We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Psychotherapists Are Wolves

The most obvious counseling error is for a church to refer a believer to a professional counselor, be it a clinical psychologist, marriage and family counselor, or a psychiatrist who practices psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, if you are not aware, does not deal with medical issues; rather it is "talk" therapy drawn from some of the more than 500 concepts that professional counselors employ. ...

Yet here, in brief, are our fundamental problems with referring believers to those trained in psychological counseling: 1) The basic concepts were conjured up by those who were atheists and anti-Christians. Scripture tells us in Psalm 1 that believers are not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. 2) The foundational belief of psychological counseling is that mankind is inherently good. Jeremiah 17:9 states the opposite. 3) It is an intimidating myth that psychological counseling is scientific and that only professionals are equipped to counsel. 4) Since nearly all issues related to counseling are symptoms of sin, psychological counselors have no basis for addressing sin. 5) All Christian psychologists attempt to integrate psychotherapeutic concepts with the teachings of Scripture. 6) Referring believers to professional counselors is a shameful denial of the authority and sufficiency of God's Word. It is a matter of shepherds turning their flock over to hirelings at best--wolves in disguise at worst.

T.A. McMahon, "How Does Your Church Counsel?", The Berean Call, June 2014


Ron Livesay said...

To me, they key point is #2: "The foundational belief of psychological counseling is that mankind is inherently good. Jeremiah 17:9 states the opposite." I majored in psychology at a Christian university, and by the time I realized I was being taught humanistic garbage, it was too late to change majors. The draft was hanging over my head, so I chose to stay in my major and not add any time which could have resulted in my being drafted before I finished my degree.

Anyway, I recognized that the study of human behavior with a flawed view of man was pointless. Secular psychology is exactly that. No one is responsible for his or her own actions. "Christian psychology" is, for the most part, secular psychology with a few Bible verses thrown in.

My conclusion from a psychology degree: Psychology is 95% hogwash, and the rest has little, if any, value.

Anonymous said...

That was a very good article from TBC. Quotes I loved:

"What then does the Bible teach about how believers in a fellowship are to go about ministering to one another? ... Scripture does not say that only a select individual is to “bear another’s burdens.” It says “ye,” a plural form of “you,” meaning all are to be involved in ministering to fellow believers."

"Even as a babe in Christ, a believer can be used in ministering. Furthermore, every believer has a gift or gifts of the Holy Spirit that he is to utilize for the building up and edification of the body of Christ. These gifts are essential to effective ministry. Since the gifts are a function of the Holy Spirit as He wills, their implementation is not dependent upon the maturity of the believer."

"Halting a specific sin issue in a fellow-believer’s life should not be the primary goal of those who minister. Sin is nearly always symptomatic of a believer’s having distanced himself from Christ. All ministering must therefore begin with where a believer is in his relationship with Jesus—and a recognition of where he needs to be."

TA McMahon really hit this one out of the park.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think McMahon and the Bobgans overstated the case. Do you really want the average person doing any sort of counseling?

Most of the Christians we know haven't the slightest idea how to counsel anyone considering marriage or divorce, or family issues, financial issues, etc.

I think there is a very good case for someone trained in nouthetic counseling, which has no hint of the psychobabble, to be available. Those I know are volunteers and are not paid, nor do they have appointments which have time limits, etc, as charged by the Bobgans.

Yes, there are those within the body who, based on experience in life, are able to give good counsel, and should be used. My wife and I have often been recommended for giving counsel, and have done pre-marital, marital, and general family counseling, but we have also been married almost 40 years and have experience raising children, etc.

So there is a need for those within the body, but one cannot assume everyone within the body can give good counsel - they first have to be mature Christians!

Kathy said...

Thank-You for the quote from The Berean Call and for your wise counsel Mr. Chatfield. The Word of God is clear in the area of instruction, "He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;...." Ephesians 4:10-13 (the remaining verses in Chapter 4 are also pertinent to the area of addressing the problems of living in and through the Body of Christ.)

God, in His mercy and grace has equipped the saints for ministry in every area of life within the church.......because we love Him first more than fame or money. Due to the lack of teaching and practicing Biblical character within the church system, we find it difficult to find individuals to trust and share our burdens with as most line up with the gossipers, whisperers, tale bearers, liars and slanderers. My heart grieves over the fact that when I ask individuals in church, "Whom can you trust with your problems of living?" The response is deafening, "I don't trust anyone here, I go outside of the church for counseling."

This is a sad state our churches are in, for Christ did not set His Ecclesia apart with humanistic methods, but instead moves through the Holy Spirit. He is our counselor and always points us in the direction of Jesus Christ's teachings.

Most church systems operate just like the world. Oh, how I miss the church of my youth.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

I agree, not everyone in the body can give good counsel. So in general it is wise to be choosy from whom to seek counsel.

There are definitely some traits of a Christian that necessarily develop over time, and/or are honed by life experience, such as your example of your long, healthy marriage to your wife and your having raised your children in the Lord. It is wonderful that you are often recommended for marital and family counseling, and are very capable to minister to others.

But I also leave room for the Holy Spirit to mature someone very quickly, beyond their years, or to give them supernatural insight that is apart from natural learning. At only 2 years saved, the first time I was introduced to Rick Warren, I pegged him as false, but my good Christian friend, who had been saved 20 years, thought RW was "the real deal". I counseled her to stop listening to RW, counsel which she rejected. Yet my counsel, as a babe, was correct, and was a supernatural insight from the Holy Spirit.

I do agree that nouthetic counseling has a place in the body, though I disagree with Adams calvinistic leanings. However, I also do not believe one has to be formally trained in nouthetic counseling to be of use to the Lord. Again, there is much the Holy Spirit does with average believers, just by His power and their study of the word of God. I guess that is how understood that as the point McMahon was making.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

A mature Christian is not necessarily mature in age, but mature in the faith. This may be only one or two years as a believer or it may take some people 40 years to be mature in the Lord. It all depends on one's personal study and prayer life.

Joe said...

I majored in Psychology. The one thing I learned about it is that 99.1% (by my actual calculations) is pure bunk.

In my experience, nouthetic counseling is the only correct form of Christian clinical counseling. A person can be trained in nouthetic counseling, and can also be led of the Holy Spirit to it. However, discernment is required to distinguish the leading of the Holy Spirit from vain imaginations.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I've trained in nouthetic counseling. Got all my book work done, but ended up not having the money or availability to attend the school for the classroom work.