Part Two of a Three-Part Series
Mart De Haan’s article “Been Thinking About . . . Counseling” from the June 2000 News and Comments from RBC Ministries is an excellent example of how far astray people will go to justify using unbiblical guesses and opinions about the human condition to help Christians deal with problems of living. In Part One of our critique we demonstrated: how De Haan elevates the not-the-Bible-only group of people helpers and misunderstands the Bible-only group; how he confuses the physical and the nonphysical; how he twists Scripture to justify using extra-biblical material; and how he promotes pseudo-scientific myths.
De Haan does not understand the Bible-only group’s position on extra-biblical material. The Bible-only group considers the Bible to be the only reliable source for understanding the nature of the human condition concerning his identity, motivation, purpose, thoughts, emotions, and all that constitutes the self. God, the creator of man, has graciously provided this information in the written record of His revelation, the Bible.
The Bible-only group’s concern about extra-biblical material has to do with this immaterial aspect of man, the very nature of man. Bible-only people are not concerned about using illustrations or discoveries from the natural (material) world or objective observations of human behavior. They are concerned about Christians using extra-biblical material comprised of opinions, guesses and theories about understanding and treating the human self. They are concerned about the use of extra-biblical material from counseling psychology and its underlying psychologies. The originators of these systems developed their notions about the human condition from an atheistic, agnostic or outright anti-Christian position. Their theories and therapies constitute the extra-biblical material that the Bible-only people reject.
De Haan gives five examples from Scripture that he believes prove the not-the-Bible-only, extra-biblical position. To do that he argues that one can consider some of what is in the Bible itself as extra-biblical. In examining De Haan’s five examples we will see that none of them fall into this category of being the wisdom of the world referred to in 1 Corinthians 2, which the Bible-only group would want to avoid. Nevertheless we will look at each one, since he is using these to justify using extra-biblical material from counseling psychology and its underlying psychologies. These examples also reveal his gross confusion between what is biblical and what is extra-biblical.
De Haan’s First Two Examples
He gives his first two examples in the following statement:
Our Lord Himself answered the angry and disillusioned Job by pointing him to a wealth of zoological, meteorological, and astronomical wonders (Job 38-41). In addition, there is David, “the man after God’s own heart,” who said that God, while speaking through His Law, also speaks constantly through nature (Psalm 19).
De Haan fails to distinguish between the natural world, which man sees, touches, and measures, and the mental world, which is unseen and about which one can only guess, as do those in the not-the-Bible-only, extra-biblical camp. De Haan apparently does not understand the simple difference between the tangible and intangible, the visible and invisible, or the material and immaterial. God’s visible creation certainly reveals His handiwork. But, God’s Word reveals the inner workings of man.
DeHaan’s Third Example
In his third example De Haan demonstrates a low view of Scripture. He says, “There is Nathan, who used a provocative extra-biblical anecdote to bring David to his senses and to tell him that he failed to live up to standards of human decency (2 Samuel 12).” Apparently De Haan’s view of Scripture would have him believe that, even though God sent Nathan to speak to David, Nathan was speaking an “extra-biblical anecdote” and not speaking from God Himself, unless De Haan believes that God’s Word recorded in Scripture is also extra-biblical even though it is in the Bible. The logic De Haan is using results in any “extra-biblical anecdote” (theory or idea) of the not-the-Bible-only people helpers being equated with the same supposed human source as Nathan himself. There are numerous examples in Scripture of illustrations, parables, and teachings, which De Haan, in order to support his not-the-Bible-only, extra-biblical position, would then have to label “extra-biblical,” including Jesus’ own words as He spoke in parables.
De Haan’s Fourth Example
De Haan’s fourth example is this: “There is Paul, who found agreement with a pagan poet in order to bridge the gap from ‘general revelation’ to the gospel (Acts 17).” The Apostle Paul says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said” (Acts 17:28). It is obvious that Paul was not showing how the Scripture agrees with a pagan poet, but rather the other way around. And, Paul was certainly not opening the door to what else this pagan poet or other pagan poets have said.
