Are Psychotherapies Coherent Science,
or Religious Philosophies?
(See also: Forgiveness, Autism, Disability Purposes, DisabilityResources - Bullying, Personal Counseling, Family Counseling, Suicide Hope)
* Please read the following articles together as a series, in order to fully understand our position on these important issues.
- Are Psychotherapies Coherent Science? (Current article)
The evidence in this article led to my own decision to resign from a seminary doctoral program in psychology and counseling many years ago, even after having made straight A's in the master's degree. The decision was a very difficult one, because of the investments I had made in pursuit of that career and because of the lucrative income I had hoped to enjoy in the future. Yet my conviction grew as I compiled the evidence, until the choice became inevitable.
First of all, please understand that I know many men and women practicing psychotherapy who are genuinely caring people who desire to help others experience abundant life. Many counselees report positive changes in their feelings and behaviors as a result of counseling that is secular or a mixture of secular and "biblical". In addition, I believe that many of these caring counselors do help their counselees to not only feel better, but also to function more effectively in their lives and relationships.
Nevertheless, there are a number of crucial questions that must be answered, regarding "Christian" counseling that offers Scripture for the change and growth of the soul (psyche) and relationships with God and others:
- What is "biblical counseling"?
- Is it biblically appropriate to charge demanded fees for "biblical counseling"
- What are psychotherapies?
- Do they really serve to help people achieve God's "best", goal and purpose? (i.e., the image of Christ's character at the level of motive - Heb 4:12). Or do they merely produce "good" superficial changes (Jer 6-8; Mat 15:19)?
- Is pure, biblical, discipleship counseling (used for 2,000 years), really God's sufficient model for counseling the soul in relationship with God and neighbor?
What did God offer before Freud,
Jung, Maslow, Rogers, Prozac, et. al.?
The term "psychology" from the Greek means, "study of the soul ( , the psyche)". Even though most psychology textbooks describe the field as the study of outward human behavior, the majority of psychology, and virtually all psychotherapies ultimately deal with man's non-physical, inner dimension.
"Of all the scholarly disciplines in existence today, psychology is probably the oldest. Interest in the topic can be traced to the earliest inquiring minds. We have been forever fascinated by our own behavior, and ruminations on human nature and conduct fill many philosophical and theological volumes. As early as the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek scholars were grappling with many of the same problems that concern psychologists today - memory, learning, motivation, perception, dreaming, and irrational behavior." [Emphasis added] (1)
Why is the term "coherent" relevant to psychotherapy and science?
The use of the terms "coherent" and "coherence" in the fields of logic, philosophy, as well as the physical sciences, show that this is the defining issue for evaluating the scientific nature of any field of endeavor.
Jesus said we would know them by their fruits (Mat 7:1). He was speaking of spiritual fruit, but His analogy of the physical tree shows that the principle applies to all realms. We can know if a person's claims about a particular subject are true if the claims bear fruit consistent with what is expected in that subject area. So, we need to know what the fruit of coherence should look like in order to inspect its presence in the field of psychotherapy.
Whether it be the field of logic, philosophy, or science, the concept of "coherence" is primarily used to convey the degree to which a system of knowledge is unified (carrying focused, parallel agreement) in its proclamations.(2) As physicists use it to describe laser light where the vast majority of electromagnetic rays are heading in the same direction, similarly logicians and philosophers of science evaluate endeavors claiming to be "scientific" according to the degree to which they are unified in their conclusions and recommendations. No arena of science is perfectly coherent. In fact, they vary in coherence primarily due to the degree to which they are able to apply the basic criteria of experimental science (and/or) the laws of logic.
Neurology and medical research are relatively coherent sciences, which are able to experimentally discover and validate some facts about the physical realm of the human body. Yet even neuropsychology and biopsychiatry are sciences in their infancy and understand very few "facts" about the hundreds of neurotransmitters in the CNS (Central Nervous System). So without valid scientific proof, many psychiatrists are increasingly trying to convince the public that a large percentage of behavioral and emotional problems are caused / forced by biochemical imbalances.
