[Note: The following article is excerpted from the introduction of Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon's 416 page book titled Psychology and the Church: Critical Questions, Crucial Answers. You can click here for a series of radio shows which is based on this book. This article was posted as the "TBC Extra" article in the June 2008 newsletter from The Berean Call.]
The only possible justification for the existence of "Christian" psychology in the church would be if the Bible did not contain all of the counsel, wisdom, and guidance that Christians need for living sanctified lives pleasing to God in today's modern world. For thousands of years, both Old and New Testament believers found God and His Word more than sufficient in every way. At least this is what the Bible tells us of those who triumphed by faith over every trial and circumstance that Satan could bring against them. Some of their lives are summarized briefly in Hebrews 11.
The heroes and heroines of Bible history all triumphed by faith in God and in His promises. They neither had nor needed any help whatsoever from "Christian psychology", which didn't even exist in their day. Wouldn't faith in God and His Word, which has been proved thousands of times through the ages to be more than sufficient in every conceivable circumstance and in the deepest trials, be sufficient for Christians today, no matter what their trials and challenges might be? What could possibly persuade a Christian to look to psychology, invented by anti-Christians, for help in living a life pleasing to God?
Of course, [some] Christian psychologists claim to have a firm faith in the inerrancy of Scripture. But no matter how firmly a psychologist adheres to inerrancy of Scripture, they all must deny its sufficiency. This is the only way to justify their profession. If any part of the Bible is in error, however, then where can the line be drawn? If the Bible has not given us all we need to live the Christian life, that fact alone would be enough to make all of it suspect in view of the many places where it claims to be sufficient for living triumphant lives pleasing to God.
How and why would psychology, invented by atheists and anti-Christians as a substitute for God, the Bible, and Christianity, provide new insights into the Bible unknown to (and obviously unneeded by) millions of believers over the last four thousand years or more? And why would we need it now? There is neither a biblical nor rational answer to that logical question.
"Christian" psychology is not a recognized classification in this field. Textbooks and reference manuals list hundreds of psychologies (Freudian, Jungian, Rogerian, humanistic, etc.), each named after its founder or its founder's chief theory. But there is no school of psychology that was founded by a Christian and is therefore called "Christian" and recognized as such in university libraries. Psychology is in fact anti-Christian. It doesn't come from the Bible but is simply an attempt to integrate the theories of atheists into the Bible in order to supply missing essentials for daily living that the Holy Spirit apparently failed to include. Does that sound reasonable?
Here is what two leading Christian psychologists had to say in a paper delivered at a convention of Christian psychologists:
We are often asked if we are "Christian psychologists" and find it difficult to answer since we don't know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists, but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology.
Psychology wasn't even well known in the secular world until after Freud and Jung popularized it in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Nor did it enter the evangelical church until after World War II. For nearly nineteen hundred years, Christians triumphed over the world, the flesh, and the devil by faith in Christ alone and obedience to His Word. If great men and women of God throughout history didn't need psychology, why would anyone need it today?
How did psychology get into the church? The man most responsible for the intrusion of that Trojan Horse was none other than arch heretic Norman Vincent Peale. Peale declared on national TV on the Phil Donahue show, "It's not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine...God is everywhere." Shocked, Donahue responded, "But you're a Christian minister; you're supposed to tell me that Christ is the way and the truth and the life, aren't you?" Peale replied, "Christ is one of the ways." Among his many other heresies were the following:
Who is God? Some theological being...? God is energy. As you breathe God in, as you visualize His energy, you will be reenergized! Prayer power is a manifestation of energy. Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so are there scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy through the mechanism of prayer....
Prayer...is a procedure by which spiritual power flows from God...releases forces and energies...one must learn step by step the formula for opening the circuit and receiving this power. Any method through which you can stimulate the power of God to flow into your mind is legitimate...
