Psychology: Science or Competing Religion?
Open your Bibles to Judges 8. We have been studying about Gideon. We finished looking at the mopping up operation of Gideon following his battle, his defeat of the kings of Midian, the Midianite-Amalekite coalition that had attacked and enslaved Israel for the last seven years. At the end of that campaign, as Gideon has the enemy in flight and had chased them across the Jordan River he went to the towns of Succoth and Penuel, seeking aid and sustenance, asking them for food and for provisions so that they could continue the pursuit of the enemy, and in neither one of those towns did the people give them aid. They were afraid of what might happen if Gideon were not successful, which means they weren't trusting God at all, number one. Number two, they had compromised completely with the enemy so that in their thinking they were demonstration that they were no different from the pagan cultures around them whatsoever.
Now we started there showing what the right interpretation of the passage was in terms of its historical context but then there's some interesting applications from this. We had also seen that at the beginning of this chapter the Ephraimites who were in the…you have two areas, the Cisjordan and the Transjordan; the Cisjordan refers to the area of the land west of the Jordan; the Transjordan is the area across the Jordan. The Ephraimites were in the hill country in the center of Israel and they had come down; Gideon had called them to protect the fords so that when the retreating Midianite army came down there they could cut off their retreat and they did, and they were very successful in taking out a large part of the retreating army so that there were only about 12,000 left that made it across the Jordan and Gideon is now in pursuit of them.
I made the point that the Ephraimites, in many ways, represent believers who aren't walking with the Lord but they have an overt obedience to the Lord. And they got their honor, Gideon praised them for what they did, but nowhere else were they praised in Scripture. Gideon, of course, is listed in the faith hall of fame chapter in Hebrews 11. But those that crossed the Jordan had completely sold out, they don't even have the superficial or surface obedience to the Lord; they're not even trying to cloak their behavior in some level of loyalty to God, they've completely sold out. And so when Gideon returns we see in his reaction in Judges 8:16-17, he goes to Succoth and there "he took the elders of the city and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them." He took them out and he physically whipped them with these briars and thorns, an incredibly violent action and then he went to Penuel and "he tore down the tower," the central tower in the city, "and he killed the men of the city."
Now to us this seems like a strong reaction but Gideon is operating on divine viewpoint here, he realizes that they are traitors, they've compromised with the enemy and so he has to remove them so that they no longer have this negative influence in Israel. That's his job as a judge; he is to root out this paganism. Now he is not completely successful and as we will see in the conclusion of this chapter, even Gideon ends up taking the nation back into idolatry. But the point of application which I've been stressing for the last two weeks is that for the believer today we are to be engaged in this same kind of seek and destroy mission in terms of human viewpoint in our own thinking, which means we have to be able to identify the strands of human viewpoint thinking that have infiltrated our souls, things that we have been brought up with, things that we have been taught from an early age that we think are almost fact, and in many ways are just sort of truisms, they re things that are commonly accepted by our culture so sometimes we think they are just common sense and yet we have to be willing to attack them with doctrine, be able to go in to remove worldly thinking. This is the whole principle of Romans 12:2, that we are not to be conformed to the world, that means our thinking is not to be conformed and managed by the concepts and categories and vocabulary of the world system of thinking, but we are to have our thinking renewed by doctrine. So that's the whole process, is rooting out human viewpoint thinking and replacing it with divine viewpoint thinking.
So by way of review to bring us up to where we are: psychology is an insidious arrogance and is a competing religious system. And I identified four basic currents of thought that had infected our society and have dominated the thinking of modern Americans since the middle of the 19th century. Ultimately they are all rooted in a subjectivistic view of life that came intellectually with the introduction of Kantian thought at the end of the 1700s so that authority is no longer located in some sort of objective realm, but now man is the ultimate reference point so that in essence modern American culture and western society operates on the same principle that the Jews were dealing with at the time of the Judges, and that is that man is doing whatever is right in his own eyes, pure relativism. Absolute authority is determined by whoever the individual wants to make it and I identified four strands of intellectual thought that have affected all of western society.
The first is Darwinism, both in terms of biological Darwinism and social Darwinism; social Darwinism was utilized by Hitler as a rationale for the dominance of the Arian races and all of his racism. It was also used by many of the extreme capitalists, robber barons of the late 19th century. What they did was they took capitalism and then they merged it with this survival of the fittest theory from Darwinism, so that capitalism became extremely harsh, and that wasn't because capitalism in and of itself is that way but when it became merged with this human viewpoint survival of the fittest type of overt hostile competition mentality then it lost all sense of compassion and concern for people as individuals and that created a lot of problems. It also became a rationale. Racism has been with us always but it also became a further rationale for racism in America as well and a lot of justification came out of that. So Darwinism was one strand that changed education. It changed everything, it's tentacles reach into every arena of our society.