Scripture, in contrast, says that our character and how we respond in relationships depend on who is Lord over our soul (Gen 2; Rom 6; Joh 15; Gal 5). This Biblical responsibility is not determined, or limited by the function of our CNS. The brain, like an organic super computer, is operated by your spirit. This truth is even accepted by some leading men of science including, Sir John Eccles (Nobel Prize-winning neurophysiologist). So a neurologic malfunction can hinder the reception, processing, and transmission of information in and through your brain, but it cannot force someone to be unChrist-like in character. For more specifics, please also see the article on our website ("Medicine and Counseling: Can Biological Problems Stop the Fullness of the Holy Spirit and His Fruit"), which directly addresses this controversial yet vital issue.
THE EVIDENCE: Please verify it for yourself.
Are Psychotherapies Coherent Science
Like Physics & Medicine?
.............The Evidence Says No............
The following quotes are from
Non-Christians unless otherwise noted:
The AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION appointed Dr. Sigmund Koch to direct a study focusing on this question. It was subsidized by the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, and involved 80 eminent scholars. Dr. Koch concludes:
"I think it by this time utterly and finally clear that psychology cannot be a coherent science." [Emphasis added] (3)
Dr. Koch further illustrates in another publication this widespread deception about the pseudo-scientific superiority of psychotherapy.
"The hope of a psychological science became indistinguishable from the fact of psychological science. The entire subsequent history of psychology can be seen as the ritualistic endeavor to emulate the forms of science in order to sustain the delusion that it already is a science." (4)
Dr. Robyn Dawes, Prof. at Carnegie-Mellon Univ. (1990 winner of the APA William James Award, says:
"We also know that the credentials and experience of the psychotherapists are unrelated to patient outcomes, based on well over 500 scientific studies of psychotherapy. . . . (p.38)." "Psychotherapy has often been categorized a medical procedure, but as we have seen, it lacks the scientific grounding that characterizes modern medicine (p. 133)". (5)
Dr. Thomas Szasz, author of over 400 articles, 19 books, has written many works addressing the legal and pseudo-scientific problems with the field of psychology including Psychiatric Slavery, also The Myth of Mental Illness, and its sequel, The Myth of Psychotherapy.
". . . . psychotherapy . . . consists simply of talking and listening. Since this conversation, regardless of how pretentiously we name it, concerns the question of how people should live, it is axiomatic that psychotherapy is a ministerial rather than a medical enterprise." (p. vii, The Myth of Psychotherapy, 1988, Syracuse Univ. Press)
Psychiatrist-lawyer, Robitscher, M.D., in THE POWER OF PSYCHIATRY, p. 8,
"His advice is followed because he is a psychiatrist, even though the scientific validity of his advice and recommendations has never been firmly established."
(and on p. 183 he says:)
"The infuriating quality of psychiatrists is . . . their insistence that they are scientific and correct and that their detractors, therefore, must be wrong."
What about psychology's statistical studies and empirical experiments.
I appreciate the desire of some Christian psychologists to develop and contribute to a genuinely Christian, Biblical psyche -ology. They are not so much involved in the field of psychotherapy, but rather seek to understand the psychodynamics for example of perception, Down's Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Autism, the provocative influence of abuse on subsequent generations, etc.. Here, the differences found among Christian counselors (integrationists vs. non-integrationists) are due in part because of our "natural" human inability to resolve divine antinomies (1 Cor 13 - we only know in part). Yet I believe these debates are rightly focused on the most significant issue in the field of Christian counseling today, epistemology: i.e., how we know what we know in any particular field of study. And remember, that the degree of coherence (the fruit) seen in any field, reveals the validity and trustworthiness (the health) of the source of knowledge (epistemology) at the root of that field.
Classically there are four recognized sources of knowledge (logical reason, empirical experimentation, subjective intuition, and finally external authority). The first three sources are subject to the sinful distortions of the human heart (noetic effects of sin). But historically Christians have viewed the Bible as an inerrant source of authoritative knowledge in all that it proclaims. Of course our interpretations of the Bible are fallible and subject to noetic effects. This is one of the reasons why we need iron sharpening dialogue in the church.
Additionally, orthodox Christianity has been an integral part of the formation and the effective use of the scientific method for discovering facts not mentioned in the Bible about the physical world. So, when Christian counselors today say that psychology is a science (a source of trustworthy knowledge) offering facts about the soul that should be integrated with the Bible, a number of vital issues must be examined:
- the interface between physical variables vs. immaterial,
- the question of man's ability to discover "facts" about unseen realities
from statistical evaluation of effects,
(i.e., to distinguish between cause, influence, & effect)
- the limitations of the empirical, experimental method to reach beyond mere descriptive value and achieve real diagnostic and prescriptive value regarding the etiologies of the heart/soul through the efforts of social sciences.