So how did secular, anti-Christian psychology metamorphose into
Christian psychology? It doesn't come from the Bible and was unknown in the church until Peale brought it in. As reported on Peale's home page, here is how "Operation Trojan Horse in the Church" began:
In 1937, Peale established a clinic with Freudian psychiatrist Dr. Smiley Blanton in the basement of the Marble Collegiate Church.... The clinic was described as having "a theoretical base that was Jungian, with a strong evidence of neo- and post-Freudianism."
It subsequently grew to an operation with more than 20 psychiatric doctors and psychologically-trained "ministers," and in 1951 became known as the American Foundation for Religion and Psychiatry. In 1972, it merged with the Academy of Religion and Mental Health to form the Institutes of Religion and Health (IRH).... Indeed, Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology which became known as Christian Psychology. [Emphasis added]
Peale said, "through prayer you . . . make use of the great factor within yourself, the deep subconscious mind... [which Jesus called] the kingdom of God within you....Positive thinking is just another term for faith."
According to J. Harold Ellens, author of a section on Peale in the Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling, "Dr. Peale...had the courage to stand pat on this position in spite of the opposition of the entire Christian church for nearly half a century [emphasis added]."
So the "entire Christian church" opposed "Christian psychology" for decades. Eventually, not only liberals but evangelicals succumbed to this appealing delusion that theology could be made "scientific" by merging it with psychology - though the latter is not a science and never could be. Peale was not only a master of heresies by the dozens but a master of persuasion. Much of that can be credited to Billy Graham, who repeatedly praised Peale and endorsed his writings.
Christian psychology is an attempted marriage of the Bible to theories of the atheistic inventors of psychology. It is worse than trying to mix oil and water; it is the attempt to blend the Word of God with atheism and occultism. This is impossible to do honestly. Even "Christian psychologists" themselves admit they can't quite find a way to put that mixture together. After trying for decades to mix this devil's brew, Gary Collins admitted: "It is too early to answer decisively if psychology and Christianity can be integrated."
Then why keep trying? Why is anyone attempting this impossible and incompatible partnership? It has succeeded because those who call themselves Christian psychologists and promote it in the evangelical church want legitimacy and respect both in the world and in the church. But Scripture declares, "whosoever . . . will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).
The very foundation of Christian psychology is the belief that the Bible is insufficient to deal with the traumas and challenges of modern life: we need something more than the counsel God gives in His Word. Although one of Christ's names is Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), we supposedly need more today than His counsel alone. The atheistic founders of psychology's various schools presumably offer part of "God's truth" that either isn't included in Scripture or isn't explained there as well as psychology expresses it. This is the sand upon which Christian psychology is founded. It is not the kind of ground upon which one would want to build anything.
Radio Shows On Psychology
Psychology And The Evangelical Church, by T. A. McMahon
Psychology in Prophecy, by T. A. McMahon
Psychology And The Doctrines Of Devils, by T.A. McMahon
The Old Paths, by T.A. McMahon
The Upcoming Psychologized Generation, by T. A. McMahon
Psychology And The Church (Video documentary)
Berean Call Page On Psychology
Another Berean Call Page On Psychology
The Seduction Of Christianity
Self -Love vs. Selfless Love (This is one of my articles)
Self-Esteem vs. God-Esteem (This is one of my articles)
Can Psychology Be Christian? (This is another one of my articles)
PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries
What Is Theophostic Counseling? By Jan Fletcher
The Psychologizing Of The Faith, by Bob Hoekstra (PDF)
Counseling God's Way, by Bob Hoekstra (Sermons)
The Need For a Thorough Purging, by Dave Hunt
“Spiritualized” Counseling, by T.A. McMahon - Click here for a related link.
Psychological Seduction 2 DVD Set, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan
School of Theology 2008 - Martin Bobgan (2 DVD set)
Psyching Out The Evangelical Church, by T. A. McMahon (DVD) - Click here for the CD version.
WHAT IS SALVATION?