Psychology vs. Christianity"
By Dennis Gonnerman, History Instructor and Coach, Des Moines Christian
Wednesday, September 12, 2011
Summary Notes of Dr. Bob Stouffer, Superintendent, Des Moines Christian
Psychology: Can we as Christians trust psychology? That is a very difficult question? Is psychology totally true or does it blend fact with fiction? How does it compare to the Bible which is truth? These and many more questions are not easy to answer nor should they be, as we are called to search for the truth measuring it with the Word of God. This should be the way Christians constantly conduct their lives or else we will fall prey to those things that are not true. Adam and Eve did, and they had direct communication with the Word in God Himself. Why would we be exempt? Doesn't the Bible say to seek "wisdom" above all else? On my count, there are 222 verses that deal with "wisdom" and another 186 on being "wise" in the Bible. So does God care about the development of your brain and the use of it? I would say so. Should we ignore this? I would say not. God forbid. As Proverbs 4:7 says "Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Education without the Christian is nothing. So let us together explore psychology and fuel our search for truth and wisdom.
Psychology The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism's physical and mental state and external environment.
It is divided into several different fields as psychologists cannot come together in agreement on which scientific study is "truth."
Neurobiological psychology, also called "functionalism," is searching for causes of abnormalities in the patterns of brain-cell activity or in the functioning of the brain and body together.
Behaviorism is the belief that the proper subject matter of psychology is objectively observable behavior and nothing else.
Cognitive psychology is the study of how we process, store, retrieve, and use information and how thought processes influence our behavior.
Psychoanalytic psychology, also known as Freudian psychology, is the belief that the unconscious mind and conflicts determines one's behavior. This branch of psychology is the closest AND the furthest away from psychology.
Humanistic psychology is the study that emphasizes personal growth and achievement to reach one's maximum potential that is also controlled by self. (You are born good but become bad by choice.)
Social-psychology is the newest psychology, which advocates for the belief that we become what our society has taught us to become.
So which one of these is true? They all have science backing them up. So they say. Why did they choose the word "science" in their definition? "Science" attached to psychology does not make psychology "true." Some "science" is not true. Is it that you are raised by the world to believe that all science is true? Is all science true? Or is the Word of God true? How should we approach psychology and questions about its relationship to our Christian belief? Satan would want you NOT to believe truth. The following four points have helped me and come from the book Psychology in Christian Perspective, by Harold W. Faw.
- God alone is self-sufficient, dependent on no one else for His existence. By contrast, I am a contingent being, fully dependent on Him for every breath, and ultimately accountable to Him. (As expressed by James Sire, "God is God, and I am not.")
- God is the source and author of all truth, whether it is discovered through study of His special revelation, the Bible, or His general revelation, the universe and all within it (science). He perfectly and completely understands this truth; in contrast, my grasp of truth is incomplete and error-prone. Science can have error, and it could mean the difference between your getting to heaven or not. I take this very seriously.
- Due to differing interpretations of either Scripture, psychological data, or both, numerous discrepancies in our understanding can arise. However, these differences ought not to interfere with our ability to enjoy fellowship with those with whom we may happen to disagree. I disagree with some very knowledgeable people, but I check the knowledge against the Word of God. I'd like to talk to and reason with professors who do not all the Bible to be used as a source document for college work.
- I have a great deal to learn from both believers and unbelievers. Honest dialogue - both listening to truly understand and clearly articulating our own views - is essential to progress in our corporate search for truth. You have truth. You can impact a college professor.
So what is abnormal behavior or mental illness? That's when you don't act like anyone else. Right now, I don't act like anyone else! I guarantee that one day all Christians will be thought of as "abnormal."
Certainly not that. But what then?
Biblically there is no warrant for acknowledging the existence of a separate and distinct discipline called psychiatry or psychology. The Bible doesn't mention "psychiatry" or "psychology." These sciences were invented in the 1800s. There are, in Scriptures, only three specified sources of personal problems in living: demonic activity, personal sin, and organic illness. There is demonic guidance. Person sin leads us away from God. Who are you to do the things God tells you not to do?! These three are interrelated and do not include the practice of psychology. Does this mean all psychology is wrong or bad? Yes, if you replace God with psychology's theories and principles! So who is psychology's final authority? God or man? According to the books I read, it's man! But we know, according to the one true book, God to be the final authority!
Another situation that many Christians find hard to deal with in psychology vs. Christianity is the situation of what man really is. Are we just flesh or flesh along with mind or flesh/mind along with spirit? Most would call it dualism vs. dualism.
Psychology- Mind and body dualism.
Christianity- Entire body and spirit dualism. All of you have souls. We all instinctively know that something is missing in a dead body. Spirit.
No where in psychology is your spirit addressed, as science cannot measure what it cannot see. So the very thing as a Christian that I believe in comes head-to-head with what psychologists do not believe. Are we just flesh? If so, then Christianity is not real. But, if the Spirit of God is real, then how does that fit with psychology? They don't. So I choose to accept what cannot be seen because I know in my spirit it is real. After all what is the one unpardonable sin? Committing that sin means you will not see heaven.
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. You receive the Holy Spirit when you become a believer, and you cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit. If I were a psychologist, I would treat that truth like "fire."
So do I believe in what can be proved, science, or what cannot be proved or my very faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Science proves everyday that there is a Creator. The more science the more God is made real, but it is only faith that will save us, not science. The question for all of you is do I choose faith in Christ or wait for science to prove me wrong? Faith and faith alone will allow you to have the truth we all so desire, but knowledge without faith is empty; only the Spirit of God can fill that void, and the only way you get the Holy Spirit is through faith. Some of you play the game. I don't see the Spirit in some of you. I hope I can more fully controlled by the Spirit of God. Science is real but so is faith. Don't find out too late. God says in His Word that "For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes [has faith] in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes [has faith] in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed [had faith] in the name of God's one and only Son."
These passages speak about faith in what you have not seen not on science which you have seen. The passage above is well-known (Matthew 3:16-18) but not as much as the rest of that passage.
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." Do people see truth in you?! Truth is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom comes by God. For me, I seek truth through the wisdom of God not man alone. So what does a Biblical psychologist look like?
Actual permanent correction, therefore, can only be accomplished when a person has been born again and has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. A counselor who does not understand this dynamic principle will try to help his client change outward behaviors by dealing with symptoms, but, ultimately, the counselee makes a personal commitment of his inner being to Jesus Christ. (2Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
In conclusion, let's review what has been given:
- Psychology is a science that is still trying to prove to the world what is truth and is far from a consensus. Christians believe by faith along with truth.
- Psychology believes in dualism of mind separate from body, while Christians believe in mind, body, and spirit.
- Psychology believes man can be the cure for all that ails him, while Christians believe God heals through man or by Himself.
- Psychology believes that body and/or mind can become abnormal, only because of changes in the body and/or mind, while Christians believe that the above is true but also includes sin and/or demonic activity. Secular psychologists do not believe in the Holy Spirit of God.