Psychology, Counseling and Selfism
Genesis 1:27: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him."
Col. 2:10: *And you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power."
Matthew 46:24-25: "If anyone wishes to come otter Me, let him deny himself. and take up his cross. and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it."
Romans 6:11: "Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Psychology has largely become a religion which is thoroughly anti-Christian. Much of it easily intertwines with New Age thought (see Lesson ~), for example the "positive thinking" school of popular psychology and/or counseling, which is represented in Christian circles by Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller and many others. For the worldly psychologist or counselor of this sort the self is clearly god, and there are no absolute ethical norms. Instead there is talk about "self-esteem" and/or "nonjudgmental acceptance" of others. Another branch of modern psychology which l's even mare closely related to New Age thought or identical with it is the so-called "Fourth Force" of psychology, also named "Transpersonal Psychology." ("It takes issue with much that Is taught by other schools of psychology, especially behaviorism (see bellow. However, just as the New Age movement would replace Darwinian evolutionism with its own pantheistic-occult cosmic evolutionism, so Transpersonal Psychology would replace its rivals by turning to the "paranormal," its scientific sounding name for the occult. It delves into clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, psychokinesis, Zen Buddhism, yoga, transcendental meditation and other essentially occult phenomena and thought systems.(*) As yet, however, modern psychology and counseling is predominantly based upon the thought of three men, Sigmund Freud, 8. F. Skinner, and Carl Rogers.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) attempted to deal with the psychological problems caused by man's guilt feelings on the basis of man's alleged evolutionary "primitive post," a notion Freud took from the British anthropologist Robertson Smith. The most famous Freudian notion is the so-called "Oedipus complex" (a boy lusts sexually after his mother, a girl after her father; the name "Oedipus" comes from ancient Greek mythology). Other Freudian concepts are the "id" (subconscious), the "ego" (conscious personality), and the "superego" (roughly the conscience, shaped by one's parents and society). Freud first spoke of infantile sexual phases (anal, oral), an idea adopted by bath modern Freudians and other psychologists. (*)Freud also proposed that mankind as a whole shared a racial or collective unconscious which, he thought, was biologically inherited. Carl Jung (1875-1961), once close to Freud but later mare independent, made much of this "collective unconscious,"(')
Freud was all his life a Lamarckism evolutionist, stubbornly believing in the inheritance of acquired characteristics even though this theory was disproved by the genetic research of August Weissmann in the 1880s. An agnostic Jew, Freud was very anti-Christian. In Freudian psychoanalysis the therapist delves into the patient's self and its past. No ethical norms are recognized. For example, Freud felt one might come to accept one's homosexuality but need not and could not overcome it. This is not true as many homosexuals who turned to Christ know and the Bible confirms-I Cor. 6:9) Freud thought that all the psychoanalyst could do was to help the patient understand what in his past had caused his abnormality or neurosis. (*)Freud was very pessimistic about man and society. He believed that the pleasure principle (`Freuds' and the death instinct ('Thanatos~ are inherent in man from birth, fight each other in every individual man and in society, and that the death instinct wins in the end.(') Freudians first taught the notion, so prevalent today in all societies, that society at large is responsible for one's misdeeds or "maladjustment." Freudianism has infiltrated some "Christian" counseling, for example by the "inner healing" and `visualization" methods. By blaming parents for their children's "maladjustment' it has greatly undermined the family,
The second influential psychologist of our time is B. F. Skinner (b. 1904). He is the virtual father of modern behaviorism. The most important concepts of this school of psychology are "stimulus-response," "operand conditioning," "behavior reinforcement' and "behavior modification." taught in most college general psychology classes. Skinner invented the "Skinner box" where the "operant conditioning" of rats could be methodically carried on. He designed a Skinner box for his own daughter where she spent the first two years of her life. Skinner was disappointed because he could not market this box successfully.
For Skinner man is a predetermined machine, as is any animal. Man has neither a mind nor free will; he is the puppet of heredity plus environment. Punishment in the traditional sense must be replaced by reconditioning through the appropriate stimuli and reinforcements. For Skinner `The problem is to induce people not to be good but to behave well," as he himself wrote in his famous book Beyond Freedom and Dignity.
(`)Skinner's behaviorism can be reconciled with New Age thought in its emphasis upon the use of behavior-modifying techniques to shape men. and in its usefulness for maintaining tyrannical governments in power, ultimately a one-world collectivist state. Communist brainwashing techniques may be classified as Skinnerian "operant conditioning" complete with "behavior reinforcement" and "behavior modification."(*) For Skinner. as for Freud. man is not individually responsible to God-they deny God exists-nor to his fellow men tar what he does. This view has had a tremendous impact upon penology (the treatment of criminals). In modern penology there are no "criminals." only breakers at whatever laws a society enacts. and they must not be punished or make restitution but be "rehabilitated." If anyone is guilty. it is society!
