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CDC1-02. What is Biblical Counseling? 2 {Transcript}


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What are some common Christian approaches to counseling in our day? Why might it be useful to learn about psychology? This session explores several Christian approaches to counseling including integration and synergism.

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Continued from Synergism/spoiling the Egyptians: since all truth is God’s truth, Christians should add the best of psychology to what the Bible teaches. (Page 6)

That which was taken (spoiled) from the Egyptians was silver, gold, and garments, not ideas and beliefs.

Richard Ganz writes, most Christian psychologists receive an entirely secular training and are ignorant of the scriptures. 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. And Jay Adams points out that that which was spoiled, that which was taken from the Egyptians was silver and gold and garments, not ideas and beliefs. And actually the Bible taught the Israelites, God revealed the Israelites, watch out for the worldview of the cultures by which you find yourself surrounded in Leviticus 18:3. Through Moses, God says, “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform my judgements and keep my statutes and live in accord with them.” And in that statement is, I think, kind of a statement to the Israelites of the sufficiency of scripture, the scripture they had that He says, don’t live according to the way that things were done in Egypt, where you’ve come from, or Canaan, where you’re going.

When they left Egypt, they were explicitly told to leave those ideas behind and actually, what did they do with that gold, by the way? Well, they made it into a calf, didn’t they? And they took the gold, but they followed the ideas of Egypt, a false idolater’s view of God and said this is the lord, who delivered you. Now is there some truth in Egyptian religion? Might there have been some truth in the Egyptian laws? I imagine that they probably had laws against stealing and killing. Well, why not add those to the law of Moses? Well, because the law the people of God needed was already in the law of Moses. There might be statements you would find in a textbook of psychology and you might say, well, you know, that sounds okay, but how do you know it’s okay? ‘Cause it’s already in the Bible. You know, they might say it’s nice to be nice to others. It’s nice to serve other people. Well, yeah, that sounds kinda right, but even then, for us, we do what we do in loving others, for example, because we’re in covenant with God who has first loved us. So even then, there’s a difference.

So we don’t need psychology in our pulpits and I don’t think we need to be training people extensively in psychology in our Bible colleges. I’m gonna get to the end where it might be useful to touch upon psychology. I’ll tell you now that if you’re living in Utah, it’d be good to know something about Mormonism, not because you wanna take the insights of Mormonism and add it to how you help people, but because you know their worldview. And so I think it’s good for Christians, especially wanna counsel others to understand what psychology says, because your people who are coming to see you are thoroughly psychologized and you wanna be able to understand what they’re saying when they say I’m on this and I’m on that or I’ve been diagnosed with, you know, I’m bipolar, I’m doing cognitive therapy, in that way and as part of our training, we wanna touch upon that so that you know where to go to understand those things, but we don’t turn there for the purpose of finding truth by which to help people as we’re gonna get in the next section to what we think is the biblical methodology for helping people, which is relying upon the scriptures.

God has given us enough in the word. What we need is experts in the Bible to help people with their spiritual problems. In Colossians 2, we’re told in Christ are hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Do you want to be wise? Do you wanna have knowledge, including the knowledge of how to help people with their spiritual problems? Look to Christ. That’s where the treasures are. Why spend years of your life studying that which doesn’t compare to Christ. And in verse 8 of Colossians 2, he says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form and in Him you have been made complete.” So do you wanna be complete? That’s kind of the biblical answer to self-actualization, perhaps? How can I be complete? I’m complete in Christ. There are other philosophies that are deceptive. That which is accepted as the elementary principles of the world, but we choose to know Christ instead, and He is the one who makes us pleasing to God by His grace and transforms us into His image. And that is ultimately what people need.

Now there’s one other issue I want to address. I have a friend who has a PhD in psychology and he has the idea that it’d be good for Christians to go into psychology, get trained, be certified, be licensed, so that we can be kinda like, he said, “Like Daniel in Bablyon.” We can kind of infiltrate the Babylon of psychology and he agrees there’s lots bad in it, but to get trained in that and then we can try to kinda bring in biblical perspectives and there is a lot of self-questioning in psychology, where they’re seeing it’s not working and their worldview doesn’t work and he has that idea. And as I thought about what he said, it is really true. There are some people in the biblical counseling movement who’s initial training was in psychology. Master’s degree, even doctorates, and it may well be that they have a unique perspective, not to practice psychology the way they were taught, but to have a voice among other people who are certified or trained in that way to point them to the sufficiency of scripture in helping people.

Although I point out to my friend that, for him and actually another friend I have, Daniel did not voluntarily go to Babylon. He found himself in Babylon and there he chose to be an influence and God helped him. And actually, part of my friend’s story is that he got his PhD in psychology before he was converted and I can see, for him, what that level of training, that in those circles and maybe the doors that it opens for him that he’s well-positioned to have that kind of influence and I trust, as he is now spending his time studying and understanding the scriptures by which he can help people. I have another friend who also has a PhD in psychology and I asked him, what did you gain from your training that you think really helps you to help people? ‘Cause this guy, again, he’s really committed to helping people with the scriptures, with all that training and he answered and said, “Well, you know, not a lot.”

I think he would agree with what I’ve said that you learn a lot about people and in psychology you’ll learn how the brain functions and a lot of things and things about personality that are observations that can be helpful, but in terms of actually learning how to help people with their problems, he says, “You know, not much.” I said, well, what would you advise someone who’s younger and really wants to help people, what would you advise them to do? And it was interesting, coming from a guy who has a PhD and probably somewhat fits into this third category of moving to the fourth, I trust, he said, “I would really encourage them to go some place where they’d be trained in the scriptures. That that’s what people need the most.”

And I think he would say that what he got, in terms of the things that are useful to know, you can learn some of those things, but to spend years and years of your life and hundreds and hundreds of hours in an internship, supervised, that how much better that would be to spend that kind of time becoming an expert in the word of God so you can help people with the book that God has revealed for the cure of souls.