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Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

Thomas

If you have questions about whether there are negative implications of uniting psychology with the Bible, you will want to read this journal article by Dr. Robert L. Thomas.  He is a very prolific Bible scholar in his own right.

In this article, Dr. Thomas will address general revelation and its implications on hermeneutics.  Consequently in this context, one’s understanding of general revelation will affect one’s hermeneutic and one’s hermeneutic will affect one in pastoral counseling positively or negatively.

Just to wet your appetite, here is Dr. Robert L. Thomas’ summary on general revelation:

General revelation’s noticeable impact on biblical interpretation has resulted from applying a broader definition of general revelation than is justifiable.  Reasons why general revelation should not include such matters as science, mathematics, literature, and music are the following.  First, “general” cannot refer to the content of the revelation.  Second, biblical references to general revelation limit it to information about God.  Third, sin distorts human discoveries of the non-Christian world in secular fields.  Fourth, general revelation is readily accessible to all, not just to specialists in certain fields.  Hermeneutics deals with the principles of biblical interpretation.  Unwarranted definitions of general revelation have led to widespread attempts to integrate general with special revelation.  This step is unwarranted because truth exists in varying degrees of certitude, all truth does not possess the same authority, all truth does not fall on receptive ears, and general revelation does not include the fields of secular study.  The emergence of integrative efforts has coincided with a growing tentativeness in biblical hermeneutics because of the influence of secular disciplines on biblical hermeneutics.  Psychology’s promotion of self-love provides a good example of the adverse effects of general revelation and integration on biblical hermeneutics.[1]

To access the journal article, please click on this link: General Revelation.  You could also access the journal article from the TMS website: General Revelation.



[1]Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002), 113.

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Please see part 1 of this series:Choose Biblical Counseling Not Psychology: Part 1

The Doctrine of Man

Before discussing why the doctrine of sin is important, I will first discuss the importance of the doctrine of man.  There are four major reasons why the doctrine of man is important: man is the pinnacle of creation, man’s relation to his Creator, negative implications of the false views of man, and the importance of applying biblical truths of man to contemporary issues.

Man is the Pinnacle of Creation

Man is the high point of God’s creation.  He was the only created being of God that was made in His “image” and “likeness” (Gen. 1:27).  For more information on humans being made in God’s image and likeness, please see this link: Created in God’s Image.

From the creation account, not only was man made in His image and likeness, but man was given authority by God to have dominion over the earth and man was given the authority to give names to all the creatures God created (Genesis 1:26).  No other created entity was given this kind of authority.

If man does not understand this creation account of his authority coming from God, negative implications for society will be generated dramatically.  He does not rule in his own autonomy, but rules under the sovereignty of God.  He must do only what God tells him.  To do the contrary, would be to sin before Him.  Sadly, our nation at this point and moment of time has deviated further and further from God’s rule (Psalm 24:1).

Relation to the Creator

In terms of man’s relation to God, the Bible helps us understand who we are before our Creator.  The Bible alone dictates our relationship before Him.  The Bible is the only standard.  The individual must come to a realization that he is small and God is bigger than His life.  He was created from dust, but God was never created because He is eternal.  And this eternal Creator that reveals Himself in nature (Psalm 19:1-7; Romans 1:18-20), Scripture, and via His very Son, is authoritative; and His revelation does not rest upon any relativistic human opinion or unreliable and tentative sources.[1]   There is nothing more epistemologically authoritative  that can hold stand the test of time, apart from what He has disclosed via His revelation.[2]

If the Bible is not accepted as the only standard, epistemology authoritative or morally ultimate from what God disclosed to humans, then humans will use their own standards to dictate how their relationship should be before their Creator.[3]  That approach is untenable because that means everyone’s standards will be relative.  And if it is relative, no one has a right to say their standard in terms of defining their relationship before their Creator, is better than the standard of another person.  They have no authority to authenticate their own standards.  That is why we need God in order to avoid these relativistic implications.  Because of the inconsistency of man’s standards, man does a disservice not only to God, but also to his fellow man.  But with God’s standard, there is absolute truth and consistency.  Since that is so, it is wise to look to the Bible to determine our relationship before God.  Every minutiae and every fact we come across must be understood in light of Christ (Colossians 1:16).[4]

