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Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2012
185 Pages, Grade: 4.0
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THEOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW PERSPECTIVES FOR SYNTHESIS
PART I: CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW PERSPECTIVES ON MANKIND’S DEEPEST NEEDS
Chapter 1: The Theologians
Overview of Study
Part I Introduction
2. Martin Luther
3. Jonathan Edwards
4. S oren Kierkegaard
5. Paul Tillich
6. Karl Barth
Chapter 2: A Summary of the Theological Worldviews
2. Martin Luther
3. Jonathan Edwards
4. S oren Kierkegaard
5. Paul Tillich
6. Karl Barth
Chapter 3: The Convergent/Divergent Theological Worldviews
Lessons From the Theologians
PART II: PSYCHOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW PERSPECTIVES ON MANKIND’S DEEPEST NEEDS
Chapter 4: The Conflict Model of Mankind’s Deepest Needs
1. Sigmund Freud
2. Erik H. Erikson
3. C.G. Jung
Chapter 5: The Fulfillment Model of Mankind’s Deepest Needs
1. Abraham Maslow
2. Carl R. Rogers
3. Eric Fromm
PART III: THE MATRIX OF THEOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WORLDVIEWS
Chapter 6: A Comparison/Contrast of the Theological/Psychological Worldviews
1. The Convergence and Divergence of Both Worldviews
2. Metaphysical and Moral Assumptions
3. Psychological Theism and Theological Non-Theism
4. Relevance of Needs to Rational Religious Belief.
5. Immanent Versus Transcendent Solutions
Chapter 7: An Analysis of Concerns and Conclusions For Praxis
1. Is Integration Possible?
2. Is Psychology Necessary Today?
3. Secular Criticisms of Psychology
4. What About Christian Psychology?
5. Can a Christian Trust Psychology?
6. The New Religion
7. Rediscovering Biblical Counseling
8. Biblical Counseling in the Bible
9. A Suggested Model For Counseling
10. Closing Comments: The Basis For Counseling
The purpose of this thesis is to analyze what selected, leading theologians and noted psychologists have written, throughout history, about mankind's deepest needs in order to discover the extent, if any, to which these two worldviews may be integrated, without compromise of Biblical truth.
"What," asked Tertullian in the third century, "has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Or the Academy with the church?" The Greek city of Athens was the home of the Academy, an institution of secular learning founded by Plato in 387 B.C. For Tertullian, Christian theologians inhabited a completely different mental world to their pagan counterparts. How could there be a meaningful dialogue between these two polar opposites? This question has resonated throughout history. Regarding theology and psychology, the question is being hotly debated today and is the primary focus of this research paper. "Is there any place in the church for psychology? If so, what is that place?"
Today's desperate search for spiritual and emotional problem resolution, inner fulfillment and clear answers to the complicated questions of life, have all exploded into a gigantic industry, based on naturalistic philosophies. Recovery programs, twelve-step seminars, counseling centers and hordes self-help book are everywhere! Millions of Christians are seeking spiritual help and self-understanding, with modern-day maladies, in psychological theories rather than Scriptural truths.
The methodology employed here will involve a critical series of objective convergence/divergence studies of six theologians and six psychologists representing different models of highly respected theological thought and psychological theory. It will be evident, to the reader, that these critiques and especially in the concluding chapter, that the personal presuppositions of the author affirm the world view of Christian theism.
I wish to express my appreciation to my Advisor, Dr. Ray Parker, for the helpful resources he generously shared with me during the whole process of this dissertation composition. His encouragement, scholarship and kindness was a God-send.
Many heartfelt thanks go to my immediate family, in Pensacola, who have lovingly and graciously supported me thru my major life changes which have all led to this grand opportunity of pursuing my educational dream and desire to serve the Lord. Without them, none of this could be possible.
I also desire to acknowledge the scores of caring, dedicated Christians God has put in my life, over the years, who have been such a personal inspiration to me. Their strong, authentic faith, passion for Christ, evangelical commitment to His Word and love for His people have left an indelible impression on me, I never forgot.
I dedicate this research project to the thousands of Christian servants, clergy and lay persons alike, who compassionately minister God's Word, publicly and privately, every week, to confused, hurting , suffering souls seeking the spiritual healing and deliverance that comes only from the truth, that is, Jesus Christ our Lord.
"He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions."
"Man needs to be saved from his own wisdom as much as from his own righteousness, for
they produce one and the same corruption."
WILLIAM LAW, 1761 in
Declaration Concerning Thesis Presented for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
I, David T. Crews, of 3400 Arizona Drive, Pensacola, FL. 32504,
Solemnly and sincerely declare, in relation to the Ph.D. thesis entitled:
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THEOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW PERSPECTIVES FOR SYNTHESIS (a) That work was done by me, personally
(b) The material has not previously been submitted in whole, or in part, for any other degree of diploma
Signature: David T. Crews
Date: November 28, 2011
The purpose of this research study is to seek to identify and clarify historic theological and psychological worldview perspectives to ascertain their degree of harmony or conflict with one another and answer the question of whether they can be synthesized and, if so, to what degree. Never before in history has the church leaned so heavily on psychology to minister to God's people. Currently, the on-going debate is far from over as to what specific role, if any, psychology should play in the church. There are many who see blatant contractions between modern psychotherapy theory and God's Word. Others, wonder if the two fields can be compatible side by side. Still others see no problem at all with the integration models in existence.
Part I is concerned with the theological accounts of mankind's deepest needs. This involves a study of six significant leaders of the Christian church (Augustine, Luther, Edwards, Kierkegaard, Tillich and Barth) and what they have written regarding our deepest needs. This part concludes with a summary of each theologian's worldview. Part II examines the work of six psychologists (Freud, Erikson, Jung, Maslow, Rogers, and Fromm) as they develop their theories and models of humanity's deepest needs. This is promptly followed by a critique of each therapist.
Part III will intersect the theological and psychological worldviews, pointing out major areas that converge and diverge, compliment and conflict. The conclusion will offer information for the reader to consider in their personal view of theology/psychology, as a Christian, and a suggested model for Christian counseling purposes.
Part I will survey what selected prominent theologians in the Christian tradition (Augustine, Luther, Edwards, Kierkegaard, Tillich and Barth) have written regarding the nature of our deepest needs. These historical theologians were selected because of their unique insights and the continuing influence they have on Christian thought. They also represent a wide diversity in beliefs, as well. Augustine embodies the ancient, medieval Roman Catholic Church. Luther represents the theology of the Protestant Reformation of the Middle Ages, Edwards, Kierkegaard, Tillich and Barth portray various aspects of post-Reformation theology from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Edwards, of the eighteenth century, represents a strongly Calvinistic perspective. Kierkegaard, of the twentieth century, observes the existentialist view, Tillich, of the twentieth century, correlates a liberal philosophical/psychological secular dialogue and Barth, of the modern era, a neo orthodox, evangelical theology.
Augustine: The Most Influential Theologian Ever (354-430)
Augustine is unquestionably, next to the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest theologians of all time by whatever standard of measurement is used. His impact over theology and Western thought is as broad as it is deep. This fact is inescapable even after fifteen centuries following his death.1 His doctrines of the Fall of man and the grace of God were the twin trumpet theological blasts of the Protestant Reformation that Luther and Calvin took up as, "the just shall live by faith” resounded against the corruption of the medieval Catholic church. It is not overstating things to say the history of the church, is in large part, due to Augustine's impact upon it, theologically speaking.
He towers as a giant among both the Catholic and Protestant traditions of faith. A colossus intellectual scholar, teacher, preacher, writer, administrator, apologist and theologian, Augustine was all these and more. He has been billed as the first medieval, even the first modern man, and his timeless literature masterpieces such as Confessions and City of God are still studied today, with great intensity, by seminary students from all denominations and churches around the world.2
In his, City of God, he was motivated, by the 410 A.D. fall of Rome, to answer the charge of those who were still clinging to ancient paganism and blaming the Rome's abandoning of her ancient gods to embrace the new Christian faith, as the real reason for her utter decline. It was to respond to such accusations that Augustine explained there are two cities, each built on love as a foundation.
The City of God is built on the love of God. The earthly city, symbolic of Rome, is built on the love of secular philosophies of man. In human history, these two cities always appear one in the same, mingled with each other, to most people. But in spite of this, there is an invisible, but very real, opposition of terrible differences, a war to the death, to climax in history. In the end, only the City of God will remain.
Meanwhile, human history is filled with blood, violence, war, kingdom against kingdom, nation against nation, all built on the love of self. But, they are all doomed to perish, as the pages of our past confirm. All of these kingdoms, no matter how powerful and great they are, will all wither and pass away, until the end of history, when only the City of God will stand high above the ruin, rubble and smoking ashes of man's futile attempt to build a lasting civilization part from God.
In the particular case of Rome, God allowed her to flourish so that they could serve as a means to spread the gospel.3 Hence, the philosophies of self over God serve to bring about the demise of the nations, as well as individuals, according to Augustine. God is Lord over history and not subject to man or his futile attempts to control it.
Coming out of raw paganism, steeped in Roman debauchery and nightly, filthy sexual escapades, the young Augustine encountered a dramatic conversion cleansing experience, thanks in part, to his dearly devoted Christian mother, Monica, who prayed daily for her wayward, searching son. He was 32, and agonizing over the great psychological and spiritual questions of his nature and destiny.
He had already quickly ran thru the philosophies and intellectual experiments of his day, but was still not satisfied, nor did his soul know God's peace.
However, in a garden in Milan, all of that changed.
He thought he heard a little child's voice say Tolle, lege ("take up and read"), nearby, as he suddenly stopped weeping over his disllusioned soul. Feeling this was a mystical experience of divine guidance, he reached out for the nearest written document before him, Paul's letter to the Romans, and his tearful eyes fell upon these words, "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts thereof (Romans 13:14).4
Augustine's psychological, emotional and spiritual crisis had led up to this point. He broke down and committed himself totally to Christ. Soon after that, he abandoned his career as a lecturer, his live-in lover, his sin and moved away to a monastic retreat to focus on his new transformation, as he began a lifetime of dedicated discipleship that would change, not only his life, but the course of the Western church.
The rest of his life comes close to the stuff of legend, though far from fable, Augustine encountered the power of God, thru the Word of God and the Spirit of God, and consequently experienced the liberating power of the Son of God over every worldly philosophy he had previously been so enslaved to find answers to his deepest needs.
Because Augustine had such a cataclysmic encounter with the Word of God, during his conversion, he was well aware of its power to minister to the deepest needs of man, psychological, emotional and spiritual. He commented that "the Scripture, which is called canonical, has supreme authority, and we ought to agree with it in all matters." (City of God 11.3)5
Interestingly enough, Augustine, was the first theologian to use psychological analogies to illustrate his deep interest in the subjective life of the self as it relates to God.
For example, he suggests that we can see a dim image of the Trinity in our expression of human love. When we love, there are three things involved; "myself, the thing I love and love itself." (On the Trinity 9:2)6 His complete doctrine of the Trinity would become the only acceptable one during the numerous Trinity debates of his time.
During his lifetime, he was drawn into every kind of conceivable theological and ecclesiastical problem, but he heavily relied upon the power and authority of God's Word as he forcefully and effectively wielded it, to correct false doctrines and silence the mouths of his critics. One of his chief concerns regarded the doctrine of the glorious image of God in man. This theme, "the cornerstone of Augustinian anthropology"7 is an underlying current that flows thru his writings.
Augustine develops the polarity between the depths into which humanity has fallen thru sin and the heights into which humanity can be raised by the redemptive grace of God. The possibilities of human life are immense, but the actual fallen condition of alienation from God renders these possibilities unattainable apart from divine grace8
According to Augustine, in similar ways, the psychological image of the Trinity in the inner man consists of memory, self-knowledge, and self-love that is self-less, God- focused, not self-centered. It is this image of God, within us all, which provides the potential basis for remembering, knowing and loving God, as it is daily renewed by the abundant grace of God which abounds over all human sin.
The image of God "lost righteousness and true holiness by sinning, thru which that image became defaced and tarnished; by this it recovers when it is re-formed again and renewed by Christ."9 God restores a new image, as He recreates His own image from that which was once deformed by the effects of sin and lost by the Fall of man.
Respecting the theological truth of, "already, but not yet tension," in the Christian life, Augustine is very clear and careful to point out that this reformation does not happen all at once. There is an initial renewal, however, which begins the lifelong process of spiritual growth thru discipleship and a final renewal, in glory, which completes it. The Christian life is a progressive movement, a gradual process toward total conformity to Christ.10 God prescribes a unique program, for each elect in Christ, whereby He chooses to deliberately utilize all sufferings, temptations, adversities, trials and spiritual battles to purify, refine, mold and shape us to the likeness of His Son, the goal of the Christian life.
An important feature of Augustinian anthropology is his analysis of sin and how it relates to self. Not only does sin distort the image of God in man but it also finds expression in the preference of oneself over God and the things thereof. As he put in his Confessions, "My sin was this, that I looked for beauty, pleasure and truth not in God, but in myself and His other creatures, and the search led me instead to pain, confusions and error."11
This overemphasis on one's self, preferring one's own desires over God's, is the essence of sin, as Augustine points out, "Not the being of the self, nor its desire to know and enjoy, are evil: its preference of its own being and of the knowledge and enjoyment of things temporal, to the one eternal Good, is what constitutes sin."12
After the fall, outlined in (Genesis 3), when man turned away from all that which is good, humanity lost to ability to please God because the bondage to sin reduced perceived human freedom as actually nothing more than the misery of choosing between which sins to commit next rather than true freedom to love and obey God.
The ensuing self-destructive bondage is a wound to any and all who oppose the rule of God. Those to whom God mercifully extends His grace to are freed from the tyranny and slavery of sin, however, the emancipation is only partial in this life.13
Because of fallen humanity's slavery to sin, the greatest and deepest need is the mighty grace of God whereby forgiveness and restoration from spiritual death are granted. "The grace of God liberates man from the misery inflicted on sinners, because man was able to fall of his own accord, that is, by free will, but was not able to rise of his own accord."14 Man is powerless to renew and restore the marred image of God within himself. He is unable to bridge the eternal chasm between holy God and sin. This does not mean that man cannot perform some deeds of charity of kindness or that the whole image of God is completely marred.
Suffice to say, the glorious image of God in man is so horribly distorted and disfigured that all self-efforts (sincere, good intentions, world religions, strict morality, noteworthy resolutions, and sophisticated philosophies) to restore it, are of no help whatsoever. According to Augustine, the fall of man, was not a mere incidental trip-up, but a complete, head over heel, nightmarish tumble into an abyss of sure destruction, of which, only God's gracious intervention and resources in Christ, can rectify. Man's plight without God is, indeed, grim, at best.
If reconciliation is to take place, it will not proceed from the fallen side of humanity, it must come from holy, eternal God. Divine grace is desperately required, according to Augustine. "Mortals cannot live righteously and piously unless the will itself is liberated by the grace of God from the servitude of sin which it has fallen, and is aided to overcome its vices."15
Augustine encountered the Pelagian controversy in the early fifth century. Augustine affirmed Paul's position that human will is in bondage to sin and not free to make choices, outside of personal salvation in Christ. Human will and freedom has been seriously weakened and incapacitated, thru sin. But, thru the grace of God the human can experience the miraculous restoration, healing and true freedom. Sin's death-hold grip is locked so tight and lethal, around humanity's neck, that only God's supernatural resources can conquer the mortal enemies of mankind; the world, the flesh and the devil.
Outside of Christ, free will does not really exist. Mankind is in serious bondage to his sins and vices from which he cannot free himself by his own self efforts, commendable as they might be. The human will is too biased to do evil, as outlined in (Romans 7). A man might like to do good, but quickly discovers the frustration of being addicted to doing wrong and unable to stop. Like a struggling ant, which has thoughtlessly fallen in the pit of the ant lion insect, the harder the poor ant tries to escape the sand pit of death, the faster it slides down the ravine and into the hungry jaws of its enemy. Augustine believed help for man must come from outside of himself, not from within himself.
Pelagius and his followers, on the other hand, decreed that man is totally scot-free to do whatever he wants and is not hindered in any way whatsoever by sin or imperfection. There is no need for God's divine grace. In spite of the fact, every parent can verify, that you never have to teach a child to misbehave, but obey, disobedience comes quite naturally for all children, Pelagius did not believe Adam's sin had any effect on the human race. Quite the contrary to Paul's lengthy exposition on sin in the book of Romans.
Pelagius taught that sinful man can enjoy astounding success in self-help to understand and fulfill his deepest needs. Man can "pull himself up by his own bootstraps." He even went so far to teach that sinless perfection is possible for mankind, if he so chose. Pelagianism was attacked in the Council of Diospolis and condemned in 418 at the Council of Carthage. These condemnations were ratified at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Pelagius was branded as a heretic and false teacher. He was banished forever from Rome, shortly after.
Self-effort in attempting to understand human nature, psychology or find spiritual freedom is fruitless. Augustine realized this in his personal perception of God's grace that resulted in his radical transformation of character following his dramatic conversion to Christianity. Whenever one seeks for answers to life's riddles within themselves, the best they can find is further futility, frustration and confusion. Man must come to the "end of his rope," abandon his resources and look up to God where his true help originates. As long as he believes he can save himself, he will never look to Christ for his salvation.
God has so designed His universe as to make it impossible for man, in his own intellectual wisdom and rationale, to grasp or fulfill his deepest needs as outlined in (I Corinthians 1:20-21);
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolish of the message preached to save those who believe."
Since the only way to come to know God is thru God choosing to reveal Himself, Augustine maintains that it is not until people recognize their absolute dependency upon the total, unmerited grace of God will they abandon their self-delusionary pride of selfeffort in salvation. Hence, it is imperative that people become aware of their need for God and that more than anything else they long for Him.
If God has given Himself to men in Christ, it is because men need Him. Each person must come into contact with the soul's deepest need and desire, "the unsatisfied longing of the homesick heart"16 that is implanted in all humans as part of the image of God.
For Augustine of Hippo, the realization of one's need for God is a matter of spirit and heart. When one truly loves God, his emotions are involved. Prior to Augustine's arrival Christian theology had not been officially wedded to emotion, per se. But, in his analysis of the will and the heart, Augustine paved the way for an understanding of the self as it has been effected by the fall and the renewal possible through the grace of God in Christ.
Augustine imagined emotion, at its best, in connection with a soul joined to God.
At the same time, he would carefully question the issue of using one's emotions as a guide to truth. Regardless of one's personality or psychological disposition, Augustine's thinking about emotion, "encouraged a searching empirical psychology of feeling undertaken alongside a rather tenuous reliance on cognition, all framed by a certainty of the need for the directing power of redeeming grace."17
Thru God's gracious gift and provision of faith, that He mercifully supplies to each of His chosen elect, one attains the knowledge necessary for the love of God; this love in turn prompts the freedom of obedience to God's commands. The essence of these commands is for the believer to love God above all else and to love his neighbor as himself. There is not another command given here to love oneself. The reason why is because when one's heart is truly in love with God, he will love himself properly, as well.
Why? Because the love of God is the prerequisite to proper self-love and the spiritual resource to love one's neighbor. It is the total opposite of self-absorption or narcissism.
"It cannot be that he who loves God loves not himself; rather he who alone knows how to love himself supreme and true Good . . . wholesome self-love is to love God more than self."18
Augustine emphasizes that true love for God does not seek the private interest of the self. To be preoccupied with the satisfaction of one's own need in the course of loving God is a selfishness that is ironically self-defeating because it focuses on the creature rather than the Supreme Good. It is so deeply engrained in human nature to put self before God that it takes "the cross life" of "dying to self to correctly prioritize our loves.
When God is loved for who He is, rather than what He blesses us with, then selflove is held in healthy spiritual boundaries. Indeed, proper self-love that is based on the love of God, a giving rather than taking kind of love, is the condition for the right kind of love for others. This neighbor-type love is a love that seeks the highest good of the other person, without thought to cost to oneself.
Augustine made huge contributions, to the church, for his doctrines of human nature, evil, sin and the grace of God in Christ. He instructed that it is unrealistic and unChristian to imagine that human nature after the Fall is basically good. Mankind is handicapped by self-obsession. For those who realize they are wicked sinners, sin-sick, and crucially need the inner healing Great Physician, the kingdom of God belongs to them. God created us good, but took great pains to rescue us from our self-inflicted badness in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther: The Giant of the Reformation (1483-1546)
More books have been written about Luther, the great German Reformer, than about any other figure in history, except Christ.19 Martin Luther was a giant of history, probably the most significant European figure of the second millennium. His ideas and actions changed not only the church of his day, but also the world politically with a strong infusion of democracy. The great Luther scholar Paul Althaus once referred to Luther as an "ocean"20
Luther's literary output could be compared to the vastness of an ocean; (over 100 folio volumes, each more than one foot high, in German of his works). Only a handful of theologians in the history of Christian thought could even come close his stature, perhaps Augustine, Aquinas, Edwards and Barth.
Like Augustine before him, Luther wrestled with an unusually strong sense of his own sinfulness and depravity. Unlike Augustine, this had nothing to do with an obsession with sex. It was something darker and gloomier. Throughout his life, Luther suffered from attacks of severe depression, during which he was tormented by doubts of his salvation no matter how much he repented.
A psychologist would have had a field day with Luther, during this time in his life. In addition, Luther was also a very emotional man. He had a temperament like a volcano that could explode at any moment. Yet, mostly he was usually courteous, even cheerful, down to earth, full of humor and enjoyable to be around.21
Luther once went on a pilgrimage to Rome to find needed answers to his deepest needs, but he found no answers there in the intellectual and religious philosophies of the church. He even climbed up a holy stairs, kissing the ground as he crawled up step by step on his knees, confessing his sins, repeating the Lord's prayer, but Luther felt nothing. Psychologically and spiritually he was a torn, tormented religious monk who had no peace of mind or heart. What would he do?
Back home, his studies were starting to pay off and his hard work was rewarded in 1508 with a post of professor of moral philosophy at the University of Wittenburg. It was a tiny, hardly known college in a backward, rural town in the north of Germany.
Luther's former colleagues even refused to recognize that the doctoral degree he had completed at this obscure institution had any academic validity.
Little did he realize what was in the making. God had huge plans for Luther he knew not of. In his psychological and spiritual turmoil, something would penetrate and pierce the darkness of the medieval monk's soul. It would change the course of history for all Christendom to come.
It was here, in a little town, that Luther would have the famous "tower experience"22 that would shake the gates of Hades. Luther had spent his days, when he was not lecturing, pouring over the Scriptures. In 1519, God's light finally broke thru. Augustine's conversion was in the Milanese garden, Luther's tower experience was merely the climactic moment in a gradual process that developed over several years.
He writes, "I meditated day and night on those words, that once vexed me sorely before, until at last, by the mercy of God, I noticed their context; 'The righteousness of God is revealed in it', as it is written, 'The righteous person lives by faith.' I began to understand the way in which a righteous person lives through a gift of God, that is by faith. All at once I felt I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different life."23
Luther realized, like Augustine, the dire circumstances of our plight before God. We could not free ourselves from our own self-imposed, sinful tyranny, no matter how hard we tried. Only God could do that. We are saved by grace through faith, not works, however pious. God's righteousness is nothing we can ever merit or earn, for it is completely undeserved. (Romans 1:17) would now become one of his most beloved passages out of God's Word, though it once struck sheer terror in his soul because he thought God's righteousness meant God's punishment and condemnation.
The breakthrough for Luther came, in a similar way as it did the Apostle Paul, in that what precedes grace is not great effort, but in fact, active rebellion. "Christ died for the ungodly’’ —not the godly (Romans 5:6). Paul did not find grace while trying to serve Christ, just the opposite, he found grace when he was trying to kill Christ! God is not looking for religious or moral perfection before He bestows grace. God invites rebellious sinners to Him, not because of their goodness, or attempts at self-righteousness, but in spite of their badness. This mighty act of God's liberation in Christ snapped the heavy chains Luther had forged upon himself through all his hopeless attempts to fulfill his deepest needs before God.
After Luther's long spiritual crisis, God opened his eyes to the true nature of the righteousness of God. As well documented, in most the history books, this is not what the medieval Catholic church was teaching, in any form, whatsoever. Luther had no formal plans to reform the church, at first. It was a personal crisis that opened the door for greater opportunities for him.
His main gripe was the scandalous sale of indulgences and the many other practices which encouraged a man in his sin, turning him further away from Christ and true forgiveness. One thing led to another, however.
In a day and age where the modern church is so far removed from the medieval Catholic church, it may be a stretch to fully grasp what Luther, and the Protestant Reformers, were up against. The Pope had the authority of the king and the church ruled in almost unchecked power. If they chose to execute someone, for any church infraction, they were as good as dead. It was a corrupt, religious-political system, totally.
Little wonder, after Luther's conversion, that he protested so loudly against the corrupt and unbiblical practices of the church; the heresy doctrine of the infallible authority of the Pope, the false teachings of the merit of good works, the sale of indulgences, the mediation of the Virgin Mary and dead saints, the teaching of purgatory, prayers for the dead, confession of sin to a priest, celibacy of the clergy, holy water, wonder working images, rosaries, statues in the church, veneration of religious artifacts, magical enchantments and shrines. Luther's protest would soon become the reformers protest, hence, the Protestant Reformation was now born.
The violent reaction from the Catholic church was obvious; excommunication, death threats, Luther had to go into hiding for awhile for safety reasons. He was a Wanted Man by the Catholic church who promoted cartoons that pictured Luther as a sevenheaded devil, condemned him publicly and sought his capture to burn him to the stake.
While Luther made tremendous theological contributions to the doctrine of salvation by grace thru faith and insight into the legal justification of God's righteousness in Christ, his major thoughts actually revolved around two great themes; the authority of the Scriptures and one figure, the Person of Christ. Everything Luther wrote or taught was built upon these two firm foundational truths.
Like Augustine before him, as far as he was concerned, there stands only one reliable source of divine information that reveals not only our deepest needs, but how they are effectively met, that is, the Word of God, the sole source of all true theology for life now and eternity to come. The church of Luther's day had elevated their take on tradition, philosophy and ecclesiastical power over Scripture.
Philosophy, human reasoning, intellectual theories and church tradition are potentially helpful, if and only if, they are subservient and complementary to "Scripture alone."
Where there is conflict between the two, Scripture always takes precedence, either directly or implied. The scholastic teachings of Aristotle, Aquinas and others are to be sifted through the mesh of God's Word, not the other way around, as was the case in the medieval Roman church.
The penetrating implication to all this is that Scripture should be interpreted only by Scripture, a modern version of Augustine's principle of Biblical exegesis. Anything that is not in the Bible, is not acceptable Christian doctrine or practice and must be forsaken. One imagines today the refreshing consequences that could follow, in the fields of Christian psychology and counseling, if such a methodology was enacted.
