Through the years we have primarily warned Christians about the teachings of psychologists. We have written about the various secular theorists and their theories (e.g. Freud, Jung, Adler, Maslow, Rogers, etc.) and also about the teachings of integrationists (those who attempt to integrate secular models and methods with the Bible, such as Minirth, Meier, Collins, Crabb, Dobson, Solomon, etc.).
Now, however, we are seeing the fruit of the many years of wedding psychological counseling theories and therapies with Christianity. We are finding that people who desire to teach the pure Word of God have been exposed to so much psychology, through books, sermons, radio programs, and other forms of communication in the Christian community, that they do not even know when they are dispensing it. Therefore we believe we must warn Christians about such teachings, especially when they are taught by people who have a large actual and potential audience.
In Parts One and Two we demonstrated that Nancy Missler’s model of man is heavily influenced by Freudian ideas. Freud taught that people’s conscious thoughts and actions are driven by a powerful reservoir of repressed material. We quoted a number of passages demonstrating Missler’s use of Freudian ideas and showing that she does not use the word subconscious in a generic manner with its general meaning. Instead, she has it filled with buried “wounds, hurts, guilt and memories” that are “too painful to consciously deal with” so that they have to be pushed down and repressed (p. 210). Thus, she is not simply referring to that which is merely outside present awareness, but uses the words hidden chambers and subconscious like Freud’s specific and powerful unconscious.
In her effort to justify her model of man and especially the “hidden chambers” (subconscious), Missler quotes Eugenia Price, who also may have just picked up the Freudian myth and passed it along. Missler says:
In her book, Woman to Woman, Eugenia Price says, “everything we have ever said, heard or thought, drops into our subconscious (like a wastebasket).” She goes on to say we are 9/10 subconscious and only 1/10 conscious (pp. 210-211).
Then Missler says that if Price is right, “only 1/10 of us consciously was given over to God” (page 211). While Missler may not be wholly confident in the exact 9/10 and 1/10 difference between the subconscious and the conscious mind, she certainly endorses the general size and power of the subconscious. Freud’s famous iceberg illustration shows the conscious mind as just the tip of the iceberg and the powerful, motivating unconscious as the huge mass below the surface.
A Murky Mixture
Missler’s mixture of psychology and theology becomes even murkier when she talks about satanic involvement. She believes that Satan can read our minds. She says:
Satan (through the power of sin) not only has access to our “conscious” thoughts, emotions and desires, but he also has total access to our “subconscious” life, all our hidden doubts, fears, insecurities and so forth (p. 197).
She assigns Satan this great power with rather poor logic by referring to 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 in reference to Satan having the advantage if one does not forgive. She then asks, “How can Satan tell if we have chosen to forgive or not, if he can’t read our thoughts?” (p. 213).
She further argues:
When we hang on to our sin, we give Satan many “hideouts.” Well, if Satan cannot read our thoughts, then how is he going to know about the bitterness, the resentment, the unforgiveness, etc., that we have chosen to hold on to? (p. 213).
In answer to her rhetorical questions, there is no place in Scripture that says Satan can read anyone’s conscious, subconscious, or unconscious mind. Satan does not have to read our minds to tempt people. James clearly says:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14,15).
Nevertheless, Missler says:
My study of the Scriptures leads me to believe that Satan does have access to both our conscious and subconscious thoughts and emotions (our soul) through the power of sin. But again, it’s up to us as to what we will allow him to do (pp. 213-214, emphasis in original).
Amazing! According to Missler, Satan can read Christians’ conscious and subconscious thoughts and has access to them. Yet, she says that “it’s up to us as to what we will allow him to do.” How can that be if believers are not in touch with their so-called subconscious? Missler gives Satan more access into a believer’s mind than the believer has. This kind of convoluted thinking does not come from the pure Word of God.
Missler has attributed to Satan both omnipresence and omniscience regarding human thinking. Where in Scripture do we see these attributes owned by any created being?
The Bible does not present a conscious and subconscious that Satan can read or access, as outlined by Missler, but it does say:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings (Jeremiah 17:9,10).
