Synergism/spoiling the Egyptians: since all truth is God’s truth, Christians should add the best of psychology to what the Bible teaches.
They claim to use Scripture to critically exam the findings of psychology.
There’s a third Christian approach and I’m moving in the spectrum from all psychology, primarily psychology with some verses mixed in and as a third perspective that would say since all truth is God’s truth, that we should have the Bible as our primary resource, but add to that the best of psychology. Many years ago, Larry Crabb called this approach spoiling the Egyptians, just as the Israelites were able to get gold and silver and clothes from the Egyptians when they fled after the Passover in the exodus, that we can kind of take from psychology the good things and somehow that will make us better at helping people. And this is better isn’t it? And they would say that they wanna use the Bible to critically examine their psychological training, the findings of psychology and people in this part of the spectrum, I think, make a real effort to use the Bible, to not just follow blindly what psychology says and I know of people who are licensed therapists and some would call themselves biblical counselors along with that, who would really go against a lot of the tenets of psychology and they take their, they bring their biblical worldview into how they practice.
They have the same problems as the integrationists.
However, I think there’s also some downsides. As I read some of the people who claim to take this approach, oftentimes, their psychological training still seems to dominate their perspective and what they teach. Some of them actually, it’s kind of like, it’s interesting, they’ll be something in psychology that’ll be like the silver bullet that this author, that author, be it boundaries, they’re building their system around a psychological model. I know in one of Larry Crabb’s early works, he took Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is taught even in business school, you know, how people work and how first people need to have their physical needs taken care of, and then they need security, that I guess, not only there’s alive today, will be alive tomorrow, then they need love and then purpose, then the ultimate is self-actualization and in one of his books, he tried to show how the Bible addresses all those needs. And to some degree, God certainly is our security, he meets our needs physically, it’s through Him we have love and purpose.
Their system is usually built around extra-biblical concepts.
That thing on the top of the pyramid’s kinda hard to square with scripture, though, the self-actualization thing. And the problem is, that model would never be derived from scripture. If you’re saying, well, what’s the chief end of man if you’re reading the Bible, you wouldn’t say the best thing that ever happened to a human being is to be self-actualized, no, the chief end of man is to glorify God, love God, love others. And so, it’s better, but it’s still flawed and I think the problem is, that if you’ve spent ten years of your life studying this, hundreds of hours of practice being supervised, you’ve gone through the whole process, your big book will tend to be your psychological training, and the Bible becomes the smaller book. And, again, you read the books of those who claim to be in this perspective and you can just read through it, how these concepts have kind of infiltrated, and I think, weakened, if not poisoned what they’re saying. One Christian author says, quote, low self-esteem is Satan’s deadliest weapon. And I don’t think he even tried to have a verse for that.
Gary Collins writes, love hope, compassion, forgiving, caring, kindness, confrontation, and a host of other concepts are shared by theologians and psychologists. Now, that sounds, on the surface, right because we use those words, but for a Christian, my concept of what each of those words means is entirely different than a secular psychologist. For me, this is love, that God sent his Son into the world and my hope is a hope that is ultimately found in Christ and in eternity and forgiveness is something I do as God did for me, so the words are similar, but the concepts are very, very different. Crabb wrote a book called Inside Out, and at first, it sounds like a good idea, that, okay, well, that means when you deal with the inner person then that deals with the outer person, that does seem to be biblical, but then, as you read more carefully, it’s really presenting somewhat of a Freudian view of human personality and subconscious as opposed to the simplicity of a biblical view. As David Powlison writes, a wrong theory distorts everything.