The second is sociology, and just one example of how sociological type of thinking affects us is in the whole church growth movement. It's the idea that you go out and give people what they want, the marketing strategies of sales, advertising, all of that is based on a sociological foundation and so when you then take that, bring it over into the church and start running the church according to those principles you have problems, you compromise.
Socialism, the whole philosophy of social liberalism is based on the idea that man can bring in a utopic state. So 19th century social liberalism also is another major trend.
And the one we're looking at is psychology. We have to understand that psychology isn't some unified body of thought out there that if you have a problem in life, you're dealing with anything from drugs, alcohol abuse, marriage problems, whatever, people think oh, the solution is to go to a therapist. What I want you to understand is there's no single…if you go to a doctor, whether you go to a doctor in Norwich or you go to a doctor in Providence or you go to a doctor in New Haven, or you go to a doctor in L. A. or New York or wherever, they have a set body of data, of scientific facts on cancer, on leukemia, on kidney problems, on brain disease, physiologically based brain disease, that everybody agrees with; it's substantiated in the laboratory. But if you go to a therapist in New London they may be operating on a mechanical materialistic view of man, or you go to a therapist in Norwich and they may be operating on a rational emotive cognative therapy program; you go to Providence and they may have some other thing, there are over 400 different philosophies and models of behavior and over 10,000 different therapies, so it's not monolithic.
And there's no such thing as Christian psychology because all Christian psychology is is Christians who try to baptize various different secular theories and modify them a little bit with some Biblical verses and some Biblical concepts. The problem is it's very difficult for most believers who are sitting in the pew to wade through and you read somebody, you hear somebody and they start quoting verses that sound like they support their theory in counseling and they really don't. I remember when I was a student at Dallas Seminary these issues were sort of a hot issue on campus. A lot of us were talking about well, what role does psychology or counseling have in the pastoral ministry; is it possible to have a Biblical model of counseling or therapy and over the years I've looked at almost every system put out by so-called Christian psychologists and junked all of them. We had to take one required course called pastoral psychology and counseling, taught by Meyer-Minirth, the Meyer-Minirth are now quite famous, they have clinics all over the country, they have a radio show on, I think it's the Moody Bible Institute Radio network, they've published dozens of books on Christian counseling and psychotherapy. They were both psychiatrists; a psychiatrist is someone who has a medical degree plus psychological training, and they had a strong medical model of problems, and I came out of that course, rightly or wrongly, with the impression that most people just needed some drugs and they'd be okay. Either that or I needed a whole different degree in training if I was going to be able to help people in counseling. And those are false concepts that are communicate but these two men had training in Navigators (I don't want to run down Navigators) but they had some kind of superficial training and they had really just sort of cut and pasted a lot of Bible verses into their psychological system to give it support. But if you really stopped and exegeted the verses they used to support their various points in their model you realize those verses didn't support that, but the average person in the pew or person struggling with personal problems doesn't know that. They don't have the Biblical training, the theological training to be able to come in and take all of that apart to see what the problems are, and it's extremely confusing for some people. Other people, they just have some sort of innate faith that it must be okay because the pastor said it's okay.
So what I'm doing here is trying to challenge us with the fact that we live in an age, a psycho-therapeutic age, an age of counseling where most of us don't realize it but our vocabulary, our categories and the very thinking of how we approach problems, personal problems and marriage problems has been so heavily cloaked in psychotherapeutic thinking that we aren't even away of it. In fact, I'm not even sure that the very idea of people coming in and sitting down and talking with the pastor when they're going through problems, I don't mean in the sense of advice, we all have times when we just need somebody who can give us another set of eyes on our situation in our life, and need a little objective advice, and that's valid. But the idea of coming an hour, maybe two-three hours over an extended period of time where we go through talk therapy, which is the term for it, that that whole concept is Freudian. And yet most of us don't think twice about that it's been so inculcated in us from our culture. So we're trying to challenge that with some evidence from the psychotherapy arena itself.
C. S. Lewis foreshadowed this, in his book, Screwtape Letters, which is a very…if you've never read Screwtape it's a fascinating read because he uses his imagination and writes this fictional account of this older demon, Screwtape, or I think the older demon is Wormwood, I can't remember right now, he's writing these letters to his young nephew who is just a novice getting ready to start tempting Christian to try to get them off track, and so Wormwood is telling his young novice just how to how to become successful at tempting believers. And as you read through his letters it's somewhat convicting because you start realizing how many ways in which we get off track and distracted in the Christian life.
One of his points of advice is this one: "Keep his mind of the plain antithesis when true and false, and keep him in the state of mind I call 'Christianity and,'" Christianity plus. "You know, Christianity and the crisis, Christianity and the new psychology, Christianity and the new order."
And C. S. Lewis was somewhat prophetic in this, he wrote this in 1941 but even then he saw the danger of adding psychotherapy concepts and psychological concepts to the Bible.