Furthermore, the whole paraphernalia of the Catholic church, collected over 1000 years of apostasy is suddenly swept away by these Biblical hermeneutics.
To dispel any criticism that Luther worshipped the Bible, he staunchly promoted that the Bible's supreme authority is not the Bible, but Christ Himself! The Scriptures point to Christ. He is Lord, not the servant. The Word of God has no independent authority, but is authoritative only as a lens thru which we see Christ as Lord of all.
The Catholic church insisted only the church was duly and divinely authorized to interpret Scripture. In contrast, the Reformers' belief highlighted the truth of the, "priesthood of the believer"; every born again believer has the right to read, study and interpret the Word of God for themselves, based on their experience.
They do not need clergy for that task. The Holy Spirit, within, serves as the Christian's Teacher, according to Christ.
At the heart of Luther's theology was the ringing reformation phrase, "salvation by grace thru faith." And, by "faith" Luther did not mean a mere, intellectual head-nod, assent to doctrine. That would be just another feeble attempt to save one's self, which is impossible. Faith is a state of completely entrusting one's self into the nail-scared hands of Christ Jesus for salvation. It is trusting Him and Him alone for rescue and eternal deliverance based on the apostolic gospel truth that; He died for one's sin, He was buried and on the third day He arose.
Luther is having no part of the theology, of Aquinas and Aristotle, that argues the best way to become a better person is to just do more good deeds, similar to playing the piano. The more you play the better you get. Though Luther is even more negative in his assessment of the depravity and wickedness in human nature, than Augustine, like Augustine, he does not emphasize the hopeless pathological perversion of man's evil, hell-bent will against a loving, merciful God. Luther triumphantly rejoices in the gospel Good News of God's lavish grace in redeeming man from completely from his terminally lost condition. There is no sinful condition, however pathetic, that God's grace cannot reverse and transform into His glory in Christ, in Luther's thinking.
It goes without saying that Luther's concept of faith and the gift of God's righteousness was not of course anything new or novel. What made it so revolutionary , however, was the Biblical emphasis and claim that salvation comes thru faith alone by God's grace, nothing else.
Good works are and can never be the basis for God's righteousness.
This does not mean a true believer has no good works, indeed, Luther believed a personal relationship with God results in the "fruit of good works," but never is the justification for salvation.
Luther's last foundational theological principle was the Person of Christ. The Scriptures are the true and sole source of authority because they are the Scriptures of Christ. And salvation is thru faith alone because Christ, not us, achieved it by His finished work on the cross and His glorious resurrection from the dead. Christ is no mere historical figure. He is Christianity and history is "His-story." It is the Person of Christ, not the church or simply some teaching or fact about Him that is the object of saving faith. God's rescue operation is a personal salvation of Christ's union with the sinner.
In the final analysis, Luther's faith is faith not in tradition, not in a religious system, but in a Person. Luther's emphasis on a personal relationship with Christ marked a tremendous departure from the church's teaching of that day.
Luther writes, "Therefore, faith justifies because it takes hold of and possesses this treasure, the present Christ. The Christ who is grasped by faith is He who lives in the heart of the true Christian, on account of this, God counts us as righteous and grants us eternal life."24
Medieval theology emphasized Aquinas's stress on faith being "formedby love." Luther found this proposition quite intolerable. For this implies "a work that I must do" and also a requirement for me to be joined to Christ. Thus, by default, we become "cosaviors," helping Christ save us, as partners in salvation together. This, for Luther, was not only unbiblical but also, as he had found in his own experience psychologically impossible.25
Faith is not self-generated, it is the "gift of God, " according to Luther. Faith itself does not justify, it only receives the gift of justification.
Augustine and his medieval theological disciples has interpreted Paul as saying in justification we are made righteous, Luther acknowledged that and took it one step further by saying in justification we are declared legally righteous. Many evangelicals in the past have said that what distinguishes Luther's (and therefore the Protestant) view of justification from the Catholic view is imputation versus infusion. Luther taught imputation (that God only declares us righteous in justification) while Aquinas and Catholics teach infusion (that God makes us righteous in justification). But Luther did not restrict justification to just a legal transaction in the sky, removed from the real life of the believer.
In the exchange of our sins for His righteousness, at the cross, Christ makes the ungodly His. He breathes new life into them. He gives His Spirit to His newly birthed child. So there is real union with Christ. The verdict of justification, not only declared, but now activated.26
It is the blood of Christ that removes the sins from the guilty sinner. It is justification that declares the sinner more than 'not guilty,' it shares the very righteousness of Christ with the believer, not counting their sins against them. It is a positional standing of innocence, plus the righteousness of God, all declared by God because of what Christ did at the cross for the repentant sinner who receives His grace by faith. This wonderful theological truth is often referred to as being, "doubly blessed." It is better position than Adam, for it involves innocence, plus the positional righteousness of God in Christ.
Jonathan Edwards: America’s Greatest Theologian (1703-1758)
Jonathan Edwards, Pastor, philosopher, theologian, writer and Calvinist saint, was a man of deep piety and a meticulous observer of others' spiritual experiences, especially in the wake of the Great Awakening he found himself in the midst of.
Today most scholars regard Edwards as the greatest theologian in American history, and his writings have hugely influenced both church and academy. Currently, there are over a million Web sites that honor him and interest in Edwards in mushrooming in Brazil, Korea, Nigeria, and other regions where Christianity has been rapidly expanding. Edwards might be dubbed, 'the patron saint of religious revival and revivalism.27
Edwards discerned between the holy and all that which was of man. He saw a dichotomy between true, God-given, grace-filled religion on the one hand and false, counterfeit, hypocritical and non-gracious religion on the other. His standards were high and exacting. What many accepted true religion to be, Edwards refused to embrace. His desire was to sift out chaff of spiritual experience that attempted to pass itself off as genuine.
One side of Edwards links him to the later evangelical and revivalist tradition in America. The other side anticipates the late nineteenth-century psychologists and empirical investigators of religion, such as William James. Harvard historian, Perry Miller writes, "Edwards stood so far above and ahead of his immediate culture that our own time is barely catching up."28
He continues, "Edwards understanding of the human psyche was so advanced that it would have taken him about an hour's reading in William James, and two hours reading in Freud, to catch up completely."
Edwards entire literary output was shaped by his own religious experience. The themes of God's sovereignty, the beauty of God's holiness and grace on one side, and human sinfulness, depravity, and need for Christ's redemption on the other side, are the central motifs of Edwards personal memoirs and theological treatises. As a young man, he came to a profound awareness of his need to seek God's sovereign grace in salvation. His previous objections to Calvinistic Reformed theology melted away and he finally understood that God owes salvation to you one and may justify or pass over whoever He pleases.29
Edwards directly criticized both Arminianism and the general trend in scholarship to elevate human reason above divine revelation. He saw the error in any thought system that overlooked the fact of man's total depravity of sin, darkened mind and enslaved will. He did believe reason had its place, but always second to God's supernatural revelation.
The doctrine of original sin was important to Edwards. He recognized the mind to have a built-in tendency towards evil and the necessity for a radical transformation to overcome the dreadful consequences of the fall. The image of God in man was defaced, man was in spiritual death, but did not realize it, separated from God and only the redemptive blood of Christ could save him. It was God's will and desire to restore the soul of man to spiritual life from spiritual death and carry that change on to sanctification and perfect it in glory.30
Hence, man's deepest need is a restored relationship with God which is brought about thru repentance of sin and faith in Christ.
Edwards suffered a lifetime battle with the Deists of his day. Deists claimed that ordinary reason and self-efforts of the mind can determine what is true religion, so the problem with bad religion and human relations was a failure to use reason properly.
Deists were a cold, rational bunch of intellectuals who had no room for the supernatural either. With their passion for intellectual theories, one wonders how excited they would be today in psychological circles of modern psychotherapy with legions of new theories invented each year.
Nevertheless, Edwards flatly refused to acknowledge any truth to the Deist propositions. The Scriptures supernaturally illuminated one to the darkness and disablement of the will by indwelling sin. Man is not neutral, his will is neither free. He is conditioned by self-interest and intelligent, rational people have committed heinous crimes throughout history, as prove.
Deists assumed that all human action proceeded from good or bad thinking. But Edwards insisted that the springs of human motivation lie much deeper than the rational thoughts of the mind. Edwards taught that all human feeling and acting are rooted in the "affections, " which are the underlying loves and dispositions that incline us toward or away from things.
(These are not emotions, as some psychologists and scholars have erroneously reported, but something akin to what we call 'the soul' from which emotions arise).
This is the source of true religion, as well as, behavior, the deepest levels of the psyche.
The Scriptures confirm this when it places the heart of religion in the affections: fear, joy, hope, love, hatred, desire, sorrow, gratitude, compassion and zeal.
True religion comes from a source much deeper than human thinking and requires a supernatural light of illumination in the darkness and deadness of the soul. The Spirit of God must penetrate beneath the surface of convictions of human reasoning to resurrect the dead spirit within a man and open his blinded eyes to the glory of God in Christ, the beauty of all eternal perfection and holiness.
Therefore, the essence of all true religious experience is to be overwhelmed by a glimpse of the glory of the beauty of God.31 To be drawn by His grace to the glory of His perfect beauty and to sense His irresistible love. George Marsden once wrote that it is something like being totally overwhelmed by the beauty of a great work of art, music or piece of writing.32 To become so enthralled by the beauty that we lose consciousness of self and self-interest, and become absorbed by the magnificent object. So also we can become drawn out of our self-absorption by the power of a truly lovable person. One must only recall those swirling feelings of romance to understand this. So, it is with God, but with Him, the feelings remain and are expressed in our discipleship to Christ.
Our hearts are changed by an irresistible power we cannot describe, beyond the senses, yet within the senses, mysterious, yet simple and so real. We are gently lured, not pushed, not driven. Edwards maintained our once blinded eyes are opened when we are captivated by the beautiful perfect love and glory of God in Christ. His love is a rainbow of color, full of variety yet united as one when we experience this love most powerfully demonstrated in Christ's sacrificial love on the cross for the undeserving sinner.
Then we are compelled passionately to abandon our self-love and our personal world and run to His love and His world in Jesus Christ. He becomes our all, for He is all we desire. We are fulfilled in Him and need no other.
Edwards describes our side of this experience as a sixth sense: a sense of beauty, glory and love of God.
He observes, "the Bible speaks of giving us eyes to see, ears to hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and opening the eyes of them that were born blind, and turning darkness to light. "33
Therefore, the spiritual knowledge gained in true conversion is a kind of "sensible" knowledge-it is different from intellectual knowledge as the taste of honey is different from a mere intellectual understanding honey sweet.
Deists in the 18th century had disconnected the world from God's immediate control by picturing God as one who winds up a divine clock and walks away from it letting the universe run by itself without any involvement from the Creator. This was not acceptable to Edwards who was relentlessly God-centered. To him no part of creation is ever independent of God's control. Moment by moment, God is sustaining the universe and without God's control the universe would blown to pieces.
In fact, Edwards believed that God is literally the binding force of every atom in the universe. All things are held together by Christ. "To Him all things hold together " as outlined in (Colossians 1:17). So Edwards held a high view of the cosmos under God's authority. This is one of the many ways in which Edwards was ahead of his time. This fact escapes the notice of those who only know Edwards by his famous, "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God" sermon.
He anticipated post-Newtonian physics, with every part dependent on every other part, and the forces governing these rather mysterious. This assist have been concluding for almost a century what Edwards declared two and a half centuries ago: there are no independent substances that can subsist on their own.
As a theologian, Jonathan Edwards did more than any other religious thinker in emphasizing the beauty and holiness of God. Edwards said that what distinguishes the regenerate of the unregenerate is that the former see the beauty of God's holiness. The latter only see God's holiness not the beauty of God's holiness. That is why the devils in hell see only God's holiness from a retribution standpoint and that is why they remain in hell. The truly regenerate love that holiness of God because they are enraptured by its beauty. So, to some extent, it is aesthetic vision and perspective of Christ that separates the saved from the answer.
It is impossible, within the limitations of this research paper, to fully give justice to Edwards glorious concept of the beauty of God's holiness. But digging a little deeper, we understand the Hebrew root word for holiness means "to cut our separate, a cut above, a cut apart). Because this holiness belongs to God uniquely and God is infinite, these things are infinitely above our separate from anything else. God is "wholly other." God's moral goodness is infinitely superior to any moral goodness we can imagine. God is not just a human shouting loudly. He is absolutely, infinitely purely perfect, distinct, and above all his creation. Calvin said that our goodness is so pathetic in comparison to God's that we are rottenness itself34 (Job 13:28), worms and dirt (Job 7:5; Ps 22:6). Some would wince at all this, but there is much truth in Calvin's assertions.
Because of God's infinite purity even the angels that are in His presence all of the time still must veil their faces in fear and awe (Is. 6:2).
The beauty of God's holiness is particularly demonstrated in His love. Edwards saw that the beauty of God's holiness was clearly in the magnificent, matchless love of God in Jesus Christ. For Jesus combines design perfection and infinity with merciful compassion, hurting when we hurt, sharing our pain, even our sins. The Almighty, from everlasting to everlasting, Creator stooping down in Christ to love such unworthy sinful human beings in rebellion against Him. To Edwards, in the Reformed tradition, salvation is not us getting ourselves to God, but moreover God giving Himself to us. Deliverance is God-centered not man-centered.
Many people came to Edwards for spiritual counsel, especially during the revival of the Great Awakening. Edwards was so engaged in a Christian counseling ministry that he wrote a great manual on spiritual discernment entitled Religious Affections in 1746. Harvard historian Perry Miller called it the greatest work of religious psychology ever penned in the New World.35 Again, Edwards objective in this work was to draw fine line between true and false religion. Genuine religion's overriding sign is much more than feelings about the holiness of God, it is ”holy practices.” This is what Edwards meant by a ”new sense.” This new sense is the sheer, simple delight of God for who He is not what He does. The devil can mimic every outward sign of Christianity except one; that is genuine love. This new sense is produced by the Holy Spirit and is a companion to a true delight in God for who He is.
Soren Kierkegaard: The Existentialist
Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and founder of the existentialism upon which neo orthodoxy is built. Existentialism is a term used by neo orthodoxy to designate the place of personal commitment in an act of faith. Existential faith believes with inward passion: it is concerned with the relation between the self and the object of belief: it chooses from within the center of moral freedom. Cheap faith believes too easy and does not count the cost.36
He was one of the most unusual thinkers of the 19th century. Original and iconclastic, he remained virtually unknown during his lifetime but became extremely influential in the 20th century. It seems in retrospect, he was born prematurely; most his contemporaries ignored him or put him down as a crank and fanatic. His background seems to have had a profound effect on his theological beliefs.
He suffered with a chronic disposition of melancholy, as did his father, who thought he had committed a sin against the Holy Spirit. He suffered physically from a crooked back and, psychologically, from reoccurring depression. He became engaged and even though he loved his fiancee, but broke off the engagement because he didn't want to burden her with his many personal problems. He saw an outlet for his frustration and emotional pain in writing, but was ridiculed by the press. He had difficulty associating with people. He studied for the ministry at the University of Copenhagen but was never formally ordained because he wanted freedom. These traumatic background experiences affected his theology in many ways.
He was disgusted with the state of contemporary philosophy and religion. Their philosophy of rationalism was a waste of time and he believed they needed to focus on what it's like to be a human being in the world and how to make the choices that are in front of us right now not experiment with dry, dusty theories that hold no practical value. Kant and Hegel, the leading philosophers of his day, held little interest for him. Christian faith, then, is not about a set of propositions that are believed; it's about a life that is to be lived. He believed life is a matter of confronting and deciding between radical choices. These decisions must give way to the light of faith, that is when an individual surrenders to the commands of God.
So faith for him is something paradoxical embracing the contradictions of life and existence rather than trying to order them logically which the other philosophers were attempting to do. He also hated the way the church tended to assimilate itself into the world, either politically and socially, or intellectually, like those who integrated Christianity modern philosophy.
Kierkegaard's desire was to call the masses back to a more genuine form of Christianity. He believed that by the 19th century, the ultimate meaning of New Testament Christianity, which is love, mercy and loving kindness, had become perverted and Christianity had deviated considerably from its original threefold message of grace, humility and love.
Additionally, he held that God is absolute and can only be discovered by giving him absolute obedience apart from the knowledge of his actual existence. This personal encounter with God demands a "leap of faith"37 in one's condition of despair.
God encounters the person. This is called the theology of despair and it is subjective in nature as opposed to Hegel's objective philosophies. Liberalism relegated Christ to being only a teacher and founder of a religion steeped in ethics. Kierkegaard asserted that knowing Christ means more than studying a past figure history. Christ encounters people in the present not in a history book.
Kierkegaard noted in his journals that "the difference between a pagan anti Christian is not that the latter is without sin; the difference is how he regards his sin."38
The Christian acknowledges his sickness, whereas the pagan tries to overlook it. In the risk of faith, the former clings to grace, while the latter sinks in despair or hangs onto an unfounded optimism.39
His writings were mostly related to the problem of becoming a Christian. They were written from within the Christian community and not as an outsider. His anthropology stresses both the psychosomatic and the transcendent spiritual reality of the individual.40 Because of mankind's wretched sinful condition, it is virtually a miracle that a human can arrive at the faith of paradoxical true religion. He considered faith supernatural in and of itself, a divine gift given in the moment of divine grace when one becomes aware of the new birth. The human soul is the meeting place of time and eternity, and thru the gift of faith, becomes new while yet remaining himself.
He was realistic about the suffering a real Christian must face in this life. He believed there was anguish in being a Christian and that faith, if it is genuine, will be tested and proven. But the believer's earthly suffering is only a transition to an eternal triumph.
Because of this, the church had no excuse to become lukewarm, cold, dead and lifeless.41 However, the Sola fide position of Lutheranism had been abused to the point of disassociating obedience from faith. This became a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
He maintained the fact that divine grace does minimize the calling to bear one's cross and imitate Christ. Indeed, grace and discipleship walk hand-in-hand together with God. A person is to love God because he needs God, not just because he needs His blessings. Unconditional obedience is the true manifestation of love for God. The real Christian simplicity is to translate Christian thought into the action of obeying God loving God and our neighbor. Kierkegaard, "from the Christian point of view faith, belongs to the existential; God did not appear in the character of a Professor who has some doctrines which first must be understood and then believed."42
Paul Tillich: The Theologian of Correlation (1886-1965)
The word that best describes the theological position of Paul Tillich is "correlation. " It is a term he himself used in this theological method, but it also suggests other interesting traits of this comprehensive thinker. Correlation is the bringing together, and thought, though not necessarily immunity, of diverse views and actualities. Tillich's concern was not to synthesize opposites so they might merge differences, but to accept distinctions in such a way to give depth to their complexity of theological reality.
Paul Tillich was himself an illustration of his own principle, correlation.
Born in Germany, he was teaching and writing since 1933; trained in 19th century America thought he lives very much in the 20th century; something of a Prussian professor, he became involved in socialist political movements; equally at home in philosophy and theology, he like to remind philosophers of theology, and theologians of philosophy; a classicist and a Platonist, he showed affinities for existentialism, depth psychology modern art.
Tillich has been referred to as "the theologians theologian" because his writings are not easy reading. His theology was considered liberal in Germany but neo orthodox in America. Tillich claims to stand on the boundary between liberalism and neoorthodoxy.43
Paul Tillich approached an understanding of God philosophically rather than theologically. Thus, traditional terms such as God are merely religious symbols. Tillich did not view God as a personal being but rather as a "Being" itself. God is the Ground or Power of Being. Tillich said, "God is being-Himself- God, not just a being."44
Sin is described as estrangement from one's true self or from the ground of our being. The fall of man was not historic event. The essential character of sin and Tillich is disruption of the essential unity with God, "and existence man is a strange of the ground it is being, from other beings across himself."45
Salvation is not expressed in traditional terms; for Tillich salvation is found in the "New Being." Man becomes aware of his finiteness and "non-being" which results in anxiety. He looks and hope to Christ, but not in the orthodox theological interpretation of word, who will rescue him from his separation from God.
Jesus Christ is neither described nor understood in traditional terms, nor is Christ understood as a historical person. Christ is merely a symbol of the New Being. Thus, Tillich rejected belief in incarnation and resurrection of Christ .
On a more traditional note, Tillich did mention in his analysis that the human predicament implies three crucial intimates: the need for security, for meaning and hope, and for self acceptance. Moreover, man is utterly unable to break through the bondage of the will to achieve the reunion with God necessary to the development of his being. The only solution to this problem is divine grace, which occurs in spite of the separation due to sin and results in reunion of human and divine life. Sin and grace are related, in that grace creates an awareness of sin, while the experience of separation enables one to grasp the meaning grace.
He argues that the three great powers of industrial society, namely science, technique, and capitalism have diminished the transcendent dimension in man's encounter with reality. Since the beginning of the 18th century God has been removed from the power field of man's activities. As the universe replaces God, as man in the center of the universe replaces Christ, so the expectation of peace and justice in history replaces the expectation of the kingdom of God.46
Affirming the Protestant principle's that stresses the infinite distance between God and man, Tillich says that one must actively receive a personal encounter transcendent reality as a gift.47 Justification is by grace alone and grace even creates the faith thru which it is received: "we are grasped by grace, and this is the only other way to say we have faith."48
Karl Barth: The Theologian of Neo Orthodoxy
The 20th century has produced few theologians of greater stature or importance than Karl Barth. For twelve years Barth served as a Pastor in Switzerland. During the horrifying anguish and suffering of World War I, Barth became increasingly convinced that popular liberal theology was spiritually bankrupt to explain the evil of Nazi Germany and offer any substantial hope to the masses. He saw in the Bible "a strange new world" which spoke of God and the "otherness" of God; a world which is utterly different from man's world.
This Sovereign God could not be found thru natural reason, intellectual theories , world philosophies, or even creation. But, only thru a direct supernatural revelation of the Person Jesus Christ in His living Word. His solid Reformation viewpoint owed something to the writings of Luther and Calvin, and but much more to the 19th century religious thinker Kierkegaard, who emphasized that God is to be encountered chiefly by "experience," if at all, and that based on His gracious decision, not man's attempt to, "think his way to God" apart from supernatural revelation.
Someone watching the theological scene at the close of the 19th century could never have guessed what was going to come next. Science and biblical criticism seemed to have wiped out traditional metaphysical Christianity: the only options left were unthinking fundamentalism and a weak, watery liberalism. But the 20th century saw an extraordinary resurgence of interest in classical theology, of the kind pioneered by the church fathers and perfected by the medieval theologians.
The unspeakable horrors of World War I and World War II, combined with the collapse of societies faith in reason and humanistic progress meant that the rational theology of the preceding two centuries no longer seem very relevant. While Christianity was waning in Europe it was rapidly growing in other parts of the world, hence a more international, varied nature.
The task of theology today, as it is in every age, is to restate the Christian message in terms contemporary people can understand. The work of the twentieth- century theologians, who wrote in a time of uncertainty, when to some the world seemed to have lost faith in both reason and religion, offers us an unparalleled resource and challenge for that ongoing task today in America.
Barth's bloodline was pure, pedigree Christianity. Both of his grandfathers had been Pastors, and his father was a theological lecturer at Basel. Barth was trained in theological liberalism, but World War I changed all that. It began on the first day of the war (August 1, 1914) when he discovered that all of his theological professors signed a manifesto supported the war policy of the Kaiser. "It was like the twilight of the gods when I discovered how religion and scholarship could be changed completely into intellectual 42 cm blazing cannons."49 Barth concluded that his professors moral myopia had cast a dark shadow on the liberal theology they had taught him.50
Barth watched the carnage of World War I, and could almost hear the boom of the big guns in his pastoral study. The near endless bloodbath of the war convinced him and his whole generation that liberalism's faith in human progress was naive. He discovered that his liberal theology brought no relief to his grief stricken congregation.
This drove Barth to question what he had taught. He went back to the Bible and read it like he had never before, especially the book of Romans. Barth also went back to Augustine, Luther and Calvin. Using the work of Soren Kierkegaard, he argued for the infinite qualitative difference between God and humanity, God is wholly other. The first thing we need to realize that human beings is that God is God and we are not in fact we are under God's judgment and have no hope for release apart from the grace of God coming to us from outside of ourselves.51
In 1919, Barth published his first book and it was written on the book of Romans. It fell like a bombshell on the playground of the theologians of his day. But the book was well received enthusiastically by Christians all over Europe especially those who felt the great war represented the failure of the best civilization in history. Barth seemed to make sense of the failure.
Barth went on to write his massive twelve volume Church Dogmatics which is become widely recognized as "the most monumental Protestant systematic theology since Calvin's Institutes."52 Over the years of writing these volumes, which grew to twelve million words of nine thousand pages, Barth came to see more and more the reality of God's self revelation in Jesus Christ. We do not need to work to see God; our job instead is to receive in faith God's own Word about Himself.53
One of Barth's greatest achievements was to identify the inner workings of theological liberalism and to expose its inner logic. It's basic method, he showed, is to assume that we human beings can find truth and reality thru our consciousness and explorations of the world.
So we first find ourselves in the world but we take to be true, the good and the beautiful. Then, we go to the Bible and Christian tradition and see what lines up with what we found. If something in the Bible or the creeds agrees with what we already know to be true good, we accept it. If not, we throw it out and conclude that the Bible and Christian orthodoxy are wrong on those points.
The implications with this reasoning in the world of theology or psychology cannot be overstated. Let's take, for example, the ideal of love. "Is it real? What does it mean?" We first go to the best of human thinking experience on this or at least according to what people think today and declared this to be the true meaning of love. If we have concluded that love is a feeling, then we cannot accept the Bible's determination that love is more a commitment and action than a feeling.
We also decide what God's love is by our own experience. If we find our own love to be a warm feeling, then God's love must also be the same, but much bigger and stronger. If our own feeling of love would never permit us to declare that something is a sin that deserves punishment, to God to would never condemn sin or judge sinners. In other words, whatever we do God does. Whatever we think, God thinks. Essentially, God is who He is based on our subjective experience not objective facts from his Word. This is closely related to our contemporary "relativism" than controls the thinking of many young people today. We make up our own rules for life and living, as we go along, according to the personal dictates of our own heart and pleasure. According to this liberal method, said Barth, God is an "idealized version of man."54
Furthermore, this liberal method about God wipes out the infinite qualitative difference between humans and God, for it presumes that the Bible is a book of human thoughts about God, instead of God's thoughts about human beings.
This rejection of liberal theology, with this assumption that God can be found within human consciousness, called into question a string of intellectual, philosophical movements that it spun off from the Enlightenment: Romanticism (which is assumed truth within human feelings), idealism (which sees reality as created by human thoughts), Pietism (which finds salvation within human religious experience), and humanism, (which made human experience and thinking the standard of measurement of what is good and true). Barth decided to put a sharp emphasis on the Sovereignty of God in His gracious initiatives to humanity. He complained that Paul Tillich assumed revelation from God is everywhere accessible to anyone. Barth disagreed saying revelation from God is a miraculous event and occurs only if God so chooses.
