Southeast Christian Church (SCC) in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the largest churches in America. The architectural firm that designed SCC’s new 31-million-dollar, 9150-seat, 294,100-square-feet worship center describes the church as resembling a college basketball arena. SCC claims to have 22,000 members plus 5000 regular attendees with up to 17,000 weekend visitors at their three services. The activities center at SCC is 50,000 square feet with amenities at their gym, which includes “16 basketball courts and a Cybex health club,” which is free to church goers.
SCC’s mission statement and statement of faith present SCC as a conservative, Bible-believing, Christ-honoring church. A look at whether there is leaven in SCC will reveal the reality of their condition. The Apostle Paul said, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6). The leaven we are concerned about is the “wisdom of men” that Christians are warned about in Scripture (1 Cor. 2:5-6). Specifically we are concerned about the psychological wisdom of men, found in psychotherapy and its underlying psychologies, that has permeated almost every facet of the church.
SCC has two counseling centers: one at the church that is open to members or regular attendees of SCC; and one in a community location (Southeast Christian Community Counseling Center) “for those who are not members or regular attendees of SCC.” The church counseling center has an excellent location at the “southeast corner of SCC” and SCC supplies the location for the counseling center located in the community.
The staff at the church Counseling Center is described as follows:
Our staff counselors are all experienced therapists who have obtained masters degrees and professional credentials requiring extensive clinical training and ongoing supervision.
In examining the staff listed for SCC’s Community Counseling Center we see the staff follows the same standards as described above for the Counseling Center at the church.
When we asked about referral services, that is, to what professional counseling services in the community the church Counseling Center referred people, we were told that they had a four-page referral list in addition to their own Community Counseling Center. The requirements for being on the referral list were merely a reflection of the requirements for staff counselors at the church, as quoted above.
The various ministries at the church and support for missions reflect the great strengths of SCC; but there is more than just a little leaven through the two counseling ministries and referrals to community counselors. While no psychological testing is conducted at either the church or community counseling center, both refer individuals for psychological testing to a particular therapist and will give you his name and phone number.
SCC’s position on counseling is one of integrating the Bible and psychology. Thus, they are guilty of psychoheresy. The fact that counseling psychology is comprised of self-contradictory theories and therapies devised by unbelievers, is concealed behind a phony scientific façade, and is based on personal opinion presented as scientific theory should be enough to dissuade Christians from using it along with the Bible. However, 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.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:3,4).
Indeed, God has given believers all they need for life and godliness. Adding the guesses, opinions, contradictions, and pseudo-science of psychological counseling theories contaminates the truth of Scripture and undermines the work of the Holy Spirit. Not only are such additions and substitutions unnecessary; they are an affront to God Himself and will only strengthen the “old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22). Rather than turning to fables and fallacies, why not rely on the Word of God?
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
It is grievous to find a church that impacts so many lives abandon God’s way when it comes to the nitty-gritty of daily life and problems of living. Here is where Christian growth could be stimulated and nourished. But, alas! Only the flesh can be fed by psychological counseling theories and therapies. Do the leaders of SCC and the multitudes of churches throughout the world really believe that:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
If they truly believed these words, they would not add the psychological wisdom of men to the Word of God.
SCC includes the use of Robert McGee’s book The Search for Significance. As we have said elsewhere:
McGee intertwines three strands throughout The Search for Significance: (1) some very basic, good Bible teaching; (2) unbiblical psychological teachings, particularly from Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Albert Ellis; and (3) emotionally charged stories that fit the theories he is trying to promote. As with most Christians who try to combine psychology with the Bible, McGee does not seem to notice inherent contradictions between his biblical and antibiblical teachings (PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 2, No. 2; on www.pamweb.org).
SCC uses another book by McGee in their class on eating disorders. Classes also use books by John Trent, Gary Smalley, and Willard Harley—all psychologists who integrate psychology with Christianity.
