The Spoiling of Christianity By Psychology
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
The cure for the sinful soul and the problems of life was the vital ministry of the church, using the Word of God, for more than 1900 years.
But, as in every generation, there are those who do not want to submit to the Word of God. Freud and Jung were two such individuals from their generation. They boldly rejected the authority of the Word of God. But did not stop there. They developed a theory that claimed offered an alternative solution for the sin problem and the problems of life. It was called it psychology. Freud and Jung believed that they had found a means through which the soul of man could be perfected without having to repent of sin and submit to God. Man didn't need Jesus as his Savior, he could be his own Savior.
From this root psychology has grown by leaps and bounds with more than 250 separate systems of psychotherapy. But is even more mind boggling is that the Christian church has been duped into buying into this human wisdom. There are many Christians that have been convinced that the difficult problems of life need more than Word of God and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. But, the Bible assures us, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:" 2 Peter 1:3 and "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.. because he trusteth in thee." Isaiah 26:3.
The church must minister under unction of the Holy Spirit--not according to man's wisdom. The problem is, that many churches and Christians have been spoiled by the humanly devised philosophy of psychology.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8
The key word in this verse is spoil. When we hear the word, we think it means "to become unfit for use or consumption, as from decay." But that is not the meaning of the word in the New Testament context. The word spoil is translated from the Greek word sulagogeo, (soo-lag-ogue-eh'-o -- Strongs #4812) which means "to carry off as a captive and a slave." Zodhiates says in The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament that the word means "to carry away. To lead off as prey rob, or kidnap. Figuratively, (used) of the destructive effects of false teachers who rob believers of the complete riches available in Christ and revealed in the gospel.
Philosophy (5385)-- The Greek word philosophia (fil-os-of-ee'-ah) actually means a friend to wisdom or love of wisdom. The word came to mean the doctrines, beliefs, ideologies of the unsaved and Gentile philosophers.
Vain (2756) means hollow, empty, meaningless.
Deceit (539) means anything that is deceptive.
Tradition (3862)-- An ideology, belief, doctrine or instruction communicated from one to another. In this verse the ideologies are those developed by men.
Rudiments (4747) -- Rudiments means principles or basics. In this context these principles are from the world of mankind.
Now, when I put it all together I believe Paul was sounding this warning...
Watch out! You will encounter numerous people promoting deceptive, empty man made ideas that sound good but are based on the world's wisdom and not God's wisdom. If you are not discerning you will be brainwashed and be led away from the sufficiency that is in Christ.
Note the next two verses. Colossians 2:9-10 -- For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Though there are many philosophies that have wormed their way into Bible believing Churches, organizations and the thinking of Christians, none has undermined the Word of God and the sufficiency of Christ like psychology.
What were the forces or roots that led to psychology replacing the scripture in offering answers to the problems of life? There are three forces or roots that we need to consider.
The Theology of Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is considered by many people to be the outstanding theologian of his day but you will remember that it is "the little foxes, that spoil the vines..." Song of Songs 2:15. Or to put it another way, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Galatians 5:9. His theology was tainted by the wisdom of the world which is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:19). There are at least three ways in which Aquinas' theology was corrupted.
First, he did not believe in the total depravity of man. When I refer to the "total depravity of man" I mean that man is wholly a sinner. Sin has touched every aspect of man -- his body, mind-intellect, emotions, will or volition (Romans 3:10-20).
When Aquinas studied the fall of Adam and Eve, he concluded that though man's will was damaged by sin, he concluded that man's intellect was undamaged by sin. Therefore, Aquinas taught "that man, out of his own resources, could search for, find, and classify truth."3 Simply stated, Aquinas felt that man's wisdom could be trusted. I can almost hear the hiss of the serpent. Too bad he did not look a few chapters further than the account of the fall of our first parents and he would have been able to see that sin did indeed damage man intellect! Genesis 6:5-6 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. The plain fact is, man's wisdom apart from God is at best vain. 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 Let no man deceive himself If any man among yo seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. (see also James 3:15-17). The lie that man is not totally depraved but can trust his intellect is one part of the leaven that lead to the belief that mankind can find truth within himself
The second way in which the theology of Aquinas was corrupted was by his study of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle lived between 384-322 B.C.. He was a pupil of Plato, the tutor of Alexander the Great, and the author of works on logic, metaphysics, ethics, natural sciences, politics, and poetics, he profoundly influenced Western thought. In Aristotle's philosophical system truth is discovered by empirical observation and logic, based on the syllogism (sound reasoning). This method of inquiry leaves God out. Aquinas became an Aristotelian Thinker when he should have become a BIBLICAL THINKER. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Thirdly, Aquinas mixed the humanistic philosophy of Aristotle with the truth of the Bible. "Aquinas did not differentiate between what the Bible taught about life, truth, and the answers to man's problems and what Aristotle taught"4 though there is a vast difference! One is based on man's wisdom and one is based on God's wisdom. As a result, Aquinas syncretized the Bible and the godless philosophy of Aristotle.