The Lord is the One who has access to every part of our being. He is omniscient. He is omnipresent. He is the Divine Potter who forms us according to His ways, which are above our ways. Too often believers try to help God do what only He can do by giving all kinds of psychological explanations about the makeup and condition of mankind and how people change. One does not have to speculate about “hidden chambers” for the Lord to work in one’s life and for one to obey the Lord according to the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible holds people responsible for their thoughts, words, and actions. Missler claims to be biblical regarding personal responsibility, but personal responsibility does not fit with her psychological teachings about a powerful subconscious filled with hidden contents that motivate and even cause behavior. Her unscriptural teaching about Satan having access to this psychodynamic construct further compromises personal responsibility. Psychological explanations for behavior do not lead to true repentance, restoration, and biblical transformation.
Those who read and believe what Missler teaches will want to have their “hidden chambers” exposed just as those who engage in inner healing. To her credit, Missler speaks out against inner healing. However, she herself teaches some of the most insidious aspects, especially the idea that one must have the contents of these so-called hidden chambers exposed.
We appreciate Missler warning against using visualization to return to the past to uncover what she calls the “subconscious.” However, her teachings set people up to look for hidden reasons from the past to explain present behavior. Now, instead of having inner healers do the work, Missler teaches that God reveals the hurts, fears, and other contents of the subconscious. After having heard Missler’s teachings, a person will naturally ask God to expose the contents of the so-called “hidden chambers” and trust that whatever seems to be revealed is from God and true.
In one of Missler’s examples, a woman who was regularly upset when her husband came home late discovered the so-called reason. Missler says that God “showed her” that the reason was “because she still held tremendous anger at her own dad for doing the very same thing when she was a child” (p. 218). Of course, in this story, the woman did not know that she was still angry. But, had she really repressed the anger and was it now motivating her behavior from what Missler calls her “subconscious” or her “hidden chambers”?
The woman’s “discovery” depends on Freud’s psychological theory of unconscious repression. But, perhaps there is another explanation. Could it be that her anger had more to do with selfish desire than past hurts? When she learned from Missler about hidden chambers with their “hurts,” might she have started looking for hurts that would explain her present behavior? Then, as she remembered her childhood and saw a similar circumstance, might she have become angry at her father and made him the reason for her present behavior?
Prior to Freud, people accepted the idea that men worked long hours. They were not expected to have lots of time to spend with their children. Now, however, under the influence of Freud and other psychologists, grown children are being taught that if a father spends lots of time at work supporting the family he does not adequately love his wife and children. Grown children are being led to believe that they were deprived and that the past deprivation influences and even causes present behavior. Missler buys into this erroneous psychological teaching. She declares:
This “preprogrammed, subconscious assumption” (that because her dad was never at home, he loved his work more than her), was now determining how she consciously evaluated what was happening to her in the present (because her husband was now coming home late each night, he too, loved his work more than her) (page 218, bold added).
Such a conclusion is based on psychological theory, not on the Word of God. But, Missler, confident that these theories of the unconscious came from God, declares:
See, if God takes the unconscious hidden root cause away (the insecurities, the inferiorities, the pride, the fears, doubts, etc.), then we can be assured the conscious negative thoughts and emotions (the angry reactions, the inhibitions, the intimidations) will not occur again over the same issue (p. 228, emphasis in original).
While God does miraculous transforming work in the inner person, one should not use the unproved teachings from psychotherapeutic theories either to describe the Christian or to explain what God is doing inside the Christian.
Although Missler says she does “not suggest that ‘we’ initiate or go looking for the ‘hidden things,’” her examples reveal that after people hear her teach, they do begin looking for them. She says God will reveal these “hidden things.” Therefore, they look for something to be revealed to them, and whatever they receive or conceive (or even dream) about their so-called hidden roots or chambers they identify as having been revealed by God.
The Bible is clear about the root causes of our sins. Our sinful nature is at the root of our sin. Paul describes the human condition very clearly in Ephesians 2, which reveals not only the fact that the results of the fall are at the root of all sin, but that, until a person is born again, he is “dead in trespasses and sins,” walking according to the world and the devil, and “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” With those root causes, why must Christians look elsewhere? But, today’s society, influenced as it is by psychological theories, puts causes of behavior in the past, in other people, and in the environment and then pushes them down into a powerful inner region from which they supposedly cause thinking and behaving.