Negative Implications of the False Views of Man

Studying the doctrine of man is imperative when it comes to refuting false views of man.  If you just take a look at the world, there are countless differing views of man.  For example, Freud sees man as an instinctual animal that has a conflict between the Id, Superego, and Ego.  Adler sees man as being born weak and small and needs to control his or her fate at an early age in order to survive.  Other psychologists like Skinner believes that man’s problem are a result of his environment.  And because of the environment’s influence on man, he says that man may keep practicing the behavior with the proper incentives until the person does not feel guilty anymore.  In other words, repeated behaviors are like allergy shots; and the effects will still be there until you are immune from it.  The differing views I stated earlier concerning man are just examples from hedonists who have their own standards of man outside of God’s words.  But what you could see already is that when you go outside the Bible, man has distorted views of man.  Once, I get into the doctrine of sin, you will see the correct view of man in accordance with Scripture.

Biblical Truths and its Connection to Contemporary Issues

In lieu of all the other three points I mentioned: man being the pinnacle of creation, man’s relation to his Creator; and refutation of false views of man, we should also study the doctrine of man so that as Christians we maybe able to apply biblical truths in regards to modern issues that are facing us today such as: abortion, euthanasia, and other pertinent modern issues facing us.  But before we do that, we need to touch upon the doctrine of sin.

If you study church history, before the Modern and the Enlightenment Era, there was a large consensus that man was born with a depraved nature.  This concept was ushered in with popularity not only by John Calvin, but also by Martin Luther who testified in disgust over his sinfulness.  But when the Enlightenment came into the scene, the traditional view of the sinfulness of man began to lose its effect.  People started to view man in general as being good.

If you study the history carefully, the traditional view of man’s sinfulness probably waned due to the rise of man’s education, technological advancement, science, health, etc.  As you know, the advancement of human knowledge continues to persist today.  But even with man’s advancement, man can not be good because if you take a look at the twentieth century, it shows that humanity witnessed the most bloodshed and evil when compared to any century.  Well, I have said much regarding the background to this discussion.  I will now transition to reasons why the doctrine of sin should be studied.

First reason why the doctrine of sin should be studied is due to its link and relation to God.  This truth is important and sobering because before one is regenerated, he or she was enslaved to sin prior to his or her regeneration (Ephesians 1:1-3).

What is sin?  The Westminster Catechism, which is not infallible, but is a biblical statement nonetheless, says this about sin, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”  In other words, to sin is to conform to our sinful ways and to transgress against His ordained laws (Psalm 119:4).  When we sin against a Holy God, we need to exemplify David’s heart when he sinned.  He understood the reality of sin and he understood that sin was an attack against God (Psalm 51:4).

The second reason why I study the doctrine of sin is because sin directly affects who we are as humans.  Sin is a destructive force that not only brings about death, but it affects our thoughts, which influences our deeds.  If one understands the doctrine of sin well, I believe that the Christian will be able to explain the problem of evil against an opponent of the Gospel; and one will be better prepared to counsel one who has just lost a loved one.

The problem of sin is inseparably linked to the problem of evil.  How one responds to a unbeliever or a love one in Christ will be dictated on how one understands the problem of evil.  People need to understand that sin was brought into this world by Adam who rebelled against God when God prohibited him (Gen. 2:16-17).  Man is to be blamed for the sin that was brought into this world.  In the beginning, God gave our parents volition and free will before the Fall.  In his original state, he had the ability to choose between good and evil.  Since then, he is enslaved to sin; and is in desperate need of the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to synergistically open his eyes to the truth.

Man ultimately chose evil and he paid the price.  For time’s sake, I cannot devote an entire paper regarding the problem of evil.  Basically, my intention was to give a snapshot of how the doctrine of sin is inseparably linked to helping one explaining the problem of evil.

Although sin is a horrendous enemy, it is also glorious.  It is glorious in the sense that it has some direct bearing to the doctrine of salvation.  This may be ironic to you, but it brings much glory to God.  For example, take a look at Acts 2:23.  In Peter’s sermon, he says, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”  God predetermined Jesus’ death before the foundation of the world.  Why am I bringing up this verse?  Well,  what happened to Jesus was sinful and evil, but at the same token, His bloody sacrifice brought salvation!  So yes, the evil event that happened to Jesus was sinful (of course God did not sin by offering His Son), but it was a spectacular type of sin that brought hope to humanity.

Another major reason why I study the doctrine of sin is because it affects how I do ministry.  When I see humans sin before God and others—by the grace of God, it causes me to have patience with sinners because the goal is to bring reconciliation to them.  Only the transcendent Word of God can free man from his enslavement to sin, not psychology.