Syncretism Defined -- n. 1. Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous. Therefore you end up with a new belief that is neither one nor the other previous beliefs.
The Philosophy of Empiricism
If you go back to the beginning of empiricism, back to Greco-Roman times, those who followed this philosophy were skeptical of all theoretical explanations unless these theories could be verified by the human senses. By the 1800s this popularly held philosophy asserted that man could only know truth by the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. All else was a product of the imagination. The most important statement of this theory was made by John Locke (1632-1704). He claimed that all knowledge comes from sense experience. You might wonder, what's wrong with that? Empiricism does away with the spiritual nature of man, as well as the existence of God. Man becomes only a material being. Empiricism leads to complete skepticism when it comes to God and the spiritual nature of man.
The Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin theorized that man evolved from lower animals. The degeneration was now complete. Aquinas undermined the Bible's teaching on sin. Empiricism took away with man's soul and Evolution made man just another animal. God was now, for all practical purposes, out of the picture. Man was ready for psychology.
THE FOUR MAINSTREAMS OF PSYCHOLOGY
Let's take a look at each of these psychological models --
Very Few people realize that Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was in-volved in the occult. He was a member of the Society of Psychical Re-search London and the Ameri-can Society for Psychical Re-search in New York City. Freud had experiences with clairaudience (the supposed power to hear things outside the range of normal perception), telepathy (communication through means other than the senses, as by the exercise of an occult power), dreams of premonition as well as hearing voices (Harpers's Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experiences by Rosemary Guiley). Further, he rejected the truth that man was a sinner and that sin was at the root of man's problems. As a result of that, he developed his own theory called the psychoanalytic theory. He said that man's problems stem from repressed desires. He supposed that the unconscious was a vast reservoir of forgotten experiences and repressed desires primarily sexual in nature. In light of this people are not really responsible for their actions. Those who follow Freud say that the only way to resolve our problems is to go on an archaeological dig into your subconscious mind and see what you can dredge up from the reservoir of your unconsciousness. How did Freud attempt to get the repressed information to the surface? First, by hypnotism. "As a young physician, Freud had observed that hysterical patients seemed to lose their symptoms after being under hypnosis and recalling material which, apparently had been completely forgotten. From this, he developed the concept of an unconscious which dominates the activities of a person, and is motivated by forgotten experiences, forgotten by means of repression, and kept submerged by means of resistance"5
Secondly, Freud developed a technique called psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is based on the assumption that various disorders of the mind are the result of the rejection by the conscious mind of factors that persist in the unconscious (repressed memories) and therefore cause internal conflict. By using dream analysis and free association he claimed these conflicts could be resolved. The natural question is, what is dream analysis? Freud's theory was that "dreams are the expression of unconscious thoughts which are repressed when a person is fully awake."6 Therefore he concluded that he could analyze these dreams and get information about the unconscious motivations of the individual.
What about free association? Free association is "the technique of having the patient talk as freely as possible bringing in whatever ideas, memories, etc. are associated in his mind."7 The counselor then analyzes what has been said and uses the information to "uncover" and "clarifies" repressed memories. I see major problems, don't you? The counselor is the final authority and interpretations would be evaluated on the basis of the counselor's value system.
Now, someone is going to say, "No one uses Freudian psychology today." Oh yes they do! A middle age single woman I have known for a number of years was having trouble with tension and sleeping. She sought out professional help. After an hour session of "free association" the conclusion of this "professional" was that she had a build up of sexual tension. She was shocked when he suggested, "the best thing that you could do would be to go out and get laid" She was incensed that she had to pay for this psychological advice! Freudian psychology is still around!