The Bible is comprehensive not exhaustive, even about the realm of the human soul. So it's a reasonable question to ask: "Can psychological research really discover and prove extra-biblical facts about the nephesh/psyche and its relationships with other souls?". Is it a trustworthy coherent source of knowledge?
As an ex-zookeeper and ethologist (animal behaviorist), I do believe that some statistical evaluations of behavior can be helpful to a small degree in a descriptive manner (6). Yet stats are notoriously subject to the bias of every statistician, and therefore always suspect. I remember well, but not fondly, my studies in statistics and the evaluation of psychosocial experimental design while in graduate school at LSU. Distaste for math and statistics limited my ongoing pursuit of those types of courses, but they did clearly reveal that human behavioral studies are even more limited and suspect. The convoluted complexities and self-deceptive (noetic) nature of the human heart make human studies much more unreliable than animal studies (Gen 6:5; 1 Sam 16:7; Psa 139:23-24; Jer 17:9; Mat 15:19; Heb 4:12). And efforts to extrapolate from animal studies to human behavior and motivation are always questionable.
Even direct studies on humans can only produce limited conclusions. For example, psychologists' and sociologists' have statistically determined that adults who were abused as children are more likely to abuse their own children. Remember, that such a conclusion merely tells us "what" occurs, not "why". And this kind of study is merely mathematics, not experimental science. Can research really determine the cause of child abuse and its perpetuation into subsequent generations? No. Statistical studies merely reveal the superficial, provocative effects of abuse on the natural, sin patterns of those who continue to walk in the flesh. In this usage, what they mean by the term "cause" would more accurately be described as "influence" or "temptation". The Biblical fact is that an individual's sinful heart motive of self-worship (Mat 15:19; Gal 5:16-25) is the root cause if he perpetuates the pattern of abuse he learned as a child from his parents. His parents behavior can merely tempt him to imitate, but can not force it. Individuals are responsible (Eze 18:20).
What about "experimental studies"?
Are they more or less reliable than "statistical surveys"? While evidence indicates that rigidly controlled (double-blind, etc.) experimental studies can provide a superficial level of descriptive conclusions, such "studies" cannot definitively determine the root etiology that originates in the heart (Mat 15:19) - motivations, fear, trust, bitterness, etc.. All they can do is determine a correlation between external events and external behaviors, not the inner man's heart/soul.
Beyond descriptive observations, diagnostic and prescriptive conclusions derived from psychosocial studies and experiments must be viewed with an even more cautious eye. For example, researchers have studied (mostly trial and error, rather than strict experimentation) those with Downs-Syndrome and Autism, and determined more effective methods of teaching them various skills and abilities. Even in general education, secular studies have determined that teaching language through phonics is more effective than "whole-language" methods. So a class of kids that continue to receive poor reading scores could be diagnosed as suffering from the effects of whole-language and then given a prescription for phonics. But when it comes to matters that relate to the students' relationships with God and other people, Scripture alone is sufficient and efficiently effective. The focus of Jesus' "truth" that makes us free (John 8:31f) is on how to love God and our neighbor for God's glory. These dimensions comprise 99-100% of what counseling psychology addresses.
So how limited are the social sciences in "scientifically" determining diagnostic and prescriptive "facts".
In graduate school at LSU it was interesting to listen to the professors and students struggle to formulate convoluted explanations to support their claim that psychotherapies were "scientific" treatments equivalent to medical treatments. They meant well and really seemed to care about the people coming to them for counsel, but all the sincerity in the world cannot make
2 + 2 = 5.
A summation of the various definitions and descriptions of science, relative to the issues of epistemology and falsifiability can be stated as follows:
To the degree that a "scientific" study involves the following three abilities in the present, to that degree it is a coherent science and its conclusions more likely to be valid:
1. Experimentally manipulate variables
(i.e., substance: in the form of matter or energy).
2. Observe the experiment along with its results.
(i.e., see with eyes or instrumentation)
3. Repeat the experiment and achieve consistent results, which either verify or falsify the original hypothesis.
For example, medical researchers have determined that a form of diabetes is caused by a malfunction of the pancreas, resulting in a lack of insulin and thus an imbalance of blood sugar along with numerous other insidious consequences. These facts have been determined through studies involving a high degree of all three science criteria above.
