We recently heard the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, speak at a church in California. Daly gave an overly long and laborious talk on how he came out of a dysfunctional family as an obvious justification for the work of Focus on the Family. He spoke of the world-wide outreach of Focus on the Family and particularly mentioned the huge audience in China. According to Daly, Dobson is heard on the Chinese government radio, which reaches 200 million Chinese. According to Deanna Go of Focus on the Family Chinese Outreach, Dobson’s 90-second commentary is translated into Chinese and then broadcast in China. She also told us that there is a five-minute Focus on the Family broadcast in Chinese in Beijing, followed by the same five-minute broadcast in English that reaches 33 million people.
What the 233 million potential Chinese audience hears on Focus on the Family Chinese Outreach is totally without any mention of the only Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). There is no mention of sin, repentance, or salvation on the broadcasts. There is no mention of the eternal hope only found in Jesus. The messages are totally devoid of the Gospel. According to Deanna Go, the broadcasts must be absent the Gospel in order to broadcast in China. Compounding this egregious absence of the Gospel is the fact that Dobson is a psychologist who, through these broadcasts, is making disciples for counseling psychology or psychotherapy, rather than for the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is why Focus on the Family is praised in China, while true Christians throughout China are being policed and persecuted. Perhaps the powers that be in China, an atheistic nation, understand how much psychology can erode the true faith when preached by famous Christians.
Psychology harms the very families that Focus claims to support. The Washington Post ran an article under the following headline: “Barriers to divorce fade in China / Breakups skyrocket alongside an embrace of individualism” (bold added). The Post article reveals: “Divorce, once nearly unheard of in China, has become more common than ever.”1 The promotion of psychology always leads to an “embrace of individualism.” The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, said: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves” (2 Timothy 3:1, 2). Focus’s world-wide promotion of psychology leads to the kind of individualism that leads to people being lovers of themselves and thereby leads to divorce.
The Focus on the Family web site refers to “Focus programming airing in 156 countries and 27 languages.” In how many of these countries is Dobson’s message DOA (dead on arrival) as it is in China, because it lacks any of the Gospel. Dobson’s message is a psychological means of improving the family without Christ. Is there a Christianity without Christ? Is there a Gospel without the saving knowledge of Christ? What Dobson is preaching is a psychological gospel, which is no Gospel at all. Did the Apostle Paul preach such a gospel? Absolutely not! Would the apostle preach such a gospel today? No! Paul reports on all the persecution he suffered because he would not compromise the Gospel (2 Cor. 6:5). The psychological gospel that Dobson is preaching is a false gospel, which we call psychoheresy. In fact, Dobson is probably the biggest promoter of psychoheresy in the church today. Even on his American broadcasts, Dobson has a trumped-down gospel, where psychology trumps whatever else he preaches.
Focus Promotes Psychological Counseling Theories and Therapies
We recently called Focus on the Family about another matter of concern regarding the extent to which Dobson’s organization promotes psychological counseling. We wanted to confirm what we had been told in the past about referrals to psychologically trained mental-health workers. We were again told that when people call in for counseling, the telephone counselors are all licensed mental health professionals “with at least a master’s degree.” Their web site says, “Focus has a staff of more than twenty licensed Christian counselors available to talk with you” (bold added). We were also told that when people call Focus on the Family for a local counselor in their area, they are only referred to licensed mental-health professionals. No pastors are on their referral list unless they are also licensed mental-health professionals.
Focus on the Family strongly endorses the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), which is committed to the integration of psychology and the Bible. They are also guilty of promoting psychoheresy on a world-wide level. H. B. London, Jr,, Vice President, Ministry Outreach/Pastoral Ministries at Focus on the Family, states the organization’s position very well when he says:
In our ministry at Focus on the Family, we are finding that a high percentage of pastors we meet feel ill-prepared to deal with the complex pastoral counseling issues that come their way. AACC is on the cutting-edge as they seek to equip the “called out” minister for the 21st Century reality.
Notice how London’s endorsement of the AACC refers to the large number of pastors who “feel ill-prepared to deal with the complex pastoral counseling issues.” One of the major reasons why pastors “feel ill-prepared” is because of Focus on the Family and other individuals and organizations that puff and promote psychology. Throughout its entire world-wide work, Focus on the Family is a major promoter of psychology and is, therefore, a major intimidator of pastors, making them “feel ill-prepared.”
Pastors and others do not need the AACC or Focus on the Family. They have the very Word of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of the saints “to deal with the complex pastoral counseling issues” without any psychological assistance. All that is needed is for those who minister to trust the Word of God rather than the worldly wisdom of men. The amazing thing about the church that sponsored the Daly/Focus talk is that they do not even refer out to local psychotherapists. The pastor preaches verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book by book from the Bible. The personal ministries are guided by an associate pastor who seems harmonious with our teachings about psychoheresy and uses our books in educating church newcomers.
Dobson Promotes Freud
Dobson promotes Freud’s theories of the mind and of early-life determinants of behavior. Freud’s theories are gross distortions of biblical anthropology and should be rejected by all Christians. One of the grossest distortions of God-given truth is Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex. No true child of God can long endure such an heretical formulation. Yet, we conclude from the following evidence that Dobson does.
In past years Dobson sponsored conferences on homosexuality. One of the principal speakers at the conferences was Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a Freudian psychotherapist who authored Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality. In Nicolosi’s book and conference tapes he reveals the Freudian roots of his theory of homosexuality. Nicolosi says:
Typically there is an overly close relationship between mother and son, with the father distant from both of them…. Perhaps one significant factor is the availability of mother when the boy of 2 or 3 is experiencing problems with the father. A receptive and over-sympathetic mother might provide such a haven of emotional security that the boy would find it easy to disengage totally from such a father.2
In an interview about male homosexuality with Dobson, Nicolosi refers to “poor involvement with the father and an overinvolved mother.” The roots of Freudian Oedipal theory are reflected throughout Nicolosi’s book and conference tapes. However, this would not be surprising to Dobson since he had interviewed Nicolosi on the radio prior to inviting him to be a conference speaker. The tape of that interview is still available from Focus on the Family.
