Christian Psychology – my disclaimer: What you are about to read falls into the “if the shoe fits” category… read at your own risk.
Like biology and physics and chemistry, psychology is a human science. It is the study of the “mind.” Pschological research is mostly done through studies and observations regarding human behavior. I get that.
But psychology is different than other sciences because it deals with the internal workings of people. People are not inanimate laws or facts of the natural world, they are beings with soul, body, and spirit. There is much more that quantifies an individual than biological properties and chemical reactions. And then there’s the effect that sin has had on us as a race… that complicates things a bit more, wouldn’t you say?
So, it won’t surprise you to know that I’ve come to be a bit skeptical of the psychological/psychiatric world – especially as it has crossed-over into the Christian church. Don’t get me wrong… as a Pastor I do counseling. I’ve been trained in many psychological methods and skills. I know that some of the “science” of human behavior as it relates to our biology is indeed true. But I’m still on the leading edge of skeptical…
The main reason? I don’t see very many Christian counselors actually practicing “Christian” counseling (Bible-based counsel). I see them practicing “psychological” counseling, with the name “Christian” tacked on. That may sound harsh, but it’s what I’ve witnessed in 20 years of ministry.
What that amounts to is this: The prescriptions many Christian therapists give, are clearly unbiblical (I heard another account of it just today). Yes, I said clearly unbiblical. I could tell you so many stories. In such cases the therapeutic has triumphed over the theological – and nobody is helped when that happens. In fact, great harm occurs because the very real power of God to truly transform a sinner into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) is relegated to irrelevance.
Look, psychology may have its place, but not if it is used as a cover-up for legitimately sinful behaviors or attitudes that can only be transformed by the power of God’s Spirit. That’s exactly what I’ve seen our culture’s love-affair with the therapeutic do in many cases. Here’s how it looks: I go to a therapist, I get a clinical-sounding label for a troublesome attitude or behavior, and it suddenly seems legitimately outside my control, like something that’s “happened” to me. I subtly give myself permission to be the victim of my biology and past, instead of a child of the King who is called and equipped to be more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
Do your own self-check. Which of the following terms are regularly a part of your vocabulary?
- personal issues
- addictive behaviors
- passive aggressive
The odd numbered points are biblical terms. The evens are based in the therapeutic model. I hear many, many more of the even-numbered phrases in the church nowadays than I do the odds. Have we been desensitized to our real need?
We aren’t dysfunctional people who need a therapist. We are sinners who need a Savior. Psychology is only Christian in so far as it holds out Christ as the cure for the human condition.