By Debbie Dewart

Many people say that places like Disneyland bring out the “child” in all of us. If that were all the expression “inner child” ever meant, I would not be writing this article. But to John Bradshaw, the so-called innocent “inner child” is the foundation of a psycho-logical recovery system that demolishes basic biblical truths while attracting many Christians.

Bradshaw’s prolific writing career has spawned several best-selling books and lengthy video productions. His most recent book, Family Secrets, is currently being promoted through a series on cable TV. Some Christians have never heard the name John Bradshaw, while others are either enraged or enthralled by his teachings. But almost everyone has heard the ideas contained in his message—dangerous, unbiblical ideas that appear clothed with Scriptures in the ever popular Love is a Choice, authored by Christian psychologists Frank Minirth and Paul Meier.

Original Sin and the Inner Child. The biblical teaching on original sin is flatly denied by Bradshaw, who calls it “mythical.” He sees young children, and many adults, as “premoral” and “shame-based,” lacking moral capacity. The Bible affirms that sin has corrupted the entire human race (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12-21, Psalm 51:5). Bradshaw redefines man’s fundamental problem as separation from self rather than separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). His counsel involves the “reclaiming” of your “wounded inner child” rather than reconciliation with your Creator.

Self as “god.” God alone is the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), but Bradshaw wants you to discover your “I AMness,” also defined as your “true self,” “core godlikeness,” and “true meaning of perfection.” Meanwhile, in his book Creating Love, he is unwilling to acknowledge the sinlessness of our Lord, Jesus Christ! He calls such a doctrine “inhuman mystification.” The Bible abhors such confusion between God the Creator and man the creature. The Christian has God’s promise of a new self in Christ, recreated to be conformed to His image in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 8:28-30, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Trust in self. God promises the believer that He will “never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:16, Hebrews 13:5). Trust in self is declared to be foolishness (Proverbs 28:26, Jeremiah 17:5-8). Bradshaw, however, recommends that trust be placed solely in self. He says to tell your “inner child” that “you are the only person he will never lose, and that you will never leave him.”

Meditation on nothingness. Meditation on God’s Word is a wonderful and important activity for Christians (Psalm 1:1). Bradshaw reveals his New Age pantheism, characteristic of Hinduism rather than Christianity, in the lengthy sections of his books where he advises his readers to “meditate on nothingness” or on “just being.”

“Being” or “Doing”? Bradshaw admits that his teaching in Homecoming is a “secularized” version of the Christian concept of justification by faith. He laments that so many of our “wounded inner kids” were taught that we could matter only by “doing,” never by merely “being.” Salvation is indeed the free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), but Bradshaw suppresses all of the biblical teachings about the work of Christ that merits that gift on our behalf. He also fails to see that God intends good works to be the fruit of genuine saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Eternal Laws. In his ongoing rebellion against God, Bradshaw denies the existence of eternal laws, saying that “such a worldview has been refuted many times over.” He teaches (inconsistently!) that we should not have “shoulds,” recommending instead that you formulate “your own Ten Commandments.” This violates innumerable passages of Scripture and is fundamentally irrational as well. (His teaching is itself a “should”!)

All too often, these anti-biblical teachings appeal even to Christians who are struggling with the problems of life. It’s easy to believe that you’re a victim of others, and it’s not so easy to acknowledge that you’re a sinner. But Bradshaw places all of the burden on self, while Jesus promises rest to the weary and heavy laden. Self, in all its sin and frailty, is the cornerstone of Bradshaw’s system, a way that “seems right but leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of the true, biblical way to life, both here and in eternity.

(From PAL V4N3)