William Kirkpatrick, who is a professor of educational psychology at Boston University, writes: "It is true that popular psychology shares much in common with eastern religion, in fact, a merger is well under way. But if you're talking about Christianity it is much truer to say that psychology and religion are competing faiths. If you seriously hold to one set of values you will logically have to reject the other." Now that is not something that is a popular statement and that is accepted by even most Christians today, and Kirkpatrick, I believe, is a Roman Catholic teaching at Boston University, so he is not coming from an evangelical framework. Yet he recognizes the competition that's there.
We also saw that psychotherapy claims to have an exclusive authority in an area where the Bible claims exclusive authority, so there's a conflict between systems of psychology and their truth claims, and the Bible and its truth claims. The very term "psychology" claims to be the study of the soul, and yet the Bible claims to be the final and exclusive authority on matters related to the soul, the problems of the soul and their solutions.
We have further seen that there are only two solutions; there is the divine solution and the human solution and the divine solution is derived from a study of God's Word. That's important; that's what makes something Biblical, because it is derived from exegetical study of the Word of God and it is not Biblical just because it doesn't seem to be contradicted by the Bible; that's unfortunately how must people want to define Biblical. The Bible claims that it is sufficient and immutable, that means that God is able to solve all of our problems and He gives us the information we need in the Scriptures. The Church did not need to wait 1800 years for Sigmund Freud to come along before people could begin to have real happiness enjoying life. Yet that is the unstated assumption of all psychology, is that until we learned about talk therapy and until we learned about the unconscious and the subconscious and how that influences behavior and parental influence and all these other things, people really couldn't find happiness and solve problems in their life. And that just denies the fact, what did Christians do for 1800 years?
Jesus said, "My joy I give to you, not as the world gives to you." That's an immutable promise of God and it's not related to being able to understand the ego, the Id, the super-ego, subconscious, unconscious or any other Freudian or other psychological categories. Scripture says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, qualified, proficient, competent and skillful, and equipped." That means he's educated, edified and prepared for every good work, not some, not a few, but every good work. That includes marriage problems, parental problems, problems with children, social interaction, everything. And the problem is if we don't plumb the depths of what Scripture is teaching then people will never understand these solutions. And that's the problem the modern evangelical church has gotten into is sermons and Bible classes are so superficial that they're only scratching the surface of what the Scripture says and so the sheep in the pew are left without an adequate understanding of grace, of God's solution, and how to implement it. They don't understand human behavior, they don't understand the Biblical… the Biblical categories of psychology. Psychology is really an old word. Some of you are familiar with the Old Testament Commentary by Keil & Delitzsch; well, Franz Delitzsch had a book out, it came out in the mid-1800s called Biblical Psychology and it was a study of all the terms related to the soul in the Bible, terms like heart, mind, reins, and kidneys and trying to put together what the Bible taught about the makeup of the human soul and how it function, understanding that "the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, who can know it," and building a view of human behavior based exclusively on the Scriptures. And very few people do that; that is basically…once Freud came along that whole approach basically ended as far as the greater evangelical church is concerned.
2 Peter 1:3-4 states it even more profoundly, "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them," by the promises, by the doctrines in God's Word, "you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust," and those last two phrases deal with problem solving, "that we become partakers of the divine nature," that is we begin to experience the joy of Christ, the peace of Christ, the thinking of Christ, and escaping the corruption, that's the problems, the stress in the world, stress is a result of trying to solve adversity problems through sin nature human viewpoint solutions, and the only solution therefore is the divine solution.
Further we saw that there is a fallacy in the rationale that all truth is God's truth, and that's the rationale that's used, it sounds good, a lot of people repeat it but the problem is that the "all truth" is just truth that's derived on the basis of human empirical observation and that can always change and it does change, there is always new discoveries next week, next year, that invalidate or change or modify today's approaches and it's not on the same level as God's truth which is the immutable revealed truth of God in the Scriptures.
Then we saw that there's really no such thing as Christianity psychology, and I read this statement from the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, where they state: "We're often asked if we are Christian psychologists. I find it difficult to answer since we don't know what the question implies." Now see, the average person in the pew thinks there is such a thing as Christian psychology and here's a Christian psychologist who says we don't eve know what the question implies. They go on to say, "We are Christians who are psychologists, but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues. As yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian." Now that ought to wake everybody up.
Furthermore we saw that psychotherapy and psychology has become extremely popular in the last 20 or 30 years. One study indicates that in the early 1960s 14% of the U.S. population, that is 25 million of a total 180 million, had received psychological services; 14% in 1960. By 1976 that number had risen to 26%," so from 14 to 26% by the mid 70's, by 1990 at least 33%, roughly a third of Americans had been psychological at some point in their lives and in 1995 the American Psychological Association stated that 46% of the U. S. population had seen a mental health professional. Some even predict that by the year 2000; of course we're past that by now, that 80% of the population would have at some time or another been a psychology user. So that's its popularity.
We continue our critique: another quote from Dr. Jerome Frank, a researcher in psychotherapy states: "Psychotherapy is the only form of treatment which at least to some extent appears to create the illness it treats." And that is part of the problem is that we think it works and it really doesn't, and I'll have more information as we go on. Now we're at point 8 where we stopped last time.
