The seminary in my area has been into Christian Counseling for years. They have not invited me to speak there since the mid ’90’s when I gave a chapel talk there entitled “Saved by Christ, Sanctified by Freud”. I was being a bit facetious needless to say. Here are some of my notes I use now when critiquing Christian therapy.
A Hard Look at the Social Sciences Christianity and Contemporary Psychology
Dr. Mark Hamilton
1. Do the views of human nature, including the basis of human value, the nature of human corruption, and the proposed solution to the human dilemma (sin and evil) have the ability to be reconciled to each other? Can biblical perspectives of human nature remain in tact when merged with Freud, Jung, Maslow, etc.?
2. The most common concept of contemporary counseling is low self-esteem. How ought Christians to think of the self-esteem issue? Is it at all congruent with Scripture? Furthermore, there is no significant data found in secular material to support the linkage of self-esteem to social problems. Isn’t self-esteem and self-love part of the fallen, sinful nature?
3. Can there be substantial psychological or emotional healing through means other than Christ? Or if Jesus is the answer, then why look elsewhere?
4. If we make life more bearable, comfortable, or livable for a non-Christian without giving them Christ, could we find ourselves actually working against God if he is trying to move that person to a point of need?
5. Is our contemporary Christian therapy preventing us from finding our identity in Christ? Paul in Phillippians 3. “I count all things as loss for the sake of Christ.”.
6. Does therapy which indulges in past experience contradict the Pauline concept of “forgetting what lies behind?” also in Phil. 3.
7. Is it an industry justified which creates its own artificial categories of illness then supplies the means of healing by charging outrageous costs often justified by third party payments (insurance), and yet we pay the high costs of insurance?
8. Can therapies which are historically rooted in the occult or occultic practices (meditation, visualization, guided imagery, hypnosis, etc.) be used by redeemed Christian therapists and counselors and still call the therapy “Christian”?
Are Galatians 3:1-3; 5:1, 13,15; Romans 5:1-5, 1Cor. 10:13, 1Jn. 2:15-16, Mt. 28:19-20 – given to us to teach that we need humanist Psychology in order to be whole?
Mt. 22:37-39 contains 2 commandments not 3, though the atheist Eric Fromm sees that the commandment there is three; Love God, Love Neighbor, and Love thyself. John MacArthur has stated in, “Our Sufficiency in Christ,” that, “Human therapies are embraced most eagerly by the spiritually weak—those who are shallow or ignorant of biblical truth and who are unwilling to accept the path of suffering that leads to spiritual maturity and deeper communion with God. The unfortunate effect is that these people remain immature, held back by a self-imposed dependence on some pseudo-Christian method or psychoquackery that actually stifles real growth.”
1. Is there anything immoral about the practice of faking empathy when one is not really intentionally empathic, just acting empathic?
2. What makes one qualified to be a Christian therapist? Is it education? Theological understanding? Character? Could one be a Christian therapist without being a church leader?
3. Is there a difference between wise Biblical counsel and counseling?
4. Is there a moral problem of charging for counseling if one is basically providing Christian Counsel? Is this a “selling of the gospel?”
5. Has the role of Christian therapist replaced discipling in the church and thereby adding to the professionalization of ministry and to the lessening of the ministry of the congregation? Is it a way of “buying friendship?”
6. Does counseling using the methods of non-Christians actually add to the sanctification process? Donald Matzat has asked, “Could it be true that Sigmund Freud received revelation that opens our eyes to the manner in which sanctification is able to be accomplished among God’s people today, revelation that was hidden from Paul, Peter, James, and John?
7. How ought we to think of the issue of therapy provided from someone of the opposite sex? How do we think of the lack of monitoring and reporting of the misconduct of sexual behavior?
8. Ought the practice of Christian Counseling be covered by and directed by the local church or should it be autonomous?
9. Are the contemporary methods addictive in that they indulge the counselee in the opportunity to focus on themselves for an hour?
10. Have we elevated the therapist to a position of unquestioned authority? Can one counsel as a Christian and still retain the ideal of being value neutral?