Conclusion

As many you know, this year has been a year of carnage.  We have witnessed the Sandy Hook shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing.  Whenever carnage is done in this soil, the media will often bring in psychologists or psychiatrists to explain why carnage exists in our world.  They will give you their explanation.  But it is superficial.  They will avoid human responsibility and will say that the person’s act was due to mental illness.  The Bible is clear about those behaviors.  For example, Matthew 15:19 says “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”[5]


[1]Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1998), 201.

[2]Ibid., 202.

[3]Ibid., 202.

[4]Ibid., 202.

[5]All Scripture is quoted from the New American Standard Bible: Update.

 

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Counseling

Introduction 

 For the purpose of this post, I will first be covering the reasons why you should choose biblical counseling rather than psychology.  There are many reasons why you should choose biblical counseling rather than psychology. For the purpose of this post, I will not be covering all the reasons you can account for due to time limitations.  But one of the reasons—which I think is relevant to the times we are living in, is the Bible’s coherent perspective of the nature of man.  Its coherent perspective on the nature of man also corresponds to reality.  Since we believe there is only one God, the Bible will be the only source that has the sovereign authority to determine man’s nature. Before I do that I would like to first cover a few introductory talking points that I think would provide a foundation concerning the dangers of the use of psychology in spiritual matters.  The following talking points are: theology and psychology; is psychology in the Bible?psychology defined and described, biblical counseling in the Word of God, and the hermeneutical implications.[1]

God’s Word and Psychology

Nowhere has the effects of psychology been more hostile than in the area of “pastoral counseling.”[2]  Psychologists, psychiatrists, and integrationists will try to inject psychotherapy into Christianity, which undermines the sufficiency of Scripture.[3]  Some of the training that they try to inject into Christianity comes from the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, the analytical psychology of Carl Jung, the existential psychology of Søren Kierkegaard, and the liberal theologian named G.T. Ladd, who became a psychologist.[4]  Those are just  few key people mentioned.  There are many more.

Psychologists intrude pastoral counseling by substituting psychological hermeneutic for evangelical hermeneutics.  You would expect unbelievers in trying to intrude biblical counseling with psychology, but to have Christians replace evangelical hermeneutics with integration hermeneutics is very problematic.  Their unbiblical hermeneutics is nothing more than psychology’s promotion of a hedonistic love.  Hence, they subjugate Scripture and undermine the sufficiency of Scripture.[5]

Is Psychology in the Bible?

Here is the straightforward answer: psychology is not in the Bible.  In order to qualify that, let me explain to you why psychology is not a biblical extraction that came from the Bible.  Some will contend by saying that the word psychology comes out of the transliterated Greek original that is based upon two Greek compound words: ψυχή/psychē (soul, mind) and λόγος/logos (word, law).[6]  Even though there have been endless attempts in trying to support the claim that the word psychology is rooted in Scripture – there are no etymological ties.[7]

These proponents of psychology who try to read modern ideas of psychology into the biblical terms is no different than one who equate the word dynamite with the New Testament word δύναμις (dunamis); and dooing that is an example of seeing the ancient timeless truths in light of the modern rather than seeing the present in light of the ancient timeless truths.  Here is what D.A. Carson has to say in regards to this topic:

Our word dynamite is etymologically derived from δύναμις (power, or even miracle).  I do not know how many times I have heard preachers offer some such rendering of Romans 1:16 as this: ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the dynamite of God unto salvation for everyone who believes’—often with a knowing tilt of the head as if something profound or even esoteric has been uttered.  This is not just the old root fallacy revisited.  It is worse: it is an appeal to a kind of reverse etymology, the root fallacy compounded by anachronism.  Did Paul think dynamite when he penned this word?…Dynamite blows things up, tears things down, rips out rock, gouges holes, destroys things.”[8]

Clearly, Apostle Paul did not have the idea of dynamite – a 19th century invention created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.[9]  Therefore, Scripture’s use of the term ψυχή (psyche) does not validate the use of psychotherapy in Christian counseling.[10]  Bringing in modern or contemporary meanings into the text is illogical and fallacious.   It is nothing more than a subjugation of ancient timeless truths under the hand of modern meanings.