Point eight, we must understand that psychotherapy, Christian or otherwise, is a web of belief systems and value systems, value and judgments, similar to religion. It's a web of belief systems similar to religion. Psychotherapeutic beliefs, as are all beliefs, are based on faith. Martin Gross in his book, The Psychological Society, writes, "When educated man lost faith in formal religion he required a substitute belief that would be as reputable in the last half of the 20th century as Christianity was in the first." Now what he is saying is…see "educated man lost faith in formal religion" starting in the late 1900s with the onslaught and the attack of liberal Christianity and the use of historical criticism and all of the various methodologies that under gird liberal Christianity, and as a result of that people rejected the historicity of the Bible, they rejected the origins of Genesis 1-11, the origin of man, they rejected the Biblical analysis of man's problem as being a sinner because they rejected the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross. They rejected the virgin birth, they rejected miracles, all of that was part of the liberal mentality, liberal Christian mentality in the late 19th century, and if you were educated the thinking was that how could any educated man really believe in demons or demon possession or healing like Jesus did, or really believe in the Bible literally. So they began to interpret the Bible in a lot of different ways and rejected the infallibility of Scripture along with it.
So "when educated man lost faith in formal religion," or let's put it this way, when educated man lost faith in the fact that the Bible spoke to man's condition with absolute solutions, what they had to do was find another belief system for man to use to solve his problems. The same thing happens in Darwinism and evolution. Man wants to know the answer to the question, where did we come from? If you throw out the Bible you have to have some kind of alternative solution. That's why evolution inherently…inherently, it may have a scientific rationale behind it, it may have a scientific or pseudo scientific basis but evolution did not begin with Darwin, it didn't even begin in the 19th century, you can trace the basic ideas of evolution all the way back to Aristotle and to the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers. Evolutionary concepts have to be there; in fact, Henry Morris in his book, The Long War of God, traces it all the way back to some of the creation epics of the Babylonians, the creation myths of the Babylonians like in Enuma Elish, and the Gilgamesh epic, because man has to have some explanation for origins once he rejects God and the Biblical view of origins. The same thing is true in understanding man and understand man's problems; if you throw away the Biblical solution, the divine solution then you have to have some other rationale and solution, and so psychology, Freudian psychology is in the realm of behavior the comparable intellectual system to Darwinistic evolution.
Let's finish the quote, he says, "Psychology and psychiatry have now assumed that role." Now this guy is not a Christian, these aren't Christians that I'm quoting for the most part, these are just secular psychiatrists who are critiquing their own industry; they recognize that it is a competing religious system.
Bernie Zilbergeld in his book, The Shrinking of America, Myths of Psychological Change, writes, "Psychology has become something of a substitute for old belief systems. Different schools of therapy offer visions of the good life and how to live it," in other words, how to have peace and stability in life. "Those whose ancestors took comfort from the words of God and worshiped at the altars of Christ and Yahweh not take solace from and worship at the altars of Freud, Carl Rogers, Albert Ellis and a host of similar authorities. While in the past the common reference point was the Bible and its commentaries and commentators, the common reference point today is a therapeutic language and the success stories of mostly secular people changers."
Now think about what he says in that last comment, "the common reference point today," the common thing that all people in western culture have this, this is our worldly thinking, this is cosmic thinking, it's "a therapeutic language," that's why I keep making the point that we have to watch our language, we can't just find words that become popular in culture and then try to import them in because they sound good, words like self-image. Self-image originated in pure secular psychological thinking based on the concept of a mistranslation, by the way, or a misinterpretation of the passage when Jesus says you have to love others as you love yourself. What Jesus is saying is the essential orientation of sinful man is self-love, arrogance. And we have to treat others as we would want to be treated; that's what He's saying. But in self-image psycho-babble you have to love to learn to love yourself first, before you can love others, and if you don't love and accept yourself first then you can't love others. Well, that's just a perversion of the Biblical statement and it's a reversal, a complete reversal of the meaning of the Biblical statement, and it imports, when you start using words like self-image you're bringing baggage with that; how's that for a good psycho-babble terminology. It's bringing with it a whole host of other concepts and ideas that we don't critically evaluate because they're not on the surface. And the problem today is that most believers are not taught how to think critically about the ideas around them.
Now when I say "think critically" I don't mean in some sort of negative hostile manner, that's not what critical thinking is. Critical thinking means to be able to think about, evaluate, the ideas and the concepts that we're buying into and to be able to understand what the real issues are and evaluate them on the basis of what the Scripture says. See, as Zilbergeld points out, the common reference point today is a therapeutic language and the success stories, that's all the antidotes that we hear about how so and so, this individual that we know had a marriage problem and they went to this counselor and it really helped, so therefore it must be valid. See, that's pragmatism, that's another human viewpoint way of thinking about things, if it works it's right. That's not what the Bible says.
