Posted: 19th July, 2014

Psychology, Or the Bible?

I was about to drop out of university, when someone handed me a book by Sigmund Freud. I found the book fascinating, and decided to remain in university and study Psychology.

The word ‘Psychology’ means the ‘study of the soul’. Through all my study of psychology, I kept waiting for a course that touched the soul, and really provided answers to the problems that man faces. I went through graduate school in clinical psychology; I did an internship and a post-doctoral fellowship, studying and practising psychoanalysis; but I never once found any answers. One day, in the middle of a staff meeting, I realized: “This is all meaningless. It’s false. It’s not true.” I wasn’t a Christian at the time and didn’t know what to do, but one thing I did know, and that was that the therapy I had been trained in was empty.

Most people when they think of psychology, think of it as something that enables people to feel better and ‘cures’ people’s internal distress. But, if that were the case, why would there be any hundreds of different psychotherapies, all disagreeing with each other, and each one claiming to provide some success and some cure? Why would it be that in mental hospitals the return rate of people who are supposed to have been cured is more than 80%? Clearly, something isn’t working.

What is wrong? Isn’t psychology a good thing? After all, it aims to help people with the problems they face and the feelings they experience. The main problem with psychology is its very heart. Its source is muddy. It is rooted in a worldview that is in direct opposition to the biblical world and life view found in God’s Word. All the various schools of thought in psychology teach the denial of objective reality. All of them also are limited. They look for freedom, but none of them actually offer freedom. In each of the main views, man is really a slave – a slave to the psyche and unconscious, or to behaviour, or to man, or to the universe.

I want to present to you an alternative way to deal with problems and to view man. It is this: the Word of God. The Word of God is under attack today. It is under attack in the area of sufficiency. People want to say, “The Bible is not sufficient for the complex problems we face today. We need modern psychology to provide the answers.” They argue that in our ‘age of science’ contemporary psychotherapy has the answer you need (as long as you take your psychiatric med’s with it).

As for psychotherapy, take a look at one example, love. Carl Rogers speaks about love and the necessity of love. Shouldn’t we then use Rogers to learn about love and how to better love? This sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? After all, who doesn’t want to learn how to better love? But think about this for a minute. Yes, Rogers speaks about love, but his definition of love is completely contrary to the biblical definition of love!

Rogers’ definition is a self-absorbed, absolutely unconditional, love. And the church has come to embrace such unconditional love more and more, while at the same time rejecting the need of faith. Their idea is simple: “God loves us all. Thus, we are all forgiven, and saved eternally.” As Rob Bell put it in the title of his book, “love wins”.

But is that true? Does God’s love eradicate the need for saving faith? What happens to saving faith? Does God unconditionally love all those who reject and deny Jesus Christ and whom He will cast into hell? No! Is God’s love self-absorbed? No! Christ gave Himself. His love is completely sacrificial and others-oriented. But the psychological world and the church today say, “Carl Rogers is speaking the truth. Real love can never be seen in any other way.” But the truth is, Rogers’ love and biblical love are two completely different things!! If we really want to learn about love, we can’t learn about it from psychology.

Or take sin. Christians will argue, “But O. Hobart Mower, a past president of the American Psychological Association, speaks of sin. That’s helpful. That’s biblical.” But again, it isn’t. Mower’s view of sin is completely man to man. If I’ve done something wrong to you, then to help me feel better I say to you, “I’m sorry”, I might even add, “Will you forgive me?” But sin is NOT primarily against man. First and foremost, sin, any sin, is against GOD. David says to God, “Against YOU and YOU alone have I sinned.” The primary focus in confession of sin is not man to man, it is man to God. Our sin is first and foremost against God, and if we want to truly deal with sin and its ravages, we can’t eliminate God from our repentance.

You see, when you start from a pool that is muddied, what you get, even if it is far from its source, is still going to be muddy. So I say, why do I have to go to psychology for love? Don’t we have this in the Scriptures? Why go to a muddy source when we can go to the true and pure source?

Friends, the bible is meant to be a completely sufficient book for dealing with the nature and dilemma of man. It begins with the creation of man in Genesis 1 & 2. It tells us that man is created in the image of God. THIS is what defines man, not our psyche or unconscious, not our behaviour, not the universe. The Bible next moves to the fall of man in Genesis 3, which is the root of our problems. And then from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, its purpose is to show man’s redemption and man’s restoration in the image and glory of God, and what this means for our lives and the problems we face. We learn that every person on earth is undergoing a constant transformation that is one of two things: 1. Either you are being conformed to the same image as Christ, from glory to ever increasing glory, so that you become just like the Lord, or 2. you are in depravity and lostness and becoming more and more corrupt, and more and more lost. These are the only two options; and if we disregard this reality, then our worldview and how we deal with our problems and our lostness, will inevitably be off.

The Word of God has all that is necessary and sufficient for the restoration of man’s soul in Christ. We don’t need to rely on the insights of secular man. I say, go to the Word of God, learn what the Scripture’s teach, hear the Word of God in preaching, let it be applied to your soul through the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. And if you are not a believer, then flee to Christ in faith and repentance, and trust Him to save your life both now and forever. It is only in this way that you can find true meaning, and deal well with the problems you face.

Don’t see the Scriptures as some naïve book unable to deal with complex problems. We need to return to the Word of God. When we do that, then we are going to see lives changed and churches revitalized, and then we’re going to see nations revitalized as well.

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Can a Christian work as a psychologist? Should Christians integrate psychological and biblical methods?

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