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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)

Secular psychology is powerless to bring about meaningful change.

Freud, you think even the psychologists, and psychotherapists, psychiatrists, many of them who aren’t even Christians have recognized how what they’re doing hasn’t been that successful. Freud writes, “I have found little that is good about human beings on the whole, in my experience most of them are trash.” Rogers writes, “When I’m speaking to outsiders, I present Humanistic psychology as a glowing hope for the future. But within the bosom of our family, I have been trying to say that we have no reason whatsoever for feeling complacent as we look toward the future.” Even if in the short term people feel better about themselves, or even if to some degree the symptoms are treated, and people don’t feel the pain of their problems and their sins, the disease remains. You could have shot painkillers into my arm, and I wouldn’t have felt the pain for a while; but the tendon is still torn. Except for in this case it’s really cancer. I know some cancer’s painful and some is not, but this is a painful cancer. And you give somebody morphine, you can give somebody drugs that would lessen the pain, but if the cancer is there, the cancer needs to be treated. Of course, the sad thing for me is that people are going to certain psychologists where they’re being offered pain relief, and sometimes it’s deadening the guilt, when we have the cure. We can’t always cure physical cancer, but we have the cure in the word of God. And we just don’t treat the symptoms of how people feel. We treat the disease which is a broken relationship with God.

What about those cases in which people seem to get better?

You might say, “What about people who seem to get better after counseling and with secular counselors?” There are a couple of explanations I could give. One is that often times symptoms go away without treatment, and there have actually been studies published in secular publications, I’ll just quote one.

Often symptoms go away with or without treatment.

Lieber says, “Surveys show that out of patients who spend upwards of 350 hours on the psychoanalyst couch, two out of three show some improvement over a period of years.” That sounds pretty good, two out of three, but then he says, “The fly in that particular ointment, however, is the same percentage to get better without analysis or the care of a physician. as a matter of fact, the same ratio two out of three people got better in mental hospitals 100 years ago.” Something about the way God has made us, and I’ve seen this particularly with depression, time usually makes severe depression lift with or without treatment. And I’m thankful God made us that way, and there’s a lot that just goes away. World Magazine writes, “Several people have mentioned that study after study has shown that people are just as likely to solve their problems without a psychologist, and that a trained psychologist is no more effective in counseling than a concerned layman.” And, of course, I would say if that concerned layman knows the Bible, he’s gonna be more effective. There was a Woody Allen film many years ago where, Sleeper, and I don’t commend the whole movie, but I remember he had slept for 50 years like Rip Van Winkle, and he wakes up and he says, “What a shame; if I had just kept my psychotherapy all this time, I might finally be finished.”

The most serious (spiritual) problems remain

And even if the symptoms, even if the bad feelings go away, which I think I’ve already established they’ve not shown they can do, the spiritual problems remain. Jesus talks about an evil spirit who’s put out, but then many others come in its place when nothing else is put in. I have a friend who many years ago was a drunkard, and he got involved in AA, which it’s certainly viewed sympathetically. In a 12-step program viewed sympathetically by the psychologically community. And he engaged in that program and quit drinking. And he could tell you, I assume he’s not had a drink now, he could tell you it’s been, whatever, 23 years, six months, three days, four hours since I last had a drink. And that’s all very well. My friend, however, is morbidly obese. He probably weighs over 400 pounds. He’s estranged from most of his family members through conflicts. He has been enslaved to pornography. He’s fallen into adultery. Is he cured? You might be able to give up one idol for another, but the word of God transforms us.

We’re changed in our very nature. Who is in Christ is a new creation. The spirit comes in; he brings forth his fruit, and reorders and transforms a life. Humanistic psychology can’t do that. Humanistic psychology is a counterfeit religion that in its basic beliefs and world view is opposed to scripture. And, yet, sadly many Christians are uncritical, even Christian leaders. It’s not a science like shoulder repair and medicine. They have a world view which is not gonna lead to people being reconciled to God, and transformed by his spirit, and it actually may prevent them from that by curing them falsely. Peace, peace, when there is no peace. In the next session, we’re gonna talk about a little more complicated question that is what about Christians who try to combine the Bible with psychology, can that be done?