Pragmatism affects everything, that's another major trend of thought because you have so many people who build a church of 5,000, 6,000 or 10,000 people and they say well how can you challenge it, God must have blessed it. The point is that anybody can go out there…there's a lot of people who run cults who have large churches. One of the fastest growing cults in the world is Mormonism. They don't operate on Biblical principles at all; if you operate on the principle that we grew a large church it must be God's blessing then God must be blessing the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses and every other cult. So that's just an absurd thing; you can have all kinds of overt success but that doesn't mean that God is the one who developed it and maybe God is using you despite your human viewpoint and not because of what you're doing, because some of these folks are truly teaching the Word and at least communicating the gospel; God honors His Word and so people are being saved and a few happen to… you know, a blind pig finds an apron every now and then. And a few people actually do gain some spiritual truth but it is not because of the framework of theology or teaching or philosophy of ministry inherent in these ministries.
So psychology then, we see, is a substitute religion. It is a substitute religion, it is not simply some sort of social science that we can gain some value from; it is a competing religions system. Dr. Jacob Needleman in his book, A Sense of the Cosmos, which I find to be a somewhat ironic title in light of the fact that we're talking about cosmic thinking and worldly thinking in the believer's system, he's not a believer, writes: "Modern psychiatry arose out of the vision that man must change himself, and not depend for help upon an imaginary God. Mainly through the insights of Freud and through the energies of those he influenced the human psyche," that is the human soul, "was wrested from the faltering hands of organized religion and was situated in the world of nature as a subject for scientific study."
Martin Bobgan who's written an excellent critique of Christian psychology called The End of Christian Psychology quotes George Albee, the past president of The American Psychological Association who states: "The old conventional sources of explaining the mysteries of human existence, such as religion and science, no longer hold much water for a lot of people. So people have turned largely to psychology as one field which attempts to answer questions about the meaning of life." So psychology is not neutral, it is a competing religious system.
Dr. Arthur Burton in his book, Encounter, writes, "Psychotherapy promises salvation in this life in the same way that theology promises it in the after life."
Thomas Szasz, who's written quite a significant critique of psychotherapy writes in his book, The Myth of Psychotherapy, "Contrition, confession, prayer, faith, inner resolution and countless other elements are expropriated," that is from religion, "and renamed as psychotherapy. Whereas certain observances, rituals, taboos and other elements of religion are demeaned and destroyed as the symptoms of neurotic or psychotic illnesses." So religion itself is assaulted but some underlying ideas are ripped out, renamed, repackaged and sold as psychotherapy and not religion. In fact, Szasz goes on to comment about Freud, that "he was educated in the classics. Freud and the earlier Freudians remolded these images into and renamed them as medical diseases and treatments. This metamorphosis has been widely acclaimed in the modern world as an epic-making scientific discovery. Alas, it is in fact only the clever and cynical destruction of the spirituality of man and its replacement by a positivistic science of the mind. Not only is psychology and all of its systems religious in nature, it is a religion that is antagonistic to Biblical Christianity." Szasz goes on to say, "Psychotherapy is not merely indifferent to religion, it's not neutral, it is implacably hostile to it. Herein lies one of the supreme ironies of modern psychotherapy. It is not merely a religion that pretends to be a science; it is a religion that seeks to destroy true religion."
So when I get down on psychotherapy and counseling I want you to understand why this is wrong, what the significance is and how dangerous it is to get involved in this because it starts confusing and distorting our thinking and we started reinterpreting the Bible according to categories, vocabulary and systems of thought that are anti-Biblical. And that is going to destroy the correct interpretation of the Bible.
Tenth point; the foundational assumption of psychology is a rejection of man's fundamental problem as sin, and therefore the fundamental solution is grace. That's what underlies the problem of all psychology. Even so-called Christian psychology, because what's happened is in Christianity psychology you have Christians who come along and they buy into a system, a methodology and an approach, a model of human behavior, that was develop on the foundation that man's fundamental problem is not sin and God doesn't exist and God can't solve the problem. So what they're going to do is they're going to take this entire edifice, this entire structure that's been built on this false foundation and they're going to take it and they're going to try to baptize it into Christianity and attach a bunch of Bible verses to it and try to reshape that foundation a little bit so it's not obvious. They're going to just put some window dressing on it so you don't see that fundamentally it still rejects sin as the fundamental problem. It's not sin that's the fundamental problem, even though the Christian psychologist will talk about sin as the fundamental problem, he then turns right around and will start using categories like unconscious and subconscious and the reason you make these decisions is because of things in your subconscious and that's forcing you to do it.
