About a decade before Jay Adams began his quest to make the Bible the foundation and guide for all counseling, Christian people who were trained in non-Christian psychology began to see that the church was lacking in the proper care of souls. Churches were either not teaching the Word of God because they were liberal, were teaching a different Gospel because they believed that eschatology trumped living in the world we have been given (dispensationalists), or because they simply taught theology and assumed that people would be able to apply it in their lives (fundamentalists and Reformed conservatives). These Christian psychologists were believers in the Gospel of Jesus, but lived their lives in a compartmental way. They believed the Gospel, but thought that they had discovered truth about human behavior in their professional disciplines. It did not bother them that Freud, Jung, Rogers, Skinner, Adler, and the rest were actually not only not Christians, but were active non-Christians. In other words, most, if not all of the seminal thinkers in psychology, were actively repressing the Gospel. They came to their psychological conclusions in order to fight against and provide an alternative to the Gospel.
These Christian psychologists took the principles of non-Christian psychology, baptized them with Biblical terminology, then brought these principles into the church as if they had found truth. Consequently, over time they have led the way to a psychologized church. We call this kind of ministry, Christian Counseling or Integrationist Counseling because it is done by Christians, but using non-Christian psychology—the world’s psychology.
Problems with Psychology
Psychology is not a science, it is applied philosophy – a kind of religion. Even in the field itself, it is called a “soft science”; which is really a euphemism for “not a science” at all. Here are a number of reasons I say this: First, a scientific theory is testable or falsifiable. This means that if a psychologist says your problem is that the serotonin (or dopamine) in your brain is low, it must be testable or verifiable. But we can’t measure serotonin (or dopamine) in the brain until you are dead.
Second, science always considers alternate explanations and if something else can account for an observation, they won’t take a stand on what they think is going on. Psychology assumes virtually everything they diagnose. All they have to go on is reported symptoms and from that description they make authoritative explanations and diagnoses. For example if your child gets bored easily, becomes listless, can’t concentrate, and regularly acts out, he is more than likely to be diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. But there could be a number of other reasons your child behaves this way.
Third, based on their assumptions about humanity and life generally, psychologists make authoritative predictions about what to expect in the future. Science says that unless the prediction is predictable and works out the way it is predicted, it isn’t science. For example, psychologists regularly prescribe medications for what they claim are medical issues without any proof that the problems are actually medical. Plus, they have no idea how, or even if the medication will affect the counselee.
Finally, scientists cooperate with one another to make sure they are all on the same page with regard to what they think are the most accurate explanations of observable occurrences. Of course, this can be very political as shown in recent global warming, homosexual sinfulness, and evolution/creation craziness. In most occasions, however, when a scientist makes a great discovery, all the scientists in the world shift their work to be in accord with the new discovery. In psychology, when someone makes a new discovery nothing in the field changes. This is for at least three reasons: First, the discoveries in psychology are untestable and un-repeatable, They are loose theories and not real discoveries at all. They are simply the psychologists’ best guess. Second, there is nothing governing psychology. There are over 300 different distinctive theories of psychotherapy in the world today. Third, when a psychological idea or theory is proven to be wrong, there is no oversight to remove that incorrect assumption or theory. For example, in the 50’s, Walter Freeman invented the frontal lobotomy. It was shown to be a terrible way to treat people. Not only was there no way to stop it, but electric shock treatment took its place and electric shock is still practiced today. (In fact, I read the other day that the frontal lobotomy is becoming popular again. It is based on the assumption that the brain controls behavior. Therefore, if we can control the brain, we can control behavior.)
A Faith System
As I hope you are noticing, psychology is a faith system. There is no proof for any psychological theories at all. Everything is guesswork, based on self-reported symptom by the counselees. Diagnoses are based on the particular psychologist’s personal preference. Some aspects faith systems have in common are: special private language, a particular understanding about mankind, about life, and about the divine. They have faithful followers, a particular system of worship, they give glory to their particular gods, they are an enemy of opposing gods and systems, and they interpret life through the lens of the system. It is a kind of modern day Baal. Psychology is one of the gods of the world around us. It is a non-Christian system which worships a foreign god; one that is not Jesus Christ.