In contrast, quantum mechanical theorists (and on the other end of the physics community, cosmologists studying relativity) are searching for a unified field theory to explain the systemic interrelationships among all things. "String Theory" is now one of their most popular guesses. But these theories are not coherent sciences, because they involve a very low degree of the above three criteria. They attempt to discover facts about the nature of both subatomic and macro forces that control God's space-time continuum. Due to human and instrument limitations their theories are necessarily composed of very little data plus many, many mutually dependent assumptions. This is why their theories continue to change and be replaced by new ones as instrumentation improves and the data accumulates. John Horgan, author of, The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age, along with many other recent authors who critique modern theoretical physics provide all of us a much needed "caution sign" regarding the truthworthiness of such "scientific" endeavors. These inspectors have shown that the fruit of coherence is often rotten in these new realms of pseudoscience.
(See the web resources list:)
In this example, physics and chemistry that were once seen as the bedrock of "hard" science with very coherent (parallel) conclusions and recommendations, are becoming less coherent as they try to make claims about issues that are beyond the application of experimental science. In the past five
years, I've tried to follow this trend by reading scores of books and articles on theoretical physics and cosmology. It is becoming increasingly obvious that when professionals in any field of study leave the primary source of trustworthy knowledge for that field and instead trust in their own personal, subjective assumptions (corruption), the result is not increasing coherence, but rather compromise, confusion, conflict, and ultimately chaos. In the example of physical scientists, so many of them are leaping beyond the relatively trustworthy epistemology of rational, empirical experimentation. The result is that their theories are unstable, change constantly, and tend toward a new age, philosophical worldview (cosmology).
In an analogous way, "psychologists" are trying to make diagnostic and prescriptive assumptions about the soul (psyche), without any benefit of either:
1. Experimental science
(because it cannot definitively conclude anything about the heart idols - that is etiologies of soul problems)
2. Direct, divine revelation
(because they reject Scripture's claim to be the only knowledge base that can provide coherence in the study of the soul).
Psychosocial "sciences", theorize about the intangible, immaterial variables involved in our vertical and horizontal relationships - between God and man, as well as man to man. They can only observe external behavior (words, actions, and physiological responses). They cannot put the mind, will, and emotions in a test tube or under an electron microscope to experimentally test hypotheses. The immaterial realm of the soul, the psyche, is beyond the full reach of experimental science. That is, scientists trying to study the soul and its relationships are limited to a very low ability to apply the three criteria of science listed above. So their conclusions involve a small amount of objective data about outward behavior, from which they then must make numerous assumptions about the most important hidden variables such as motivation, memory, thought, love, fear, bitterness, faith, worship, etc..
This is why APA conferences are so incoherent, like the debates in the Areopagus of Greece (Acts 17), rather than a medical convention of surgeons. Without a trustworthy base of knowledge from which the whole group can depend, the result is a confusing circus of opinions and assumptions (guesses) about the reality of our inner being and our relationships with God and others. They make little to no coherent sense.
What's of even greater concern is that as "theologians" and "counselors" leave or add to the sufficient knowledge base of God's inerrant Scripture the result is the fruit of low coherence among their various theologies. The world then sees a "church" that is a mass of confusion and conflict. Even "evangelical" theologians are leaping beyond the Bible (1 Cor 4:6), and trusting in the first three categories of epistemology (human reason, empiricism, subjectivism - Prov 3:5-8). It should not be surprising then that the resulting philosophical conclusions are similar to those of the theoretical physicists who are seeking a unified theory of everything. Both are falling more and more in line with the ancient lies now found in the new age movement. When man turns away from God's Word for the knowledge of good and evil, Lucifer (the angel of light), is eager and ready to help man refocus the confusion into a pseudo coherent enlightenment.
So if the study of the soul is beyond experimental "science", how can we know (epistemologically) anything true and practical about the hidden realm of the soul and its heart to heart relationships with other souls?
Hebrews 11:1 tells us how.