Furthermore, the difference between what the pagan poet meant by what he said and the meaning in Scripture would be as different as night is from day. For example, one of the best known secular people helpers of the twentieth century was Carl Rogers, who spoke of his crowning discovery of “love between persons.” Well, anyone who would not know the night-and-day difference between what Rogers meant and what the Scriptures teach knows little of Rogers, little about the Scriptures, or little of either. It is more likely that Paul used this pagan poet’s expression as a bridge to reach his hearers. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” This example provides no justification for the not-the-Bible-only group’s use of extra-biblical material.
De Haan’s Fifth Example
The following is De Haan’s fifth illustration: “There is our Lord Jesus Himself, who repeatedly used the common illustrations of life to clarify issues of the heart.” Jesus’ words in Scripture are considered biblical, but here Jesus’ illustrations are labeled “extra-biblical” according to De Haan’s distinction of what is and what is not biblical. Moreover, what does the truth Jesus communicates through “common illustrations of life” have to do with any extra-biblical illustrations (psychological ideas and theories) of the professionals that De Haan defends? Is De Haan saying that the not-the-Bible-only professional’s selection of extra-biblical material is equivalent to Jesus’ illustrations? Jesus’ illustrations were perfect in every respect.
A Wide Gate and Broad Way
De Haan appears to be saying that the perfect “common illustrations of life” spoken by Jesus open the door for extra-biblical, professional people helpers to use whatever “common illustrations of life” they wish, because, after all, Jesus did. Carl Rogers, one of the greatest people helpers, according to the world’s standards, used many illustrations in his teachings. So did the occult psychiatrist Carl Jung, as well as many others among the people helpers who developed the teachings used by professing Christian people helpers. De Haan has certainly opened a can of worms with this example. De Haan has put himself in the position of being asked whether he has an orthodox view of Scripture and of the Lord Himself. Can the very words in the Bible be considered “extra-biblical”?
These five examples form the foundation of De Haan’s not-the-Bible-only, extra-biblical view of Scripture and reveal his unorthodox view of the Bible and his aberrant view of the teachings of Jesus and others in the Bible as being extra-biblical.
No Examples from His Professional People Helpers
Even though De Haan gives examples of what he proposes to be extra-biblical from the Bible, he fails to give one example of an idea, theory, illustration, or technique from the not-the-Bible-only group of people helpers. He provides nothing to test against Scripture. De Haan has not provided one extra-biblical example from present-day professional people helpers training, experience, counseling systems, or techniques whereby one could determine either its necessity or its conflict with Scripture.
While he produces no credible evidence to support his position, De Haan continues to insist that the Scriptures:
. . . give us inspired examples of “people helpers” who use the facts, resources, and observations of the natural world to get people’s attention, illustrate their points, relieve physical and emotional misery, and point them to God.
De Haan is referring back to his five examples of God and Job, David, Nathan, Paul, and the Lord Jesus Himself. These and others to whom De Haan refers as “inspired examples of people helpers.” By so doing he is either lowering them to the level of his professional people helpers or raising the professional people helpers up to the level of these biblical examples. Either way raises questions about his orthodoxy. Moreover, he is implying that contemporary, professional people helpers who use “facts, resources, and observations of the natural world” are doing so in the same way as the biblical examples he cites. Yet, not one extra-biblical, contemporary people-helper example or reference does he give from the plethora of possibilities within the more than 450 different counseling systems and the more than 10,000 often-conflicting techniques. Which of the “facts, resources, and observations of the natural world” might he have in mind?
Again he confuses the issue by referring to “physical and emotional misery.” Certainly De Haan must understand that the professional counselors he is defending do not perform surgery or deal with medical problems. Therefore, he should not cloud the issue by using “physical misery” in his argument against the Bible-only group. The Bible-only group is willing to minister to people suffering physically, but they would not spiritualize medical problems any more than the not-the-Bible-only group would psychologize medical problems.