That's a denial of volitional responsibility; you may or may not be volitionally conscious when you do something, but we started doing it, in some way we were more volitionally conscious. If you've got a problem with alcohol when you first took a drink you were volitionally conscious that you were making a decision to have a beer or have a scotch or bourbon or whatever it was. And initially you were aware of that but once it becomes a habit like any other habit, we're no longer aware of those volitional decisions. And so when we're 25 or 30 and now something becomes a problem we want to say oh well, I don't ever remember making a volitional choice here, it's just something I feel like I have to do. That's a habit and there's a difference between a habit and some sort of psychological pressure that renders us volitionally less responsible.
So the foundational assumption is a rejection of man's fundamental problem as sin and therefore the fundamental solution as grace. In the book, How to Get Your Money's Worth out of Psychiatry, Herbert Lazarus writes: "Psychiatry has a quarrel with only those forms of religion which emphasize the doctrine of original sin. Any belief that tends to focus on the idea that man is inherently evil conflicts with the basically humanistic approach to problems that psychiatrists must follow." So you can't wed Christianity with any psychological system at all; they are mutually exclusive. So once again we see there can't be any such thing as a Christian psychological system. As believers our whole concept of human problems and solutions must come from the Bible and the Bible alone. We don't need to get educated in psychological methodology or solutions in order to be able to help people.
Point eleven; the rejection of the doctrine of original sin and personal responsibility for bad decisions is one reason that psychology is so popular. People don't want to be confronted with their sin. Allen Stone writes: "The psychologizing of the American public has created an expanding market. As a result of this psychologizing of the American public people who have marital problems, sex problems, problems with their children, who are having psychological discomfort, increasingly look for psychological help. It's an infinitely expanding market."
And Tana Dineen in her critique of psychology writes: "The expanding work force of the psychology industry relies on its survival and growth on its ability to manufacture victims." See, the problem isn't that I make bad decisions and that I'm a sinner; the problem is that I'm a victim and it's not my fault. And so we're all victims and we just have to get together and have some big warm group hug and we'll all feel better and go home and wasn't it good to meet Jesus this morning. That's really what underlies the methodology and the philosophy of ministry in too many churches today. What they're doing in the pulpit and the way they structure their entire worship service has been influenced by psychology, because we're here to make people feel better, to lift them up. And there's nothing wrong with leaving church and feeling encouraged and feeling positive but sometimes when we go to church and we hear the truth and we hear doctrine and we realize who we are as sinners that's not pleasant. We may not go home feeling good; we may go home realizing that God wants us to change and we really don't want to do that so I'd rather go some place that makes me just feel good. That's why that is so much more popular than any kind of Biblical teaching. Besides, if you teach the Bible you have to think and people don't want to think, they just want to emote.
Point number twelve; the new religious values of psychotherapy are distinctly anti-Biblical. Needleman in his work, I quoted from earlier, writes: "A large and growing number of psychotherapists are now convinced that eastern religions offer an understanding of the mind far more complete than anything yet envisage by western science." Now let's say you decide that you're going to go to a therapist and you go to a therapist and you don't know what their model is or anything else and they've taken eastern religious mysticism and they've given it all new terminology so now it seems scientific and what you're basically practicing is Hinduism in your approach to live and its problems, even though you call it by some sort of sanitized scientific name, are you still in Hindu? That sounds like a [can't understand word] question, what's the sound of one hand clapping. Yeah, you're still a Hindu. And that's what's happening is a lot of Americans have bought into eastern mystical ideas through psychotherapy and that's why a vast number of American, even Christians, are practicing Hindus because that's how they're approaching life, is from a methodology based on eastern mysticism and not Christianity and they don't even know it. With all these desperate…[tape turns]
…thousands of troubled men and women throughout American no longer know whether they need psychological or spiritual help. The line is blurred that divides the therapist from the spiritual guide. We've confused psychology and religion; people are confusing it, they don't know what the solution is. Nickelsen in her work on Shamanism, you know what a Shaman is, that's the modern sociological term for a witch doctor, Nickelsen writes: "What Freud may have been practicing was an ancient form of magic." What Freud used to do was he had a whole bunch of little figures sitting his desk, and this was his normal practice, in fact you could hardly see the desk because he had so many of these little figures on his desk, so she writes about that practice: "What Freud may have been practicing was an ancient form of magic in which consecrated statues representing spirits or transpersonal powers would engage the magician in imaginable dialogues." See, he would talk back and forth to these statues. These ancient shamans "would engage the magician in the imaginable dialogues and supply him with invaluable knowledge. Such magical practices were well-known in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and the very statuettes that Freud owned may have been used for such practices by their contemporaries." They were ancient antique statutes that had been dug up by archeologists.
Point thirteen; that most of the American public thinks of psychology as monolithic, but there is no single accepted model of what makes up a person or why a person has problems, or what the solutions are. In fact, there are over 400 different therapeutic approaches and over 10,000 specific psychological techniques. And there are new schools being developed every year. Roger Mills, a psychologist writes in an article, Psychology Goes Insane and Botches its Role as Science, states: "The field of psychology today is literally a mess; there are as many techniques, methods and theories around as there are researchers and therapists. I have personally seen therapists convince their clients that all their problems come from their mothers, the stars, their biochemical makeup, their diet, their lifestyle, even the karma from past lives." Now you're going to go to a therapist, what are they going to convince you their problem is? "The whole scientific basis for psychotherapy is a myth."