"Faith is thesubstance of things hoped for [but not experimentally controllable], the evidence of things not seen [not scientifically observable]"
The answer is rational faith (submissive trust - not mere intellectual, demonic belief, Jam 2:19) in the revealed truths of God's Word, which are backed up by a mountain of logical-presuppositional, objective, and subjective evidences that demonstrate its trustworthiness (Isa 46:9-10). General revelation (common grace) does not reveal to us the hidden truths of the inner man. Man is totally dependent upon direct revelation from the Creator of the soul, in order to understand God's purpose, soul dynamics, relational problems, and God's Way to overcome the problems and accomplish His ultimate goal, soli deo gloria. The Holy Scripture alone is our sufficient epistemology for the counseling, relational needs and obligations of the soul as it stands before the Holy King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
(God's Way Home - The Way of His Son - Faithful Hypotasso).
If Psychotherapies are Not Science, Then What are They?
The following quotes are from Non-Christians unless otherwise noted:
Dr. Thomas Szasz, author of over 400 articles, 19 books, has written many works addressing the legal and pseudo-scientific problems with the field of psychology including Psychiatric Slavery, also The Myth of Mental Illness, and its sequel, The Myth of Psychotherapy.
"In psychotherapy the situation is altogether different from that obtaining in regular medical therapy. Psychotherapy, as I have shown, is religion . . . .
The result of psychotherapy can thus only be that the subject is, or is not, converted or persuaded to feel, think, or act differently than has been his habit."
(p. 190, The Myth of Psychotherapy, 1988, Syracuse Univ. Press)
Dr. William Kilpatrik, associate professor of educational psychology at Boston College, with degrees from Harvard and Purdue provides a fascinating suggestion to help answer the first question:
"It is true that popular psychology shares much in common with Eastern religion: in fact, a merger is well under way. But if you're talking about Christianity, it is much truer to say that psychology and religion are competing faiths. If you seriously hold to one set of values, you will logically have to reject the other." (Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern Psychology, 1983, p. 14)
Dr. Karl Popper, considered by many to be the greatest 20th century philosopher of science also speaks to this question in "SCIENTIFIC THEORY AND FALSIFIABILITY", PERSPECTIVES IN PHILOSOPHY, Beck ed. 1975, p. 343. After examining various theories of psychotherapy, Dr. Popper says: "though posing as sciences, (they) had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science...."
Dr. Robyn Dawes, Prof. at Carnegie-Mellon Univ. (1990 winner of the APA William James Award, says in his 1994 book (HOUSE OF CARDS: PSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY BUILT ON MYTH):
"Professionals in psychology and psychotherapy clearly benefit from a New Age psychology - it brings them clients. Unfortunately, they in turn contribute to and reinforce that psychology. . . . . the professionals' ‘view' has become highly compatible with the new Age view. In particular, that very egoism . . . has come to be viewed as a necessary component of ‘mental health.' . . . they are highly influenced by cultural beliefs and fads: currently, the obsession with ‘me.' . . . . in particular, a view that feelings and self-esteem ‘cause' certain problems, in the absence of evidence." (p. 250)
Paul Vitz, Ph.D., (professed Christian), associate professor of psychology at NY University and author of PSYCHOLOGY AS RELIGION: THE CULT OF SELF-WORSHIP, says:
"In university psychology departments, hundreds of thousands of students every year still take courses in which the books and critical analyses cited above are almost never, if ever mentioned. Far from being concerned with scholarly and intellectual debate, our psychology departments and their courses focus on supporting the profession, keeping student enrollment up and faculty morale high.
". . . .More specifically, contemporary psychology is a form of secular humanism based on the rejection of god and the worship of the self." (p. xii)
The hundreds of categorized, mutually contradictory psychotherapies are philosophies of religion, not empirical science as chemistry, physics, and neurology. They are in essence theologies. In fact, they are systems of religious speculation, in competition with the Word of God.
In addition, the field of psychotherapy is now a multi-billion dollar a year industry. And remember, that money powerfully tempts marketing companies, hospitals, professionals, pastors, people, etc., to perceive the field of psychotherapy to be more than it really is. Vested interest is a powerful motivator (James 1:13-15; 1 John 2:15-17).
Tana Dineen, Ph.D., p. 104, Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People. Robert Davies Publishing, 1998. Dr. Dineen is the former treatment director of a large psychiatric hospital in Canada, and a former psychotherapist. In response to the growing evidence, she resigned from her psychotherapeutic practice in order to research and write this comprehensive expose of the mega-business of psychotherapy.]
