Biblical Foundation for Professional Work in Psychology
Paul D. Ackerman
Productive and wholehearted labor is a key element in a life lived in moment-by-moment obedience to (1) the Holy Bible as God's inerrant word and revelation of Himself and (2) the leading of the Holy Spirit who indwells through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ shed as a sin offering for the salvation of all men and women. As with all aspects of life, the field of chosen labor must be examined firstly in terms of its lawfulness in the light of scripture and secondly in the light of God's personal calling for each individual. The highest job-calling for each person is to labor in that biblically acceptable endeavor to which he or she has been personally called by God. The purpose of this writing is to state the biblical basis for the field of psychology as a lawful area of labor.
God has provided biblical precedent for scientific study and research including the scientific study of man (psychology).
Biblical Foundation for Science in General
The foundational, historical event for scientific activity and investigation is revealed in Genesis 2:19 where it is written that God brought every "beast of the field, and every fowl of the air" to Adam to be named. On the basis of his observations of the actions and character of each kind of animal, Adam gave it an appropriate and meaningful name. Adam was brought into observational contact with each kind of animal in order to study and discern its nature and character. On the basis of this "research," a meaningful and appropriate name was given to the animal. Such careful, observational activity, directed at data existing in contact with a human observer in the present, is the most fundamental aspect of scientific inquiry.
Biblical Foundation for the Science of Psychology
The foundational, historical event for the science of psychology is found in Genesis 2:22-23, where the creation of the first woman, Eve, is described. It is written that God brought Eve to Adam. Upon seeing her and on the basis of his knowledge of the particulars of her creation, he called her "Woman, because she was taken out of Man." This historical event, performed in the presence of God, is the foundation for a biblical perspective on the science of psychology in that the same form of "research" activity which earlier had been directed at animals was now directed at Eve.
Proceeding from these foundational passages, one can find many scriptures having application to the conduct of science and psychology. Many of these pertain to the general wisdom and lawfulness of inquiry and research. (Examples would include Gen. 1:28, Prov. 6:6, Prov. 25:2, Eccles. 1:13, Eccles. 1:17, and Lam. 3:40.) Other passages affirm that observations and consideration of the human scene can lead 10 meaningful psychological generalizations about human nature. (Examples would include Prov. 30:11-13, Eccles. 4:1, Eccles. 4:4, and Titus 1:12-13.) Finally, there are a number of passages showing that intimate knowledge of a person can yield insights into his or her character and personality. (Examples would include Matt. 16:18. and John 1:47-48.) Therefore, on the basis of general biblical considerations and specific, relevant scriptural teachings, the following biblical framework for psychologists can be presented.
Biblical Framework for Psychologists
A. The Creation and the Conduct of Psychology
1 Whereas, man (male and female) is created in God's image (Gen. 1:26);
2. And Whereas, (a) "The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts" (1 Chron. 28:9); (b) "I (Jesus) am he who searches hearts and minds" (Rev. 2:23); and (c) 'The spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10);
3. Therefore, the scientific search into all things including the heart and spirit of man (psychology) is lawful and consistent with man's created identity.
B. The Fall and the Conduct of Psychology
1. Whereas, man disobeyed God and fell into sin, death and corruption (Gen. 2 and Romans 5:12);
2. And whereas, all human endeavors including the science of psychology are corrupted by the fall;
3. Therefore, as with all lawful activities and professiOns, those who engage in psychology must do so with great care. (Be very careful how you live not as unwise but as wise. . . because the days are evil
C. The Cross and the Conduct of Psychology
1. Whereas, faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ provides salvation out of one's sins and into righteousness, freedom and abundant life (John 8:36; John 10:10; 1 Cor. 10:23; and 2 Cor. 1:20);
2. And whereas, this gospel of new life in Christ has relevant application to all areas of life including one's involvement in a biblically lawful profession which psychology has been shown to be;
3. Therefore, one's sense of calling to psychology may be prayerfully considered in the light of Romans 14:13-23 which warns that "everything that does not come from faith is sin." Once entered into as a matter of faith, the conduct of one's work within the discipline of psychology such work to be guided and constrained by biblical precepts should be executed wholeheartedly and with diligence (£01. 3:23; Eph, 8:5-8).
D. The Coming of Christ and the Conduct of Psychology
1. Whereas, the Lord is coming soon. (Rev. 22:20);
2. And whereas, "the heavens will disappear with a roar," the elements "destroyed" and the earth "laid bare," (2 Peter 3:10);
3. Therefore, the Christian psychologist must keep his or her professional career in proper perspective relative to obligations to God, the family, the church, and the community. ("Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." (1 Peter 1:17)).
E. The Great Commission and the Conduct of Psychology
1. Whereas, each individual has a debt of obligation to the whole world not because God is indebted to the world but because each of us in sins and trespasses has "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness"
thus, in principle, damning the whole world by hindering the gospel;
2. And whereas, the highest of God's commandments are to love Him and our neighbor, especially the saints;
3. Therefore, the conduct of the profession of psychology must be seen in the context of furthering the advance of the gospel and fulfilling the great commission. (Matt. 28:18-20) It is affirmed that all categories of lawful activity conducted in faith and obedience to the will of God vitally contribute to the advance of the gospel. Activities which produce a
flowering of culture in the wake of the gospel are essential to its further advance. A godly, loving, and biblically obedient psychology would contribute to fulfilling the great commission.
At the present time the field of psychology contains many elements which are essentially and actively antibiblical and antichristian. The problem extends to many of psychology's central objectives, methods, practices and concepts, often undermining central and fundamental components of the biblical world-view. Specifically, the spirit of contemporary psychology often seeks to deny:
1. The Deity of Christ and His atoning sacrifice for salvation from sin;
2. The authority and infallible, inerrant inspiration of the Holy Scriptures;
3. The creation by God of "the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them" (Exodus 20:11);
4. The nature of man as created in God's image though fallen and sinful;
5. The dominant and overriding role of the biblical world-view in all counseling and therapy and
6. The need for instilling within all cultures a strong sense of absolute moral standards based upon the Ten Commandments.
Students seeking to evaluate theories and concepts within psychology need to be aware of its many anti-biblical elements. The point to remember is that for the Christian the biblical framework constitutes a fixed frame of reference for the evaluation of theories, concepts and data. The biblical framework is not to be regarded as a system to be integrated and combined with other systems of psychological theorizing. Such mixing will inevitably result in both bad Christianity and bad psychology.
*Authors note: The author is a practicing psychologist with a Ph.D. in social psychology. The above statement was submitted to the voting membership of CSSHS for review and comments. A number of suggestions and corrections were incorporated into the text, but responsibility for the views expressed remain with the author.