Barth believed the current liberal theological method was being used in a new and constructive way by current applications of Roman Catholic doctrine of the ”analogy of being” that was best elaborated by Thomas Aquinas. For Barth, this idea of continuity between God and humanity threatens to make humans of their own creator and reconciler. Instead, he says, only the event of revelation when God reveals to us something Jesus Christ can we see anything of God. Barth wanted to replace the "analogy of being" taught by Roman Catholicism with the "analogy of faith" which is given by God and the event of revelation. God does not need us in order for him to be the living God; he is perfectly complete without us.
God's choice to redeem us was a free, gracious act. We have no innate capacity to know God (contra Schleiermacher) and have no ability to overcome our alienation from God because of sin (contra all Pelagian systems). Barth stressed God's sovereignty of grace and the ongoing activity of grace: our relationship with God is never a possession of arts but instead is continually reestablish by God a new based on his for him and could pleasure.
Barth was also opposed all talk of theological and philosophical systems, "systematic theology." The problem the systems, he says, is that they presume there is some pattern of thinking or action that autonomous reason can see, with or without revelation. But the true identity of Jesus is known only to those who by the Spirit recognize Him as the self revelation of God. Besides, systems presume they can systemize theology in all human systemizing-the infinite and mysterious God. They suggest that they can capture Jesus Christ in a mental package, neat and simple.
They leave no room for anomalies, such as the discrepancy between the doctrine that God has reconciled the world and the appearance of the world seems to be unreconciled. Good theology leaves such anomalies standing without trying to systemize. Therefore, true theology is more musical than architectural. That is, it must not suppose that it can contain God as an architectural drawing, but should echo mysteries as great music suggest heights and depths that cannot be completely grasped, contained or even captured.55
Barth has influenced both Protestant and Catholic theology a number of ways. But his most lasting legacy may be this redefinition of theology's task.
Even the duty of interpreting God's self revelation in Scripture, which is theology in such a task, is itself a part of divine self communication, according to Barth. In other words, if God is truly recognized when the Christian tries to read and understand the message of Scripture, and when the theologian does the same for larger audience, it is because God is actively revealing Himself to believers and to the world.
God is not an object of our study, where we can grasp this of totality, but in our study of the Word of God we find God revealing Himself to us in sharing with us His holiness.56 God alone makes God known to humanity. Liberal theology is certain that God was an object we can know by looking at ourselves in studying His traces in nature. But Barth said the true task of theology was to wait to receive in humility and trust God's self revelation in the Bible. "Faith seeking understanding: on the way to the final vision of God." We are to wait for God to open up the word of God to us, received that Word in faith today, and then afterward through its meaning for us in our lives. That is the nature and task theology.57
Theology is a response to God's self revelation. It's a gender set not by human questions about the men's vision and revelation of God Word. Foundation for revelation is the resurrected Jesus Himself who is the living Word of God. Therefore, the subject of theology is not a religious experience or ideas about life salvation, or even the Creator, but Jesus Christ the Word of God as attested in the Bible. The subject of theology is not Christology, but Christ himself. Theology is not a detached intellectual discipline. Theology must be bathed in prayer, for without revelation there can be no true understanding.
Barth's theology stems more than anything else from the profound sense of the otherness of God that he described the Romans. God, for Barth, is immeasurably beyond human beings is nothing in common with them. Because of the great gulf between God and humanity, it impossible to know in less he makes Himself known. Throughout his life, Barth remained punitively opposed to any form of natural theology. In this Barth was influenced by Kierkegaard's claim that God is not an object to be discovered but a subject to do the discovering. His theology is one of revelation that comes exclusively to Christ, Word of God. Christ is the center of all Christian doctrine. All of our knowledge comes through Christ. Theology needs to come to grips with the rationality of its own, a rationality that comes from Christ.
According to Barth, the relation between humanity and God was based on faith, not nature. This is another strong link Barth has with the early Reformers. They come to know Him only by God's action, not ours. There is no role whatsoever for apologetics, the task of presenting Christianity to those outside it, by Barth's definition.
Logic, reason, rational, and natural theology are of little help. Where Schleiermacher tried to find religion and culture together, Barth does the opposite. Secular culture and faith in God, according to Barth, can never meet. To embrace one subject to reject the other. Failure to do this, argues part, results in the kind of travesty of Christianity preached by the German Christian movement, where Christianity is so diluted by cultural ideas that becomes unrecognizable. Barth's influence can be seen behind the "religion-less Christianity" of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Barth sought to un-tether God from the world, to raise Him to the heights he felt God should occupy.
Augustinian theology is concerned with the image of God in and man the destructive effects of sin that led to the distortion and corruption of this image. The original sin was against the source of being and rejection of his divine Word, the substitution one's own will. It is been repeated endlessly throughout history.
The consequences of sin are alienation from God, loss of righteousness, in bondage of the will. Because of this condition of spiritual death, Augustine's assessment of the greatest and deepest human need is the grace of God. Without the grace of God, there is no forgiveness or restoration of the divine image that was lost in the fall of man. This grace has been manifested in the redemptive work of the incarnate Word the recreates those who turn to Him and obey; this redemption is begun in this world and completed in the resurrected life.
It is the grace of God that overcomes the bondage of human will and causes people to turn away from their own futile efforts to this efficiency that can be found in Jesus Christ alone. Divine grace opens the way to the knowledge of the truth about man's real nature and about God as the source and satisfaction, our hearts deepest longing.
In addition to the need for His grace, Augustine also writes of the need for the Supreme Good which cannot be found in creation but only in the Creator. One must seek God with the mind with the heart and desire Him above all lesser goods, which can distract and lead one away from the only true source of lasting joy and fulfillment. Anything put before Him is idolatry and under a curse. He invites and demands priority.
Temporal needs such as health and security are genuine, and the gratification is legitimate so long as one does not get entangled in the things of the world that they lure one away from the beauty of eternal, unchangeable God. The soul's preoccupation with the love of God for His own sake is the foundation for proper self-love and proper love of others.
Augustine also spoke of the human need for hope that transcends the promises of earth. Because of the image of God in man, the aspirations of the heart cannot be satisfied with the present gratifications, no matter how great, because they are temporary and shallow. Only the eternal weight of glory will satisfy the longings of those who realize that they are sojourners on earth and await the city of God.
To those who find themselves in the psychological or spiritual position of Luther when he was 35, and cannot seem to find the real God, or curative answers to our emotional ills, Luther's teachings can help. If one has been trying consciously or unconsciously to please God with moral or religious lives, Luther's theology relates.
According to Luther, our deepest need is total trust and living faith that embraces Christ and what He did for humanity on the cross. Trying to impress God and justify one's self with religious activity is a sure way to steal joy and disturb a psychological peace of mind. Genuine faith releases the power of God and His grace to bring inner healing to wounded souls. But it is not faith in faith itself, it is faith in the living resurrected Christ who shed His blood for mankind on the cross that makes all the difference. Morality without Christ is the epitome of the Pharisees.
Faith is not something mortals manufacture, is a grace gift from the Lord. It liberates and frees the heart to love God. When we truly understand how much God enjoys our faith in Him, we will not restrain ours, but will joyfully put our confidence in Him and not ourselves any longer.
Luther's theology revolved around great themes of the authority of Scripture in salvation by faith alone for both pointed to a dynamic personal relationship with Jesus Christ. ”Scripture alone,” is heavily stressed the Protestant Reformation. The Scriptures must be the supreme authority for daily living. There is great power God's Word because God backs it up. The Bible points to Jesus Christ on every page. The Bible has no authority itself. Scriptures should shape one's worldview and its precepts should guide daily decisions, relationships, activities and thoughts.
God's gift of righteousness, peace, purpose and meaning in life comes through faith in Him and His goodness toward us. One cannot earn God's favor. In times of doubt, one needs to ask God for stronger faith. Luther's emphasis on faith was the hallmark of the Reformation. It should also be in one's personal life, as well.
It should be mentioned that Luther was not opposed to good works. He would agree that the absence of good works is the absence of faith. Faith that is real, to Luther, is faith that works. It is crucial one's object of faith is Christ, not self-righteousness. It should be noted that Luther was battling a strong, distorted theology in the Catholic church that was ”works-righteousness” not ”grace-righteousness” thru faith in Christ. He did believe good works followed Biblical faith, but not as a justification in the issue of salvation.
For Edwards, the fundamental human need is a restoration of the broken relationship with God, the source of infinite happiness and ultimate blessedness. The fallen condition of the human heart is that of sinfulness and enmity with God, spiritual darkness in the intellect, selfishness in relation to others, and the complete moral inability to satisfy the Creator. The defacing of the image of God in man, due to the Fall, has resulted in a nature characterized by depravity and a propensity to evil.
Those who turn toward God must first acknowledge their worthiness and sinful condition. This requires the convicting work the Holy Spirit. In view of their spiritual and moral guilt, all people are in need of the mercy, grace, and forgiveness that are found in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The grace of God is sovereign and cannot be elicited by the and works for merit; divine grace is based solely on the electing purposes of God. In His sovereignty, God is in debt to no one and would be just and fair to withhold justification from all men. Solely because of His good pleasure, God elects some to salvation and brings them to the point of faith and regeneration by the power of His Holy Spirit. It is only through the supernatural redemption made available in the atoning death of Christ that the radical transformation from a state of corruption, spiritual death, and condemnation to the position of sanctification, spiritual life, and peace of God is made possible. The sovereign work of God cannot be determined by the human will and does not minimize the reality of his responsibility to come to the point of repentance and faith in order to enjoy the benefits of forgiveness from the guilt of sin and the imputation of righteousness Christ.
Edwards also writes of the need to place one's affections and hopes in God's promises of future inheritance for those who are in Christ and not to value the enjoyments of the temporal order over the eternal blessings of heaven. Temporal goods can be possessed and enjoyed without harm insofar as people do not set their hearts on them, but they are utterly inadequate in comparison with the true happiness found in the beauty of God. The beauty of God's holiness, and the hope of his eternal glory, should be the wellspring of all religious affections.
Human anxiety and despair are central themes to Kierkegaard. The former relating to the tension between the temporal and eternal, and the latter having to do the consciousness of guilt and sin against God. The existing individual is a composite being consisting of both psychosomatic and spiritual dimensions. Sin is related to contentment with the pleasures of temporal moment and the refusal to aspire toward higher teleos of the eternal. Because of this spiritual dimension, temporal pleasures can never satisfy the deep longings of the heart, and this condition links to an error that one either hides and internalizes, holds in defiance of the hope of eternity, or grasps as the vehicle that breaks him away from his bondage to the temporal order. The true Christian, consciously acknowledges this sinful condition at risk and faith brings him to true servanthood solely through the grace of God. In spite to the destructive effects of sin on the cognitive, affective faculties in him, man still has the freedom of choice to obey in faith or to reject the grace of God.
There is an absolute need for the grace of God and the person of God. To become conscious of this need, one must come to the point of recognizing this complete inability to find life or truth in his own resources.
Knowing Christ is more than knowing about the historical Christ because God encounters people in the present. Kierkegaard was not big on doctrine, he was more interested in the experience, than the creed. The subjective over the objective.
Faith is like a "leap in the dark." But, faith is also, paradoxical, full of contradictions and without logic or reason. Sometimes life is a matter of choosing between radical choices that neither make total sense. Christianity itself is not a book of doctrines to learn, but a life to be lived, according to this theologian.
In a like manner, there is a great human need to love God, which is the foundation of the satisfaction of the need to love and the need on the level of human for soul- companionship. Faith is not grounded in objective certainty but in the passion of inwardness. The incarnation of God in Christ is an absolute paradox, but it is the truth that is expected to be believed.
Tillich's analysis of the human condition leads to the three needs of security; meaning, hope and self acceptance. The fulfillment of these needs is frustrated by the predicament of the existential estrangement from the ground of being and anxieties caused by human limitations. The lack of control over one's fate and the anticipation of death brings anxiety and insecurity.
The shallowness of life that is not centered on God produces the spiritual anxiety of meaninglessness and hopelessness; and ambiguity between good and evil and self acceptance produce the moral inside, the guilt and condemnation.
These needs for being, meaning and forgiveness cannot be satisfied by the pursuit of finite concerns. The anxieties and ambiguities of the human situation are caused by a separation from one's essential source of being, Tillich symbolizes, as the Fall. Sin's estrangement is the state of vertical separation and horizontal separation from God and other people resulting from the universal tendency to turn inward into the world and in oneself. Only grace can overcome the existential estrangement of not only a consciousness of sin, but the futility of self salvation and the courage to accept oneself by grasping divine acceptance.
Grace satisfies the problem of guilt and condemnation, and faith overcomes the dilemma of meaninglessness. People only encounter reality as meaningful when they abandon the effort to center the world in oneself. The need for security is manifest by the prospect of death. But faith in the saving resurrection power of the new being which is manifested in Jesus Christ transforming us. He is the new reality, the grace that prevails over sin. The community of the new being is the manifestation of vertical and horizontal restoration which anticipates the coming new world order of Christ.
Tillich's belief was exactly opposite that of Barth's. Tillich postulated that theology should engage culture, speak the language of the people and communicate in symbols that were not traditional.
Tillich invented many symbols to impersonate Biblical concepts which some people did not understand or appreciate, hence he came under great criticism for this literary device that left many wondering what he was specifically referring to. Notwithstanding, Tillich addresses the psychological consequences of man's alienation from God; his guilt, loneliness, meaninglessness, and lack of purpose.
Because of the work of Karl Barth, one can recognize a liberal theological school of thought. It starts with the world and ourselves, and thinks it can find truth there. Then it goes to the Bible and decides what can be believed in the Bible based on what it already knows from outside of the Bible. One should be aware that this method has already crept into the church today and many leaders in the academic and church context find it acceptable. It is not acceptable by anyone's standards, especially God's.
Barth helps us remember that the Christian faith is based on revelation. God has already revealed Himself in Israel and in Jesus and in the Scripture. Our theology should be God-centered and move from above to below. It should not start with man and move to God, but it should start with God, then move to man. One should be wary of any theology that starts or is centered with man. This is humanistic. We should seek to understand what is here below by looking through the prism of what has been revealed from above. Barth boldly declared the independence of theology, freeing Christian theologians from having to apologize for what they do.
Theology does not need to lean on other disciplines from outside itself, for it is rooted in God's revelation in history and in His work and in His Word.
Theologians have been emboldened by Barth to do their work with all confidence and no apologies. They have learned, from their tutor, that they don't need to make Christian theology palatable to the modern mind, for the gospel contains its own credentials God has already accepted, validated by His Holy Spirit.
Barth's "irrelevant" theology has proven more relevant over the long haul than many apologetic theologies such as those constructed by Schleiermacher, Paul Tillich and other modern critics of Barth. God's servants should be encouraged by Barth's confidence and boldness of speech that is reminiscent of the apostle Paul and his dynamics in preaching the cross of Christ. The current crisis of confidence in the pulpit today may very well indicate a lack of faith in the authority and the power of God's Word. Barth would find this inexcusable. The rest of the Body of Christ should too.
Barth is an excellent reminder that one cannot understand holy Scripture without supernatural illumination of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we need to pray every time we read Scripture, asking God in his grace to illuminate for us what he has already revealed. God is the only one who can show us God.
The six theologians in chapters one and two represent a wide range of historical, theological, and philosophical perspectives and differ in a variety of significant ways. Augustine's earlier writings were influenced by Neo-Platonism, Luther's revolutionary Reformation theology has its own Reformed characteristics, Edwards was deeply committed to Calvinistic theology, Kierkegaard was shaped by his stance against rationalistic philosophy and institutionalized Christianity, Tillich's existential and cultural theology was a radical departure from traditional theological systems, and Barth was the official leader of neo-Orthodoxy as a reaction to theological liberalism. The theologian's stance on the authority and the hermeneutics of Scripture range from conservative to liberal, and their positions on the history of the person and work of Christ are equally diverse. There is a somewhat greater convergence in the theology of God as immanent and transcendent, but unlike the other five, Tillich's understanding of God is ultimately impersonal and couched secular symbols. All of them address the problem of sin and the divine provision of salvation, but they are not all in agreement as to what constitutes sin and salvation as well as the nature of eternal state.
In spite of this divergence, there is a remarkable convergence among these theologians and their views of what constitutes mankind's deepest needs. All of them arrive, in one way or another, at three needs and also developed in the New Testament: the need for forgiveness and grace, need to love and community, and the purpose and hope.
The Need For Forgiveness and Grace
According to Augustine, human rebellion against God is pursuing the temporal above the eternal and this is led to the corruption of the divine image in man and a condition of bondage and which every act is tainted by sin. The corruption in bondage can only be overcome by the grace of God through the redemptive work of Christ.
It is through faith in him that forgiveness from guilt is found and restoration toward conformity with God is the God.
Luther borrowed much of his theology on sin and grace from Augustine.
Edwards stressed the sinful condition of human nature and the need for forgiveness from the guilt and penalty of sin the sovereign grace of God in Christ. Repentance and faith that lead to justification our gifts of God, for no one, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, could reach the point of conviction regeneration.
Kierkegaard also spoke with the problems of guilt and sin with God, but described the human predicament in terms of anxiety and despair. He was especially interested in the inner dynamic of passionate faith, where one ventures everything in believing.
Tillich's understanding of existential estrangement was for the need to accept God's grace.
Barth embraced a Pauline theological understanding of forgiveness and grace based on Romans.
It is interesting to note the great impact of Augustine's theology and also the Reformed theology, of Martin Luther and the other brave Protestant Reformers of the Middle Ages.
The Need For Love and Community
All of the theologians agree that the human heart cannot find its final resting place in the temporal and the finite; only the eternal and infinite can satisfy man's deepest longings. True security and freedom in human existence must be centered on the love and acceptance of God; all lesser loves are unworthy of a person's ultimate concern.
Furthermore, they also agree that God is not to be sought for his gifts alone, since he is greater than any of his gifts. People need the security unconditional love and acceptance, and the message of a Creator who knows the thoughts and motives of the human heart and still responds with the redemptive grace and absolute love and forgiveness ultimately and perfectly corresponding to all human needs. The forgiveness, love, and purpose which are offered in the gospel are not ends in themselves but means to the final end of a restored and complete relationship with God, focus on the hearts deepest longings.
The Need For Purpose and Hope
In their various ways, the six theologians arrive at the human need for a transcendent hope that provides a definitive basis for temporal meaning and purpose. One should regard temporal gratifications and blessings for what they are and do them in light of the eternal promises of God. Augustine, Edwards, Luther, Barth affirmed that the eternal bliss of the redeemed community and heaven will center on the glorious vision of God.
For Kierkegaard also, eternal is the highest good, and one must cultivate a single- minded willingness to give up anything on earth in order to gain. Tillich express the same fault with the image of commitment to finite a preliminary concerns as opposed to complete devotion to the unconditioned as the ultimate concern.
What Do These Theologians Teach Us About Theology?
A brief summary would include the following observations;
1. There are grand, unifying "theological threads" that run through the faith fabric of these great theologians. The first is in the incarnational-redemptive core of Christian theology. God has taken on human flesh to save. God is a God who comes to save us when we cannot save ourselves. Second, God is a God of love and His love is an essence of Himself, a giving of Himself. His ongoing giving of Himself is beautifully seen in His mystical, living union with us, thru His indwelling Holy Spirit to form His church.
2. All theologians work within a distinctive cultural environment, a time in history, which helps shape their thinking as they respond to the unique theological issues of their day. All thinkers are inescapably shaped and shape the culture they live in.
3. The Holy Spirit is actively at work in the history of the Great Tradition of our faith.
The Holy Spirit has been guiding the church all along, especially at key points. There have been heresies and atrocities committed, but the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has survived persecution without and false teachings within.
4. There has been a theological development of understanding over time thru the history of the Great Tradition of our faith. But this development is not always linear. For example, the church has now forgotten much of what the early church fathers taught. The way we can move ahead today, in the church, is when and only when, we go back and sit at the feet of the great minds and hearts of the early and the Reformation medieval church like Luther, Calvin, and other historic leaders such as Wesley, Edwards and Spurgeon.
5. We will be able to discern the spirits today, which is the work of theology, only by studying afresh this long and rich Great Tradition of our faith. There are many traditions competing for our attention today in America; the Enlightenment tradition, the new postmodern tradition, the feminist tradition, the Marxist tradition, the liberation theology tradition, black theologies and so forth. The best way for us to navigate our way theologically today is to use the Great Tradition of evangelical, orthodox, reformed theology as a lens thru which we can safely evaluate all competing traditions.
PSYCHOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW PERSPECTIVES ON MANKIND'S DEEPEST NEEDS Part Two will focus on the eight psychologists selected in this study of psychological worldview perspectives of mankind's deepest needs based on categories defined by Salvatore Maddi's comprehensive study, Personality Theories: A Comparative Analysis.58 The categories include the Conflict model and The Fulfillment model. The Conflict model assumes that each person is involved in a continuous opposition between two unchanging forces, and that life is at best a compromise in which these forces are dynamically balanced. The Psychosocial version, represented by Freud and Erikson, assumes that one of these forces is inherent in the person and that the other is found in groups or societies.59 The Intra-conflict version, represented by Jung, theorizes that both opposing forces are inherent within each person.
The Fulfillment model advocates there is only one fundamental force that is located within each individual. Ideally, this force manifests itself in greater ways as the person grows and matures. Conflict is not inevitable in this model, but when it occurs, it is the consequence of dysfunctional living. In the actualization version of this model, represented by Maslow and Rogers, the great force is the tendency to express more and more fully the capabilities or potentialities of one's basic genetic constitution. In the Perfection version, represented by Fromm, the basic force is the tendency to "strive for that which will make life ideal or complete, perhaps even by compensating for functional or genetic weak spots.60
The focus of this study will be on what is considered the core of personality, that is, those statutes that are common to all people. Core tendencies are the basic motivators of human existence. By contrast, the "periphery of personality” are the attributes that are generally learned rather than inherent within each person which accounts for the differences among people.
The psychologists selected for this study were not chosen just because they exemplify the Conflict and Fulfillment models of human personality, but also because of their significant, ongoing impact on popular culture as well as their direct and indirect influence on other psychologists in the development of different approaches to psychotherapeutic theory and practice (ego personality, humanistic psychology). As the critiques will show, the work of each psychologist has strengths and weaknesses, and there is speculation in the scientific merit of their work. Nevertheless, all have something to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of human behavior and consequently man's deepest needs. No single theory is capable of encompassing the full definition and diversity of human behavior. Instead, a variety of personality theories has appeared, each theory stressing certain factors and minimizing or ignoring others. It is imperative that Christians understand the difference between "psychological theory," that is actually more philosophical in nature, and scientific and objective research, based on actual data, not subjective conjecture. Often psychology today leaves the realm of its discipline and proceeds into non-Christian spiritual, religious philosophy under the guise of, "proven science."
The cultural background of all each psychologist in this study is a Democratic, Judeo-Christian tradition. This is not meant to imply that any, or all, of the psychologists embrace Christianity, in a traditional sense, indeed, some were staunch atheists. The psychologists have responded in different ways, but their ideas, experiences, and therapeutic work are embedded within our modern, Western context. Because this study will contrast the transcendent approaches to mankind's deepest needs, it will briefly discuss the spiritual- religious position of each of the psychologists as a basis for comparison with the theologians addressed in the Matrix of Part III of this study.
As founder of psychoanalysis, and the originator of first comprehensive theory of personality, Freud has dramatically shaped the course of modern thought and Western civilization like few other people. His name is a household word and there is probably not a student of psychology who has not been required to study his theories. The whole of modern psychology is influenced by his work. His effect on popular ideas about religion can hardly be exaggerated. Psychological disorders, Freud believed, can often be cured when the unconscious releases repressed wishes into self-knowledge. Repressed urges often take the form of sexual desire. In psychoanalysis, a patient is encouraged to talk freely about extremes, feelings, attitudes and mental associations, and the hope that these will bring aspects of the unconscious to light.
Christian thinkers have reacted to Freud in different ways. They have pointed out that Freud's theories about religion owe more to philosophical speculation that to scientific observation because Freud's theories cannot be proved. Some have also argued that, on the basis of Freud's theories, his own hatred of his Jewish father might be said to account for his own repression of God into the unconscious. Additional Christian thinkers, especially in America, have been more concerned to apply some of his psychological insights in Christian pastoral counseling. The difficulty which still faces this movement in Christian counseling is the psychiatrists and pastors still argue over the value and validity of different approaches to theology/psychology.
Freud's monumental achievements include developing a systematic method of investigating the human mind all of which led to extraordinary insights into the human psyche but also to significant controversy. Freud's two hypotheses of psychoanalysis, the unconscious nature of most mental processes and the pervasive role of sexual instinctual impulses, became an "insult to the entire world.”61
Freud created and revised his theories through inductive inferences drawn from decades of psychotherapeutic practice. He was convinced there is no clear line between what is psychologically normal or abnormal. The underlying theme in all of Freud's work is his insistence to a deterministic view of the individual as a complex system that functions on every level in accordance with laws of nature. The human personality is shaped by these sophisticated process, especially through the functioning of the primal of the "id." The "id" is the original personality system in which human ego and superego are later distinguished.
Because the id is completely unconscious, it is exempt from the logical laws thought, its processes do not change with time, nor does it have any knowledge of external reality.62 The process of the id seeks pleasure to dominate, in principle. The strong tendency toward the pleasure principal is opposed by the circumstances of the external world. So that the final outcome cannot always be in harmony with the tendency toward pleasure. Thus, the ego, unlike the id, must find appropriate objects in the external world rather than the mind. In this way, the ego dethrones the pleasure principle and replaces it with a more modest reality.63 For Freud, the moral sense of guilt is an expression of tension between the ego and superego. The superego represents the values of society particularly as mediated by the parents. However, the ego's task in managing and harmonizing the divergent forces of the external world, the superego, and the id, is a difficult one, and that is why life is not easy.64 A Critique of Freud
This summary will feature strengths and weaknesses of the Freudian worldview psychological perspective. Freud's work was characterized by originality, boldness, and power of communication. In his theory of neurosis, he captured the tragic dimension of human existence, particularly in the self-destructive nature of the instinct. These impulses are internalized in the individual and are not merely derivative from civilization. Freud's portrayal of the human condition has more depth than romantic humanism and yields some points of correlation but the Christian understanding of sin, guilt and the need for redemption.
In spite of his commitment to a scientific world view, Freud's ideas were less objective and scientific than he liked to think. His theories were based more on clinical impressions than on controlled empirical methods. The accumulation of data and presentation of conclusions is unsystematic, the terms and concepts are often vague and difficult to test and measure, and thus the scientific status of psychoanalysis is questionable at several points. Too much of Freud's theories are unverified assumptions that many think are based on his dysfunctional childhood, where he was possibly sexually abused, chronically used cocaine, a hatred for is Jewish father, with strong atheistic tendencies. His obsessive overemphasis on the subconscious and sexual characteristics, as the primary motivator of all human behavior, seriously call to question the accuracy of his assumptions and only further weaken his theories. This is further aggravated by Freud's commitment to evolutionary primal instincts and his faith in Darwin's theory of evolution.
