Psychologist Dr. James Dobson has written a best-selling book titled When God Doesn’t Make Sense. As with Dobson’s other books, this one represents a hodge-podge of good and bad theology. Dobson says he is not a theologian, but this denial can never be used to excuse any of his heresies. One example from this book reveals why Dobson cannot be trusted on matters of faith.
One of the major doctrines of Scripture is that of forgiveness. Dobson says:
There is only one cure for the cancer of bitterness. That is to forgive the perceived offender once and for all, with God’s help. As strange as it seems, I am suggesting that some of us need to forgive God for those heartaches that are charged to His account. You’ve carried resentment against Him for years. Now it’s time to let go of it. (Emphasis added.)
Anticipating a reaction to what he has just said, Dobson continues:
Please don’t misunderstand me at this point. God is in the business of forgiving us, and it almost sounds blasphemous to suggest that the relationship could be reversed.
Dobson concludes by saying:
He [God] has done no wrong and does not need our approbation. But the source of bitterness must be admitted before it can be cleansed. There is no better way to get rid of it than to absolve the Lord of whatever we have harbored, and then ask His forgiveness for our lack of faith. It’s called reconciliation, and it is the only way you will ever be entirely free.1 (Emphasis added.)
The dictionary defines blasphemy as “profane or contemptuous speech, writing, or action concerning God.” The above writing by Dobson shows at minimum disrespect, if not outright contempt for God. Referring to his idea of forgiving God, Dobson says, “. . . it almost sounds blasphemous.” Does it almost sound blasphemous or is it blasphemous?
Can you imagine saying the Lord’s Prayer, coming to the words, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” and including God among those who have sinned against us? What audacity! And what a misunderstanding of who God is and what He has done for sinners! We are the sinners for whom Christ died. He, who knew no sin, paid the penalty for our sins. Why would any human being forgive God unless God has sinned? Is it because twentieth-century Christians are so immersed in self that they have lost sight of God? Is it because the psychological reason for forgiving others is to make oneself feel better?
Did Job ever consider the possibility of forgiving God? He attributed the loss of all his children and all his property as from God.
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job:1:20-22).
After he was smitten with boils, he wanted to plead his case before God because he knew God was righteous. But, not once did he think he needed to forgive God. The very idea of forgiving God can only be foolishly entertained as a result of having charged God foolishly, and “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
Forgive God? Who are we to even think such a thought? We are the creatures; He is the creator. He is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, perfect in holiness. We are none of those things. His ways are perfect; ours are not. His ways are righteous; ours are not. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). We are sinners. What does Dobson mean by advising mere, mortal man, a speck in the cosmos, a brief actor in the course of human history, man who hardly represents a jot or tittle compared to his Maker, to forgive the One who created all that is and oversees all that happens?! This type of distorted theology is something for which Dobson should repent.
If we truly know the character of God, would we ever, ever think of such an outrageous idea? If we know God’s character and believe His Word, no such thought would ever cross our minds.
There’s more here. To justify man forgiving God, Dobson uses a logical fallacy of false analogy. A logic book says:
To recognize the fallacy of false analogy, look for an argument that draws a conclusion about one thing, event, or practice on the basis of its analogy or resemblance to others. The fallacy occurs when the analogy or resemblance is not sufficient to warrant the conclusion, as when, for example, the resemblance is not relevant to the possession of the inferred feature or there are relevant dissimilarities.2
Dobson gives an example of the late Corrie ten Boom forgiving a man who was a prison guard when she was interned in a prison camp. The story of Corrie ten Boom forgiving this former concentration camp guard is poignant and powerful, but it is not a valid parallel to man forgiving God. This was one person forgiving another person who sinned against her, which is what we are commanded to do. This was not Corrie ten Boom forgiving God. It is doubtful she would ever have considered it. To do so one must have a high view of self and a low view of God. This is an excellent example of Dobson’s psychology transmogrifying truth.
With all the biblically-trained staff members at Focus on the Family, is there not one who would risk his position to confront Dobson on such an idea as forgiving God? Does not Tyndale, a supposedly Christian publisher, care about sound biblical doctrine? Compounding all of this, we see that this book is endorsed by Dr. R. C. Sproul and Dr. J. I. Packer. Were they “out to lunch” when they read these words of Dobson? Do they subscribe to such an idea? Has Dobson blasphemed? You decide.
Because of our concern with Dobson’s role in promoting psychology and self-esteem, we wrote the book Prophets of PsychoHeresy II. It provides a critique of Dobson’s unbiblical use of psychology and a biblical analysis of his self-esteem teachings. The book is available from this ministry for $10. Please use the enclosed card.
1 James Dobson. When God Doesn’t Make Sense. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1993, p. 238.
2 Robert M. Johnson. A Logic Book, Second Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1992, p. 258.
(From PAL V3N2)