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CDC1-01. What is Biblical Counseling? 1 {Transcript}

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Psychology and theology both deal with the same fundamental issues of meaning and value. Many modern approaches have unscriptural presuppositions and practices. This opening session introduces biblical counseling and the importance of approaching these issues from a Christian perspective.

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Harmful Errors of Modern Psychology (Continued from page 2)

Unscriptural presuppositions and practices of certain schools of psychology.

A faulty view of man.

With respect,psychologists for all of their research, and study, and learning, those who have been trained in our universities, and the perspective from which they come don’t know who man is. The perspective of secular psychology is that man is only an advanced animal. The Bible says that God in Genesis 1 that, “Man has been made in the image of God.” Even you take famous psychological experiments like Skinner who would manipulate animals and animal behavior, and say, “If you could do that with animals, then you could do it with people.” People are spiritual beings made in the image of God. They’re not just like animals. Furthermore, in scientific materialism the idea, there’s a general denial that we have a soul. Man is seen merely as a body. Your thoughts, your feelings are just things going on, electrons bouncing around in your brain. Your consciousness is just a physical function of your body.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 that, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” The Bible teaches that man is not just a body, but man also has a real soul, psukhe ironically, and that even when the body dies, that we will continue in our existence, and then one day the body and the soul will be reunited. And that the soul, again, it’s not something really physical. There are moral issues here that the soul is choosing right and wrong, and the soul has a certain kind of nature, which we’re gonna get to in just a moment.

Also because we’ve been created by God, we’re accountable to God. Psychology will often say, “What are your goals? What do you want us to do for you? What do you want your life to be like?” A biblical counselor’s got an entirely different perspective. What you want may be exactly the wrong thing according to scripture. We are not relativists because we have been made by God, we are accountable to God. Furthermore, our life has meaning. The meaning isn’t just what we do for 70 years on this earth, but it has everlasting eternal implications.

And then another error of typical secular psychology is to say that man is basically good, or you’ll hear the expression, this is often taught to people who wanna train children, “We’re blank slates.” Abraham Maslow, famous psychologist, said, “As far as I know, we don’t have any intrinsic instincts for evil.” Now, you read that statement by itself and you think, He must not have had children. He must, I don’t know, because what he would say is that the bad that comes in people is because they’re damaged by their experience and by other people. He even says that, “Since this inner nature is good or neutral rather than bad, it is best to bring it out and encourage it rather than to suppress it.” So, you think about this in terms of child training. Just draw out of that child whatever’s in his nature, and that’s good.

The task of psychiatry or psychology is to bring out that innate goodness. Well, then how do they explain when someone does something bad or wrong? When you have someone who shoots a bunch children in a school, or hurts a child? It was some outside influence that drew bad things on the blank slate. The scripture says that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That mankind has fallen, and in Adam we all die. And now the flesh, that those who are in the flesh, Romans 8, are able to please God, they’re unable to do God’s law. David says in Psalm 51 that he was conceived in sin, meaning he was conceived a sinner, even in the womb before his birth. If you’re trying to help people, there’s a huge difference between saying whatever comes out of this person naturally is either good or neutral, or from conception and birth, this child has a bent, this now adult, bent towards evil, a bent towards wrong. The scripture says that we have even in our hearts a knowledge of the law of God, and what’s right and wrong; but our nature is to go against that because of our fallenness, and because we’re children of Adam.

As people come with problems, and there’s conflict, or there’s unhappiness in marriage, and even issues of worry, and fear, or depression, and anger there’s sin involved, and sin needs to be addressed. And so often psychology will treat sometimes the symptoms, “Okay, well, you feel badly. How can we help you to feel better?” But the scripture says that what’s wrong with us is within our soul. The Bible uses the word heart, not of the pump that sends the blood around your body, but of your soul, of your inner self. And the Bible says it’s our soul which is diseased, and it’s the disease of sin; and, of course, it’s the gospel that is the cure. Likewise, secular psychology looks upon man as being autonomous, that man can solve his own problems, and, of course, implicitly without God’s help. You look within yourself. In non-directive counseling, clients enter therapy, you’re not really allowed to tell your client what to do. You try to lead him to what he wants to do, help him to clear his thinking, if you will. The Bible is directive. The Bible teaches there’s right and there’s wrong.

A real quote from a psychologist is, “Self-centeredness is the secret to better mental health.” Well, that is completely contrary to scripture. The scripture says our problem is we’re self-centered sinners, and it’s when you repent of that, and you learn to love God, and love others, that’s what makes your soul and puts your soul in the right place; and that’s only possible through the gospel. Fromm, another psychologist, says, “The Garden of Eden is a story allegorizing man’s move to freedom.” Exactly the opposite of what the Bible says. It’s our movement away from the freedom of living in the will of God to rebellion, and misery, and death. Another quote, “The task of psychology is to help the individual get in touch with his real self in order to repair the damage that culture has done.” Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” He says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” That to make that change which really matters, to make that change which is pleasing to God out of our sinful patterns and behavior, it’s not, Fromm says, “The achievement of well-being is possible under one condition, if we put man back in the saddle.” Well, the scripture says the opposite. It says, It’s with a complete dependence upon God, under his lordship, that the disease of our sin can be cured.