Just as the Oedipus complex is the cornerstone of Freudian psychoanalysis, so too the Oedipus complex is the cornerstone of Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality. And, just as lifetime treatment is characteristic of Freudian psychoanalysis, so too is this true of reparative therapy. Nicolosi says:
In his final work, “Analysis: Terminable and Interminable,” Freud concluded that analysis is essentially a lifetime process. This is true in the treatment of homosexuality.3
Focus continues to support the work of Nicolosi by offering his books and CDs on homosexuality. Because Nicolosi begins with a Freudian foundation to his reparative therapy, his proposed solution depends on it. The Dobson-Nicolosi interview reveals that Dobson is very much aware of Nicolosi’s Freudian approach. As a psychologist, Dobson would know that the roots of Nicolosi’s Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality are Freudian.
Dobson’s followers should ask him why he would promote a therapeutic approach that originated from a Freudian theory that must have come from the pit of hell. Knowing that the very Freudian ideas Nicolosi revealed in the interview would be promoted, Dobson nevertheless invited Nicolosi to be a principal speaker at conferences on homosexuality.
Less than 50 years ago, proving that a leading evangelical loved Freud’s Oedipal theory would be reason enough to question his entire ministry. However, the church has become too “sophisticated,” too lukewarm, too worldly for that to occur. Today such a revelation usually draws only a yawn or perhaps irritation over anyone daring to criticize.
When people reject the biblical concept of universal sin, they are open to all sorts of aberrations, one of which is Freud’s doctrine of universal childhood fantasies of incest and homicide (Oedipus complex). Those who denied the very thought of mankind’s fallen nature, as described in Scripture, were ready to believe in a powerful unconscious, motivated by infantile sexuality. Many trusted Freudian teachings that the Oedipus complex, castration anxiety (for men), and penis envy (for women) psychically determine the entire life of every individual.
Psychological counseling theories and therapies are not what they are pumped up to be. We give ample evidence in our books regarding how well mental-health professionals do in comparison to amateurs. The outcome studies do not support the promoters of the 500-plus different psychotherapies with their over 10,000 often-conflicting techniques over the untrained. Regarding the efficacy of psychotherapy (whether it works, how well, and why), we suggest our book The End of “Christian Psychology,” which can be downloaded as a free ebook from our web site or purchased as a printed book from this ministry. Regarding Dobson’s promotion of psychology, we suggest our book James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, which can also either be downloaded as a free ebook from our web site or purchased as a printed book. (Please see our Study Materials sheet.)
Dobson Guilty of Psychoheresy
Harold O.J. Brown says in Heresies:
Early in the history of the first Christians … “heresy” came to be used to mean a separation or split resulting from a false faith (1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20). It designated either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church (bold added).4
Focus on the Family has a false faith, i.e., one that adds psychology to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The unity of the church is built upon the Word of God and the sufficiency of that Word absent the wisdom of men when it comes to the kinds of problems of living normally referred to psychotherapists. Focus on the Family’s psychology-and-the-Bible position is actually a psychology-not-the-Bible position, because the Bible stands alone when it comes to issues of living, those very issues that psychology attempts to address. The Apostle Paul made it clear that there were heresies among the believers in Corinth when he wrote, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved be made manifest among you” (1 Co. 11:19). We should therefore expect heresies to be in the church today.
Dobson is a psychologist and makes much of this fact to the extent that psychology and self-esteem are his “focus on the family.” Focus on the Family is heretical on psychology, heretical on self-esteem, and heretical on the family. Heretical on the family? How can that be? Focus on the Family is heretical on the family for the very reason that AACC is heretical on problems of living, i.e., by using the wisdom of men that God has repeatedly warned His people about instead of the power of God—”That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5). Knowingly or not, Focus on the Family promotes a rival religion, a man-made religion. No wonder the Chinese government likes Focus on the Family while it continues to persecute true Christians. Christians need to separate themselves from the rival religion of psychology and reject this unholy alliance.
Focus on the Family has mixed psychology and Christianity together so thoroughly that it is no wonder the saints are confused. Jacob Needleman says:
Troubled men and women throughout America no longer know whether they need psychological or spiritual help. The line is blurred that divides the therapist from the spiritual guide.5
More than any other ministry we know, Focus on the Family has blurred what biblically speaking should be distinct. The world-wide popularity of Dobson is a testimony to the doctrinal deterioration of the visible church in the last days.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee warned about this unholy mixture and declared, “I see that this matter of psychologizing Christianity will absolutely destroy Bible teaching and Bible churches.”6 This psychological erosion is taking a toll on individuals, families, and churches. If believers would spend more time focusing on God than on themselves and on their families, they would be so filled with love for God and others that many (including families) would benefit far more than by imbibing the pitiful psychological offerings of the world.
1 Maureen Fan, “Barriers to divorce fade in China, The Washington Post, April 7, 2007.
2 Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 1997, pp. 28,29.
3 Ibid., p. 22.
4 Harold O. J. Brown. Heresies. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1984, p. 2.
5 Jacob Needlemen, “Psychiatry and the Sacred.” Consciousness: Brain, States of Awareness, and Mysticism. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, eds. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979, pp. 209, 210.
6 J. Vernon McGee, letter on file, Sept. 18, 1986.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, September-October 2007, Vol. 15, No. 5)