As an outspoken atheist and pessimist, Freud rejected the inclusion of any spiritual concepts his approach and consider religion to be the neurotic illusion people turn to for help with their infantile dependency needs. Freud believed that psychoanalysis can help patients noted origins of their behavior, thereby gaining greater personal awareness and understanding. But, in reality this copout. It affirms a concept of sinful human beings universally hold dear---they are not responsible for their actions, it is because of the past. This lie is as old as time itself, it's origination; the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve shifted blame in an attempt to compensate for their guilt and disobedience before God.
Therefore, by placing the responsibility for their behavior on the parents, environment, childhood trauma, the unconscious, or primitive urges, patients are encouraged, by default, to assume a victim mentality, thus placing blame on others rather than themselves and be accountable for their actions. They are never confronted the personal responsibility for their negative behavior, but must wade through lengthy years of analysis at astronomical costs all to discover what in the past makes them behave the way they do.
Freud's theory of human beings, has some accurate identifications. People do suffer traumas, sometimes incredibly painful ordeals at an early age. People do sometimes suppress painful memories to better cope with life. However, none of these factors negate our responsibility before God for our behavior.
We are held responsible before God for our sin and cannot shift the blame onto some hidden event. We are responsible for how we respond to that pain that is an inevitable part of human existence. There are always reasons why we do the things we do, but they're never acceptable excuses for sin. We do not have to let painful realities to lead us into self-destructive behaviors, bitterness, sinful neglect of duties, or any other unbiblical, spiritually unhealthy conduct or attitude.
It was the idea of personal accountability to the God of the Bible that Freud parted company with. Freud hated the idea of God and especially the God of the Jews and His Son as Freud saw it. Freud was a metaphysical materialist, he did not believe man possesses a soul, though he was in the discipline that studies the soul of man. Even though Freud hated Judeo-Christian religion, he held a religious worldview of atheism.
His psychoanalysis became for him a substitute religion of the disillusioned middle-class with its own set of rituals, ceremonies and religious rites that possessed all the trappings of the pagan religion, just more sophisticated.
In truth, Freud sees the unconscious as a God replacement realm without laws or judgment; morality as a neurosis generating structure imposed by society and organized religion and sexual freedom (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest, sodomy, bisexuality) as perfectly normal mental health.
Freud believed religion is based on illusion and reality distortion. In his estimation, science offers a better foundation for modern civilization, and Freud believed that psychoanalysis fits within the scientific world view.
Erik Erikson: Ego of Personality Development (1902-1994)
Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American development psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. Although Erikson lacked even a bachelor's degree, he served as a professor of prominent institutions such as Harvard and Yale, during his lifetime. Erikson's greatest innovation was to postulate not five stages of development, as Sigmund Freud had done with his psychosexual stages, but eight, and then later added a ninth stage in his book "The Life Cycle Completed." Erik Erikson believed that every human being goes through a certain number of stages to reach his or her full development, theorizing eight stages that a human being goes through from birth to death.65
Erikson elaborated Freud's genital stage into adolescence, and added three stages of adulthood. His widow Joan Erikson elaborated on his model before her death, adding a ninth stage (old age) to it, taking into consideration the increasing life expectancy in Western cultures. Erikson is also credited with being one of the originators of Ego psychology, which stressed the role of the ego as being more than a servant of the id.66 According to Erikson, the environment in which a child lived was crucial to providing growth, adjustment, a source of self awareness and identity.67 Erikson won a Pulitzer Prize and a U.S. National Book Award for his 1969 book Gandhi's Truth, which focused more on his theory as applied to later phases in the life cycle.68 A Critique of Erikson
Erikson built creatively upon the Freudian foundation, and with his emphasis on the nature and development of ego, as well as individual relationships with others, he made a significant and lasting contribution to the school of Ego Psychology. He deemphasized the role of instincts in favor of the contribution of parents and society in the development of personal identity. He embraced a belief in progress, of ego strength, and other centered functioning that is sometimes naive in its minimization of skepticism. Erikson's theorizing, like other psychologists in this study, often extends beyond the territory of psychology to that of ethics and metaphysics without due acknowledgments.
One of the difficulties found in the theories of psychologists and psychotherapists is the lack of hard core, factual data supporting their theories which are taken as "gospel" by those in the mental health care field. It appears most of psychology is built more on philosophy than actual science. Should it be trusted as science when it is metaphysics?
Carl Jung: The Collective Unconscious (1875-1961)
The overwhelming majority of Christians have probably never heard of C.G.
Jung, but his influence in the church is vast and affects sermons, books, and activities, such as the prolific use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) by seminaries and missionary organizations. A current, popular example of Jung's legacy can be seen in Robert Hicks's book The Masculine Journey, which was given to each of the 50,000 men who attended the 1993 Promise Keepers conference. Christians need to learn about Jung and his teachings, if for no other reason, apologetics.
Jung's legacy to "Christian psychology" is both direct and indirect. Some professing Christians, who have been influenced by Jung's teachings, integrate aspects of Jungian theory into their own practice of psychotherapy. They may incorporate his notions regarding personality types, the personal unconscious, dream analysis, and various archetypes in their own attempt to understand and counsel their clients. Other Christians have been influenced more indirectly as they have engaged in inner healing, followed 12-step programs, or taken the MBTI, which is based on Jung's personality types and incorporates his theories of introversion and extroversion.
Jung and Freud
Many do not believe that Jung's legacy has enhanced Christianity. They insist since its inception, psychotherapy has undermined the doctrines of Christianity. Sigmund Freud's attitudes towards Christianity were obviously hostile.
His one-time follower and colleague Carl Jung, on the other hand, may not be quite as obvious in his disdain for Christianity. However, his theories have disdainfully diminished Christian doctrines by putting them at the same level as those of all religions.
While Jung did not call religion a "universal obsessional neurosis," he did view all religions, including Christianity, to be collective mythologies - not real in essence, but having a real effect on the human personality. Dr. Thomas Szasz describes the difference between the psychoanalytic theories of the two men this way: "Thus in Jung's view religions are indispensable spiritual supports, whereas in Freud's they are illusory crutches."69
While Freud argued that religions are delusionary and therefore evil, Jung contended that all religions are imaginary but good. Both positions are anti-Christian; one denies Christianity and the other mythologizes it, After reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, Jung contacted Freud and a friendship with mutual admiration ensued and lasted about eight years.70
Even though Jung had served four years as the first President of the International Psychoanalytic Association, the break between Jung and Freud was complete. Jung departed from Freud on a number of points, particularly Freud's sex theory. In addition, Jung had been developing his own theory and methodology.
The Collective Unconscious
Jung taught that the psyche consists of various systems including the personal unconscious with its complexes and a collective unconscious with its archetypes.
Jung's theory of a personal unconscious is quite similar to Freud's creation of a region containing a person's repressed, forgotten or ignored experiences. However, Jung considered the personal unconscious to be a "more or less superficial layer of the unconscious." Within the personal unconscious are what he called "feeling-toned complexes." He said that "they constitute the personal and private side of psychic life."71 These are feelings and perceptions organized around significant persons or events in the person's life.
Jung believed that there was a deeper and more significant layer of the unconscious, which he called the collective unconscious, with what he identified as archetypes, which he believed were innate, unconscious, and generally universal. Jung's collective unconscious has been described as a "storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from man's ancestral past, a past that includes not only the racial history of man as a separate species but his pre-human or animal ancestry as well."72 Therefore, Jung's theory incorporates Darwin's theory of evolution as well as ancient mythology. Jung taught that this collective unconscious is shared by all people and is therefore universal. However, since it is unconscious, not all people are able to tap into it. Jung saw the collective unconscious as the foundational structure of personality on which the personal unconscious and the ego are built.
Because he believed that the foundations of personality are ancestral and universal, he studied religions, mythology, rituals, symbols, dreams and visions and attached significant meaning to them all.
He said: "All esoteric teachings seek to apprehend the unseen happenings in the psyche, and all claim supreme authority for themselves. What is true of primitive lore is true in even higher degree of the ruling world religions. They contain a revealed knowledge that was originally hidden, and they set forth the secrets of the soul in glorious images."72
Jung's View of Christianity
However, because Jung left room for religion, many Christians felt more comfortable with his ideas. Thus, it is important to look at Jung's attitudes towards Christianity. His father was a Protestant minister, and Jung experienced aspects of the Christian faith while growing up. He wrote the following about his early experience with the Holy Communion, which seems to be related to his later ideas about religions being only myths:
"Slowly I came to understand that this communion had been a fatal experience for me. It had proved hollow; more than that, it had proved to be a total loss. I knew that I would never again be able to participate in this ceremony. "Why, that is not religion at all," I thought. "It is the absence of God; the church is a place I should not go to. It is not life which is there, but death."73
From that one significant incident, Jung could have proceeded to deny all religions, but he didn't. Instead, he evidently saw that religion was very meaningful to many people and that religions could be useful as myths. His choice to consider all religions as myths was further influenced by his view of psychoanalysis. According to Viktor Von Weizsaecker, "C. G. Jung was the first to understand that psychoanalysis belonged in the sphere of religion."74 There is a definite connection between the psychology and religion, in the minds of the therapists.
That Jung's theories constitute a religion can be seen in his view of God as the collective unconscious and thereby present in each person's unconscious. For him, religions revealed aspects of the unconscious and could thus tap into a person's psyche. He also used dreams as avenues into the psyche for self-understanding and selfexploration. Religion was only a tool to tap into the self and if a person wanted to use religious symbols, that was fine with him.
Jung's Spirit Guide
Because Jung turned psychoanalysis into a type of religion, he is also considered to be a transpersonal psychologist as well as a psychoanalytical theorist. He delved deeply into the occult, practiced necromancy, and had daily contact with disembodied spirits, which he called archetypes. Much of what he wrote was inspired by such entities. Jung had his own familiar spirit whom he called Philemon. At first, he thought Philemon was part of his own psyche, but later on, he found that Philemon was more than an expression of his own inner self. Jung said:
"Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. . . . Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a
One can see why Jung is so very popular among New Agers.
Jung's AA Influence
Jung also played a role in the development of Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. Cofounder Bill Wilson's letter to Jung, might come as a surprise to some.
Bill Wilson wrote the following in a letter to Jung in 1961:
"This letter of great appreciation has been very long overdue. . . . Though you have surely heard of us [AA], I doubt if you are aware that a certain conversation you once had with one of your patients, a Mr. Roland H., back in the early 1930's did play a critical role in the founding of our fellowship.74
Wilson continued the letter by reminding Jung of what he had "frankly told [Roland H.] of his hopelessness," that he was beyond medical or psychiatric help. Wilson wrote: "This candid and humble statement of yours was beyond doubt the first foundation stone upon which our society has since been built."
When Roland H. had asked Jung if there was any hope for him Jung told him that "there might be, provided he could become the subject of a spiritual or religious experience - in short, a genuine conversion." Wilson continued in his letter: "You recommended that he place himself in a religious atmosphere and hope for the best."75
As far as Jung was concerned, there was no need for doctrine or creed, only an experience. It is important to note that Jung could not have meant conversion to Christianity, because as far as Jung was concerned all religion is simply myth - a symbolic way of interpreting the life of the psyche. To Jung, conversion simply meant a totally dramatic experience that would profoundly alter a person's outlook on life. Jung himself had blatantly rejected Christianity and turned to idolatry. He replaced God with a myriad of mythological archetypes.
Jung's response to Wilson's letter included the following statement about Roland H.: "His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness; expressed in medieval language: the union with God.75
In his letter Jung mentioned that in Latin the same word is used for alcohol as for "the highest religious experience.” To Jung, everything was a symbol, there was no true reality.
Even in English, alcohol is referred to as spirits. But, knowing Jung's theology and privy relationship with a familiar spirit, (a demon), one must conclude that the spirit he is referring to is not the Holy Spirit, and the god he is talking about is not the God of the Bible, but rather a counterfeit spirit posing as an angel of light and leading many to destruction.
Jung's Alternate Religion
Jung's neo-paganism and his desire to replace Christianity with his own concept of psychoanalysis can be seen in a letter he wrote to Freud:
"I imagine a far finer and more comprehensive task for [psychoanalysis] than alliance with an ethical fraternity. I think we must give it time to infiltrate into people from many centers, to revivify among intellectuals a feeling for symbol and myth, ever so gently to transform Christ back into the soothsaying god of the vine, which he was, and in this way absorb those ecstatic instinctual forces of Christianity for the one purpose of making the cult and the sacred myth what they once were - a drunken feast of joy where man regained the ethos and holiness of an animal.77
Thus Jung's goal for psychoanalysis was to be an all-encompassing religion superior to Christianity, reducing its truth to myth and transforming Christ into a "soothsaying god of the vine." Christians dabble in Jung's religion when they incorporate his notions about man and deity through imbibing in his theories, therapies, and notions that have filtered down through other psychotherapies, through 12-step programs, through inner healing, through dream analysis, and the like.
A Critique of Jung
Carl Jung went beyond Freud's theory of the unconscious by combining the spiritual dimension in what he called the collective unconscious. According to his theory, all human beings possess in their unconscious a deeply buried history of the human race.
According to Jung, the collective unconscious is also the dwelling place of God.
In Jung's theory, Jesus was only a type or a symbol, not deity or a Savior. We encounter Him in the collective unconscious only by visualizing and imagining him, says Jung.
Both Buddhism and Hinduism also subscribe to similar religious exercises. Agnes Sanford popularized both the visualizing techniques of Jung's teachings in the church with her book The Healing Gifts of the Spirit.
Her basis for these claims are not biblical but from Jung. Jung's Jesus is more like a spirit guide in the Lord of history. Jung believed goal of therapy is not healing but coming in contact with one's collective unconscious.
This process is considered therapeutic by many healing ministries in the church today. However, its origins are occultist. Jung's psychological theories should be a cause for caution and discernment for the modern Christian.
Jung's personal concern with his own lack of meaning and purpose in life was evident throughout his long career, and near the end of his life, he confessed, "There is nothing I am quite sure about, I have no definite convictions, not about anything really. I exist on the foundation of something I do not know."
For a famous psychologist, who had devoted his entire life to giving people direction and hope, not to have any himself, is quite odd, to say the least.
That last statement of Carl Jung speaks volumes to the wary.
It is amazing such brilliant and learned psychologists, to whom the world followed in their day, and to a large extent today, seem to have no better grasp of where they are, what they are doing or where they are going than most people on the street. What is their appeal? Why do they hold the public in such fascination?
Abraham Maslow: Needs Therapy (1908-1970)
Abraham Maslow is recognized as the most influential contributor to the development of what has been called humanistic, third force psychology. He has been identified as one of the chief architects behind the rapidly growing humanistic movement in modern psychology.78 Maslow insists that psychologists have focused too much of their attention on human weakness and pathology and have largely overlooked stronger and healthier side human nature. Maslow's approach is holistic in that it views the individual is integrated, organized.79
He was very optimistic about human nature, writing in his Toward a Psychology of Being: "This inner nature, as much as we know of it so far, seems not to be intrinsically or primarily evil."80 On the contrary, human nature is "good or neutral rather than bad." In the Introduction to the same volume, Maslow wrote: "Destructiveness, sadism, cruelty, malice, etc., seem so far to be not intrinsic but rather they seem to be violent reactions against frustration of our intrinsic needs, emotions, and capacities."80
In response to the question of the origin of neuroses, Maslow wrote:
"My answer...was, in brief, that neurosis seemed at its core, and in its beginning, to be a deficiency disease: that it was born out of being deprived of certain satisfactions which I called needs in the same sense that water and amino acids and calcium are needs, namely that their absence produces illness. Most neuroses involved, along with other complex determinants, ungratified wishes for safety, for belongingness and identification, for close love relationships and for respect and prestige."81
Basic needs, said Maslow, possess the following characteristics:
- The deprived person yearns for their gratification persistently.
- Their deprivation makes the person sicken and wither.
- Gratifying them is therapeutic, curing the deficiency-illness.
- Steady supplies forestall these illnesses.
- Healthy (gratified) people do not demonstrate these deficiencies
Maslow grouped needs into five levels that stood in a hierarchical and developmental relationship to each other. Beginning with the foundational level they are: physiological needs (e.g., food, drink, air, etc.), safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs (respect from others and for oneself), and the need for self-actualization (the ability to make the most of one's potential). Maslow proposed that we are most immediately aware of lower level needs but once they are satisfied, upper level needs become more apparent and have greater motivational force.
In that Maslow was seeking to construct a humanistic model of personality and motivation, it's no surprise that the concept of "sin" is absent from his system. Sommers and Satel writes in One Nation Under Therapy:
"From the beginning, Maslow's aim was to displace moral philosophy and religion with a science of man. Traditional religion, in his judgment, had proved inadequate. He proposed a "religion-surrogate." He said, "Throughout history [humanity] has looked for guiding values, for principles of right and wrong outside of [itself], to a God, to some sort of sacred book, perhaps, or to a ruling class."82
Maslow believed that he had found the basis for ethics and personal fulfillment in human nature itself.
Behavior and attitudes that are, from a biblical perspective, sinful, are not, according to Maslow, evidence of a morally corrupt nature but of frustrated needs. Assuming Maslow's diagnosis, the appropriate cure is not a new heart with redirected desires but satisfaction of the natural heart's yearnings. Neither the objects nor the intensity of our desires are the cause of the conflicts among us.
This assumption about human motivation is deeply entrenched in the American psyche even among those unfamiliar with Maslow's work. What is so astonishing (not to mention disturbing) is how influential and pervasive this perspective on human nature and behavior is among Bible-believing Christians. One does not have to search hard for it. It's propagated in sermons and popular Christian books, particularly those having to do with marriage. It's the lens through which we view life and even the grid through which we interpret Scripture.
A Critique of Maslow
Maslow made as significant a contribution as any psychologist or social science to the affirmation of the generally neglected potentialities human beings. As a consequence, his books have made influential headlines not only in the psychological arena but also among professionals in management, marketing, counseling and education. He formulated a number of fruitful concepts and terms (needs hierarchy, meta-needs, peak experiences, synergy, deficiency and being motivated, self actualization) and some of them have flowed into popular discourse. Maslow's work was more a corrective than it was a presentation of psychoanalytic theory and therapy; he sought to address the healthy side of personality that was neglected by the Freudian emphasis on the neurotic side.
He is to be commended for attempting to steer a course between Orthodox psychoanalysis and behavior listed psychology, but his position is vulnerable to criticism in several areas, particularly because his theorizing and speculations often went far beyond empirical data. He also admitted he was unable to explain how human cruelty fit into his psychological system, and near the end of his life, he expressed his hope to arrive at an understanding of the psychological puzzle. In fact, Maslow became less a psychologist and more human as philosopher who theorized about human nature and morality and whose hope was in the evolution and manifestation of human potential.
Carl Rogers: Client Centered Therapy (1902-1987)
If Abraham Maslow is the theoretician of the human potential movement, then Carl Roger is the practitioner. Rogers grew up in a Christian home and came to New York City to study theology at Union Theological Seminary. Not surprisingly, disillusioned with his theological studies at Union---an institution at the forefront of liberalism in the early twentieth century. Certainly, Rogers could not have gotten any answers to hard questions concerning his spiritual life.
At the same time, and just across the street, stood Columbia University, with its cutting-edge clinical psychology program. Union Seminary had no answers. But Columbia offered Rogers a confident faith in the incipient humanism of the day. The young Rogers ate humanism up as fast and furious as he could. He never looked back at Christianity, except in dismay and disgust.
However, his psychology retained a religious and spiritual character. As Rogers aged, the spiritual nature of his work became more evident, especially as he was facing the death of his wife. He looked for answers, not in psychology, certainly not in Christianity, but in the occult—with its mediums, seances and Ouija boards. He claimed to have communicated with his dead wife, who told him to have a good time in a sexual relationship he had begun with a woman during the final stages of his wife's illness, basically adultery. Instead of guilt and condemnation, Roger's received his dead wife's full empathy and unconditional positive regard or (UPC) toward his sin.
In contrast to Freud, Rogers saw human beings as good and perfectible. He believed they only needed the guidance that was already within themselves, just waiting to be vitalized by using nondirective techniques. Rogers, like Freud, did not believe in giving any kind of advice or counsel, just recognize feelings. They believe their clients come to resonate with their own feelings as they experience the counselor's empathy and (UPR), they will be made whole and healed within. In effect, the client uses the counselor as a positive mirror to the inner self, reflecting with approval what the client sees within. Rogers insists there is nothing that can break into a person to help him resolve the dilemma of his sufferings. There is no supernatural revelation.
Unfortunately, Rogerians deny the existence of standards and absolutes and a propensity of people toward evil. In client centered therapy a homosexual can come to accept his homosexuality, but he will never receive spiritual counsel that declares homosexuality is sin, the Biblical way. If fact, they probably will not receive any helpful advice at all. It is believed it is more important to listen and acknowledge feelings.
According to his own account, the enormous popular response to his work is largely because he expressed an idea whose time had come. This central idea in his writings is, the gradually formed and tested hypotheses that the individual has been himself vast resources for self understanding, for altering his self image, his attitudes, and his self-directed behavior, and these resources can be tapped if only a climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can he provided.83
It has been said that Rogers produce the first rigorously developed, comprehensive account of humanistic psychology. He believed there was no such thing as objective truth, but only subjective truth. More than anyone else, Rogers conducted and stimulated research on the nature of the self the process of change.84 In his therapy, Rogers arrived at three basic conditions the first must be fulfilled by the therapist in order to facilitate a process of change in the client. First, the therapist must be genuine and transparent with client, open to the feelings and attitudes that occur within, and able to communicate them when appropriate.85
Based on his clinical experience, Rogers came to the conclusion that the core of personality not negative but positive. The problem of destructive and antisocial behavior stems from the defensiveness and aggressiveness associated with inadequate selfconcepts. When people begin to accept themselves, they can also appreciate and accept others, and this leads to enhanced communication and cooperation. Thus, the real issue at the bottom of each person's problems is how to get in touch with the real self. Since the core of personality is positive, the individual is most fulfilled when she can fully express what she really it is.86
Rogers also exhibited a growing spiritual interest, and he came to see his thinking as a bridge between Eastern and Western thought. He embraced the idea of multiple realities, that is, millions of separate individual perceptions of reality. Like those in the transpersonal psychology movement, he grew interested paranormal meditation and altered senses of consciousness, ESP, biofeedback, telepathy and clairvoyance.
A Critique of Rogers
Rogers profound influence in the field of counseling and psychotherapy was due to the factors. His nondirective approach, his emphasis on listening and empathetic understanding, and his zero people seeking help as clients rather than patients challenged the prevailing approach to psychotherapy and enhanced the relational component of therapy. Person centered therapy is commendable as it views people as purposeful holistic beings who become more fully functional in response to the therapeutic triad of empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. The Rogerian model of therapy and personality is built upon a naive type of methodology that accepts self-reports on face value. Because of the problems of defensive and deceptive behavior, such reports of inner experiencing are often distorted and unreliable. This uncritical acceptance so for its calls into question the validity of some of the research conclusions reached by Rogers and followers.88
In addition, his emphasis on human freedom and avoidance of any form of external of valuation introduces a self-defeating element in the purpose of the therapeutic process. The spirit of individualism and self-indulgence in Rogers approach is so pervasive that process takes precedence over committed and permanent relationships.
This faith in the personal capacity to direct one's own life leads to an inadequate analysis of the depths of human estrangement and suffering. His theory promotes an inflated view of self as the center of all life. Truth is determined by the inner subjectivity of the individual, and the highest moral imperative in this system is personal wholeness at the expense of truth. This consistent depreciation of sources of authority outside of self, and yet his account of the nature of self is slippery. At the core level, this so-called selfactualization process is driven mainly by selfish biologically rooted instincts rather than honesty.
Erich Fromm: Secular Humanist Therapy (1900-1980)
Because of the clarity and scope of his writings, Erich Fromm's numerous books have been widely read. He adapted Freudian insights from the observation of individuals and applied them to the psychological understanding of groups.89
Fromm's concern with the interaction of psychological, economic, and ideological factors in the social process was heavily influenced by the social theory of Marx. Fromm focused on the existential dilemma that arises from the uniqueness of human existence nature and the contradiction between the coexistence of animal and human natures.90
In his estimation, the deepest human tendency is the movement away from animal limitations toward the fulfillment of human possibility. This animal aspect of humans is characterized by physiological needs such as hunger, thirst and sexual needs which must be satisfied. But the satisfaction of these instinctual needs is insufficient for happiness or even sanity, since human beings are uniquely bound up with psychic needs.91
Fromm distinguishes between purely subjectively felt needs, some of which are harmful to human growth, and objectively valid needs are consistent with the requirements of human nature.
Psychological needs, on the other hand, are not rooted in bodily processes, but are the very essence of human mode and practice of life. Fromm lists a number of these psychological needs, including the needs for relatedness or unity, for rootedness, for transcendence, for identity, for a frame of orientation and devotion, for effectiveness, for stimulation, and for the development of a character structure.
Fromm defines religion as "any system of thought and action shared by a group which gives the individual a frame of orientation and an object of devotion."92 Religion is an attempt to answer the problem of human existence, you can be based on irrational or irrational faith. According to Fromm, rational faith is a firm conviction based on productive intellectual and emotional activity that is founded on the potentialities of people. Irrational faith, on the other hand is "the belief in a person, idea, or symbol which does not result from one's own personal experience of thought or feeling, but which is based on one's emotional submission to irrational authority."93
As with ethics and conscience, so also with religion: the primary contrast is between authoritarian and humanistic expressions. Authoritarian religion is based on the transfer to God of the infantile attitude of the child toward his father.94 Fromm compared this to the dynamics of the early Christian community. "The first Christians were a brotherhood of socially and economically oppressed enthusiasts held together by hope and hatred."94
Fromm rejects authoritative religion and promotes the secular faith of humanistic religion. He claimed that the psychoanalyst was in a unique position to study human duality behind religion as well as behind nonreligious symbol systems. Fromm believes exotic question of whether or not man returns to religion and believes in God but whether he lives love and thinks truth.