Finally, Carl Rogers (b. 1902) initiated the "non-directive" school of counseling. Rogers believes that human nature is malleable and must always change, has no fixed essence. and is naturally good and endowed with infinite potential far growth. All this is contrary to the Christian-biblical view of man. According to Scripture man has a fixed character or nature as the unique creature made in God's own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-28). Because man is now fallen. Having set himself up as his own master (Gen. 3:5). he is not naturally good. He can only be good if wholly conformed to God's own image and likeness as at creation (Romans 12:2; see Lesson 1). Because man is not God but a creature. he is finite and has no infinite potential far growth as Rogers asserts.
Rogers holds to a radical individualism. Far him everyone is uniquely different. and therefare isolated from all his fellow men. The jab of the psychological counselor. and far that matter of any man towards his fellows. is to understand and "accept." Rogerian counseling is therefare "client-centered" and uses a "non-directive. non-judgmental" apprOach. The client is supposed to cure himself through self-love and self-acceptance. Counseling by directive advice. including. of course, from Scripture. is considered inappropriate. even harmful.
As we might expect from this description. there are no absolute ethical norms for Rogers unless it be the demand to be "non-directive" and "non-judgmental." Because Rogers believes that men are naturally good. he disbelieves in sin in the biblical sense. Rogerianism and related concepts in education today have contributed much to the breakdown of authority and discipline in our homes and schools. (*)The `Values Clarification" program now in vogue in our public schools is akin to Rogerianism. This program is designed to help young people become "independent' through a critical reevaluation of their parents' values, usually tar mare Christian and "judgmental" than today's moral relativism, This may lead to hostility towards parents and to rejection of all moral restraints whatever (see also Lessons 10 and I 1).(')
Significantly. Rogers himself turned away from his Christian upbringing while preparing for the ministry at Union Theological Seminary. He renounced Christianity and turned to the study of psychology at Columbia University. Later on he turned to secular humanism and the occult. even practicing necromancy (communication with the dead through a medium). strictly forbidden by the Bible (Ex. 22:i8; Lev. 20:27; Deut. 18:10-14: Acts 16:16-18).
(`)Martin and Deidre Bobgan rightly note that psychotherapy such as Freud's or Rogers' `was developed as an alternative means of healing and help. not as an addition or complement to Christianity. It is not only a substitute method of helping troubled souls. it is a surrogate religion" (Psychoheresy [Santa Barbara, CA: Eastgate Publishers. Second Printing November 1987], p.15).(')
The temptation in counseling is to be as God and to "help ourselves." This is what Adan and Eve did when they made themselves aprons of fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). Their would-be independent "self-help" was futile, and God Himself mode them a covering of animal skins, pointing to the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary (Gen. 3:21; John 1:29) We must remember the Creator-creature distinction. My human action and counseling infected with a view of "self" apart from God is false. Even Christ Himself said, "I can of my own self do nothing, my judgment is just. because I seek not my own will. but the will of the Father Who has sent me" (John 5:30). We have the assurance of Colossians 2:10 that we are "complete in Him. Who is the head of all principality and power." Without Him, outside of Him, rebellious and would-be independent of Him (though this is impossible in reality). we are "wretched. miserable. poor, blind and naked" (Rev. 3: 17), much as we might claim that we are "rich, hove acquired wealth, and do not need a thing" (Rev. 3:1 7). To counsel and be counseled according to biblical Christianity means for both counselor and counselee to submit totally to God. His law and the testimony of His Spirit in strict and total accordance wIth and submission to Scripture. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (15.8:20).
As in all matters we must "test all things and hold fast that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21). As in all areas there may be bits and pieces of truth in unbelieving psychologists' thought. Freud may hove mode a contribution in pointing to the importance of a man's post. Skinner helped some people (institutionalized retarded people) by his "operant conditioning" attain a higher measure of learning and working proficiency. Rogers may have helped counselors to listen carefully to their clients. Yet Scripture teaches and transformed lives in Christ confirm that man is not determined by his past. nor by "operant conditioning." nor is man's greatest need self-acceptance but rather new life in Christ (Romans 6:4-11, 23; 7:4). The good worldly psychology may offer comes from God in the first place, and Its counseling is in no way, not even in its "good" points. the equal of Scripture. The Church. in fact all Christians. are charged with and able to counsel each other with the true knowledge given by Christ (Romans 15:14; lCor. 1:5: I Cor. 2:12-15),