Using the Ways of the World To Point People to God
De Haan’s final words in the above quote, “and point them to God,” are interesting. It is known that the professional people helpers use the opinions, guesses and ideas of men who either were anti-Christian or simply did not know the God of the Bible. De Haan never explains how using theories and therapies based on personal opinions of ungodly men, as practiced by the professional people helpers, will help those in “emotional misery” and “point them to God.” De Haan fails again by not providing even one specific extra-biblical technique, methodology, theory or idea on the part of the professional people helpers that would be of more value than the Scriptures themselves.
De Haan next says:
There is a time to give relief to people who are suffering from the acute pain of starvation, appendicitis, or poison ivy. There is a time to speak the Word of God. If we confuse those two times, we may end up leaving someone with the impression that we have given them a stone when they asked for bread.
Note the physical maladies presented by De Haan. Now would he recommend a counselor for people “who are suffering from the acute pain of starvation, appendicitis, or poison ivy” rather than a physician? Of course not! Is he implying that the Bible-only people would do so? Apparently so, else why would he even mention this? Wouldn’t De Haan’s not-the-Bible-only group be accused of giving a stone instead of bread if they offered professional people-helper counseling under such circumstances? At the least, De Haan is confusing the issue.
De Haan says, “While we need to be concerned about people who are spending their money and hope on ineffective solutions (Isaiah 55:2), we also need to be building bridges to hope and healing, not burning them.” We have provided, in our past writing, numerous examples of “ineffective solutions” of the not-the-Bible-only people helpers. In contrast De Haan provides not even one specific example, not even one footnote to research—only more unsubstantiated palaver for professional people helpers. There is a double-edged responsibility here that De Haan avoids, probably because he has nothing to offer in either direction. He has failed to show how the not-the-Bible-only group is “building bridges to hope and healing”; and he has failed to show how the Bible-only group is “burning” such bridges. This is one more failed opportunity on the part of De Haan to attempt to prove his case by specific examples and proof from the research.
De Haan’s next remark is: “We need to be careful about criticizing ‘people helpers’ when we have no time or resources to do better.” There are plenty of reasons to criticize the “people helpers” and De Haan has not given one substantive reason not to do so. The Bible-only Christians have the Bible as their sure guide to helping troubled souls. The not-the-Bible-only group must rely on the questionable, extra-biblical resources of the very wisdom of men about which God warns (1 Cor. 2:5). The Bible-only people helpers have the true resources of the treasures from heaven and know that every Word from Genesis to Revelation is true.
The not-the-Bible-only people helpers must rely on the guesses, hope-so-but-not-know-so, extra-biblical theories and therapies of the numerous secular people helpers of our day. The extra-biblical counselors have the false resources of man and trust the word from Freud to Rogers and others.
Bible-only people have true resources and follow Jesus’ words, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). The truly Bible-only Christians use their time and resources to help others—and without charging a fee. De Haan says not one word against the practice of charging fees on the part of the “people helpers.” It is the Bible-only Christians who are more likely to give time and resources without charging. This is a great unlikelihood with De Haan’s not-the-Bible-only, extra-biblical, people-helper group.
De Haan once more reveals his ignorance of the Bible-only group when he says, “We need to be careful not to broadbrush counseling as if all counseling were hostile to Christian values.” The point is not whether all counseling is “hostile to Christian values.” It is doubtful that most Christians would know which extra-biblical ideas are hostile to Christian values and which are not, because almost any extra-biblical, wisdom-of-man notions can be made to seem biblical. One Christian people helper claims that all the Freudian defense mechanisms are found in Scripture. In addition, even the Freudian Oedipus complex and Jungian spiritisms are read into Scripture by some.
The Bible-only position is that, no matter how biblical an extra-biblical idea seems or is made to be, it is not needed by those who know and rely on the Word of God. We know that the Bible alone, ministered by the Holy Spirit either directly or through another believer, is sufficient. Which extra-biblical, people-helper idea is proven to be of any value equal to the Word? De Haan needs to provide an answer that can be put to the test.
(PAL V8N6 * November-December 2000)