Missler begins her second chapter on “The Hidden Chambers” by quoting John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Yet, her chapter mixes truth with error. She recognizes errors of psychology, but uses unproved, unscientific psychological notions even as she speaks out against psychology. For instance, she says:
One of the reasons why, I believe, psychology can be so dangerous is that when we try to analyze, figure out and replay many times our negative thoughts and feelings of the past, we simply reprogram these things right back down into our hidden chambers, where they end up becoming stronger strongholds of the enemy (p. 241).
Yet, Missler’s theory about the human psyche is based on the Freudian invention of an unconscious filled with material that motivates thinking and behaving. Her statements serve as an example of how psychology has already taken hold of Christians’ minds, so much so that, even if they speak out against psychology, they have already absorbed enough to promote it at the same time.
After Missler warns against using psychology and inner healing, she attempts to teach the importance of “faith choices.” But unfortunately she has bound conscious choices to a motivating subconscious filled with the past hurts, etc. On the one hand she describes the subconscious as being the “hidden motivation for all our actions” and as being filled with material that “ultimately will end up controlling and directing our lives and forcing us to live a lie” (p. 12, italics in original). On the other hand, she claims that Christians can make responsible choices. She says:
Our past hurts do effect us. These buried things do try to consume us and bring us down into the pits. However, as Christians, we don’t have to follow what these things are telling us to do. If we can simply recognize what they are, make the appropriate faith choices to give them over to God, and then, continue walking by His Spirit, God will be faithful to set us free (p. 244).
This statement makes it sound simple to make “appropriate faith choices,” but her earlier description of the hidden chambers with “hidden motivation for all our actions” and with repressed “fears, insecurities, memories . . . controlling and directing our lives” (p. 12) contradicts conscious choice. In her system choice can only become easy if what is supposedly buried (repressed) is exposed. People who believe in these Freudian derivations are forever trying to expose the hurts from the past, because they will continue to relate present sin to past hurts or other so-called repressed material.
By following these teachings, people learn to explain their present behavior on the basis of past hurts and other unconscious material. Believing that present behavior is driven or even influenced by unconscious hurts, fears, insecurities and the like is actually a technique for blameshifting. Such a conclusion cannot be biblical. The Bible teaches that people sin because of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (James 1:14; 1 John 2:16), not because of unconscious hurts, fears, insecurities, etc. If such teachings of the subconscious were biblical, they would be clearly stated as the reason why people sin. The only way one can find such teachings about “hidden chambers” is to read them INTO Scripture.
Missler pictures God as working in a person from a psychological perspective. She says:
We must first allow the Spirit of God to expose all of our conscious hurts, negative thoughts, etc. (the symptoms). Equally important, we must ask Him to expose the Hidden root causes of these things. Once the root cause is exposed and dealt with, then the conscious negative emotions and feelings over that particular issue will not occur again either (p. 245, emphasis in original).
Besides handcuffing God with psychological metaphysics, she declares that, once God works according to her system of exposing so-called hidden chambers of the soul, the person’s “conscious negative emotions and feelings over that particular issue will not occur again either.” That is an unfounded, unsubstantiated statement that carries a promise, which can lead Christians to unbiblical conclusions and further bondage to erroneous expectations.
Christians need to let go of all of the psychological notions about the nature of man that come from the psychological theories underlying psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and psychological counseling. Jesus’ words, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), are absolutely true, but when Christians combine truth with psychological notions and speculation they end up with a very confusing form of error.
It’s Not Too Late to Repent
After reading Be Ye Transformed, we listened to two of Nancy Missler’s tapes. One included the same psychoheresy as in the book. The other tape was biblical and was not contaminated with the psychoheresy of the “hidden chambers.” We thought, if only she would just teach the truths of Scripture, many women could be blessed. Thus, we earnestly pray that she will repent of the teachings she has gleaned from the psychological wisdom of the world. We pray that she will repent publicly and urge the many women she has influenced to discard her teachings about the nature of the soul, the “hidden chambers” and the subconscious. May the Lord give her grace to do so.