We've gotten this idea that it's scientific, therefore it must be right. Christopher Barden, a psychologist and a lawyer and the president of the National Association for Consumer Protection in mental health practices writes: "It is indeed shocking that many, if not most, forms of psychotherapy currently offered to consumers are not supported by credible scientific evidence." In fact, as we'll see in a little bit there is no evidence that psychotherapy even works. Further he states: "Too many Americans do not realize that…" now this is a man who's a psychologist, he's a lawyer and he's the president of the National Association for consumer Protection in mental health practices, he says: "Too many Americans do not realize that much of the mental health industry is little more than a national consumer fraud."
In fact, Dr. Sigmund Kotch who was appointed by the American Organization of Psychological Researches to direct a study; subsidized by the National Science Foundation and this foundation included 80 scholars who published their results in 7 volumes, Dr. Kotch concluded: "I think it by this time utterly and finally clear that psychology cannot be a coherent science." Eighty scholars, eighty psychologists published their results in 7 volumes and that's their conclusion.
Sir Karl Popper who is a scientific researcher states that: "though posing as scientists, psychology had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science," that "they resembled astrology more than astronomy." Research psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey writes in The Mind Game, "The techniques used by western psychiatrists are, with few exceptions, on exactly the same scientific plain as the techniques used by witch doctors." This is shamanism, it's a fraud. So we have confidence in psychology? Give me a break.
Point number 15; Martin Bobgan in his book lists the following as false assumptions that have no Biblical or scientific basis. Let's run through these; these are false assumptions that have no Biblical or scientific basis but they derive from psychology. Don't tell me how many of these things have influenced your thinking.
A person's unconscious mind drives behavior more than his conscious mind chooses behavior; that has no Biblical or scientific basis.
Furthermore psychologists will teach that present behavior is determined by unresolved conflicts in childhood. There's no scientific basis for that, that present behavior is determined by unresolved conflicts in childhood. Now that doesn't mean that we don't have conflicts in childhood and it doesn't mean that we don't have unresolved conflicts in childhood. What it says is that present behavior isn't determined by that.
Furthermore, psychology asserts, with not basis, that parents are to blame for most people's problems. That doesn't mean our parents were perfect or that they didn't have problems and maybe we ought to blame them for a lot of things but they are not to blame for my problems and my bad decisions.
Fourth, environment is to blame for most people's problems. Adam and Eve were in perfect environment and they failed, the problem is not environment, the problem is bad decisions.
Fifth assumption of psychology that is false, people need insight into their past to make significant changes in thoughts, attitudes and actions. We don't need to understand our past, we need to understand what the Bible says and then apply it. That's not to say that the past doesn't influence us; that's where we develop bad habits and everything else, but you don't have to understand the past, you don't have to go back into your childhood and dredge up all kinds of stuff because our memories are flaky anyway. You can't rely on them and I don't know how many of you but I know I occasionally get into knock-down-drag outs with my parents over things I remember happened one way and they think it happened another way; now those are just silly things. Our memories are funny things so we can't rely on them.
In fact, in the 80s it was real popular for people to come up with regressed memories and go through hypnotic therapy and they would come up with ideas that their parents were… and I repressed this, and my parents were really involved in a demonic cult and I was a victim of sexual abuse and they generated all these things and there were all sorts of trials and finally the research started to come out by the early 90s that psychotherapists could actually suggest, very subtly, just by the questions they asked, certain memories and so there was this whole idea of repressed memory syndrome which was rejected and I know of several families that were just ripped apart and are still torn apart today because they had a son or a daughter who couldn't figure out how to apply doctrine in their life so they went off into psychotherapy and got into repressed memory stuff and came back and started charging their parents with all kinds of things and the parents were shocked because they'd never even heard of half of the stuff, much less practiced it.
More assumptions that we make about life from psychology that's false, the first five years of life determine what a person will be like when he grows up. That's false. Now there are a lot of decisions that we make in those first five years and there are a lot of things that happen to develop mentally, but it doesn't automatically determine the rest of your life. That's the point.
Another false assumption, everything that has ever happened to me is located in my unconscious mind. There's no such thing as the unconscious mind; you may have a memory, you may have a memory that doesn't work very well, you may not be able to remember it but that's not the unconscious. The unconscious is a metaphysical category developed by Freud. It's a technical term.
Third, people use unconscious defense mechanisms to cope with life. No, we use sinful habits to cope with life, that's what the Bible says.
And last, this is fourth, people need positive self-regard, high self-esteem or to feel good about themselves. People need to feel good about themselves to make life work; that's false. That's not Biblical; you don't see the Bible talk about that anywhere.