In the Bible, when the people of God flirted with the pagan culture around them, they were judged for it. In Exodus 32, when Moses was late coming down from the mountain, the people got antsy and created a golden calf. They called it Yahweh and bowed down and worshipped it. I believe that Christians who participate in psychology are participating in Baal worship. I also believe that because our churches have bought into the lie of psychology, they are suffering the judgment of God. This false worship is one of the reasons our churches, and therefore, our country is in such a mess.
As a quick caveat, I believe the church is way behind in her ability to do a good job working with people. Therefore, in some cases, I might send a counselee to a psychiatrist to help stabilize them with the use of medicine. I do this with a lot of trepidation because I believe psychiatrists don’t really know what they are doing. But in some cases what they are doing badly, we are unable to do at all. This is as much a statement about the medical industry as it is a statement about the church.
Biblical counseling, strives to use the Bible as the primary source of truth for all of life, including helping people with their problems in living. The major goal of Biblical counseling is to help people to mature in Christ (Col. 1:28) through having a real and vibrant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This means that rather than beginning with the person and their personal history as the source of their problems, (or some other psychological starting point), we start with the understanding that people are created in the image of God and are responsible to live according to their created significance. We understand that all of our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and behaviors come from our heart (Lk. 6:43-45) and therefore, if we want to change our behavior, we need new hearts. We also assume that we get new hearts as we draw near to God and begin to live by faith in Jesus as Lord. With this as our underlying understanding of human beings, Biblical Counselors work with people to come to Christ through confession of sin and repentance where needed, and to help them recognize their need to trust Christ in every situation of their lives.
We understand that physical, problems, and familial problems exist, but that they are no excuse for sin. Yes, these things influence temptation, including changing the intensity of the temptation, but Biblical Counselors seek to name the behavior for what it is – what the Bible calls it. Along with this identification, Biblical Counselors then strive to solve relational problems in the manner the Bible prescribes. People are encouraged to identify themselves as Christians rather than the various syndromes, addictions, disorders, and diseases thrown about by the non-Christian world. In addition, because we strive to present every man mature to Christ, we counsel non-Christians in the same way we counsel Christians. Non-Christians have no power to obey the commands of God. They cannot obey the commands. But, we know that not being able to obey brings people to Christ and obedience brings freedom.
The Basis for Biblical Counseling
Everything is related to religion, or faith, and so all people everywhere live according to the desires of the gods they serve. Usually, this involves power and fear. The powerful rule the fearful. When Moses came to ancient Egypt, he presented a much different God. Moses served a God who cared about a particular people, who would have a personal and close relationship with them based on worship, blessing, love, grace and mercy. This new God revealed himself to his people as a God who was all powerful, just, and holy. He also made provision for his people, so that even though they were not just and holy, he made it possible for them to come into his presence. The God the Jews served was a God who wanted to love instead of dominate. But the Jews rejected God’s advances and killed God’s prophets and spokesmen. When God sent his son to try to woo them back for the final time, they killed him too and thus God rejected them and turned to a people who were not his people—the rest of humanity.
Christianity is about this Son who came to bring salvation (a living, lasting, vibrant, and personal relationship with God) to mankind. One of the many misunderstandings of our age is that Christianity is about being saved and going to heaven when you die. It is that, but in many ways, not that at all. Christianity is about living in the presence of God; living in a friendly, worshipful, meaningful, winsome, and delightful way with the Creator of the universe. This relationship begins by surrendering our perceived freedom—this freedom is actually rebellion— to God in the name of Jesus. And this relationship continues and grows as we walk and run with him through the rest of our lives.
The need for Biblical Counseling comes into play when people forget that they are in relationship with God and let the cares of life turn them from worship to sin. The cares of life, other sinful people, circumstances of nature, problems with our bodies, etc. come from God as testings. Are truly relying on him for our joy and peace, or will we turn aside to indulge ourselves in the worship of other gods when life gets tough? Looking at in another way, these things come to us as temptations that try to get us to leave the comfort and security of the presence of God. Leaving is sin, staying is worship.
The Basis for Biblical Counseling, then, comes from the fact that everything in life is based on faith and worship. Who are people worshiping, serving, bowing down to, afraid of, trying to impress, etc.? If it isn’t God and his Son Jesus Christ, it is sin. Biblical counseling helps sort these things out and point people back to serving, rejoicing in, and loving Jesus the Savior.