Fromm's only religion is a humanistic religion that is centered around man strength were virtue itself realization, not obedience. He states, "a is certainty of conviction based on one's experience of thought and feeling, not assent to propositions on credit of the proposer. The prevailing mood is that of joy, while the prevailing mood in authoritative religion is that of sorrow and guilt."95
Furthermore he writes, "God is a symbol of man's own powers which he tries to realize in his life, and it is not a symbol of force and domination, having power over man. Thus, humanistic religion can be theistic or non-theistic, and both authoritarian and humanistic expressions can be found within the same religion."96
Fromm prefers the non-theistic version that the true goal of psychoanalysis is consistent with the best expression of religion, namely, to help the patient in the discovery of truth and the development of his or her capacity for love. For him, the most rational faith is faith in oneself; only then can one have faith in others and in humanity as a whole. People become evil only the proper conditions for their growth and development are lacking; the degree of destructiveness is proportionate to the degree to which the unfolding of a person's capacities is blocked. Fromm holds to a rational faith in man's capacity to extricate himself from what seems the fatal web of circumstances that he has woven. But for this to take place, drastic economic and social changes must occur that give the human heart the chance for change. Then, the conditions for human change and character restructuring of the "New Man" is possible.100
Critique of Fromm
As one of the most popular and influential psychoanalysts in America, Fromm applied the breadth of his interest and variety of his literary output to an analysis of the problems of contemporary life. His personality theory is socially oriented and bridged by his knowledge cultural anthropology and his use of historical analysis as the psychological tool. In his favor, he was able to transcend the instinctual boundaries of the Freudian system. Not only did he minimized the biological determinants of human behavior , and the role instincts, but he also effectively challenged the Orthodox model of psycho sexual development along of Freudian sequence.
His cultural observations are insightful but limited because they do not account for the origins of personality types within a culture. His psychological analysis of history is creative and ingenious, but overblown, and it suffers from a lack of correspondence with historical data, particularly in the motif of freedom and escape. His political philosophy is deeply shaped by strong Marxist ideology and underestimates the role of noneconomic casual forces in shaping modern culture. It appears he is more global to building his theoretical system on a humanistic morals and philosophy rather than empirical techniques and scientific data.
While his description of the authoritarian personality has rendered some contribution to personality therapy, his position that pathological societies are responsible for distorted expressions of human nature rests on an excessively optimistic conception of the person. Perhaps he has well deserved the criticism that his perspectives are politically and economically unrealistic and overly utopian for reality.
His autonomous humanism speaks with the voice of moral authority but unfortunately is grounded only in relative categories. Fromm's personal hostility toward all forms of authoritarianism as destructive of freedom is based in part on his misunderstanding of Protestant theology and the Reformed view of the sovereignty of God. And, if for some reason, one cannot find Him there, one is encouraged to please invent a religious system of one's unique liking to meet that inner need for perceived stability and order in a chaotic world. It is totally up to the patient to decide on that one.
He erroneously assumes that this implies the degradation and relative worthlessness of man in the face of an arbitrary and oppressive omnipotence and concludes that it is masochistic to submit to such a sadistic being as God Almighty. He then assumes a casual connection between this account of Protestantism and the development of capitalism and modern totalitarianism such as Hitler's Nazi Germany. Such ridiculously sweeping claims and fragile arguments are characteristic of Fromm's psycho analytical superficial survey of history and cultural development.
His vehement hostility to traditional expressions of religion, particularly Christianity, is a theme that often runs in his books, but this does not mean that he is opposed to religion per se. Instead, Fromm advocates a non-theistic, secular, godless, humanistic religion that is essentially contrived from the rotting carcasses of mystery, mythological, mystical, atheistic world philosophies. By combining high-minded, rational insight with mysticism, his self-psychology retains a tenuous and revisionist connection to his apostate Christian roots.
This chapter will begin with a convergence and divergence study of the theological and psychological worldviews of mankind's deepest needs. In addition, it will be helpful to discover the metaphysical and moral assumptions held by the psychologists, psychological worldviews of theism and theological worldviews of non-theism, the role of human needs in the justification belief, the problem of self-interest and self-love, and the differences between immanent and transcendent solutions to human psychological and spiritual needs.
A Study of the Convergence and Divergence of the Theological and Psychological Worldviews
In a comparative analysis like this, it is important to avoid reading psychology into theology and theology into psychology. As the next section will indicate, the psychological models and are based upon metaphysical and moral assumptions, even though many psychologists are reluctant to acknowledge the philosophical rather than scientific status of such assumptions. These presuppositions are often radically different from those held by most theologians, resulting in dramatically different meanings behind identical words. There are legitimate parallels between the theological and psychological worldviews of human needs. In part, this is to be expected; since both approaches are considering the same subject, so overlap in their anthropological inferences is inevitable.
In addition, Western civilization and perceptions have been profoundly shaped by Christian thought, and each psychologists in this study, including those with a Jewish background, have been influenced, in various degrees, and by the symbols and institutions of Christendom.
Theological approaches to psychology range along a continuum one extreme of uncritical acceptance to the opposite extreme of wholesale rejection. Some conservative theologians believe that all psychological theorizing is suspect because of the metaphysical foundations upon which it is based. More liberal theologians tend to welcome psychological insights on the nature and needs of man.
Conservative or liberal, if we search out hard enough, we should be able to find some applicable truth even in the most far reaching extremes.
As Ernest Becker sought to show, there is a definite relationship between psychiatric and religious perspectives on reality, and this is well illustrated in the work of Kierkegaard, whose analysis of the human condition was post Freudian, even though he wrote in 1840.101 The real contribution of psychology modern culture is its penetration into the archaeology of the basic psychobiological infrastructure_subjectivity.102 Applied correctly psychological dimension enriches rather than diminishes theological insights concerning human nature; just as theological awareness deepens psychological acuity; processes in the natural order and God's action in the world should be viewed as a both/and rather than an either/or.
The Conflict model of personality, with its tensions between the conscious and the unconscious, childhood and selfhood and self and society, maybe a more appropriate model of personality before conversion than the Fulfillment model.
Theological anthropology generally associates fallen state with spiritual, personal, and social alienation; on this account, the conflict is interim psychic and psychosocial, and it is "Theo-psychic" as well. Only by the grace of God, the core of human personality can be transformed, by the gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus the fulfillment model may be a more apt Scripture in of the personality after conversion.
In this study the theological models of human needs acknowledge the nature of physical needs and converge in the three essential need areas of; forgiveness and grace, love and community, and purpose and hope. Psychological models converge in the four basic need areas of survival needs, identity needs, relational needs, and ideological needs. Despite the differences in presuppositions, vocabulary and proposed solutions to the satisfaction of these needs, there is a correspondence between the theological model's and psychological models.
Both theologians and psychologists recognize survival needs. Since these needs are physiologically based, they must be gratified to a minimal extent if the organism is to survive. There is a difference of opinion as to the content of these survival needs, and that some theorists like Fromm believe they extend beyond the level of organic or physical needs to psychic needs such as security and safety (Maslow). The need for forgiveness and grace in the theological models corresponds to the identity needs in the psychological models.
From a theological perspective the human condition is characterized by alienation, estrangement, bondage of the will, and personal guilt caused by the pursuit of finite and temporal concerns above the ultimate and eternal concern of communion with the infinite Creator. The way of forgiveness and restoration of the divine image was initiated by God's grace in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and it must be appropriated in the personal response of repentance and faith. Those who respond in this way to the grace of God become a part of the new glorious creation of a new identity and destiny as members of God's family. They are no longer defined by the temporal and immanent order of the world but by the eternal and transcendent, and this new spiritual identity as people of God who have been forgiven and enjoy peace with God is the source of substantial healing of relationships with others.
The psychological models also confront the experience of guilt and estrangement in light of the quest for identity, but they define these words in different ways than the theological models and propose alternative methods for overcoming the problem of alienation. As discussed earlier, some psychologists view identity in terms of individuation, while others see identity in terms of self actualization. The Conflict model approaches identity as the product of psychosocial or intrapsychic adaption, on the Fulfillment model stresses the actualization of human potential through the acceptance of one's intrinsic nature. But both psychological models see guilt as a product of cognitive dysfunction or tension social mores.
The need for love and community the theological models corresponds to the relational needs in the psychological models.
The theological models approach this need on the vertical as well as horizontal dimension, the former providing the foundation for the latter.
The unconditional love and acceptance of God in Christ is the foundation of security, freedom and significance of those who respond impersonal faith, and this relationship should be tangibly expressed in fellowship and community with others that is characterized by mutual love, acceptance, discipleship, and servant-hood within the church.
In the psychological models, both Conflict and Fulfillment theorists acknowledge relational needs in view of the reality of a social and cultural content in which each individual must cope. In general, the conflict theorists stress the process of becoming a fully functioning individual within the given contingencies of social embeddedness, while the fulfillment theorists emphasize the centrality of love, affection, empathy, and uncritical acceptance, arguing that basic needs can only be met in satisfied interpersonally.
The need for hope and purpose in the theological models corresponds to the ideological needs in the psychological models. Temporal existence is enriched and enlarged by the hope of unending life in the presence of God and a continuum fellowship with the community of the redeemed. Resurrected life is the answer to the apparent meaninglessness caused by death, and finite concerns take on a new perspective when one embraces the promise of an eternal destiny in communion with the Supreme Good for which the soul was created and without which it can never find true satisfaction or rest.
The psychological models relate ideological needs to the pursuit of meaning and purpose in life. They generally agree that people need of philosophy or religious ideology that will provide them with a sense of faith, purpose, and hope in spite of the fact that such religious or cultural his are essentially irrational and illusionary.
Most of the psychologists observed that more scientific and secular ideologies are replacing the function serve of the great religions since the latter are losing their hold on contemporary culture. Jung was less optimistic than the others about the potential of the new soul denying cognitive systems to provide an adequate foundation for meaning and purpose in view of certainty of death.
Thus, there is a general correspondence between the need areas recognize by the theological models and those recognized by the psychological models. But there are significant areas of divergence between theologians and psychologists, including their views of human nature, guilt, morality, the meaning and purpose one, and human destiny. The theologians stress that humans are more than biological or psychological things and that they cannot be reduced to products of genetics, environment, and historical/social conditions. There is also a strong transcendent and spiritual dimension to human nature which is systematically overlooked by the rational thoughts of most psychologists. Some psychologists actually acknowledge the spiritual dimension but they still categorize as illusion. While theologians acknowledge that human existence is shaped by genetic, physiological, social, and behavioral factors, they list spiritual factors at the top of the list and argue that humans cannot be accounted for in terms of isolated elements but must be seen from a holistic, whole person perspective.
It appears the theologians are willing to give more credit to some of the finds of psychology, whereas, most of the psychologists are not willing to budge an inch to acknowledge the spiritual dimension in every person. Psychologists also have a tendency to emphasize present reality and minimize the quest for the ultimate meaning in view of the finality of death; theologians are more subject to the opposite tendency of so focusing on the final end that they may underplay the reality of today.
In general, the theologians in this study approach human nature will radically different standpoint than that of the psychologists; many of the latter, particularly the humanistic psychologists, assume an inherent goodness in man and blame undesirable behavior on environmental and social conditions or on a failure to actualize one's inner potentialities. Most psycho-analysts today deny the theological account of the human condition in their approach to estrangement, anxiety, and guilt as mental illnesses that can be cured rather than objective states of alienation, and their denial of the actual existence of personal and moral guilt.
Tillich engaged in extensive dialogue with therapists like Erikson, Rogers, and Fromm, and believed that the movements of existentialism and depth psychology are of great value for theology because of their revelation of hidden levels of reality in human existence but he was very critical of psychology on a number of points and maintained that psychoanalysis may be able to cure people of special difficulties, but it cannot cure them of guilt, emptiness, meaninglessness, or the terror of life and death.103 It is religion, not psychology, that must show a final way to those who must decide about the meaning and aim of their existence.
Tillich also criticized Freud's pain pleasure principle and doctrine of libido as an inadequate reinterpretation of theological account of concupiscence.104 the Freudian exposition of human creature list this combines genuine insight on man's existential predicament with a fallacious theory of his essential nature. Tillich also took issue with existential psychology for attempting to reduce the essence of humans to their existence and questioned the predominantly individualistic perspectives of personality theorists.
Although modern psychology has made a significant contribution to a deeper understanding of human drives, emotion, behavior, and willing, theologians like Augustine, Edwards, and Kierkegaard understand many of these implications and, like Tillich, would have recognized areas of convergence and divergence between psychological and theological anthropology.
Metaphysical and Moral Assumptions in the Psychological Worldviews
Psychologists generally claim their systems are scientific because they are derived from empirical data, whereas theologians begin with a commitment to a religious philosophy of life. But as many experts have observed, psychologists frequently shift categories from the scientific to the philosophical and the normative in their use of metaphors of multiplicity and theories of moral obligation.105
By blurring the conceptual boundaries between science and broader world view considerations, psychologists are often unaware of their own metaphysical and moral presuppositions as they invoke the authority of science to authenticate their assumptive opinions.
The work of each of the psychologists in this study was shaped by metaphysical and moral assumptions. Freud developed a mechanical and naturalistic model of instinctual tension reduction that drew upon images from electronics, hydraulics, and organic evolution.106 Freud's life and death instincts were metaphors of multiplicity that served as a metaphysical substitute for religious cosmology and reflected his rationalistic materialism. His view of moral obligation was an ethical egoism of civilized detachment from reality.
Erikson was committed to a humanistic worldview and he believed that human potentialities are often clouded by fears associated with religious dogma and traditions.
He thought religion was a system of superstition and exploitation that calls people to look for ultimate concerns in the transcendent when they would be better served by a perspective that looks for such concerns in the sphere of the immediate, or in psychology.
Jung's writings are dotted with religious and ethical judgments, but he was more conscious than most psychologists of the metaphysical and moral metaphors and assumptions that necessarily undergird psychological theorizing. In his quest to capture the power of spiritual symbols and make them available to psychological analysis, he rejected traditional Christianity that attempted to reinterpret religious symbols and a not authoritative way for use in the individuation process. Although he sought to avoid metaphysical assertions, his psychological model Incorporated metaphors of multiplicity to relate to the dualism of good and evil, the self as the ’’Godwithin man” and the meaning of life.
Humanistic psychologists like Maslow and Rogers held a far less complicated view of the process of personal growth than did Jung. Instead of the conflicts of polar ambivalence, they adopted the metaphor of ultimate harmony of potentialities in a single actualizing force. Fulfillment is gained when people are true to their own deepest selves, and individual fulfillment is, in turn, complementary to the self-actualization of others.
Fromm's secular faith of humanistic religion was non-theistic and vigorously opposed to traditional, institutionalized religion, but his was more of a secular/scientific humanism than a cosmic humanism.
Fromm also developed a very definite agenda for the transformation of society into a humanistic socialism through a humanitarian rather than authoritarian ethical system that is based upon a science of human welfare.
The psychologists' view of human nature range from the pessimism of Freud to the ambivalence of John to the guarded optimism of Erikson and Fromm, to the unbounded optimism of Maslow and Rogers. Each of the psychologists claim that his work is founded on empirical observation and scientific research, yet it is evident that their conclusions are profoundly influenced by philosophical and ethical considerations that have nothing to do with science nor is scientifically supportable by rational data. It is self-deceptive, even for a scientist, to believe that one is metaphysically or morally neutral. It is impossible to make observations of any kind without some kind of assumed framework. Like other disciplines, psychology is fraught with presuppositions, and to assume a posture of scientific objectivity that ignores these presuppositions is to invite misconception and grand delusion.
The psychologies in this study have become secular alternatives to the Judeo- Christian world and often serve as religious surrogates for the psychotherapists who embrace them as well as their patients. They are marked by a consummate refusal to consider the option that religious claims could have any real, objective truth. It is not surprising, then, that most psychology textbooks virtually ignore the philosophical, moral, and religious implications of personality theory. Sadly, even when psychologists, whether atheists or believers, study religious conversion, they generally ignore the possibility that God may have had anything to do with the process. In part, this arrogant assumption stems from a methodological approach that assumes that a "scientific" method is the only valid avenue a psychological inquiry or truth. But this stilted and limited perspective is akin to putting blinders on that overlooked other forms of knowledge such as philosophical, historical, moral, personal, and religious knowledge, each having its own merit to contribute and appropriate means of investigation.
Ironically, psychologists will conjecture into philosophical speculation baptizing their so-called research, "science." But, their openness to investigate intelligent avenues of truth end, where their fears they might be wrong begin. This inevitably leads to a vicious circle between method and metaphysics. The intellectual arrogance of self- insisting one must all the answers, yet deep inside realize this is impossible, creates a psychological fear and anxiety one would think the psychological would, at least, be aware of. The very nature of psychological interpretation is that it "cannot penetrate to the absolute final or first reality."108
When psychology transcends its limitations and assumes the shape of a world view with its own metaphysical and moral stance, it unavoidably formulates its own orienting mythology. Under the cover of ordinary knowledge, it challenges theology by discussing matters of ultimate concern, but framing them within the mystique of "an eschatology of immanence in which the insides of nature will erupt into a new being."109 Building on the assumption that God is in eclipse in modern culture, the new psychological belief system replaced the absolute mystery of the transcendent with the relative mystery of the imminent.
Psychological Worldviews of Theism and Theological Worldviews of Non-Theism
The metaphysical presuppositions held by the psychologists in this study are particularly evident in their accounts of religious behavior and experience. Freud's assessment of religion exerted a profound influence on subsequent psych analytic theory. In Freud's thought, religion serves the important functions of maintaining sense of control over the forces of nature by personifying those forces and justifying the cost of civilization's diminishment of instinctual gratification by sanctioning social institutions and offering the promise of future compensation. It also provides a cosmic father figure, created in the image of man, they can reduce anxiety and satisfy basic human needs such as provision and security. Religion creates a sense of purpose in life, but it is an illusion based on human wish fulfillment that keeps people in a socially infantile state
It is a collective neurosis that once served an important purpose but must now be superseded in the modern era by a more feasible foundation for civilization. Freud did not the reject religion because it fulfills psychological needs a because of his belief that it had no rational foundation. Many of his followers, however, went beyond him and denying religious truth claims because of their assessment of these claims as the product of the unconscious wishes of those who hold them.
Erikson viewed organized religion as a social institution that offers a collective reassurance to those whose anxieties accrue from their infantile past. This institution relates to a need for trust and a sense of goodness that develops in its more mature form into a faith in a coherent world image. Religion has shrewdly played into man's most childlike needs, not only by offering eternal guarantees for God's power of benevolence, if properly appeased, but also by magic words and significant gestures, soothing sounds and smells, an infant's world.110
Jung held a more positive attitude toward religion than Freud or Erikson and believed that spiritual concerns are necessary to the quest for selfhood. The symbols of religion facilitate the synthesis of consciousness and unconsciousness in the individuation process because of their significance. However, in his psychological reinterpretation of religion, Jung repudiated the institutions and doctrines of traditional Christianity, arguing that Christian mythology should be interpreted symbolically not literally. There was no room for religion, short of humanism, in Jung's psychological worldview perspective.
Maslow and Rogers were interested in substituting a secular philosophy of life for traditional religion, believing that external judgment and authority should be replaced by trust in the actualization tendency. In their vision of a secular religion, the realization of human potential is part of a greater transpersonal formative tendency at work in the universe.
Fromm associated authoritative religion, particularly Protestantism, with herd conformity, humiliating submission, infantile attitudes, and feelings of insignificance and guilt.
In general, then, the psychological accounts of religious belief, particularly Christian theism, include the following: religion evolved as a human response to the fear of nature and death, personifies these forces in an attempt to control and placate them, involves infantile wish projection, offers relief from guilt and anxiety, provides a sense of purpose and hope of immortality, and creates a communal ideology that sanctions social institution.
The ascendancy of psychology was proportionate to the socio-cultural decline of religious ideology. The spiritual vacuum left by the secularization of modern culture had to be filled by religious surrogate, and psychology has attempted to fill this gap. Theologians have responded to this challenge on a number of levels, including that of turning the tables by arguing that if there is a psychology of theism, there is also a psychology of non-theism. The current debate has left some ears burning as to the outcome of this discussion. Nevertheless, there is a definite correlation between the psychology's rise and faith's decline.
When the questions of the existence of God and the status of religious claims are reduced to an issue of practical meaningfulness in the lives of the adherents, theologians and philosophers of religion respond that subjective meaning cannot decide the question of objective reality. Some psychologists are guilty of committing the genetic fallacy when they assert that their accounts of religion are tantamount to the refutation of religious beliefs. These beliefs satisfy deep psychological needs, but this proves nothing about the validity or falsehood of their truth claims, nor does it affirm that they are ultimately based on those needs. And even if any of these psychological accounts fully explained the origin of religion, it would be a daunting task to establish that in fact originated in this way, since this is a matter of history rather than philosophy or psychology. The real issue is not why people fear the contingencies of their existence but why there are beings in a contingent universe who are concerned with the problems of contingency.111 Historical religions confront the problem of how to bear the end of life, and if they lose their grip on people's lives, people still need what classical religions have provided, namely, a lived creative illustration that does not lie about the genuine experience of guilt and the existential terror of life and death.
Theologians argue that the God of Christian theism is not merely a job description, or an intellectual theory devised to solve the problems of human existence. God is not an anthropological projection. Humanity is defined by Him.
God is not defined by us, as the psychological premise appears to be. Neither can His demands be offset by any philosophical rationalization on our part, either.
Prayer is not a matter of autosuggestion, and "the word father" is not the projection into the infinite of childishness, subjective concepts which aim at irrational domination of His existence, but is authorized by God who, working in everything, liberated his creatures to his own freedom and love. Christians are the only people who do not need to reach for an opiate or analgesic because they are unable to drink the chalice of death in their personal relation to the Lord of all life to conquer death, in their place, which is resurrection. In Christ, this earthly existence passes through death into life and all philosophies and psychologies of man cannot change that objective fact.
The reductionism of psychological and social logical interpretations of religious beliefs is like a sword that can cut both ways: just as theism may satisfy deeply felt longings, so atheism may appeal to the human quest for autonomy, the illusion of control, and the fear of moral accountability before a personal Creator toward who is also the Judge of all mankind. Theologians have observed that the infinite personal God of Judeo- Christian theism is not the comforting and reassuring kind of being that people would want to invent, to start with. Personal encounter with the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-everywhere, perfectly holy, totally awesome, infinitely mysterious can be an overpowering and profoundly traumatic ordeal of disintegration and nakedness as the experiences of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Job, Isaiah, Daniel, the apostle Paul, and John the Revelator, and many others can personally confirm.
Exposure to and by the burning gaze of God is an unsettling encounter that can lead to repentance and life transformation. But, the threat of God's moral excellence and sovereignty also produces the response of rebellion and excuse making.
Edwards assessment of the human condition is that men naturally are not God's friend but God's enemy.
This is consistent with the account of the human condition outlined in (Romans 1)
but could be described in psychological terms as the trauma of divine holiness;
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men" and the response of repression "who by their wickedness suppress the truth" for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them" and the substitution of religious surrogates that reshape and distort the threat of God with images that are more palatable to human wishes.
Thus, both predisposition and presupposition issues are involved in religious and secular belief systems, and the question of the rationality of religious versus secular belief cannot be settled by psychodynamic considerations.112
If the psychologist's position that religious belief is based solely on need fulfillment is true, this would indeed pose a serious challenge to the plausibility and credibility of theological truth claims.
But the fiat dismissal by psychologists of the rationality of religious belief is based on the unfounded assumption that there is no weight to the evidential and rational arguments that have been refined for centuries by theologians, apologists, and philosophers of religion.
It is true that some theologians like Kierkegaard and Barth have taken a more faith-based approach to theism than others, but this does not diminish the abundance of rational evidence that has been offered in defense of the Christian worldview.
The Role of Human Needs in the Pursuit of Religious Belief
As the perception that religion has become rationally and culturally deficient grows in the modern era, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to commit themselves to an ideology based upon the transcendent and invisible. Christian apologetics addresses this popular conception, and effort of unprecedented proportion and sophistication has been underway in recent years by apologists and philosophers of religion to challenge his perception and to demonstrate the superior credibility, coherence, and comprehensiveness of the theistic world view in the pluralistic marketplace of competing explanatory constructs.
Psychological Factors in Faith Formation
1. Excessive separation between rational inquiry and personal faith overlooks the fact that the mind/heart distinction is slippery. The dichotomy between the facts of faith and the irrational leap falsely assumes that affection and cognition are entirely separate domains of mental life, when in reality, every emotional state has a component of knowledge and every cognitive state has a component of feeling. Different modes of faith validation such as reason, personal experience, intellectual inquiry, and practicality can be mutually supportive in a whole person approach that includes the analytic and the intuitive modes and allows for a balance between the two elements.
2. Faith is a universal experience that involves the risk of commitment beyond knowledge. All people, including the atheist and the scientist, are committed to some kind of world to whether it is admitted are not, but is irrelevant of rational proof.
Faith need not eliminate a quest for rationality, since both can be present. Faith and rationality can be viewed as a dialectical process in which faith seeks understanding and understanding seeks faith. Religious belief requires decisive acts of the will rather than rational proof, it involves not merely belief about, but belief in and commitment to the divine, the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith deepens and strengthens in the context of doubt and lack of rational logic, since religious belief entails the commitment to temporal risk for eternal gain.
3. Religious belief and behavior are motivational and determined by human needs and are involved in the process of conversion and growth in faith.
Psychological categories, interpretations, or sophisticated theories cannot account for the complexion of subjective experience involved in religious belief and practice. The huge constellation of diverse psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence religious belief renders each case unique and unpredictable. These factors include: socioeconomic status, personal values, temperament, levels of conflict, religious background, level of cognitive dissonance, cultural belief system, extent of self-esteem, sense of security, psychological adjustment, strategies of accommodation, exposure to manipulation, attitude toward authority, identity, relational and ideological needs.113
4. The whole complex set of people's belief structure strongly influences the way in which they devise and weigh theories; their analysis of arguments for or against religious belief is affected by the subjective commitments they bring with them. One's evaluation of the rational merit of theistic arguments depends on one's personal experiences and cognitive framework.
The teleological argument may be persuasive to person A, mildly compelling to person B, and unconvincing to person C. Each person has a unique, distinctive structure that involves complex statements of evaluation they attach to beliefs depending upon its depth and affect upon the personality. The greater the ingress of belief, the more difficult it is to dislodge it.
5. There is a reciprocal relationship between belief and behavior, attitude and action, thought and experience. The simultaneous dynamics of modern living necessitates an inner circuitry that has no beginning and no end. Thus, faith is both a source of action and a consequence of action; acts of obedience and worship influence belief, and belief properly leads to behavioral response. Kierkegaard's radical volitional philosophy stresses active risking in hope more than knowledge, objectivity without subjective response is an enemy of the Christian faith. Most philosophers of religion affirm that religious beliefs a more than presuppositions, since they involve how people think and how they live. It is one thing, to think about a philosophy of life, and another thing in faith to actually incarnate it. Hence, philosophy versus biblical faith. The biblical mutuality of faith and works stresses that faith is not a mere matter of mental assent or rational reflection but a deep, transforming way of life.