('Freudian and Rogerian psychotherapies are evidently focusing on man's self as the key to his "maladjustment's" to other people and Behaviorism purports to "adjust" (condition) man to society through Its "operant conditioning" techniques.(*) The self as the center of the world is of course common to all non-biblical thought (see Lesson 1). Unfortunately this concern with and even idolatry of self has made inroads in Christian circles today. (`)We hove already referred to the "positIve thinking" school of popular psychology and counseling. represented by Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Schuller has spoken of "a theology of self-esteem" and even of "the sacred right of every person to self-esteem" (Jay Adams, The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, Self-Image [Eugene, OP: Harvest House Publishers, 1986J, pp.21.22).(') Often this new selfist "gospel" is tied to evangelism and prayer treating God as a mere means to sell-fulfillment and prosperity, Yet Jesus Christ Himself told us to "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Mt. 6:33). In fact, this modern emphasis upon the self and its supposed needs as coming first is a return to paganism: "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek" (Mt.6:32). The self without Christ is sinful and abhorrent, as Job recognized when beholding God: "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). Psalm 62:9 declares that "men of low degree are only vanity, and men of rank are a lie; ... they are altogether lighter than breath" Men's physical needs are "daily bread," (food and shelter for each day, Mt.6: 11; 1 Tim. 6:8). Older Christian saints knew well that the Holy Spirit through Scripture teaches, not the need for self-esteem but rather for self-denial. Jesus Christ told His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mt.16:24). ~ take up our cross means to put our self to death. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:15; "He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." Romans 14:7,8 states that "Not one of us lives far himself, and not one of us dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lard, or if we die, we die for the Lard; therefare whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." Our self-evaluation is not too low but too high, and only God judges us correctly (Prov. 16:2; 21:2; I Cor.4:4, etc.) We must come to God with a broken contrite spirit, praying to be cleansed and restared (Ps.51:5-12, 17), Finally, the selfist idea of God as dependent upon us for anything and bound to do our will if we only use the right techniques ('imaging," "positive confession," "visualizing" etc.) is altogether unbiblical and un-Christian. We must pray with Christ (in Gethsemane): "Nat my will but Thine be done" (Mt. 26:39,42). (*)To sum up, both modern worldly psychologies and counseling as well as the false gospel of selfism in Christian circles are unbiblical. They misread man's character as created in God's image but fallen and sinful, and his need, mortification of self and restoration in Christ.(*)
1. What is "Transpersonal Psychology"'?
2. Name some nations in the psychology of Sigmund Freud.
3. Name some techniques at B.F. Skinner; some notions of Carl Rogers.
4. Why is selfism unbiblical? List at least 10 Scripture passages.
For Further Reading;
Jay E. Adams, The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Selflove, Self-image. Eugene, OP: Harvest House Publications, 1986.
Martin and Deidre Bobgan, Psychoheresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity. Santa Barbara, CA Eastgate Publishers, 1987.
David Hunt and T. A. McMahon. The Seduction of Christianity. Eugene, OP: Harvest House Publishers. 1985. Pousas J. Pushdoony, Freud. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Petormed Publishing Co., 1965.1979.
Paul C. Vitz. Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship. Grand Rapids. Ml: William B. Eerdrnans Publishing Co., 1977.
Psychology. Counseling and Selfism
Genesis 1:27; Colossians 2:10; Matthew 16:21-25; Romans 6:11.
A. Psychology I
Positive Thinking school Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller etc.
2. "Fourth Force" or "Transpersonal Psychology"
a. closely related to New Age thought (Lesson 4)
b. turns to "paranormal" or occult
3. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
a. man's "primitive past" key to his guilt feelings
b. Lamarckian evolutionist and anti-Christian
c. man can only accept his "maladjustment," not overcome it
d. society. espec. parents. responsible tar social ottenses
4. B. F. Skinner (b. 1904)
a. father of Behaviorism; evolutionist-determinist
b. man a machine predetermined by heredity plus environment. plus "operant conditioning"
c. conducive to totalitarian state
5. Carl Rogers (b.1902)
a. "non-directive." "non-judgmental" counseling
b. man malleable. naturally good; no concept of sin
c. radical indMdualism
d. complete moral relah'vtsm
1. temptation is to "help ourselves" Gen.3:7
a. God Himself must and only can really help -Gen.3:21.Jn.1:29
b. remember Creator-creature distinction John 5:30; Col.2:10
c. we desperately need Him though claiming otherwise -Rev.3:1 7
d. God and His Word are standard for counseling Is.8:20
2. Scripture stands above worldly counseling ls.8:20
a. Freud. Skinner. Rogers may have bits and pieces of truth. but we must test I Thess.5:21
b. man's greatest need is new life in Christ -Rom6:4-11.23;7:4
c. the Church/Christians charged with and able to counsel each other (Rom.15:14; I Cor.1:5; I Cor.2:12:15)
1. self as center of world common to all unbiblical thought (See Lesson 1)
2. Robert Schuller and "theology of self-esteem"
a. but we must first seek kingdom of God & His righteousness -Matthew 6:33; priority of self and its needs pagan -Mt 6:32
b. self without Christ abhorrent Job 42:6; Ps.62:9
c. only physical "needs" are daily food & shelter-Mt.6:1 1.1 Tim 6:8
d. self to be put to death for new life in Chrisi Mt.16.'24, 2Cor.5'15: Rom.14:7,8
e. contrition. submission fo God's will a must Prov.16:2;21 :2:1 Cor. 4:4: Ps.51..5.17; Mf.26:39,42