"The growth of psychology as an industry is conveniently ignored or over-looked in most records of the history of psychology. . . . . a parallel history exists involving deceptions to mislead consumers, economic associations to advance the profession, and biased attention to whatever pays."
For similar reasons, I resigned from a doctoral program in psychology and counseling at an evangelical seminary. The following summarizes the Christ-centered, biblically derived counsel I now offer - for FREE. (My family lives by faith through donations, not demanded fees - Mat 10:8. See our article: "Should Christians Counselors Charge Fees?").
So what is God's Biblical, Discipleship Counseling that will L.E.A.D. to restoration and mature relationships in Christ?
For a more complete examination of God's systemic Body design and functional relationships for God's people, the church, see:
God's sufficient provision is "Christ in you the hope of glory" - through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit - not a religious program (Colossians 1:27-2:10). Unfortunately, "sufficiency", like the term "inerrancy", has become the catch-word of modern evangelical Christianity. The reason that this is so unfortunate is because many are using the term in order to be accepted, while not truly understanding or practicing the biblical doctrine it describes.
Remember, God's authority (Scripture) overrules man's majority. Our Christian faith is built upon foundational doctrines, derived from systematic exegesis of Scripture. Some doctrines, like sin, salvation, and adultery are explicitly set forth in the Bible. Others, like the Trinity and inerrancy are more implicit, yet equally as important. This is the case with the doctrine of the sufficiency of Christ's provision for counseling problems of the soul (Gk. = psyche). By sufficiency, we mean that Christ's Cross, Spirit, Word, and Church Body are enough to transform any person or relationship into the image and character of Christ (the fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-25). Thus the Church does not need the psychotherapeutic theories and speculations of the world (Colossians 2:8-10).
Each doctrine revealed by God in His Word must be understood and formulated by systematically studying the passages that address it. And, every specific doctrine is centered around core passages that speak most directly and clearly about that subject. Then, peripheral passages, of lesser clarity, must be examined. Finally, the whole effort should be to draw God's principles out of Scripture, until they are consistent with all passages of His Word.
I know of no integrationists (Christian counselors, pastors, or theologians) who have defended their rejection of "sufficiency" with a systematic analysis of Scripture. In contrast, many who accept the doctrine of Christ's sufficiency for counseling the soul have supported their belief by extensive biblical evidence. We encourage you to carefully and prayerfully search the exegetical evidence, which demonstrates Christ's sufficiency for all non-organic mental, emotional, behavioral and relational counseling problems.
MANY COUNSELING MODELS,
BUT ONLY THREE CATEGORIES:
1. NON-CHRISTIAN: These models are derived from the theoretical philosophies of the non-Christian world system. Currently there are hundreds, each in conflict with one another.
2. CHRISTIAN ECLECTIC INTEGRATION: These models are derived from a mixture of biblical principles and the theoretical philosophies of the non-Christian world system. Some integrationist, Christian counselors call their method, "Spoiling the Egyptians" (see comments below).
3. BIBLICAL: These models are solely derived from inductive and systematic exegesis of Scripture, in the prayerful light of iron sharpening with other regenerate students of the Word.
(This iron sharpening especially includes the commentaries and writings of believers from the past such as Baxter, Watson, Henry, Edwards, Newton, et. al.).
What happens when counselors try to mix secular assumptions with Scriptural truths?
To integrate bits of apparent "truth" from non-Christian psychological theories is a mistake (Proverbs 14:12). Like "good" King Asa, integrationists are trusting in God's Way plus the philosophical high places of man's way for abundant life and relationships.
Eclectic integration introduces the psukikos (1Cor 3-4) distortions, within which such "truths" are encapsulated. Satan is an angel of light offering tainted truth, just a little twisted (2 Cor 10-11). That is why Scripture so often warns against the introduction of any non-biblical philosophies for the change and growth of our non-physical being (Jer 6-8). When Israel left Egypt, God told them to take the Egyptians' material goods for physical life, not the Egyptians' philosophical principles for the soul and relationships. Greek philosophers like Epicticus taught principles matching biblical truth. Yet, Paul never encouraged believers to study Greek philosophies in order find and Christianize truths. He only used such knowledge to challenge distortion with pure biblical revelation.
Are there no "truths" at all in secular theories?