Christian faith is relational in what it involves, the total involvement of oneself and personal relationship to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Psychology involves principles and theories. Christianity involves persons and commitments. It is a total, inclusive and exclusive structure that involves the heart and the head.
A relationship to the divine and with the divine is experiential and cannot be understood by theories. Little wonder those minds outside of Christianity have such difficulty understanding those inside Christianity, much less God's thinking.
The Relevance of Human Needs to the Rationality of Religious Belief
The argument from human needs for God offers subjective evidence that functions as an important component in the case for religious belief built on human experience. Religious belief offers more than what this temporal world can offer, for it projects into eternity. Mankind, from the dawn of civilization, has searched for purpose and meaning in life. He finds it in the transcendent reality of being rightly related to his Creator.
Theism offers a better solution to the basic identity needs, relational needs, and ideological needs of humans than secular and religious alternatives. It provides an ultimate and personal foundation for identity and morality as well as a cure to the problem of personal guilt through divine forgiveness. It answers the relational need for love and community to the restoration of man's broken relationship with God, which in turn makes the agape of God available for the restoration of relationships and community with others. In contrast, secular alternatives like science and humanism offer only finite meanings and temporal purposes; man is reduced to a social biological vehicle programmed to preserve its selfish genes; the universe becomes a closed system in an irrational and impersonal universe that will ultimately undergo dissolution.
Values are at best subjective and relative; humanity is subject to the idolatry of chance that allows no room for the transcendent; and the vision for the future wavers between the extreme of presumption in an evolutionary hope of the self-mastery of the human race in a secular eschatology of progress through linear time and the opposite extreme of despair and hopelessness. Religious alternatives to theism in which ultimate reality is personal but not finite (polytheism, world religions) or infinite but not personal (New Age Movement, pop psychology) are unable to fully satisfy mankind's deepest needs, and at best, can only provide deceptive, intellectual comfort. Beyond survival needs, given needs in the final analysis are relational (identity needs and ideological needs cannot be satisfied in a relational vacuum).
The only sure foundation for unlimited meaning and security of hope in a contingent universe is an absolute, infinite, and sovereign Being. Theism, with its belief in a God who is both personal and infinite, can best meet mankind's deepest needs because it corresponds to the deepest human aspirations of unending existence in a creative personal compassionate context.
Immanent Versus Transcendent Solutions to Mankind's Deepest Needs
One's view of needs, particularly the solution to how they can best be fulfilled, depends on one's view of reality, that is, the nature and destiny of human beings in the universe in which they live. World views are unavoidable, whether a person is a scientist or a street sweeper. It is helpful to recognize multiple levels of description when seeking to account for human behavior.
Each of these yields truth about the literary work of art, but none of these are exhaustive of the whole. Thus, religious conversion can be interpreted in terms of sociocultural influences, but this level of description does not exclude higher or lower levels.
Post-enlightenment society has been increasingly characterized by the cultural phenomenon of secularization, privatization, and pluralization. In the modern pluralistic context of competing ideologies, three major world views have become prominent: scientific (secular) humanism, cosmic humanism (pantheism), and theism.
When theism is abandoned, as it was by each of the psychologists in this study, the dominant remaining options are scientific humanism (Freud, Erikson) and cosmic humanism (Jung, Maslow, Rogers, Fromm). The conflict psychologists tended toward the scientific version of humanism while the fulfillment psychologists tended toward the cosmic version.
The rapid territorial expansion of scientific humanism in cultural ideology was aided by the claim that modern science had destroyed the old public, objective and cosmological kind of religion so that religious beliefs and values no longer fit with a scientifically coherent picture of the world. From that point of view of modern scientific consciousness, Judeo Christianity seems preposterous, and the idea of the supernatural should be abandoned; as something, and academic circles, there is no room in the cosmos for an absolutely transcending objective mind or an absolutely transcending God.
But the materialistic world view of scientism, despite its evolutionary and technical optimism, diminishes the cosmos to the impersonal plus time and chance and offers no solution to the human predicament and its existential estrangement.
The problem of guilt cannot be reduced to neurotic infantile fantasy, to the fear of life, or to violation of arbitrary social conventions. Psychotherapy can indeed address the problem of neurotic guilt, but it cannot eliminate the residue of existential guilt manifested in the symptoms of alienation and relational estrangement from God. This alienation is rooted in freedom not determinism and it cannot be cured without personal knowledge of responsibility and the forgiveness of others. Humans are powerless to overcome the gap between what they are and what they would be, but this impotence does not eliminate the problem of personal responsibility.
In the absence of the transcendent relationship to God, that the psychologists in this study have denied, one is left to the vision is visible and tragic is that of Freud. Freud hoped that scientific discoveries would lead to a greater mastery of nature and an improved social context. It was his hope that psychoanalysis with cure neurotic misery so that people need only experience the common misery of reality. The best one can do is to work and to love. Erikson stressed the importance of attaining trust and identity as well as integrity, that is, the willingness to accept the ultimate see of one's only life cycle. People should experience the joys and sorrows of fate as something they have actively chosen and accept the responsibilities of nurturing the next generation.
Jung believed that humans must attain selfhood through the individuation process of uniting opposite forces of the conscious and the unconscious. Through the symbolic structure of the great mythologies and religions, the archetypes can guide the personality in the quest for the integration of the self. Maslow believed in the essential goodness of human nature and encouraged its expression and actualization.
People's basic or deficiency needs must be satisfied so that they can be dominated by growth need and motivation. This self-actualization tendency can lead to peak experiences and a new form of cognition. Rogers held that the core of personality is positive and that when people experience unconditional positive regard, they learn to listen to themselves and to accept their attitudes and feelings as they are. People become fully functioning in self actualization, and they experience self regard plus enhanced cooperation with others. Fromm asserted the problem of mortality can be overcome through productive loving and thinking, shifting from a being mode to a having mode. When people acknowledge the reality of their aloneness in the universe, they can find meaning in their lives by accepting responsibility for themselves, believing in themselves, and giving birth to the potential that is within them.
The solutions essentially distill down to the following advice; we should accept life with all its hardships, ambiguities, and joys; we should accept ourselves as we are and others as they are; at the same time, we should try to become whole, integrated, creative, and productive people; and we should accept the fact of our mortality and make the most out of life. Intellectual honesty forces the writer here to confess that the simplistic solutions to the complexities and depths of the human condition remind him of Aldous Huxley's admission near the end of his life, "It is a rather embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life, and find at the end, that one has no better wisdom to offer, by way of advice, than 'Try a little harder.'"114
This is not to deny the important, and sometimes interesting, perceptions these personality theorists and psychologists have observed concerning human traits and behaviors. The problem is that when these true insights are embedded in a reductionist worldview, the solutions the psychologists offer become superficial.
Fleeing from the belief and commitment to the transcendent does not bring true or lasting happiness; it offers despair, depression and eventual destruction. The fact is, without God, people are limited to temporal, finite meanings and substitute the real meaning and purpose for life with relationships, identities, ideologies, and idolatries. The universal yearning of mankind for soul ecstasy and satisfaction can only be found in the personal context of faith, hope and love with Christ, the Son of the living God. As some psychologists observed, being is indeed more fundamental than doing; but one's sense of being, identity, and personhood must be defined and can only be defined by God, and not the world. The inescapable fact is human destiny is bound up in God, or as Dante expressed it in the conclusion of The Divine Comedy, "the love that moves the sun and the other stars."
Those whose faith and hope are in God understand that their "life cycle" does not end with death, and that this temporal existence is the sojourn of a Pilgrim who awaits with inexhaustible anticipation, thru life's worst storms and discouragements, of the vision of the infinite personal source of all that is true, beautiful, and good. It will not be a "self actualized" individual, nor in a "man for himself, who beholds this divine vision, but it will be persons of true community with God and with one another who share the corporate joy of heaven.
Kierkegaard understood that humans are religious and not merely biological beings, and psychology must give way to theology.115 Sooner or later, all ideologies and "ism's" will bow their knee to the Lordship of Christ. God has decreed an eternal Theocracy where His will, and no other's, will reign supreme, forever.
No one can simultaneously embrace a reductionist and a theistic world view; a choice must be made, since there is no neutral ground between theistic and non-theistic. God uses the pulley of unfulfilled longing to draw people away from idolatrous attachment of the futile philosophies of man and the materialistic lusts of creation to the overwhelming, extravagant, magnificent love and grace that only the Lord God Himself is. It is His gift, of His Son; Jesus the Christ, that He offers, when truly accepted, thoroughly satisfies, for time and eternity the deepest needs of mankind.
This study has, up to this point, analyzed theological and psychological worldviews, in a comparison/contrast format to ascertain the possibilities of synthesis. Without question, there are some truths we can glean from psychology, but "gleaning" and "synthesizing" are two entirely different concepts. Gleaning could be compared to a handshake, while synthesizing is closer to the blending of two people in a happy, healthy marriage. So, the question is, "Is it possible to synthesize theology and psychology for praxis in counseling today? Is an attempt to integrate the two the same as a coupling of science and faith? Is psychology a true, proven science or a myriad of conflicting theories that is more metaphysical and philosophical in nature?"
This chapter will examine those questions and suggest a model for pastors and counselors to utilize in counseling, for praxis. First, it will be necessary to survey the current landscape of psychology and its relation to theology and the church.
Since the cultural revolution of the 1960s, the mental and emotional needs of the American people have increased dramatically. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 19 million people in America will suffer from depression in any given year. The number of doctor visits in which patients received prescriptions for mental problems rose from 32.7 million to 45.6 million between 1985 and 1994. Visits in which depression was diagnosed almost doubled over this 10 year, increasing from 11 million to more than 20.4 million.116 Clearly, the stress of modern day living is taking a toll on the people of this country. Perhaps, we are experiencing a "blues epidemic.”
Indeed, we are living in the age of anxiety. In fact, the number one mental health problem in America today is no longer depression, but anxiety disorders, with chemical addiction ranking third. Adding to this mix of mental and emotional problems are the disintegration of the nuclear family and the struggles of interpersonal relationships. If anyone doubts that our problems are not serious, the recent rash of school and business shootings should signal loudly and clearly that all is not well in America. There is an underlining rage set to explode at the slightest provocation. Many people are living on the edge of sanity, others are following close behind them, yet seemingly oblivious.
Add to this fact, the growing confusion in today's Christian community about the best way to help people overcome their personal problems of living.
Some people today believe that Christians should submit only to biblical counseling, while others passionately support psychological counseling so long as it is integrated with the Scriptures.
Fully persuaded that psychological training is necessary to counsel effectively or to handle serious mental issues, most pastors today refer their parishioners to psychologist and psychiatrist for treatment of complex emotional and behavioral disorders. Christian publishing houses pour out an endless stream of books written by psychologists to help believers solve the problems of living. These experts appear on Christian radio and television and produce film series to communicate their belief that pastors and churches can help with minor problems, but serious disorders must be entrusted to "professional counselors."
Denver seminary, Talbot seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity school, liberty University, Moody Bible Institute, Fuller theological seminary, and a host of other Christian schools are convinced that psychology and the Bible must be integrated in counseling in the church is to remain relevant to our contemporary culture.117 Dallas Seminary employs one of the nation's best known Christian psychiatrist on its teaching faculty. Colorado Christian University offers a counseling degree built on the theories of a prominent Christian psychologist.
The president of one Bible college believes that "there are many helpful insights to be gleaned from this field of secular counseling."118 He states the common integrationist position, "we live in a season but life is increasingly complex and the fragility of precious souls is demonstrated by growing brokenness and complicated conflicts. We do not waste their sorrows on the battlefield of careless counsel that violates biblical parameters or with simplistic, unqualified solutions that plunged them ultimately and deeper despair."119
This Bible college president agrees with the prevailing view that is sweeping the evangelical church—that without the insights of secular psychology, pastors and churches are simply inadequate to deal with the deepest hurts of modern man.
Is Psychology Necessary Today?
How did the apostle Paul counsel people in his day? Paul answers that question in (Colossians 1:28) "We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. " He then warns in (Colossians 2:8), "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
What is Paul is saying here? Is he in error to suggest that we find all wisdom in Christ? Do we in fact need the insights of secular psychology for the deepest needs of Christians today? Is modern life truly that more complex than it was in the days of Paul? Those who believe we need the insights of psychology seem to think so.
A Professor of Counseling Psychology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school is committed to the concept of integrating secular psychology with biblical counseling. He argues that psychological truths fall under the category of general revelation and that new insights can be accepted if they are true and do not contradict the Bible.
He offers this example, "I think all Christians would agree that when you bury negative feelings, you bury them alive, and that can cause ulcers, even heart attacks. This process is undeniably true, but you can't find it specifically in the Bible. If it's true, then we embrace it and use it; if it isn't true, that we don't."120
This Professor has a point, but a greater problem is how one determines whether a psychological discovery is actually true. He implies that the Bible is a silent about the human condition as it is about modern technologies:
"It isn't a textbook on how to tune up our automobiles, or on physics, chemistry or psychology. It does contain statements that relate to geology, anthropology, and psychology that must be integrated into those disciplines, but the Bible's primary purpose is to tell us how to be right with God, not to do when someone has a nervous breakdown."121
Are we to assume there is no connection between one standing with God and a nervous breakdown? Is the Bible really silent on issues of psychological health? Our mental and emotional problems the same as tuning one's car or mixing chemicals? Integrationists see a categorical difference between psychological and spiritual problems, and how to solve those problems. They say that the medical doctor should treat the body, the psychologist or psychiatrist should treat the mind, and the pastor should treat spirit.
Those who insist that we must use psychology along with biblical counseling argue that, "even though the Bible is true, it does not follow that all truth is in the Bible."122 They give examples:
"In mathematics, medicine, physics, geography, marine biology and a host of other areas, there is much truth that is not in the Bible. God in his wisdom has allowed human beings to discover truths about universe that are not discussed in Scripture."123
While it is true that the Bible does not list mathematical formulas, modern medical procedures, every physical law, every geographical location, for every species of marine life, one must remember that none of those areas deal with essential spiritual truths. The problem is many integrationists seem unable to discern the significant difference between the physical sciences and the so-called "social sciences."
The question remains: "Ispsychology necessary today"
Integrationists seem to think so because "some human problems are not mentioned in the Scriptures." They believe that; "the Bible was not written as a self-help book, a question-and-answer manual covering every possible human problem. It does not claim to be a textbook of counseling techniques for personal problem solving."124
No, the Bible claims to be far more—the very Word of God that, "is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
Of course, the Bible does not tell a student which college to choose, or does it name the precise person a Christian is to marry. God does not remove from the individual the privilege and responsibility to use one's mind, experience and common sense, as well as the advice of godly counselors, to make important decisions. Those kinds of decisions involve specific applications of biblical truths, not universal principles. Contrary to integrationist reasoning, the Bible does present the principles which, if followed, will provide the answers for every human problem.
The Bible provides the principles necessary to deal with eating disorders, Don biogenic depressions, scholastic failure, bitter memories, anxiety, worry, and a host of other modern problems. Thus integrationist are grossly mistaken when they say that "many, perhaps most, of the problems people bring to modern counselors are never discussed the Bible."125
Integrationists believe that psychological training is necessary to help Christians the problems, "Surely there are many times when a sensitive, psychologically trained, committed Christian counselor can help people through psychological techniques and with psychological insights that God has allowed us to discover, but that He has not chosen to reveal the Bible. The word of God never claims to have all the answers to all of life's problems."126
20th Century Complexities
Why do integrationists insist that the problems we face today are so different from those which humans have suffered before in the past? Depression is not a recent discovery of psychology. People have had to cope with disease, disappointments, frustrations, unhappy marriages, confusion, laziness, and bizarre behavior since the fall of man into sin.
Psychological studies have not shown that mankind is mentally healthier since the introduction of psychological theories and therapies. To the contrary, there is significant evidence that society has actually become more psychotic rather than better well-adjusted. The increase of "mental illness" may someday be found to be in direct proportion to the number of psychologist and psychiatrist who set up practice.
Has psychology really added to our essential knowledge about human behavior, needs and solutions? Is the Bible lacking the information needed to understand why man asked as he does and how he can be changed? If so, we must pity all the saints of God who struggled with problems of living from the times of Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Jesus, and the apostle Paul. How fortunate we are not to be living in the days of the early church, when the only therapeutic resources with the writings of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles, along with the ministry of fellow Saints and the Holy Spirit. How miserable believers must have been the first century until the latter part of the 19th century, when psychology was finally "discovered."
This is not to say, that biblical counselors cannot glean from psychology some helpful ideas, observations, illustrations, and generic methods with which to communicate God's solutions for man's problems. But, these are not the same as accepting psychological "findings" as essential truths about man's nature, problems, needs, and solutions. Integrationists often refer to the "psychological truths about human behavior" not mentioned in the Scriptures. However, the Bible addresses every "dysfunction" and presents the essential truths required to bring humans to full maturity and mental/spiritual health.
Secular Criticisms of Psychology
Generally speaking, Christians have great confidence in psychology. With so many respected Christian leaders expressing the view that the church needs the insights of secular counseling systems, it is no wonder that Christian laity hold psychology in such high esteem. Most Christians, however, are unaware that while the church confidence and psychological counseling is growing, secular critics of psychology are increasing in number, and research is raising additional doubts about psychological claims, therapies, scientific status, and success rates.
Gary Collins begins his first chapter of, "Can You Trust Psychology?” with this statement, "Bernie Zilbergeld doesn't trust psychology. Despite his Ph.D. From Berkeley, his 12 years experience as a practicing therapist, and is acclaimed as a psychological researcher and author, Dr.Zilbergeld has written a whole book to criticize his own profession. Many psychological conclusions are really myths, he writes.
Professional therapy is "over promoted, overused, and overvalued." These criticisms could be dismissed had they come from a journalist or theologian writing as an outsider. But they come instead from a member of the psychological guild has gone through all the prescribed training in clinical psychology, has been in therapy himself, has taken the time to interview hundred and 140 former patients, and is meant for link the discussions with a cross range of fourteen professional colleagues.127
What About Christian Psychology?
One may justify trusting a psychologist if his theory and practice are based on biblical principles rather than theories of human behavior originated by man. And to the casual observer, there seemed to be many Christian psychologist who meet that test. But as one prominent Christian therapist confesses;
"When I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling, I assumed that I do how to counsel people with problems. As I restudied what I had learned graduate school, it became clearly and frighteningly apparent that most of what I was believing and doing as a professional psychologists was built upon swaying foundation of humanism, a fervent belief in the self-sufficiency of man. I could not make the psychological thinking in which I had been trained dovetail with basic Christian believes. The truths of Christianity seemed to have little bearing on the activities and my counseling office and were it many points flatly contradicted by a professional Orthodox behavior."128
This Christian psychologist deserves to be applauded, for his honesty, and his next statement, "every concept of biblical counseling must be built upon the town foundational premise that there really is infinite and personal God who has revealed Himself propositionally in the written Word, the Bible, and in the living Word, Jesus Christ."129
There are a growing number of Christian leaders today who disagree with many Christian counseling theories, which are still deeply influenced by unproven, secular psychological precepts of man. By their own admission, they are intent upon integrating psychology and Christianity in order to form a better counseling system.
Another Christian psychologist confessed:
"Because psychologists spend up to nine years studying psychology in school and are hard-pressed to spend much of their reading time in their field in order to stay current, it is inevitable that we develop a certain "mind-set" and the all too common but disastrous result is that we tend to look at Scripture through the eyeglasses of psychology when a critical need is to look at psychology through the lens of Scripture.130
Can a Christian Trust Psychology?
It is inevitable that psychologist will think psychologically, he says. Christians might will suspect that Christian psychologist have admitted concepts into their thinking which compromised biblical content. Especially, since the training for Christian psychologists is no different than secular psychologists. Anyone familiar with psychological theories should recognize that secular concepts underline much of their systems, especially in the area of unconscious drives and the need to return to the past to achieve healing in the present.
This emphasis on the unconscious is an essential premise of psychological counseling. The prevailing psychological doctrine is that "to really understand your daughters anorexia or your own lack of self-confidence, you must go outside the church, or at least to a pastor psychological training." Prevailing psychological theory says that if you want to be changed from the inside out, you must "explored the imperfections of key relationships and to your experience deep disappointment."132
Counselors to follow this doctrine believed that "keenly felt disappointment in the present supplies the energy for passionate hope for the future."133
Most Christians will agree that for general change to occur, the Holy Spirit must act on a person's heart as He makes him a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). Sin itself is defined in terms of disappointment: "Most habits that we seem powerless to control grow out of our attempts to relieve the unbearable tension that results from our failure to deal with the disappointment of our deepest longings for relationship,"134
Another Christian psychologist said, "Integrationists theorized that we need to embrace our hurts, because the more deeply we enter our disappointment, the more thoroughly we confess our sin."
But one should ask, "Why must we embrace our hurts and enter our disappointment all over again?" "Where in the Bible do integrationists find this concept of reliving the painful past in order to be healed in the present? "
It is important, to understand that as committed to Christ as many integrationists seem to be, their theories of Christian counseling clearly appear to be strongly influenced by unproven, humanistic, psychological, unbiblical concepts of man.
The question is, "Can a Christian trust psychology?"
The November 29, 1993, issue of Time magazine featured a series of articles on the turmoil in modern psychology. The magazine's cover featured a retouched photo of Sigmund Freud—his head a hollow, incomplete, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle—and the caption, "Freud Dead?"
When the articles raises the question, "What if Freud was wrong?" noting that the 20th century had announced the same sudden collapse of Marxism, the article suggested that we might be about to witness a similar dramatic toppling of the "the complex Freudian monument."135
Evangelicals not so long ago would have roundly cheered such news. But, alas, we live in strange times. Ironically, while the secular world has grown increasingly disaffected with the professional psychotherapy industry, the evangelical world has been frantically trying to marry secular psychology and biblical truth. While the world becomes more and more suspicious of psychology, Christians seem to be growing more and more committed to it. Perhaps it is fair to say that many in the church are addicted to psychotherapy.
The rush to embrace psychology within the church is frankly mystifying. Psychology and Christianity have been enemies from the beginning. Freud's presuppositions were atheistic and cynical. To him, religion was an illusion that derived strength from irrational, wishful thinking rooted in human instinct. Earlier in this study, we saw others who followed Freud and they were uniformly hostile to biblical belief. The foundational doctrines of the movement with therefore based on blatantly anti-Christian presuppositions. To Freud and his followers the human being is nothing but an animal motivated by the sex drive and other ego needs.
The church was naturally wary of these ideas, and justifiably so, Freudianism was one of the several a theistic hypotheses, along with Darwinism and Marxism, that were gaining popularity at the dawn of the 20th century.
The church's greatest battlefield at that time, however, was against another insidious enemy: theological liberalism, a pseudo-Christianity that denied the authority of Scripture and question the supernatural. This was yet another doctrine that was contributing to the rapid secularization of society. It was beginning to make inroads in the church.
Among professing Christians, only theological liberals found allies among the atheistic psychologists. Carl Jung wrote much about religion. In his system, however, the human unconscious was divine. William James, father of modern pragmatism, also blended behavioral theory and religion into a humanistic creed that made lavish use of theological terminology. But these men were by no means Christians. They utterly rejected supernaturalism, repudiated the authority of Scripture, and discarded most of the central tenets of historical Christian belief.
Psychology was thus ideally suited for increasingly secular age. By the middle of this century, the new discipline was accepted by the popular mind as a full-fledged bona- fide science, even though the movement was already beginning to fragment into dozens of competing schools and philosophies and even though it's hypotheses could not be tested or to results verified through any traditional means of true actual science. None of that could slow psychology's acceptance in an age that had grown hostile to the notion of absolute truth, where relativism was gaining ground on the church.
With a few short decades, the psychotherapy industry and evangelicals settled into a more or less guarded coexistence. Christians seem to intimidated by the world's overwhelming acceptance of psychotherapy as a true science.
The psychotherapist believed they were privy to a higher knowledge and more effective therapies than traditional spiritual counsel could ever offer. They stated in no uncertain terms that spiritual counselors and clergy should stay off their turf.
One textbook on pastoral psychology summed up the professional therapist attitude toward pastoral council;
"It is the pastor's duty not to try to enact the role of the psychiatrist, but is quickly as possible, he must refer the sick person to the professional man. Oftentimes he must secure the judgment of the psychiatrist regarding his symptoms which a petitioner displays. Moreover, the clergyman in such instances, must place himself under the direction of the psychiatrist, in the event that the latter believes his assistance as a religionist is helpful. Psychotherapy and religious-therapy demand consistent, patient treatment over long periods of time, and the clergyman rarely find the hours to furnish this. Therefore, he must have a specialist as a member of the staff of this church or synagogue, to whom he can refer cases. Or if such a professional is not of member of the institution of which the pastor is employed, he may be a friend and advisor of the clergyman when required. All this entails the expenditure of time and money, and must not be forgotten that while the clergyman is willing to give his time freely, the professional psychiatrist must make is ours account in monetary terms. Too often distressed persons come to the clergyman when they would have been unsuccessful in her consultations with the psychiatrist, but it is an astute pastor immediately turns them back to the psychiatrist. Frequently the clergyman and psychiatrist can work hand-in-hand, especially in the case of parishioners who, at one time, will accept guidance from the clergyman, and, at another moment, from the psychiatrist. Husbands and wives have been brought together as a consequence of this technique. Sometimes the psychiatrist will recommend to the clergyman that he accept a convalescent youth as a member of the religious institutions young people's organization, and the hope that social opportunities will accelerate the care. Sometimes the psychiatrist will appreciate the value of attendance at divine worship, the reading of religious literature, and the performance of traditional rites and ceremonies. And every instance, the psychiatrist must be the mentor and director of the treatment.”136
Too many pastors capitulated to such thinking, and over the past 40 years or so, counseling has steadily moved out of the church and into the clinics. Now "Christian" psychology is a billion dollar business.
"Yet has a spiritual and emotional state of believers actually been improved by this trend?" Surely no one would argue seriously that it has.
One of the promising trends in the evangelical world today is the emergence of a renewed emphasis on counseling that is biblical; not mere psychology colored with biblical words and phrases but an earnest effort to help people solve their problems by turning them to the objective, life-changing truth of Scripture.
"Thy testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors" (Psalm 119:24).
Dozens of similar passages could be quoted to demonstrate the other superiority and absolute sufficiency Scripture claims for itself. Either we believe that God's word teaches in this regard, or we open ourselves to all kinds of corrupt influences from worldly thinking.
Psychotherapy: The Promotion of Their Worldview
The delightful children's story called The Emperor's New Clothes has fascinated and entertained readers of all ages for many years. In the story, a pompous Emperor is fooled into believing he is wearing grand and glorious clothing as he parades before his people. Of course, the Emperor soon hears the snickers of the crowd, for he is actually wearing nothing at all. Such is the state of secular psychology today—self inflated and self deceived. The professional pride that so readily accompanies titles and degrees contributes to the self-deception. In the words of the apostle Paul, "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man." (Romans 1:22-23)
The present belief that it is possible to treat persons psychologically and of values-neutral manner is a total myth. Equally false is the belief that psychology is only about instincts, motivations, emotional states, and life situations that can be studied scientifically apart from values. Unfortunately, treatment approaches, funding allocations, and disciplinary actions are regulated by the "emperors" of a worldview blind to the truth that values are the very lifeblood of all counselors do with their clients.