Psychology Defined and Described

Psychology is defined as “the science of mind and behavior.”[11]  And this study of the mind and behavior is rooted in a priori claims that stem off from a philosophical system that praises: “behaviorism, humanism, determinism, existentialism, epiphenomenalism (caused by physical phenomena), and utilitarianism.”[12]

Defining psychology is not an easy task because within psychology there are various forms – it is not monolithic.  For example, within this non-unified worldview, it concentrates in these areas: biopsychology, experimental psychology, cognitive psychology, and developmental psychology.[13]

As a footnote, psychology would also lay claim that it can maintain or prove itself to be a strict code of cause-and-effect science.  The problem is that it has not proven itself to be hard science; and moves further and further away by implementing “personality theory, motivation, emotions, human development, sexual orientation, abnormal psychology, social psychology, and psychotherapies.”[14]  Consequently, this leads to an endeavor into the spiritual realm, which belongs to biblical counseling.

Some of the pseudo-science that you see with psychology are its claims in the cause-and-effect realm.  In other words, they believe that the effects such as murder, crime, bad behavior, etc., can be a result of an physical or organic deficiency.  That claim was echoed by psychologists, psychiatrists, and the media regarding the murderer who murdered many in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Another example they would use to lay claim that psychology is a science – due to its contribution in the cause-and-effect realm, would be the case study of Phineas Gage, who was a twenty-five-year-old railroad employee who in 1848, had his skull pierced by a one-inch-diameter metal spike.[15]  Out of this case study, proponents of psychology claim that the damage to his brain caused him to have experience behavior modifications.  For example, he started to become a mean and negative individual.[16]  The reasoning does not hold water because there are people who have experienced damage to their brain, but they were not transformed into a cussing, carousing, or irresponsible person.[17]  We could talk about more case studies, but that is just one example.  Consequently, at the end of the day, there is no direct cause-and-effect between injury and immoral behavior, because people are still accountable for their behavior as Scripture points out (Romans 3:10-19, 23).[18]

Biblical Counseling is in the Word of God

The Bible is sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16).  It is breathed out by God and has the power to change the soul (Psalm 19:7-14).  Also, it is able to penetrate the immaterial part of man (Hebrews 4:12).

In terms of its sufficiency, 2 Timothy 3:16 says,

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

In terms for its power to change the soul the psalmist says in Psalm 19:7-14,

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.  8The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.  9The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.  10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.  11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.  12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.  13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.  14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

And in terms of penetrating the immaterial man (soul/spirit), Hebrews 4:12 says,

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Hermeneutical Implications

In regards to hermeneutical implications, I believe Dr. Thomas’ statement, which is germane to our context, says it best.  Here is what he says,

General revelation’s noticeable impact on biblical interpretation has resulted from applying a broader definition of general revelation than is justifiable.  Reasons why general revelation should not include such matters as science, mathematics, literature, and music are the following.  First, ‘general’ cannot refer to the content of the revelation.  Second, biblical references to general revelation limit it to information about God.  Third, sin distorts human discoveries of the non-Christian world in secular fields.  Fourth, general revelation is readily accessible to all, not just to specialists in certain fields.  Hermeneutics deals with the principles of biblical interpretation.  Unwarranted definitions of general revelation have led to widespread attempts to integrate general with special revelation.  This step is unwarranted because truth exists in varying degrees of certitude, all truth does not possess the same authority, all truth does not fall on receptive ears, and general revelation does not include the fields of secular study.  The emergence of integrative efforts has coincided with a growing tentativeness in biblical hermeneutics because of the influence of secular disciplines on biblical hermeneutics.  Psychology’s promotion of self-love provides a good example of the adverse effects of general revelation and integration on biblical hermeneutics.”[19]

Much can be said and analyzed regarding this excellent description of general revelation and biblical hermeneutics.  Some of the main points that we can learn from this statement is that psychology is not considered general revelation (Psalm 19:1-7; Romans 1:18-20); nor should it act as special revelation (Psalm 19:7-14).  Only the Word of God can convert and change the spiritual man.

At this juncture, we will next move into what the Bible says about man.  Please stay tune for the next installment.  In the next part of this post, we will see that the Bible gives the correct view of man compared to what psychology says about man.


[1]John D. Street et al., Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2003), 204-219.

[2]Ibid., 204.

[3]Ibid., 204.

[4]Ibid., 205.

[5]Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002), 113.

[6]John D. Street et al., Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian, 205.

[7]Ibid.,  205

[8]Ibid., 205-206.

[9]Ibid., 206.

[10]Ibid., 206.

[11]Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[12]John D. Street et al., Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview, 211.

[13]Ibid., 208.