Any genuine truth matching Scripture that is found for example in Carl Roger's theories is already presented in the Bible more clearly and more practically applicable. So searching the world over for apparent gems of soul wisdom is not only unnecessary, but insidiously dangerous. Please keep in mind that the Buddhist Damapada contains statements that parallel some Biblical statements almost identically. But to integrate such truths and give credence to the Buddha would be heretical.
We all need to regularly reexamine our understanding of the doctrine of sufficiency, to ensure that we practice its biblical reality. While the Bible does not describe problems with the same terminology as modern society, their cause and God's profoundly practical answers are provided in it. For example, anorexia and bulimia are not delineated in Scripture, but the component struggles of the soul are comprehensively and profoundly addressed without any lack (desires - 1 John 2:16; Rom 7; trust, guilt, pride, bitterness, fear, depression, control, etc.). Jesus has not failed to fulfill His promises for 2,000 years (John 15:1-13). And He doesn't need any help from the world's modern psychological philosophers to improve on His counseling model or its loving presentation.
God's Biblical balance sometimes appears extreme to the psukikos (1 Cor 3:1) & worldly mind. The doctrine of exclusive sufficiency was central to Christ's narrow road leading to abundant & eternal life. It's the road which few follow. Only God has the perfect balance. Therefore, the history of the Church is punctuated by many very difficult, yet necessary dialogues over doctrinal truth. Iron-sharpening dialogue is essential in order to maintain the "Berean principle" found in Acts 17:11. (The Bereans "examined the Scripture daily to see whether these things were true".)
For those who are unfamiliar with the history, theories, and practices of the field of psychology I recommend (with caution) the following resource:
"Psychology" (2 hr Video) - This secular, non-Christian video provides a quick overview of the basic tenets of the major streams of psychological theory. The material is presented through numerous comedy skits, that are both entertaining and informative. It is available by either calling 1-800-VCR-REVU or on the web at www.cerebellum.com
The script is written by Kathleen Ross-Kidder, Ph.D. from George Washington University. It is only $ 20, and covers everything from schools of thought, experimental method, learning and cognition, personality development, and the nervous system. It does not address the newest, rapidly growing branch of "transpersonal" or "spiritual" psychology, but the background it does cover is invaluable for those who have never studied the conflicting theories and methodologies in the field.
1 - A History of Modern Psychology, 3ed., by Duane Schultz. 1981. pp.
2 - According to The Random House College Dictionary, "Coherence is more often applied figuratively, relating to the order and consistency of thought or of statements: the coherence of an argument; the coherence of a report. . . . . Coherent . . . having a natural or due agreement. . . . . consistent; logical . . . ."
3 - Sigmund Koch. Psychology Today, Sept. 1969, p.66.
4 - Sigmund Koch, THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR, Vol. 42, No 4, Autumn 1973, p. 636.
5 - Robyn Dawes, HOUSE OF CARDS: PSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY BUILT ON MYTH, 1994. p. 38, 133.
6 - Animal Minds, Donald R. Griffin. The University of Chicago Press, 1992. pp. vii - x. (Dr. Griffin was a past professor at Harvard and currently an associate of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. This book surveys the field of ethology, referencing not only experimental research but anecdotal studies by respected naturalists as well.)
Margaret A. Hagen, Ph.D., psychology professor at Boston University, Whores of the Court : The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice, Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., author of The Myth of Repressed Memory and Eyewitness Testimony, says: "This sizzling expose by a courageous psychological scientist shines a brilliant light on the incalculable harm done to millions of Americans by the purveyors of psychological pseudoscience who have invaded our courtrooms."
John Horgan, The Undiscovered MIND: How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication, and Explanation. (Free Press, 1999). This new book expands on the questions, critiques, and evidential examinations he began in a couple of the chapters in his acclaimed work, The End of Science. As he turned his award winning investigative skills and expertise on the field of "mind-science", he says he "didn't become any less pessimistic about the current state of mind-science. Quite the contrary (p. 10-11).
Walter A. Brown, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University School of Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine says about The Undiscovered MIND:
"John Horgan has done it again. . . . . Horgan makes complicated lines of research accessible and compelling to the nonprofessional . . . ."
Howard Gardner, Harvard University Graduate School of Education says:
"Freud, Prozac, genes, evolution, smart machines - John Horgan offers a healthy antidote to facile claims that the enigmas of the human mind will be solved - or dissolved - by a single scientific approach."