Psychology has had a long standing history of hostility toward monotheistic spiritual perspectives. Some mental health professionals consider Christian values and beliefs as advocating unhealthy behaviors, such as perceiving biblical submission as promoting spouse abuse and biblical discipline as promoting child abuse. They also interpret Christian beliefs to be based on superstitious, nonscientific myths (for example, creation and resurrection from the dead).
Some have even argued that Christians are more emotionally disturbed, rigid, and unhealthy than the general population. This view among many of the major theoreticians and psychology matches the belief expressed in 1997 New York Times article that labeled Christians "poor, uneducated, and easily led." Psychologist Wendell Watters likewise speculates the Christian believes may promote a form of mental illness. "A true Christian," he writes, "must always be in a state of format, since he or she can never really be certain that God has forgiven him are her."138
And, well-known humanist and psychologist Albert Ellis calls Christians "emotionally disturbed, usually neurotic, but sometimes psychotic."139
Such stereotyping of a class of people is taboo and is politically wrong when it comes to women, African-Americans, homosexuals, Jews, and others, but stereotypes against Christians, its seem to abound in the psychological and political communities today unchecked. This hostility against monotheistic spiritual perspectives in general, and Christianity in particular, derives from a values-based rather than from a science-based, from the content of a certain worldview rather than from a scientific methodology, from belief instead of from fact.
Psychologist and professor Stanton Jones discovered that religion plays a minimal role in the lives of most academic psychologist in the United States. A 1984 survey revealed that 50% of academic psychologists had no religious preference, compared with only 10% of the general population.
Among psychotherapists, only 33% of clinical psychologists describe religious faith as the most important influence in their lives, while 72% of the general population claim that their faith is important."140
These statistics indicate rather clearly that psychologists are an atypical subpopulation within our country, possessing much higher levels of agnosticism, skepticism, atheism than their client base. Especially since Psychologist Edward Shafranske notes that the vast majority of individuals and Western society are raised within some religious tradition. Recent surveys found that 93% of Americans identified with a religious group; over 80% regard religion as "fairly" or "very important" in their
The New Religion
It appears that psychology today has become a religion and its being substituted for Biblical Christianity.
Journalist Martin Gross has stated; "Psychotherapy is a key ritual of our 20th century psychological religion. It is now obvious that most tenets of the psychological society, including psychotherapy, are Western man's disguise for a new spirituality. It is the educated person's opportunity to practice religion under the cloak of science. It enables us to call on occult powers of healing while appeasing our Western need for a rational underpinning. It makes little difference that each of the psychotherapies has a different faith."142
Gross says that psychiatrists, psychologists, and the mental health establishment has sought "the priestly power once granted to the clergy it is replacing. Many psychiatrists and therapists have developed what has been termed the quest for omnipotence, the drive to be regarded as a magical figure by self and public."143
Gross, however, is not a psychologist. Perhaps we should consider what some of the insiders can add to this discussion about psychology being the new religion.
William Kirk Kilpatrick, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at Boston College, has made a strong statement: "Psychology and religion are competing faiths. If you seriously hold to one set of values, you'll logically have to reject the other."144
He goes on to say, "the appeal psychology has for both Christians and non- Christians is a complex one. But it is difficult to make sense of it all unless you understand that it is basically a religious appeal. For the truth is, psychology bears a surface resemblance to Christianity."145
Kilpatrick is not alone and is concerned about psychologies displacement of Christian faith. Paul Vitz, Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University, has written a book called Psychology As Religion, in which he says, "Psychology has become more a sentiment than a science and is now part of the problem of modern life rather than part of its resolution. Psychology has become a religion, in particular, a form of secular humanism based on the worship of self.”146
These are strong words, but carefully weighed, for in his acknowledgments section he admits "for someone who is a psychologist and a large an outstanding department writing an extensive criticism of psychology is not without career and professional hazards."147 Yet he makes some intense statements that only an insider could get away with.
If Vitz's charges are true, this discussion is much more than a minor philosophical difference between biblical counselors or integrationist counselors. This debate is not about insignificant variations of doctrine; the controversy centers on issues of authority and the source of truth. It is not a question of mixing morally neutral techniques with Christian doctrine.
The question is, "What fellowship can light have the darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the Temple of God and idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
It is obvious, even to the casual observer, that the secular counseling establishment does not recognize biblical counseling as a legitimate discipline. Unfortunately, the Christian psychological counseling establishment holds a similar view.
To counsel in the church," integrationists say, "there are few requirements at all.
Most pastoral counselors only have a course or two and counseling."148 This may be true for some, but most pastors have spent years in the formal study of the Scriptures. In addition, they have lived with and among their people, sharing their hurts, comforting them and loss, comforting them with sand, and exhorting them to conform to the principles of God's word.
Dr. James Dobson once said;
"My greatest concern in the field of counseling and psychology and my greatest criticism about it is that an individual who is knee-deep in sin---I mean real old-fashioned sin, that infidelity in their lives, or who knows what kind of dishonesty or deception or sin and all its manifestation---might be tempted to go to a psychologist or counselor and talk away his guilt instead of getting on his face before God and asking for forgiveness. And no amount of talk with a counselor will rid us of guilt—it still there. I've been concerned that even Christian counselors would help the person deal with the emotional fallout from sin without getting to the core of it."149
Rediscovering Biblical Counseling
Ever since apostolic times, counseling has occurred in the church is a natural function of corporate spiritual life. After all, the New Testament itself commands believers to "admonish one another" (Romans 15:14); "encourage one another" (Heb. 3:13); "comfort one another with these words" (I Thess. 4:18); "encourage one another, and build up one another" (I Thess. 5:11); "confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed" (James 5:16).
All these instructions apply to rank and file church members, not to some priestly class cast of experts. Counseling, particularly counseling that skillfully employs and implies God's Word, is a necessary duty of Christian life and fellowship.
In recent years, however, there is very strong and very influential movement within the church attempting to replace biblical counseling and church body with "Christian psychology" —techniques and wisdom gleaned from secular therapies and dispensed primarily by paid professions. Those who champion this movement often sounds vaguely biblical. That is, they quote Scripture and often blend theological ideas with the teachings of Freud, Rogers, Jung, or whatever school of secular psychology they follow. But the movement itself is certainly not taking the church in a biblical direction.
It is conditioned Christians think of counseling as something best left to trained experts, trained in secular methods and theories that have nothing to do with the truth of God's Word.
It has opened the door to a whole range of extra biblical theories and therapies. Indeed, it has left many with feeling that God's Word is incomplete, insufficient, unsophisticated, and frankly unable to offer help for people's deepest emotional and spiritual problems and needs. It has directed millions of Christians are seeking spiritual help away from their pastors and fellow believers and into psychological clinics. It is given me the impression that adapting secular methods such as twelve-step recovery plans can be more helpful than spiritual means and weaning people from their sins. In short, it has diminished the church is competence and Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and preaching as means of which the Spirit of God works to change lives. That is the presuppositions behind this movement were sound, we might expect that Christians today would be the most well-adjusted and mentally healthy generation who has ever lived.
After all, they have the benefit of several generations of psychological expertise, applied by men and women who claimed to be able to synthesize such knowledge that Scripture and make it "Christian."
But, clearly, that is not the case. Record numbers of people are seeking psychological treatment. More Christians than ever before lining up at the doors of clinics and professional counselors. Christian psychologists offering live counsel are now heard daily on thousands of Christian radio stations around the country. In the past decade and a half, Christian psychology has become truly a billion-dollar industry. Millions of evangelical Christians, it seems, are addicted to therapy.
In contrast to those trends, however, another movement has been gaining strength among evangelicals. Clear voices are beginning to call the church back to the Scriptures as a sufficient help for people spiritual problems. A groundswell of support has been building for return to biblical counseling the church. Pastors and church leaders are rediscovering the importance of biblical counseling. That Scripture is superior to human wisdom (first Corinthians 3:19): that the Word of God is more effective discerner of the human heart than any earthly means (Heb. 4:12); that the Spirit of God is the only effective agent of recovery and regeneration (Eph. 5:18-19); and that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ Himself, not in a psychologist's office (Col. 2: 3).
Those truths are so basic to the Christian believe that it is astonishing to think they would ever come under fire from within the church itself. But of course that is precisely what is happening over and over in church history.
And it is happening even now as psychology is being peddled in the church as a necessary, and even superior, solution to spiritual problems. While it is hard to believe, there are many Christian counseling today who oppose biblical counseling. They prefer the theories of secular psychologists over the word of God. Pastors are looked down upon as amateurs and psychologists the real qualified experts in dealing man's deepest needs. What is truly appalling is the number of evangelical Christians were willing to accept this as the truth!
There is no denying that psychology has made incredible inroads into evangelical culture over the past twenty-five years. The influence of psychology is reflected in the kind of sermons that are preach from evangelical pulpits, and the kind of counseling that is being offered over the radio airwaves, and the proliferation of psychologists who cater primarily to evangelical Christians, and in the books that are being offered by many evangelical publishers.150
Over the past few decades a host of evangelical psychological clinics have sprung up overnight. Though almost all of them claim to offer biblical counsel, most merely dispense secular psychology disguised in spiritual terminology this can be seen in the literature spawned by the movement. As Jay Adams observed, "Nearly all recent counseling books for ministers, even conservative ones, are written from a Freudian perspective in the sense that they rest largely upon the presuppositions of the Freudian ethic of non-responsibility."151
The progressive loss of the Christian consciousness has brought us deeper into relativism and irrationalism.
Proof of this is the upsurge and proliferation of occult and New Age philosophies and practices. Nowhere is the loss of a Christian consciousness more apparent than the field of psychology. One reason is that most Christian psychologists receive an entirely secular training and are ignorant of the Scriptures. For them to be licensed by the state they have to meet certain criteria set by the state, and that does not include anything biblical.
Unfortunately, they seldom question the underlying worldview of the field in which they were trained. Instead, they take an essentially secular approach and sprinkle a few Christian insights on top. The result—secular insights that sound pious, but are dangerous and misleading. When Christian counselors try to integrate biblical principles with modern psychology, they run into trouble. Many end up redefining biblical terms to bring them into harmony with psychology. For instance, Gary Sweeten redefines the theological term sanctification to mean "mortifying the flesh in developing our new self our personal self."152 Theological sanctification becomes "the development of our personal selves." A strictly theological term is radically altered to fit the psychological vocabulary.
Meier and Minirth equate the unconsciousness and the heart as one. They believe that (Jeremiah 17:9) is the key to what Christian psychiatry is all about. But they misunderstand what Jeremiah means when he said, "The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) At first glance, that sounds interesting, but is it correct or good hermeneutics?
Minirth and Meier write, "The prophet Jeremiah is saying that we humans cannot fathom or comprehend how desperately sinful and deceitful are heart is—are unconscious motives, conflicts, drives, emotions, and thoughts."153 By redefining heart, they open the door to use Freud's system of defense mechanisms. That is dangerous!
Gary Sweeten also uses the unbiblical concept of the unconscious. He focuses on the unconscious of the believer as the seat of the "residue” (whatever that is) of our Adamic nature and the location of our own rebellion, guilt, and shame. Sweden's unconscious has more in common with Freud's unconscious (with its drives and neurosis) than it does with the biblical concept of the heart.
David Seamands read labels sin as "difficulties" where he writes about "various kinds of sexual difficulties, from incest of prostitution."154 By borrowing theological terms, the Christian psychologist have blurred the irreconcilable distinctions between the theories of Freud, etc. And the teachings of the Bible. Many Christian psychologists believe that the therapies based on a secular mindset are not only valuable, but indispensable.
Psychologists advocate patients to do an inner search to find the answers to their problems. But, what will we find an and prolonged inner search? A desperately sick and deceitful heart, which God alone can search (Jer. 17:9,10). Rather than calling us inward the Bible is calling us away from self. The idea that a deeper analysis will bring healing is ridiculous! Deeper analysis will bring deeper introspection and deeper self absorption, both of which are to be deplored. Scripture never suggest that the path to sanctification lies in therapeutically probing the "deep heart"—whatever that is.
The biblical path to sanctification lies in obedience, and denying self not soul searching.
Millions of Christians read psychological authors such as David Seamands. In his enormously successful, Healing for Damaged Emotions, he argues that low self-esteem is "Satan's deadliest weapon."155 As individuals read these words, their hope shifts, perhaps just slightly at first, from the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sin, to the things they can learn from the psychologists that are not in the Word of God, either directly or indirectly.
Men like Seamands and Robert Schuler have a good rationale. They say that they preach self-esteem only because their ministries were once mired in defeat. Yet the problem is not with Scripture, as if it needs a modern psychologist to interpret it. Applying psychology is much easier because the sinful nature of man is far more ready to be coddled and confronted. Proponents of this gospel of "self" argue that it is the foundational Christian view of man. But that's not the view of the apostle Paul, who wrote, "In the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self..."(2 Tim 3:1-4).
The rise of counseling clinics poses another problem for the church. The trend has removed the counseling ministry from its proper arena in the church body and conditioned most Christians to think of themselves as incompetent to counsel. This is not a good sign for the church today. Counseling has always been a part of the churches ministry in the past and its always been a productive, healthy arrangement.
Many pastors, feeling inadequate, and perhaps afraid of possible malpractice litigation, are perfectly willing to let "professionals" take over what used to be saying as a vital pastoral responsibility.
Too many have bought the line that a crucial realm of spiritual wisdom exist outside Scripture, and that some idea or technique from that extra biblical realm holds the real key to helping people with their deep problems.
What is Wrong With Psychology?
The word psychology literally means "the study of the soul." True soul-study cannot be done by unbelievers. After all, only Christians have the resources for comprehending the true nature of the human soul and understanding how it can be transformed.
The secular discipline of psychology is based on God was assumptions and evolutionary foundations and is capable of dealing with people only superficially and only on the temporal level. Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, basically devised psychology as a substitute for religion, since he was an unbelieving humanist.
Before Freud, the study of the soul was thought of as a spiritual discipline. In other words, it was inherently associated with religion. Freud's chief contribution was to define the human soul and the study of human behavior and wholly secular terms. He uttered divorced anthropology (the study of human beings) from the spiritual realm and thus made way for a theistic, humanistic, and rationalistic theories about human behavior.
Those fundamentally anti-biblical theories began the basis of all modern psychology. Of course, today psychologies hundreds of counseling models and techniques based on a myriad of conflict in theories, so it is impossible to speak of psychotherapy as if it were unified and consistent science. But the basis of modern psychology can be summed up in several commonly held ideas that have their roots in early Freudian humanism. These are the very same ideas many Christian Counselors are zealously attempting to synthesize biblical truth;
1. Human nature is basically good.
2. People have the answers to their problems inside of them.
3. The key to understanding and correcting a person's attitudes and action lie somewhere in the person's past.
4. Individual's problems are the result of what someone else has done to them.
5. Human problems can be purely psychological in nature, unrelated to any spiritual or physical condition.
6. Deep-seated problems can be solved only by professional counselors using therapy.
7. Scripture, prayer, and the Holy Spirit are inadequate and simplistic resources for solving certain types of problems.
Those and other similar God was theories have filtered down into the church from the assorted stuff in the psychological tank and are having a profound and disturbing effect on its approach to helping people. Many sincere Christians are seriously off track in their inner understanding of what counseling is in what is supposed to accomplish.
Some basic reminders might be helpful. For example, Scripture is the only reliable manual for true soul-study. It is so comprehensive and the diagnostic and treatment of every spiritual matter, energized by the Holy Spirit in the believer, it leads to making one like Jesus Christ. This is the process of biblical sanctification. It is a goal of biblical counseling.
The Puritans, by the way, referred to the counseling ministry as "soul work." They spoke of the ministers responsibility as "the cure of souls." They understood that the only reliable help of the human soul is in the infallible truth of Scripture applied by the Spirit of God. They do that the only genuine, effective, or permanent cure for the souls ills is the transformation wrought by God's grace in the heart of the believer.
Are Psychological Techniques Ever Advisable?
Does that mean the modern behavioral sciences offer nothing of value in treating emotional or behavioral problems? Do not medication, shock therapy, group therapy, and other techniques help in some cases? Are not some soul-sicknesses actually medical problems and should be treated by skilled psychiatrists?
Certainly, it is reasonable for people to seek medical help for medical problems. We would send someone to the doctor for broken leg, dysfunctional kidney, tooth cavity, or other physical malady. And it is true that certain kinds of depression actually have physical causes required medical treatment. It is entirely appropriate, even advisable, for the counselor to advise patients suffering from such symptoms to seek medical advice or get a thorough physical examination to rule out such causes. It is also sensible for someone who is an alcoholic, drug addicted, learning disabled, dramatized by rape, incest, or severe battered, to seek help in trying to cope with the trauma. Some kind of therapy or medical treatment can serve to lessen trauma or dependence. In extreme situations medication might be needed to stabilize an otherwise dangerous person.
It must be noted that these are relatively rare problems, however, and should not be used as examples to justify the indiscriminate use of secular psychological techniques for essentially spiritual problems. Dealing with the psychological and emotional issues of life in such ways is not sanctification. That is why such techniques are equally effective in modifying behavior in both Christians and non-Christians.
"Christian psychology" as the term is used today is an oxymoron. The word psychology employed in that expression no longer speaks of studying the soul; instead, it describes a diverse menagerie of therapies and theories that are fundamentally humanistic. The presuppositions and most of the doctrine of psychology cannot be successfully integrated with Christian truth.156 Moreover, the infusion of psychology into the teaching of the church has blurred the line between but behavior modification and sanctification.
The path to wholeness is a path of spiritual sanctification. We would foolishly turn our backs on the Wonderful Counselor, the spring of living water, for the central wisdom of Earth and the stagnant water of behaviorism?
Our Lord Jesus reacted in a perfect and holy way to every temptation, trial, and trauma in life, and they were more severe than any human could ever suffer. Therefore, it should be clear that perfect victory over all life's troubles must be the result of being like Christ. No "soul worker" can lift another above the level of spiritual maturity is on. So the supreme qualification for all soul work is Christ likeness.
The truly Christian counselor must be doing soul work in the realm of the deep things of the word and the Spirit of God, not fooling around in the shallowness of behavior modification. Why should believers choose to do behavior modification when we have the tools for spiritual transformation? That sounds like a surgeon using a butter knife instead of a scalpel! The most skilled counselor is the one who most prayerfully carefully and faithfully applies to find spiritual resources to the process of sanctification, shaping another into the image of Jesus Christ.
There may be no more serious threat to the life of the church today than the stampede to embrace the doctrines of secular psychology. They are a mass of human ideas that Satan has placed in the church as if they were powerful, life-changing truths from God. Most psychologists epitomize neo--Gnosticism, claiming to have secret knowledge for solving people's real problems. Though many psychologists call their techniques "Christian counseling," most of them are merely using secular theory to treat spiritual problems with Biblical references tacked on.157
Unfortunately, such thinking dominates most the counseling theories that have pervaded contemporary evangelicalism. The distressing result is that pastors, Biblical scholars, teachers, and caring believers using the Word of God have been made to feel that they are not qualified to counsel people.
That very opinion is often at the heart of the message conveyed in some of the most widely read textbooks on Christian counseling. This kind of pompous religious arrogance should never be tolerated and is totally inexcusable.
One best-selling textbook claims that Christian counselors who believe the Bible is a sufficient guide for counseling are frequently guilty of "a non-thinking and simplistic understanding of life and its problem is."158 Those who attempt to limit their counsel to the question Scripture answers are disdained as naive, superficial, and altogether inadequate counselors.
The literature of Christian psychology commonly belittles Bible reading and prayer as Pat answers or incomplete solutions for someone struggling with depression or anxiety. Scripture, the Holy Spirit, Christ, prayer and grace—these are the traditional solutions Christian counselors have pointed people to. But Christian psychology now tells us that none of them really offers the cure for people's woes.
In fact, many would have us believe that secular psychology can help people more effectively than the counselor armed only with spiritual weapons. The same popular Christian bestseller, quoted above, claims the church; "promotes superficial adjustments while psychotherapists, with or without biblical foundations, do a better job than the church of restoring troubled people to more effective functioning."159
Later, that same author adds that secularists sometimes seem to have a corner on honesty facing the disturbing complexity of life for Christians recite cliches that push away real questions of the heart. As a result, nonbelievers often help people with emotional problems or effectively than Christians do. Clearly, there is a real problem going on that needs to be addressed between the church and the Christian psychological community.
How Scientific Are the Behavioral Sciences?
As noted earlier, psychology is not a uniform body of scientific knowledge might thermodynamics or organic chemistry. We speak of psychology, we refer to a complex menagerie of ideas and theories, many of which are totally contradictory. Psychology has not even proved itself capable of dealing effectively with the human mind and with mental and emotional processes. Thus it can hardly be regarded as a science. It is closer to a religion, than a proven science.
Interestingly, most advocates of psychology simply assume that psychology is a true science. But it is not! It is a pseudo--science, the most recent of several human inventions designed to explain, diagnose, and treat behavioral problems without dealing with moral and spiritual issues. Little more than a century ago debate was raging over a different kind of behavioral science called phrenology. Phrenology holds that personality characteristics were determined by the shape of someone's skull. You've probably seen old phrenologist's diagrams; they were maps of the head with specific areas labeled, showing which sold of the brain determined a particular emotion or characteristic. A phrenologist would feel people's skulls, diagnosing their problems by the location of bumps on their head.
If you think behavioral science has advanced greatly since then, ask yourself how reasonable it is to surround an adult in the fetal position with pillows so he can get back in touch with this prenatal anxieties. Or consider the type of treatment suggested by those who advocate primal scream therapy, a methodology that teaches people to let out their frustrations by screaming mindlessly at the top of their lungs!
Combine that idea with group therapy and imagine the result! Group members hold hands and street at each other to work out their problems. Believe it or not, some psychologists are already using precisely that form of therapy, and arguing that it is the most dramatically effective treatment psychology has yet discovered.160 Given the choice, the writer, would opt for a phrenologist poking around on his head!
Several years ago, a conference in Phoenix, Arizona brought together the world's leading experts on psychotherapy for what was billed as the largest meeting ever on the subject. The conference, called "The Evolution of Psychotherapy" and drew several thousand mental-health experts from all over the world.
It was billed, by the organizer, as the Woodstock of psychotherapy. Out of it came several stunning revelations. The Los Angeles Times, for example, quoted Laing, who said that "he couldn't think of any fundamental insight into human relations that has resulted from a century of psychotherapy." I don't think we've gone beyond Socrates, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or even Flaubert by the age of 15."161 He continued, "I don't think psychiatry is a science at all. It's not like chemistry or physics where we build up a body of knowledge and progress. In my personal struggle with depression, humming a favorite tune to myself, sometimes it is a greater help than anything psychotherapy offers."162
Time magazine, reporting on the conference, noted that in a panel discussion on schizophrenia, three out of four experts said there is no such disease.163 One truth came out clearly in the conference: among therapists there is little agreement. There is no unified science of psychotherapy, only a cacophony of clashing theories and therapies.
Dr. Joseph Wolpe, a leading pioneer of behavioral therapy, characterized the Phoenix conference as, "a babel of conflicting voices, and a complete waste of my professional and personal time."
Jeffrey Zeig, organizer of the conference, said there may be as many as one- hundred different theories in the United States alone. Most then he said are "doomed to fizzle."164
Not only do psychologists sell supposed cures for high price, but they also invent diseases for which secures are needed. Their marketing strategy has been effective. Invent problems or difficulties, hobbled them until people think they're hopelessly afflicted, then peddle a remedy.
Some of the supposed problems in our culture are pathetically trite; self-image, looks, codependency, emotional abuse, midlife crisis, and unfulfilled expectations. Today's "infirmities" one see more accurately as the pains of selfishness. Egocentricity has become a major market strategy for psychotherapists. By fostering people's natural tendency toward self-indulgence, psychology has sold itself to an eager public. In the church has witlessly jumped on the bandwagon. It has failed to exercise any discernment or common sense in investigating the claims of "Christian Psychology."
Psychology is no more science than a theistic evolutionary theory upon which it's based. Like theistic evolution, "Christianpsychology" is mostly an attempt to harmonize two inherently contradictory systems of thought. Modern psychology and the Bible cannot be blended without serious compromise to or utter abandonment of the principle of Scripture's sufficiency. Though it has become a lucrative business, psychotherapy cannot solve anybody's spiritual problems. It never has and it never will. It is nothing more than Freud resurrected and baptized in a shallow pool of pious Christian concepts and white-robed in a sanctified attempt to gain credibility and a market in the church.
At best it can occasionally use human insight to superficially modify behavior it succeeds or fails for Christians and non-Christians equally because it is only a temporal adjustment, a sort of mental chiropractic. You cannot change the human heart, and even the experts admit that.
A Desperate Attempt
Meanwhile, however the attitude within the church is more accepting of psychotherapy that ever. If the Christian media serve as a barometer of the whole church, a dramatic shift is taking place. Christian radio, for example, once a bastion of Bible teaching, and Christian music, is overrun with talk shows, pop psychology, and phone- in psychotherapy. Preaching the Bible is passe. Psychologist and radio counselors or the new heroes of evangelicalism. And Christian radio is the major advertising tool for the selling of psychology, which is pulling in money by the billions $$$.
The church is thereby ingesting heavy doses of dogma from psychology, adopting secular wisdom, in attempting to sanctified by calling it Christian. Evangelicalism's most fundamental values are thus being redefined. "Mental and emotional health" is the new buzzword. It is not a biblical concept, though many seem to equate it with spiritual wholeness. Sin is called sickness, some people think it requires therapy, not repentance. Habitual sin is called addictive or compulsive behavior, and many surmise it solution is medical care rather than moral correction. Human therapies are embraced most eagerly by the spiritually weak, those who are shallow or ignorant of biblical truth and who are unwilling to accept the path of suffering that leads to spiritual maturity and growth.
The unfortunate fact is that these people remain immature, held back by self- imposed dependence on some pseudo--Christian method or psycho-quackery that actually stifles real spiritual growth. The more secular psychology influences this church, the further people move from a biblical perspective on problems and solution. One-on-one therapists are replacing the Bible, God's chief means of sanctifying grace (John 15:3; I Cor. 1:21; Heb. 4:12). The council these professionals dispense is often spiritually dangerous.
Not long ago, the writer listened aghast as a Christian psychologist on live radio Council a caller to express anger at his therapist by making an obscene gesture at him.
"Go ahead!” He told the caller. "It's an honest expression of your feelings. Don't try to keep your anger inside."