And then the last two, Christians and pastors need training in Biblical counseling in psychology to be able to help people because just knowing the Bible is not enough for helping people with serious problems. You would be surprised how many people I ran into in seminary who really believed that, including professors, that you need training in Biblical counseling and psychology to be able to help people. No, you just need doctrine. You just need to understand the Scriptures and the Bible is enough! The Bible claims to be enough and to reject that is heresy.
And then the last one, I love this, alcoholics anonymous was started by Christians and is based on Christian principles and is necessary to help people overcome addictions. Yeah, right?!!! They only have a 17% success rate. AA is really based more on paganism and human pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps problem solving mentality than anything else and that's why its success rate is only 17%.
These are just some of the many false assumptions that characterize our thinking, that we've bought into from the culture around us.
Furthermore, point number sixteen; the root of modern psychology is planted in thinkers who were anti-Christian and anti-religious. The roots of modern psychology, the roots are planted in thinkers who were anti-Christian and anti-religious. Freud, Jung, Maslow, Rogers were all not only…none of them were Christians, they were all anti-Christian. Freud was a Jew who hated the anti-Semitism of Christianity as it was expressed…who hated anti-Semitism and that was identified with the kind of Christianity he grew up with in Europe and so he hated Christianity because he thought it was automatically anti-Semitic, and he was out to destroy Christianity.
Point seventeen; we have the problem of pragmatism. We think it works, but does psychology really work. Let's look at the facts. Researchers, some of this is taken from articles that were written as early as 1952 and whose conclusions are still not challenged…well they're challenged but they're not refuted. Many different studies have been done about the results of psychology and these conclusions stand and some of them are thirty or forty years old and cannot be refuted.
Number one; psychotherapy can and does harm a portion of those it intends to help. That was one of the conclusions in the handbook of psychology. Psychotherapy can and does harm a portion of those it intends to help.
Point number two; there is no real evidence that psychotherapy is effective, not one shred of solid evidence that psychotherapy has ever helped anyone, that is psychotherapy in and of itself.
Point number three; the percentage of positive results from people who go to therapy is no different from a placebo effect. You know what a placebo is? That's a sugar pill. In studies they have done between groups with similar problems, those who went through therapy and those who just got together and did nothing, the end result after five years is that the same percentage of people in each group had solutions. In other words, psychotherapy doesn't do anything for you. It's no different from anything else.
A fourth conclusion that they derived is that training credentials and the experience of the psychotherapist are irrelevant to the results. Whether you're talking about somebody who has two or three PhD's from the highest schools and has gone through all the training, the highest best psychological workshops and has years and years of experience, the results that they have are quantitatively no different from the results of someone who just has a masters in social work and is out there in the field for the first six months and can't even get their own life together. What does that tell us? That tells us that there's something…what all of these systems have in common, basically, that I've observed is talking. First of all talking, and secondly the counselor therapist begins to function as a substitute friend.
Now the solution is that in the Scripture it says not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together" because there's something in the body of Christ called mutual encouragement. If you go through the New Testament there's all kinds of passages on what we are to do to one another. We are to admonish one another, we're to encourage one another, we're to teach one another. Now I don't take that "one another" as meaning just anybody we don't know; but we are to develop, we all develop a circle of friends, people we can talk to, people we can be honest with, and just in the process, sometimes, of talking solutions occur to us about how we need to apply doctrine in things, so we need to have people to talk to. And in our modern society so often people are so busy they never have time to develop any level of intimacy or talking with anybody. There's no fellowship with one another. We see that emphasizes, even in the introduction to 1 John, that we have fellowship with God, we have fellowship with one another, there's a mutual association there.
And I know that just when I'm working through some things and I'm trying to figure out how to teach something or I'm working through exegesis of a problem I'll call up one or two guys I know who also have training and we'll just talk about things, and in the process of talking it out we work out solutions. That's what all these systems have in common; that's why they appear to work for some people, is because they just need somebody to talk to and they go and they talk and they work out…they see what the solution is and they work a problem. It doesn't have anything to do with therapy or the models or the counselor or anything like that. The solution for the believer is clear; it is the Word of God and the Word of God alone. Now sometimes we may not immediately see how doctrine applies to our solution.
That's why we have the promise in James 1:5 that "if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God," and that's prayer, that God the Holy Spirit will help us to see how the doctrine we have learned applies to the problems or situations that we face so that we can apply it and move forward and advance so that we can fulfill the principle of James 1:2, to "count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance and endurance will have its completing" or perfect "result in maturity." That's James 1:2-3. So the solution is not psychology and yet we live in a society, we live in a culture where the very words that we use so often to talk about people's problems and the solutions have been shaped by psychology and we're importing at a subtle level a lot of values that are anti-Biblical.
So just as Gideon came back and he violently and aggressively went on a seek and destroy mission to take out those who had compromised with the enemy, that's what we need to do in our own thinking. We need to learn doctrine and we need to be involved in a seek and destroy mission in our own thinking to remove human viewpoint and its influences from the way we think.