Can Psychology Be Christian?

Written on October 12, 2006 - Updated on November 18, 2008

In this article I am going to address some issues which have also been addressed in two articles on my home page (Psychology and The Evangelical Church and Psychology In Prophecy, by T. A. McMahon). I know for a fact that the Lord has already used these articles to deliver some people from psychology, and that is one of the reasons that I choose to keep them on my site in spite of controversy which they have produced. So those of you who are sincerely seeking answers can check out those articles for further information on what I am about to discuss in this article. I will also add some more info about psychology at the end of this article.

Some may be offended by what I have to share here, but that is really not my intention. So, to start out this article I will simply let the Christian psychologists themselves show you what "Christian" psychology is all about....

In a paper that they presented at a professional gathering of their colleagues, two Christian psychologists stated the following:

"....there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues....As yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research or treatment methodology [in psychology] that is distinctly Christian" (J. Sutherland and P. Poelstra, Aspects of Integration, a paper presented to the Western Association for Psychological Studies, Santa Barbara, CA, June 1976).

Even Christian psychologist James Dobson has indicated that "Christian" psychology has humanistic concepts: "Christian psychology is a worthy profession for a young believer to pursue, provided his faith is strong enough to withstand the humanistic concepts to which he will be exposed" (Focus on the Family, December 1988).

I am not trying to pick on James Dobson or anyone else, but this is rather puzzling. Must we risk being exposed to humanistic concepts in order to learn a bit of truth from Christian psychology?

The Bible itself states that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, [pay close attention to this next part] that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

If it is through God's word that we are complete, and thoroughly equipped for every good work, then we obviously don't need to look elsewhere for God's "divine power [which] has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).

So even if there is some truth in psychology, why don't we just get the truth from the Bible in the first place??? Tragically, many in the church no longer believe the crystal clear words of the last two verses that I just quoted, and that should be evident. In fact, I have found that many in the church seem more zealous to defend psychology than the Bible.

I have found that many people who have embraced the teachings of psychology are very intelligent people. But staying free from deception is not matter of our own personal intelligence - it is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of simple child-like faith and humility. Without this, even the most intelligent person can be deceived and turned away from a truth which is so simple (Read my article titled Profound Simplicity for more info on that subject). This was Paul's concern in 2 Corinthians 11:3, and I see this happening throughout the church today.

What is a Christian Psychologist?

I have clearly shown that there are even Christian psychologists who admit that "Christian" psychology is no different from secular psychology. No matter how we define psychology, this fact still remains the same!

So what is a Christian psychologist? It is simply a Christian who has become a psychologist. But there is no Christian who is the founder of psychology. In Dave Hunt's book titled Occult Invasion, he thoroughly exposes this fact (as well as the fact that psychology comes out of the occult). On page 458 of this book, Dave made the following point:

"The simple truth is that no such thing as Christian psychology exists. Look at the index of any psychology textbook. There are listings for Freudian, Jungian, Behavioristic, Existential, Humanistic, Transpersonal, and many other psychologies, but no listing for Christian Psychology. The reason is simple: There is no Christian who is the founder of a distinct school of psychology known as "Christian" (Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion, page 458).

Tissues Know Nothing About Issues

In conclusion, I would like to point out that some of the methodologies in psychology are based on the myth that we can be mentally ill. Why is this a myth? Although the brain, being physical, can indeed get ill - the mind, being non-physical, cannot get ill. And the Bible itself makes it clear that there is a distinction between the brain and the mind....

In Philippians 2:5, Paul wrote "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus". Obviously, Paul was not telling people to take Jesus' brain and put it inside their head. So the mind is clearly distinct from the brain, and it is something non-physical. It is the real you - the non-physical thinking person inside which makes moral or immoral choices. In other words, as Martin and Deidre Bobgan have said, "tissues know nothing about issues", meaning that the physical brain knows nothing about the issues in life as the mind does.

The brain is like a computer which our mind uses to operate our body. But to limit behavior problems to the brain alone is morally destructive. This destructive idea does away with the real thinking person inside who has a free will, and it makes us no different than animals.

The plain truth is this: if our behavior problems are limited to the brain alone, then we may have an excuse for the way we behave (perhaps that is why this idea is so appealing), but if we are accountable beings who make moral and immoral choices, then we are indeed without excuse for rejecting God, exactly as Romans 1:20 declares.

More Info

I just wanted to make a few important points here, but you can find much more info about the destructive influence that psychology has had on the church at PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries. They are offering some free e-books which I recommend checking out. You can also click here to find some radio shows on psychology.

The Psychologizing Of The Faith, by Bob Hoekstra (Sermons)

Counseling God's Way, by Bob Hoekstra (Sermons)

The Need For A Thorough Purging, by Dave Hunt

What Is Christian Psychology? By Dave Hunt

The Seduction Of Christianity