"What about my friends?" The caller asked. "Should I react that way to all of them when I'm angry?"
"Why, sure!" this Christian counselor said. "You can do it to anyone, whenever you feel like. Except those who you think won't understand—they will be good therapist for you." That is a paraphrase. Actually, what the counselor suggested was even more explicit, even to the point of being inappropriate to write, especially in a doctoral dissertation.
That same week, the writer heard another popular Christian broadcast that offers life counseling callers nationwide. A woman called and said she had had a problem with compulsive fornication for years. She said she went to bed with "anyone and everyone" and felt powerless to change her behavior.
The Christian counselor suggested that her conduct was her way of striking back, a result of wounds inflicted by her passive father and overbearing mother. "There's no simple road to recovery," this Christian radio therapist told her. "Your problem is not away immediately—it's an addiction, and these things require extended counseling. You will need years of therapy to overcome your needfor illicit sex." The suggestion was been made for the caller to find a church that would be tolerant but she worked her way out for "painful wounds" that were "making" her fornicate.
What kind of advice is that?
First, the counselor and the fact gave that woman permission to deferred obedience to a clear command of Scripture: "Flee immorality" (I Cor. 6:18, I Thess. 4:3). Second, he blamed her parents and justified her vengeance toward them. Third, he seemed to be suggesting she can taper off gradually from our sin, under therapy, of course. One wonders how much money is involved in his "therapy proposal."
Furthermore, he gave his nationwide audience a clear message that he has no real confidence in the Holy Spirit power to immediately transform a person's heart and behavior. Worse, he encouraged churches to tolerate a person's sexual sin until therapy begins to work.
Contrast both of these Christian radio counselors advised with the profound simplicity of (Galatians 5:16), "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Do we really think years of therapy can bring people to the point where they can walk by the Spirit?
Certainly not if the therapist is someone that recommends obscene gestures, delayed repentance, and churches tolerant of chronic immorality! There is no biblical justification for such counsel; in fact, it flatly contradicts God's Word. The apostle Paul told the Corinthian church to turn the adulterer over to Satan, putting him out of the church (I Corinthians 5).
Thank God for men and women in the church who depend on the Bible when counseling others. We should be grateful for godly counselors who urged trouble people to pray and to point them to Scripture, to God and to the fullness of his resources for every need.
There is nothing wrong with using common sense or social sciences as a helpful observers platform to look at human conduct and develop tools to assist people and getting some external controls and their behavior. This may be useful as a first step for getting to the real spiritual cure. But a wise counselor realizes that all behavior therapy stops on the surface, far short of actual solutions to the real needs of the soul, which are resolved only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, we should have no tolerance for those who exalt psychology above Scripture, intercession, and the perfect sufficiency of our God. And we should give no encouragement for people who wish to mix psychology with divine resources and sell the mixture as a spiritual elixir. Their methodology amounts to a tacit admission that what God has given us in Christ is not really adequate to meet our deepest needs and heal our troubled lives.
God Himself does not think very highly of counselors who claim to represent Him but rely instead on human wisdom. (Job 12:17) says: "He makes counselors walk barefoot" (sign of humiliation) If anyone had to endure the folly of well-intentioned human counselors it was Job. Their irrelevant, useless advice was as much grief to him as a satanic afflictions he suffered.
The depth to which sanctified psychotherapy can sink is really quite profound. The church must recover her confidence and the spiritual resources God provides. We must return to the conviction that Scripture alone is "inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). There is more at stake than the average Christian realizes regarding psychology in the church today. If evangelicals do not rediscover biblical counseling and reinstate God's word to its rightful place as the supreme discerner and mentor of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12) we will lose our testimony to the world, and the church itself will die. These matters are that critical, and this is not an overstatement.
Biblical Counseling in the Bible
Does the Bible support a Biblical counseling worldview? If so can a biblical counselor trust assertions drawn from research in the natural world? A carefully reasoned justification exist for not only per prioritizing the Bible in one's counseling agenda, but also making it a reliable source for the Christians counselors etiology of the soul. As such, the Bible provides the diagnostic terminology and remedy, as well as the theoretical framework, which soul-problems are properly interpreted and resolved.
Not only do the effects of sin calls the counselor to wrongly interpret soul- problems, they also encourage the selection of wrong categories for understanding the significant of these soul-problems, beginning with the counselors view of God and extending to the counselors view of man.
The Bible, not psychology or psychotherapy, should set the determinative categories for understanding theology and anthropology. For example, Scripture contains no hint that man struggles with a "poor view of self' or a "low self-esteem." This idea has been the rubric of a considerable amount of Christian pop-psychology. The theoretical source material came, not from the Bible but from secular psychologists like William James, Eric Fromm and Abraham Maslow. In fact, biblical anthropology teaches that man loves himself too much, and if he loved God and others as much is he already loves himself, he would have a better life. This biblical fact totally contradicts humanistic psychology.
From the very beginning, inner change depended upon counseling. Man was created as a being whose very existence is derived from and dependent upon his Maker whom he must acknowledge as such and from whom he must obtain wisdom and knowledge through revelation counsel. Man is not autonomous.
Whenever people attempt to live on their own, they are destined to fail miserably. Their failures bring misery upon themselves and those around them because to deny God's counsel is to deny life and to the deny life is death. From the very beginning, man was dependent on God's Word as his counsel. He was created for a life of joyful, grateful, dependence.
But man does not live by bread alone; life requires a Word from the mouth of God. Without that Word, no human being has no personal ability to understand, make sense out of, or know how to use the world in which he lives. He doesn't know the ways of living with others, and he can't properly relate to God. As the existentialists have observed, such life is absurd.
That means from creation on, man was made to be molded by God's counsel. Meaning, purpose and function depended upon this interpreted Word. General revelation (in creation) itself does not provide any such interpretation. Without God's Word, therefore, misery was bound to follow. The plague of relativism would then descend upon man.
But something happened that led to the misery we are talking about: man turned from God's counsel to heed Satan's counsel. In doing so, Adam attempted to achieve independence of God and to assert his autonomy. He accepted the false counsel to eat and the lie upon which it rested. Following false, evil counsel plunged mankind into sin with all its miseries. In following Satan's counsel, man lost the freedom and capacity to do good and follow God's good counsel. He became a slave of sin and Satan. In opting for satanic counsel, man once more demonstrated the very facts of his creation; that he was dependent upon outside counsel, not inner feelings, and he is capable of being changed by outside counsel, for better or worse.
Only tragically the council that man chose to follow brought misery and slavery rather than the promise joy and freedom the devil promised.
It is clear then, that from Adams time on there have been two councils in this world: divine counsel and devilish counsel; the two are in competition. The Bible's position is that all counsel that is not relational sentence (biblical), or based upon God's revelation, is satanic. When counsel is given by those who align themselves with some other counsel than God, the counsel that is given is called "the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm 1:1). Both the counsel and the counselor are ungodly. They are ungodly because; they competes with attempts to overthrow God's counsel, because it's inspired by Satan, and given by those who rebelliously side with the devil.
Throughout the course of human history, both godly and ungodly counsel have always been present, vying for man's acceptance. The history of individuals, families and even nations, has stemmed directly from whichever one of these to councils was followed. There is no third counsel as the Psalm clearly indicates. There are just two ways to go: Satan's way or God's way man has no counsel that is strictly "his own."
If he rejects God's counsel, whatever counsel he follows instead turned out to be Satan's counsel. Man was made to follow another's counsel; he will do so. He cannot throw off his dependence. Knowingly or unwittingly he always depends upon Satan or God. He was made to be motivated and molded by counsel.
Hence, there are two and only two sources of counsel in the universe. The church, throughout the years, like Adam and Eve, either has been deceived by Satan's counsel or has found itself in conflict with it. There is no neutral ground. Compromise or conflict of the only two alternatives.
If the counsel, that comes from humanistic psychology, was actually effective and working for people, why is the mental health of America, with all our increased therapy, not getting better, but actually getting worse?
Another question, where were Christians before Freud? Up a tree? Were Christians shut up to sinful, harmful living before the advent of psychotherapy? Did God withhold truth for living until our present age of humanistic behaviorism psychology? Or did men like the Apostle Paul, Peter, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon and many others have something worthwhile to say to their converts and parishioners about how to live in a sinful world and about how to solve problems? How did they do it without psychology? These questions psychology cannot answer.
How did Jesus Christ become the perfect Counselor that the Scriptures report him to be apart from the "insights" of clinical psychology and psychiatry that we are now assured by unbelievers are essential to effective counseling?
A moment's reflection should make one thing abundantly clear—the Old Testament adequately supplied Jesus with all the knowledge and wisdom necessary for Him to counsel others unerringly. He was the fulfillment of his own counsel.
Christian psychologists today tell us that all truth is God centered and that of Paul were alive today, he would've borrowed much from psychotherapists. Unfortunately, they say, Paul is not now alive; so the point cannot be tested. But, on the contrary, the thesis can be tested. We are not left to speculation and guessing about this matter. We can discover whether or not Paul would have borrowed from secular sources to minister.
So we may ask, "Did Paul borrow from stoicism?"" Did he recognize truth in the system and adapt it to his counseling work?"
Listen to some quotations from Epictetus; "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take out of things. Thus death is nothing terrible. Demand not that should happen as you wish; but which tend to happen as they do happen. What hurts, is not this occurrence itself, but the view he chooses to take of it."165
Did Paul buy into the philosophy of Stoicism? Not at all. This was not his approach. He did not need Stoicism. He had something better; God's infallible Word.
That he knew all about Stoicism is apparent from (Acts 17:18). His neglect was not due to ignorance. And, from that passage it is equally plain that Paul was no Stoic. He uncompromisingly insisted that day "must repent." Paul said God demanded that the secular philosophers repent! Paul was calling for radical change in abandonment of their Stoic thinking. There was no room for new models of integration. There is no synergistic blend of philosophy and Christianity, proposed. Had Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and any other psychologists been in that Stoic philosopher crowd, the message would have been the same---you must repent and turn to Christ!
God's Grace in Biblical Counseling
The Bible speaks of God's grace in the Good News of Jesus Christ. When Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand the Scriptures, He explained to them the things concerning Himself. The Bible is about Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord; therefore Biblical counseling is about Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord.
When Jesus opened the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures, He spoke of repentance, the forgiveness of sins, and making disciples. The Bible is about making sinners into children of the Father; therefore, Biblical counseling is about making centers into children of the Father. When Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand the Scriptures, He told them to Minister like the gracious Master; therefore, Biblical counseling carries a gracious message. Biblical counselors embody a gracious method: loving candor, humility, prayerful dependency, wisdom, gentleness,, kindness, persistence, courage, authority, flexibility, self-sacrifice, and patience. The Bible is about equipping counselors to minister the whole counsel of God; therefore, Biblical counseling is about equipping counselors to minister the whole counsel of God.
What then is the place of God's grace and gospel in Biblical counseling? That is rather like asking, "What is the place of water an option in human physiology?" The gospel is the fundamental material of Biblical counseling. Every part of Biblical counseling is made of gospel and grace, from understanding people and their problems to solving those problems.
The Bible is more than just a book to tell people how to get saved and tell them what to do. The Bible does not tackle willpower and self effort into grace. The gospel and grace of God are not only about forgiveness for the guilt of sin but about God's power to change believers progressively through their lives. The indwelling Holy Spirit intends to change people in the practical details of life. God's self revelation becomes the environment we live in; God's promises become the food we live on; and God's commands become the life we live out. This is God's counsel. His counsel is no theory.
Pastoral counseling expert, Jay Adams decrees, "In my opinion, advocating, allowing and practicing psychiatric and psychoanalytical dogmas within the church is every bit as pagan and a heretical, and therefore perilous, as propagating the teachings of some of the most bizarre cults. The only vital difference is that the cults are less dangerous because their errors or more identifiable, since they are controverted by existing creedal statements."166
A Suggested Model: The Biblical Counselor
Adams, has formulated a Biblical model for what he believes is Scriptural and in keeping with the Reformed Christian faith tradition. It is called "nouthetic confrontation" (from the Greek noutheteo, meaning "to warn or admonish"), which he calls for all members of the body of Christ, not just pastors, to use.
Using (2 Timothy 3:16) as a foundational passage ("All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"), Adams states that "nouthetic confrontation is, in short, confrontation with the principles and practices of the Scriptures."167 Simply put, this Biblical model brings Bible passages to bear on people's lives in order to expose sinful patterns, to correct what is wrong, and to establish new ways of life of which God approves.
In this model, the authority of Christ, given to those to whom He has delegated his power for ministry, (Hebrews 13:7, 17; I Thessalonians 5:13) must not be despised. The un-ordained Christian counselor, working outside the organized church of Christ, has not received and cannot exercise such authority. Therefore Adams concludes,
"theological and biblical training is the essential background for counselor, not training in psychology or psychiatry."168
Adams makes four persuasive arguments regarding the need for Biblical-based counseling, rather than the kind of Christian counseling that has been examined here, in the church today.168 Because;
1. Most Christian Psychologists are often deficient in their knowledge of Biblical principles. As a result, Christian psychologist think Bible theology is irrelevant, or there's proof-texting, and pulling versus completely out of context. There are those psychologists who claim to perform a therapeutic technique they call Christian counseling but in reality are using secular theories to treat spiritual problems with Biblical verses tacked on.
2. Most Christian Psychologists treat the real source of trouble, sin, to casually and the significance of repentance is minimized. They address spiritual problems with weak psychological concepts and methods and do not adequately hold individuals accountable for their behavior. The incorporation of humanistic psychological principles provides an escape route for the client, giving that person the opportunity to develop the belief that he or she is a helpless victim of uncontrollable factors such as those found in one's childhood or environment. Then therapy, rather than biblical, needed repentance, is prescribed. The blame is shifted, responsibility is abdicated. Too much time is spent focusing on the cause of difficulties, accountability is reduced.
3. Most Christian Psychologists empower their clients to feel that they can control their lives by self effort, proper thinking, actions/emotions. This promotes a further self- centered outlook. The fundamental problem of Christian psychology is that it turns one away from the authority of Scripture. It attempts to ground the believers walk, not in faith in Christ, but rather in knowledge, which is the principle of the flesh the apostle Paul talked about in the New Testament extensively. Humanistic, secular psychological theories and psychotherapeutic methods are the "Tower of Babel” in which humans attempt to achieve the status of "Wonderful Counselor" rather than ascribing glory to the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6). This only promotes a self-sufficient attitude, dependent on human power and derived from human wisdom.
4. Most Christian Psychologists have the "ivory tower" attitude taken by many secular trained therapists. Too many of them think that in order to the an effective counselor one must have a graduate degree or a state license, regardless of their Bible ignorance. The bottom line, their secular methodology is superficial at best, irrelevant and possibly dangerous at worst. It is not a proven science, there is no hard data backing its claims and it has become the religious philosophy taking the place of the Word of God. Therefore, it is not only an "unproven science" but it does not provide the crucial help needed.
This research study has examined the Christian theological worldviews and the psychological worldviews of selected, historic theologians and therapists. It has sought to compare and contrast any common ground and the vast differences. It has surveyed past thinking and current trends that are happening now in the church with the roads of theology and psychology intersecting, as they are. In the final analysis, a suggested biblical model for counseling has emerged, based on the trends and findings of the detrimental effect humanistic psychology has had and is having on Christians today. It is the hope of the author, that the evidence presented in this paper, will stimulate the reader to fully utilize the best resource for their personal, spiritual counsel.
But, what does the future hold for the ongoing theology /psychology debate? If Christian counselors, clergy and lay alike, will insist on the most reliable counsel in the world, God's flawless, divine Word, rather than the humanistic, psychological theories of men, the church can experience a glorious visitation from God, as thousands of lives will be hugely impacted for Christ. If the church settles for less, that is exactly what it will receive, less of God's holy wisdom, blessing and more broken lives and emotional problems from heeding the wrong counsel. Our contemporary, post-modern world calls for sensitive, Biblical, Christ-centered, spiritual discernment. To that end, may we turn to the Word of God, the only truly trustworthy counsel to guide, direct and transform us as it meets our deepest needs.
To close, it would be most appropriate to close, with the best expression, in crisp form, the writer's position and conclusion to this research study. Taken from the student publication, Kindred Spirit, from Dallas Seminary dated September 2, 1977;
The Basis for Christian Counseling
The Christian's basis for counseling, and the basis for a Christian's counseling is nothing other than the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is his counseling textbook.
"Why?" you ask. "After all, the Christian doesn't use the Bible as his basis for scores of other activities in which he engages—such as the fields of engineering, architecture, music—so why should he insist that the Scriptures are the basis for counseling?"
The answer to that question is at once both simple and profound, (because of its simplicity don't miss the profundity of its implications). The Bible is the basis for a Christian's counseling because it deals with the same issues that all counseling does. The Bible was given to help men come to saving faith in Christ and then to transform believers into His image (II Timothy 3:15-17). The Holy Spirit uses it as an "adequate" instrument that He says has the "power" to do so. That, in substance, is what these verses say.
But note, too, in these verses God assigns this life calling of transforming lives by the Word of God to the "man of God" (a phrase Paul picks up the Old Testament designation for a prophet and uses in the pastoral epistles to refer to the Christian minister). And, let me repeat, the Holy Spirit strongly declares that the Bible fully equips him for this work.
So then, it is because counseling—the process of helping others to love God and their neighbors—is a part of the ministry of the Word (just as preaching is) that it is unthinkable to use any other text (just as it would be unthinkable to do so in preaching). A ministry of the Word is not such when it is based on substitutes.
The Bible is the basis for a Christian's counseling because of what counseling is all about (changing lives by changing values, beliefs, relationships, attitudes, behavior). What other source can provide a standard for such changes? What other source tells us how to make such changes in a way that pleases God?
That is why other foundations for counseling must be rejected. Not only are they not needed, but since they seek to do the same sorts of things (without Scripture and the Spirit), they are also competitive. God does not bless His competition or disobedience! As ministers of the Word---be that and nothing else! Do not forsake the Fountain of Living Water for the cracked cisterns of modern counseling systems.169
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26. Johann Staupitz, Here I Stand: A Life of Luther, (Nashville: Abington Press, 1950), 40.
27. Joseph Conforti, Jonathan Edwards: Religion, Tradition and Culture, (Banner of Truth, 1987), 67.
28. Perry Miller, Edwards: The Man & The Myth (New Haven: Yale Press, 2003), 79.
29. Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography ( Banner of Truth, 1987), 35.
30. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 64.
31. Ibid., 32.
32. Ibid., 92.
33. John Smith, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Affections, (Yale University Press, 1959), 44.
34. Ibid., 27.
35. Perry Miller, 71.
36. E.J. Carnell, Existentialism, Baker's Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960), 205.
37. Louis P. Pojman, Kierkegaard as Philosopher (Swidon: Waterleaf Press, 1978), 3.
38. Soren Kierkegaard, Journals, 4032.
39. Edward Carnell, The Burden of Kierkegaard (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1965), 78-83.
40. Paul Holmer, Introduction to Kierkegaard (New York: Harper Torch, 1958), 44
41. Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon Christianity (Princeton: Princeton University, 1944), 247.
42. Walter Lowrie, Toward Faith (London: Oxford University, 1941), 42
43. J.D. Spiceland, Paul Tillich in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Publishers, 1984), 1093
44. Henlee H. Barnette, The New Theology and Morality (Philadelphia: Westminister, 1967), 11.
45. Ibid., 173.
46. Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture (New York: Oxford University, 1959), 43-45.
47. Ibid., 71.
48. Ibid., 82.
49. Bruce McCormick, Karl Barth's Theology (Oxford: Clareton, 1995), 103.
50. Eberhand Busch, Karl Barth: His Life From Letters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 54.
51. Ibid., 26.
52. Ibid., 81.
53. Jaroslav Peikan, Christian Doctrine & Modern Culture (Chicago Press, 1989), 299
54. Paul Hinckley, Barth or Baptism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 27
55. Alister McGrath, Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1994), 269.
56. Kevin Vanhoozer, A Person of the Book: Barth (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 53
58. Salvatore Maddi, Personality Theories, 4th Edition (Homewood: Dorsey Press, 1980), 91.
59. Jay Greenberg, Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory (Cambridge: Harvard Press), 26
60. Maddi, 88
61. The Pelican Freud Library (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1973-86)
62. "The Unconscious" 143.
63. An Outline of Psychoanalysis, 15:377.
64. New Introductory Lectures, 2:110-11; The Ego and the Id, 476.
65. Erik H. Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis (New York: Norton & Company, 1968), 95
66. Ibid., 55.
67. Ibid., 103.
68. The Future of an Illusion, 12:204
69. C.G. Jung, The Dynamics of the Psyche (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), 19.
70. C.G. Jung, Psychological Types, vol. 6 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), 34.
71. Idem, Modern Man in Search of God, 30, 75.
72. Idem, Psychological Reflections, 38-39.
73. Idem, The Archtypes and the Collective Unconscious, 44.
74. Idem, Modern Man in Search of God, 11
75. Ibid., 26.
76. Ibid., 72-74
77. Idem, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 358-59; Psychological Reflections, 344.
78. Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (New York: Reinhold Company, 1968
79. Idem, Motivation & Personality, 3rd ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 3, 211-38.
80. Ibid., 34.
81. Idem, Motivation & Personality, 121-127.
82. Ibid., 78.
83. Carl Rogers, A Way of Being (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980), 65.
84. Carl Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy (London: Constable & Company, 1951), 15.
85. Idem, On Becoming a Person, 61.
86. Ibid, 108, 110-114, 164-66.
87. Ibid., 129-33, 253-56, 343-45.
88. Jacob Bronowski, Science & Human Values (New York: Harper & Row, 1956)
89. Erich Fromm, The Fear of Freedom (London: Ark Paperbacks, 1984), 118
90. Ibid., 116-117.
91. Eric Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (New York: Rinehart, 1973), 226
92. Eric Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion (London: Gollanza, 1951), 29
93. Ibid,. 201.
94. Eric Fromm, The Dogma of Christ (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963), 12.
95. Ibid., 145.
96. Ibid., 247.
97. Ibid., 262.
98. Ibid., 279.
99. Eric Fromm, The Crisis of Psychoanalysis (London: Unwin Books, 1962), 53-62.
100. Ibid., 72.
101. Idem, Individual Psychology, 336-43
102. Don S. Browning, Religious Thought and Modern Psychologies (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 161
103. Tillich, Theology of a Culture, (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1970), 35-42.
104. Idem, Love, Power & Justice, 29-30, 116-117.
105. Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (New York: Norton Publishers, 1979), 46.
106. Anthony Storr, The Integrity of the Personality (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1960), 12, 15.
107. Paul C. Vitz, Secular Personality Theories (Hillsdale: College Press, 1984), 75.
108. William Becker, The Denial of Death, 276; Tillich, Systematic Theology, 1:130-31.
109. Arthur Holmes, Faith Seeks Understanding (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing, 1971), 96.
110. Erikson, Insight & Responsibility, 153-55.
111. R.C. Sproul, The Psychology of Atheism (Minn. Bethany House, 1974), 48-50.
112. Ibid,. 72-74.
113. Walter Houston Clark, The Psychology of Religion (New York: Macmillon, 1958), 122.
114. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1967), 79.
115. Ibid., 86-89.
116. Brenda C. Coleman, "Doctors Prescribing More Antidepressant Medicines," Denver Post, 2/98
117. Mark McMinn, Psychology, Theology & Spirituality in Counseling (Tyndale, 1996), 8.
118. Joseph Stowell, "A Multitude of Counselors." in Moody, May 1991, p.4
120. Lynn Garrett, "Is Christian Psychology Possible?" in Wellspring, Fall 1991, p. 7.
122. Gary R. Collins, Can You Trust Psychology (Downers Grove:InterVarsity Press, 1988), p.94.
126. Ibid, pp. 96-97.
127. Ibid., p. 17.
128. Lawrence Crabb, Basic Principles of Biblical Counseling (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 11.
131. Lawrence Crabb, Inside Out, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988), 51.
132. Crabb, Inside Out, p. 107.
133. Ibid., 108.
134. Ibid., 96.
135. Paul Gray, "The Assault on Freud," Time Magazine, 29 November 1993:47.
136. "A Therapist in Every Corner," Time Magazine, 23 December 1985, 59.
137. Tom Prichard, "Minnesota Family Council Newsletter," (Minn. MN Family Council, Nov. 99).
138. David Noebel, Understanding the Times (Eugene, Ore: Harvest House, 1994), 167.
139. Albert Ellis, "The Case Against Religiosity," (Word Publishers, 2004), 35.
140. T. Kelly & H. Strupp, "Patient and Therapist Values," Journal of Clinical Counseling, Vol. 63, 110.
141. Edward P. Shafranske, "Foundations of Religion," Religion in Clinical Practice, May 2005.
142. Martin L. Gross, The Psychologically Society (New York: Random House, 1978), 45-48.
144. William Kilpatrick, Psychological Seduction (Nashville: Nelson Publishers, 1983), 163.
145. Ibid., 15
146. Paul Vitz, Psychology as Religion (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 38
147. Ibid. 7
148. Gary R. Collins, Can You Trust Psychology? (Downers Grove: IVP, 1988), 79.
149. Gary Collins interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family, CS 504.
150. Frank B. Minirth, Christian Psychiatry (Old Tappen, NJ: Revell, 1977), 27.
151. Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1970), 17-18.
152. Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind (London: SPCK, 1963), 4.
153. Paul Mier and Frank Minirth, Happiness is a Choice (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1979), 97.
154. David Seamonds, Healing For Damaged Emotions (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1988), 19.
155. Gary Sweeten, The Theology of Caring (Cinncinnati: Christian Info Ctr, 1988), 36.
156. Larry Crabb, Understanding People (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989) 23-26.
157. Gary Collins, Christian Counseling: Comprehensive Guide (Dallas: Word, 1980), 19.
158. Robert C. Roberts, Christian Psychology View (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), 159.
159. Karl Popper, Science Theory and The Truth (New York: Beck Publishing, 2000)
160. Neil Anderson, Christ-Centered Therapy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 24-35.
161. John Coe, Psychology in the Spirit (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009), 124-28.
162. David Myers, Psychology Thru the Eyes of Faith (Harper One Publishers, 2003), 37-40. 162 Eric Johnson, Psychology & Christianity (Downers Grove: IVP, 2010), 103, 145, 173.
163. Mark McMinn, Care For the Soul (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), 23-29.
164. Everett Worthington, Coming to Peace With Psychology (Downers Grove: IVP, 2010), 53.
165. Thomas Higginson, Epicteus (New York, A.L. Burn Publishers, 1979), 288.
166. Perry London, Morals of Psychotherapy (New York: Holt & Winston, 1964), 22.
167. Ibed, Jay Adams, 112.
168. Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor's Manual (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979) , 61-64.
169. Ibed, 72.
170. "Kindred Spirit," Dallas Theological Seminary Student Newsletter, September 2, 1977.
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