This song by Anna Russel characterizes the influence of Freudian psychology in America
The Bible is clear. We are responsible for our own actions and we will all give account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12). There will be no passing the buck when the sinner stands before God.
Before I move on, I want to introduce you to Carl Jung (1875-1961). Jung broke with Freud over sexual repression being the primary root of our problems but still believed the un-conscious being the root of our problems. But Jung was a Christ rejecter. At an early age "he renounced the austere and formal Protestant Christianity in which he was raised."8 He instead exposed himself to seances and persistent poltergeist activity. "He had his first psychic vision at the age of three."9 And He also affirmed "the reality of spirits and spiritualism, on the evidence of telekinesis, messages of dying people, hypnotism, clairvoyance... and prophetic dreams."10
Now, fasten your seat belt, because Carl Jung gave a startling revelation near the end of his life. He candidly admitted that, "far from being the science he had represented them to be, everything ('all my works, all my creative activity') derived from horrendous experiences with haunting spirit entities that nearly drove him insane. It was during this time that 'Philemon' became his 'spirit guide.'"11 Jung was involved in Gnosticism, Alchemy, Astrology, I Ching, Mystical Systems, Spiritualism & Folklore. His grandfather was a Rosicrucian.
Summary -- The Psychoanalytic Theory of Psychology teaches that 1) Man is a biological machine or biologic-psychic determinism. Man is merely a product of genetics and his environment. He is driven by forces in his subconscious mind that he can neither understand nor control, such as sexual repression and the repression and hindering of free expression. Only by psychoanalysis can these things be uncovered and dealt with so the individual can have freedom and peace. 2) As just mentioned, the key to freedom and peace is uncovering repressed memories. This is done by hypnotism and psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a combination of dream analysis and free association techniques. 3) The psychoanalytic view of right and wrong is, right and wrong are only what you determine them to be.
It should be obvious that this psychological model is in conflict with the Bible and MUST be rejected. The Bible says, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Romans 12:9
Let's move on to the second psychological theory. This theory is called the Behavior-istic theory. It was developed by B. F. Skinner (1904-1990). Skinner looked at man from an evolutionary point of view. Man was just an animal. The way to solve man's problems was by behavioral modification, a system of rewards and punishment. This would enable man to better fit into the social order designed by the intellectually elite.
Summary of the theory Behavioristic Psychology -- Man is just a soulless animal who has no free will and no guarantee of meaning or happiness in life. As an animal, behavioral modification is what is needed to solve the problems of life. When his behavior is modified man will be enabled to better fit into the orderly society by the intellectually elite.
The problems of life are solved by behavior modification so the person can fall into lock-step with the "politically correct" norm. Their view of right and wrong is -- Right and wrong are determined by the intellectually elite.
The fact is, we are not animals and we are not the product of evolution! The Bible says in Genesis 1:27 "...God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
The third theory was developed by Carl Rogers (1902-1987) and is called the Humanistic Theory of Psychology. In this view, problems stem from our conscience and guilt. These two things need to be done away with because they are holding back our freedom, creativity and joy. What we need to do is love ourselves and accept ourselves because self-love & self-acceptance is the key to solving our problems.
Summary of the Humanistic Theory of Psychology -- Man is good and has unlimited potential! Yet, people are not responsible for what they are, but they have a free will and can choose to change. The problems that man have stem from conscience and guilt. These two must be done away with because they us back from freedom, creativity and joy. What we need is non-judgmental self-acceptance. Further we must realize that the answers to all our problems lies within ourselves. The key to problem solving in this model is self-acceptance. Self is elevated to godhood, because you have all the answers to your problems within yourself. Further, there is no right and wrong in this psychological model. What is right for you is right and what is wrong for you is wrong. But why did Rogers adopt such a anti-biblical view? While he was in seminary studying for the ministry he rebelled God, renounced the Bible and his conservative Protestant upbringing. He rejected the biblical view of man and offered his second-rate substitute. 1 Samuel 15:23 says, For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft..." so it is little wonder that later in his life, when he came face to face with eternity that he took to attending seances and looked to the Ouija board for answers about the hereafter.
Our greatest need is not to love ourselves and accept ourselves, our greatest need it to be right with God, get saved and live for him. It is far more important that God accepts us than to spend our time learning how better to accept ourselves.