[14]Ibid., 208.

[15]Ibid., 210.

[16]Ibid., 210.

[17]Ibid., 210.

[18]Ibid., 210.

[19]Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old, 113

 

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Below, are a few good links surrounding a biblical worldview of psychology and mental illness.  It is vital that Christians are eqipped in this area.  In light of all the massacres during the last couple of years such as the Virginia Tech shooting and the Newtown shooting, some are trying to substitute mental illness for man’s responsibility concerning the murder of countless people.

  • Voddie Baucham, “Nebuchadnezzar Loses His Mind.”  Disclaimer: With all due respect to what Pastor Baucham stands for concerning the family and the Gospel, there is a bit of a possible disagreement.  As another brother-in-Christ named Mike mentioned concerning the earlier part of this message – it is hard to tell whether Pastor Baucham is stating that Jesus had depression at the Garden of Gethsemane or whether he was pointing out that the people who work in the mental health community would diagnose or see Jesus’ condition as being anxious in Gethsemane, depressed at Lazarus’s tomb; and then being bipolar after He raised him from the dead.  It is hard to tell if Pastor Baucham believed Jesus was depressed, but I will leave that to your discretion.  I sent the church an e-mail requesting clarification.  Until then, I will wait for a response.  But at the end of the day, I identify Jesus’ experience at the garden as suffering and grief, not depression.  Grief and depression are two separate notions.  God permits grief, but depression is a different animal and is associated with anxiety.  Depression would undermine God’s perfection and holiness.  Overall, the message was good and Pastor Baucham does a candor job in explaining the confusion amongst Christians concerning the issue of mental illness.
  • John F. MacArthur, Jr., “The Psychology Epidemic and its Cure.”  In this journal article, Pastor MacArthur discusses many important points.  One of the major concerns has to do with the Christian Church implementing psychology in order to deal with spiritual issues.  Pastor MacArthur says,

The church’s right to counsel from the Bible has been reconfirmed in court rulings of recent times. Yet in many instances the church has surrendered that right and responsibility because of the ‘professionalization’ of the counseling ministry among Christians. This is tragic because the behavioral sciences are not, as is commonly believed, scientific. Neither have they proven effective in changing the human heart. ‘Christian psychology,’ with its claim of a secret knowledge about dealing with people, has made deep inroads into the church, but it is no more than a duplication of its secular counterpart with Scripture references occasionally interspersed. A reliance on Christ, the ‘Wonderful Counsellor,’ and God’s sufficient Word as dispensed by spiritually gifted Christians to one another is the church’s only solution in meeting the spiritual needs of its people.”

  • Dr. Trevor Craigen does a book review of Dr. Ed Bulkley called, “Why Christians Can’s Trust Psychology.”  Dr. Craigen reviews this book that addresses the danger of people pursuing recovering programs such as the twelve-steps programs, self-help books, integrative practices (hybrid and Christian truth and Psychology), etc.  Dr. Craigen gives an in-dept analysis of the book.

“The highly subjective social sciences want to blame anything and everything outside of the foundational biblical truth that man’s heart is sinful. This article is God’s common grace to society that there are some who still recognize the dangerous capability of a sinful heart.” – Pastor Pakingan.

Good thing there is still some sense in the world were people are willing to call it out like it is.  Call it what it is folks! This is what Jesus said about the heart, “”For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matthew 15:19). We cannot circumvent God’s Word that authenticates to us what is right and wrong.

  • Here is a good video that discuss Psychiatrists On Psychiatry.  Interesting and important concepts such as mental illness and chemical imbalance are mentioned and whether there is proof of it existing.  Here is the link, Psychiatrists On Psychiatry.

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This quarter I’m enrolled in a sex and gender class, thinking I would be forcing myself to grow stronger in my studies about the biblical role of men and women.

Instead I find myself studying about evolution, and the support for evolution in the first chapter of the textbook. Listening to lectures covering fossils such as “Java man” and “Lucy”, and watching a full hour or so of a DVD from the History Channel about the 1850′s to present search for the missing link.

I haven’t had a chance to study any of it yet but feel overloaded with more and more things to research and refute. I’ve been writing some paragraphs in my lecture notes on the side and with possible leads for future study. However, I am still trying to catch up to my school work. Hopefully this weekend, I’ll write a bit of what I’ve been thinking about as a post.

This coverage of Evolution has increased my desire to study a biblical view of anthropology and geology but it’ll probably have to wait till after I graduate.

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