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, which is an integrationist approach of the Bible plus psychology and which has contributed to the ruination of many marriages. (See PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 9, No. 6.)
Clinical psychology and psychotherapy became more and more popular in secular colleges and universities during the last half of the twentieth century. Then, like the proverbial camel’s nose, this kind of psychology nosed its way into Christian colleges and universities. After several decades in these Christian institutions it became a popular major to such an extent that shutting it down now would be an enormous financial blow to the institutions. There is hardly a higher-learning Christian institution that could afford to cancel that major. Thus, like it or not, these Christian institutions are held captive and unable to afford the ransom necessary for their deliverance from the “science falsely so-called” of psychology.
As we have said elsewhere, professional psychotherapy with its underlying psychologies is questionable at best, detrimental at worst, and a spiritual counterfeit at least.
Our books PsychoHeresy and The End of “Christian Psychology” thoroughly debunk the kind of program that exists at Denver Seminary as well as at other such seminaries across America that have bought into the psychological wisdom of men and scripturalized justifications for doing so. The blame must rest on the entire institution from the chancellor through the faculty; and each professor who has not spoken out publicly regarding this heresy in their midst is as guilty as those in the counseling department of psychoheresy.
Included in this issue of PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter is an except of a letter sent to the president of Denver Seminary by an alumnus of some years back. One of the areas of complaint was about the encroachment and rapid growth of psychology at Denver Seminary. If this graduate were to evaluate the situation today, we think he would be even more distressed.
Ichabod, “the glory has departed” (1 Samuel 4:21-22), is an appropriate epithet and opprobrium for all seminaries, Christian colleges, and Christian universities in America where this same condition exists.
PAL V10N1 (January-February 2002)