Note Matthew 16:24 -- Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Finally we come to the last major psychological theory developed by Abraham Maslow (1908-1970). This view is called Existential or Transpersonal Psychology.
In Maslow's view there were no absolutes. You determine your own reality. The answer to your problems is Self-Actualization, discovering that you are "god." You just need to accept that fact and live accordingly. American Health magazine sums this view up quite well when it said, "There's a new breed of shrinks in the land. But instead of couches and Rorschach tests, their accouterments are tarot cards and astrological charts... [These are] the shrinks of the yuppie generation... belief in the occult is stronger than ever."12
Summary of the Existential Theory of Psychology -- Man is a spiritual being, capable of making his own reality. The answer to our problems is self-actualization, that is, we need to discover the "god" within ourselves. The cure for our problems comes form mystical practices, occult meditation, and many other practices associated with Easter Religions. Once you realize that your are god and accept that fact, you will have fulfillment. In this view, your determine right and wrong. There are no absolutes.
The truth is, most people go to psychologists and psychiatrists looking for help with the problems of life. "Research psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey found that about 5% of those who come to a psychiatrist are people with organic brain disease while about 75% are people with problems of living. 20% will require closer examination to make a final judgment to determine which category they fit into. Torrey continues that at least 75% of those who come to a psychiatrist do not need treatment but actually need to be educated in how to live." 13
Frankly, I would estimate that by the time the remaining 20% of the cases are examined that at least 15% would fit in to the "need to be educated in how to live" category, bringing the total to 90%. This study shows that most people are looking in the wrong place for help. The Bible has the answers for life's problems. Therefore, they need to look to the Bible and a biblical counselor for help.
Now, is psychology helping the people who seek out its advice? Research shows that psychology is not doing such a good job at resolving the problems of life. The Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health did a survey and this is what they found -- "of those persons who actively sought help for personal problems, the vast majority contacted persons other than mental health professionals, and generally they were more satisfied with the help they received than were those who chose psychiatrists and psychologists."14
Oil and water don't mix. Holy and unholy don't mix. Psychology and the Bible don't mix. Psychology in being offered and accepted as the answer to the problems of life in the censers of many Bible believing churches across our land and the Lord is grieved. We must get back to the Bible for our answers. Likely, there will be some who don't want to hear what I have just shared with you. Consider Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Friends, psychology is a humanly devised fable and should be rejected! 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Today, the Bible is being replaced by psychology as the standard for dealing with the problems of life. Many pastors are giving their people a steady diet of psycho-babel from the pulpit and in their counseling. In fact the most listened to theologian in America today is not a theologian at all. Dr. James Dobson is a psychologist. While I appreciate Dr. Dobson's intervention on behalf of the family, there is a problem. He's got a whole generation believing that the root of their problems in life is that they don't love and accept themselves enough. That's not what the Bible says (Eph. 5:29; Phil. 2:3; James 2:8). Our problem is that we love ourselves too much. Man's greatest need is to be right with God, not to love ourselves and accept ourselves more. Offering psychological solutions for the problems of life is strange fire because that is not where we have been commanded to go!
Where have we been commanded to go? To the Bible! Since God created us, He knows what makes us tick. God has provided us with reliable information on "how to live?" 2Peter 1:2-4 says, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
This passage simply says that God has provided all that we need to live a victorious, God-honoring life. As a person looks to God and the guidance given in His Word, then implements the principles that he finds there, he will change in the areas of thoughts, emotions and actions.. he will learn how to live. Why can I say that with authority? Turn to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, All scripture is given by inspiration of God (God breathed), and is profitable (a useful guide) for doctrine (what's right) , for reproof (what's not right), for correction (how to get right), for instruction (how to stay right) in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect (whole), thoroughly furnished (competent) unto all good works. Simply stated, the Bible tells us what's right, what's not right, how to get right and how to stay right. That is what people need today!
All four key streams of psychological theories are based on man's wisdom, the wisdom from beneath which is in direct opposition to God's wisdom. James 3:15-17 describes the two sources of wisdom. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife' is, there is confusion and every evil work 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partialily, and without hypocrisy.
The Bible clearly points out what God thinks of this world's wisdom -- "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.." 1 Corinthians 3:19
1. Martin & Deidre Bobgin; Psychology -- Science or Religion; p.3