SCC also provides “Pastoral Ministries Groups” of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” ARC (“Addicts Redeemed by Christ” [Sex “Addicts”]), “Co-dependency,” and “GA—Gamblers Anonymous.” We have written about these groups in our book 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency/ Recovery Heresies and in various articles, including “AA: Christian or Occult Roots” (PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 5, No. 5; posted on www.pamweb.org). In these writings we refute a number of myths about AA and the codependency-recovery movement, including the idea that addictions are diseases, that AA is based on Christianity, that Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (the founders of AA) were truly Christians, that AA is highly effective, and that one can Christianize the AA approach to addictions.
SCC offers a workshop titled “Discover Your Spiritual Gifts.” A “Spiritual Gifts assessment test” is taken by all who attend this workshop. The description says, “Participants not only discover their giftedness, but also learn how their temperament and passion can be used to serve God by ministering to others.”
We have written elsewhere about “Spiritual Gifts Inventories” (PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 8, No. 4; posted on web site www.pamweb.org). In that article we say:
Since those who create and promote such tests are copying the business world, they at least ought to follow the academic guidelines for validation. In none of these inventories have we seen anything resembling the minimum requirements needed for a statistically valid instrument. People are looking to an unproven, extrabiblical instrument to determine God’s will and God’s call to service.
We conclude the article by saying:
Spiritual gifts inventories may lead people not only to serve in the flesh, but also to depend upon their natural “strengths” rather than on the Lord in the process of serving Him. There is also the danger of focusing on self and self’s gifts rather than on the Lord who is the Giver of gifts. For both biblical and academic reasons, we strongly recommend against the use of all such spiritual gifts inventories.
The test used at SCC is locally constructed and locally administered, and as far as we can tell no psychometrist was involved to establish the validity (integrity) of the test. The test would no doubt fail the standards set in the Standards volume available from the American Psychological Association (see a discussion of this imperative in our book Missions & PsychoHeresy, pp. 61-67).
Compounding the fallaciousness of SCC’s test is how it is used to label individuals in the Bible with spiritual gifts, such as Jesus, Paul, Barnabas, Joshua, Caleb, Timothy, Solomon, and others. And even more grievous is the fact that the class members are taught to use the four temperaments.
SCC offers a class titled “Personality Plus,” which is based on Florence Littauer’s book Personality Plus and which uses her “Personality Profile Test.” Littauer’s system is based on the four temperaments, about which we warn Christians in our book Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing. In our book we discuss objections to using the four temperaments, such as their the occult origins and relationship to astrology. We present both scientific and biblical reasons for rejecting four temperaments tests and profiles and give reasons why people are so easily duped by them.
We discuss Littauer’s temperament system in our four temperaments book (pp. 66-75) and demonstrate how unbiblical the four temperaments are. Littauer herself admits their unbiblical source as she says: “The one overwhelming conclusion I’ve come to is that no matter what the traits are labeled, they all seem to spring from the same rootstock of Hippocrates’ theory of the humors” (Florence Littauer, Your Personality Tree, Word Publishing, 1986, p. 35). Yes, and that rootstock is astrology!
Growing Kids God’s Way
SCC promotes “Growing Kids God’s Way,” which is headed by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. An article in Christianity Today says, “Two California churches have issued statements saying that Gary Ezzo, president of Growing Families International (GFI), is unfit for Christian ministry. Both of the churches have interacted closely with Ezzo” (Nov. 13, 2000, p. 70). Jeff Gerke, an editor at Multnomah, was commissioned to investigate long-standing allegations by parents, physicians and church leaders. Gerke concluded, “I’m personally convinced Gary Ezzo and his infant care materials are dangerous” (Christianity Today, July 9, 2001).
The Christian Research Journal published an article on the Ezzo’s ministry. The subtitle of the article is “The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International” (April-June 1998, p. 11).
The above examples illustrate how the leaven is permeating the loaf at SCC. We have readers on our mailing list who attend SCC and have expressed their concern about the inroads of psychology there. As we have shown, there is more of the worldly wisdom of men at SCC than just psychology. It is a shame that SCC has so much to commend it, but is wed to the world in the ways just described. However, SCC is merely an example of the psychological leaven found everywhere in churches, Bible colleges, Christian schools, and seminaries.
(PAL V11N1 Jan-Feb 2003)