All right, let’s pray together.
Lord, we come again, seeking You. We come with hunger for You. We come desiring to hear from You. Lord, You’re our Wonderful Counselor. All of us at times, Lord, have drifted away and kind of leaned to worldly counsel with its enticements. We ask You now, Lord, to show us the critical issue of not forsaking our Wonderful Counselor. And just speak to us tonight, Lord, about these threats, the big threats to counseling God’s way. Just unfold them. Open them up in Your Word that we might be warned and protected and guarded, and be used of You to help others in that same way. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
V. Major Threats to Counseling God’s Way
Two units of study together have to do with worldly threats to Counseling God’s Way. This is our fifth major section, really our last major section in this study—“Major Threats to Counseling God’s Way.”
This study is about “Forsaking Our Wonderful Counselor.” This really, I believe, is the major of two main threats. I think you can boil it down—If someone said, “What really threatens the church counseling God’s way?” I would say there are two aspects to it that everything else fits under. One is forsaking our Wonderful Counselor, then that always leads to the second one, turning to worldly counsel. But we’ll concentrate on this one for a while—“Forsaking our Wonderful Counselor.” That is the main threat. The church’s failure to counsel God’s way that is the main threat, is our failure to look to the Lord Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor. The church in many ways is drifting from the Lord; disobeying and neglecting His Word and thereby often being left open to deception. And basically, to take the phrase out of Isaiah 9:6, where Jesus is called our “Wonderful Counselor,” many in the church are forsaking our Wonderful Counselor.
Let’s look at this first heading of forsaking the Lord. We can see it in Jeremiah 2:13.
For my people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
An appropriate reason to look at Jeremiah 2:13 is that in that verse there are two evils that Israel got involved in that are very similar to what’s happening in the church world today in the counseling field. We are told in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 10, that the things that happened to Israel are written for our admonition, for our instruction, for our warning.
Many of us only learn certain lessons by doing it wrong, but we don’t have to learn everything that way. Life wouldn’t be long enough to learn all we need to learn or we wouldn’t survive it, as they say. We’d get wiped out by the enemy if we had to do everything wrong and then learn, that there is another way to do it right. We can learn from others and by watching others.
We all have our own lessons that seem to only come by us doing it the wrong way and then God showing us there was a better way. We go, “Oh, wow, yes.” But these things that happened to Israel are for our instruction. We can take heed. We don’t have to follow every error of those that came before us.
Jeremiah 2:13 speaks of two such evils. “For My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters….” That’s the first evil. And that’s our first application of study here in these two units of “Worldly Threats to Counseling God’s Way.” Then the next threat is, “…And hewn themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” That’s the other aspect applied to our study, turning to worldly counsel.
First is the issue of forsaking the Lord Himself. “My people, they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,” God said through the prophet to His people.
Israel had the Lord God Almighty pledge to them to be their ever-flowing source and supply of spiritual life. Kind of like the Lord Jesus is now to us as described remember in John 4:13-14, where that living water we find in salvation becomes a well-spring that just springs up in us of living water. Well, the Lord God Almighty was pledged to Israel His people to be their fountain of living waters. To be their source of supply of everything they needed. But they turned from the Lord. They drifted from God to the idols and the ways of the nations around them.
It’s an amazing thing, too, that this apostasy of Israel was prophesied in a song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. This is a prophetic song God brought to the people through Moses. It often uses the prophetic past tense when speaking of things in the future. When God ordains and prophesies something will happen, it’s a done deal. And this song is looking ahead to when they get in the land and all—because they’re not in the land yet, here in Deuteronomy. They are about ready to go in. Look at this song.
Deuteronomy 32:15-18. And there’s a real parallel here with many in the church world today.
15 But Jersherun [one of the nicknames for Israel] grew fat and kicked;
You grew fat, you grew thick,
You are obese!
Then he forsook God who made him.
[That fatness, a picture of abundance, having more than needed].
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods they did not know,
To new gods, new arrivals
That your fathers did not fear.
18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful,
And have forgotten the God who fathered you.
This prophetic song. Israel is prospering, growing fat, sleek. And that’s when they forsook the God who made them. Oh they stayed very religious. They just forsook God.
There are many in the church world today in America that are very religious, but they’ve been forsaking God. And we’re not just talking about the so-called apostate churches or liberal denominations. We are talking even about those who still cherish some of the truth of the Lord. You think about evangelical churches who no longer think of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Wonderful Counselor. Oh, they are glad He forgave their sins. But when they need counsel, they go to the wisdom of man. That’s a forsaking of the Lord!
They forsook the God who made them. They scorned the rock of their salvation. Their strong foundation of divine rescue and deliverance, the Lord God Almighty, they scorned Him. They got into strange gods, foreign gods, abominations and worshipping demons. “New gods” in Deuteronomy 32:17, “new arrivals,” or as one translation puts it, “gods who came lately.” You know, late arrivers that want to be called god.
All of this fits Israel’s idolatrous worship. But it also fits the roots of psychological theory. Terms like strange gods, abominations, demons, gods who came lately. All these theories sure arrived late on the scene to have their source in God. Where was Freud when God created the heavens and the earth? Where was Carl Jung when Christ died on the cross? Where was Abraham Maslow and his theories of self-actualization and behavior modification and all when Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead and the apostles wrote the New Testament? Where were these people? They are like new arrivals. And yet they are getting worship from man and allegiance. These are people putting their lives on the altar of psychotherapeutic thought and even inviting it into the church.
Israel was warned about these things in this prophetic song and eventually totally got into these things. In the church world today the Lord is often being subtly forsaken. And to an increasing number in the church world that is even born again He is no longer the passion of their lives. He is no longer the rock of their salvation, the focus. Too many Christians don’t think of the Lord Jesus Christ as their fountain of living water. And yet He is! Yes, He is our Savior. Yes, He is God who came in the flesh. But on and on the Scriptures just keep magnifying how great He is. He today is our fountain of living waters. He’s our Wonderful Counselor. But are we considering Him in these ways? No, in many ways we are forsaking these realities of Jesus Christ.
Israel forsook the Lord, in spite of His presence among them and all that He did for them. Many in the church world have been doing that for decades now and certainly in the last three decades. The last thirty years in the American church world there has been a forsaking of the Lord when it comes to His role as Wonderful Counselor.
That leads us to our next issue. Not just forsaking the Lord, but of course, what goes with it is forsaking God’s Word.
Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom [speaking of Israel here now] and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel along with him.
Look at that picture. The kingdom was established and strong. That is when they forsook the law of the Lord. How often that is the pattern? When people think they have it made, they stop looking to and leaning on the Lord. That is one of the great values of trials and impossibilities. It gives us what you might call a bit of a boost to throw ourselves upon the grace of God and the faithfulness of God.
The American church, oh, so often our view of ourselves is we are so strong, we are so established. We are the ones who go around the world and tell the church how to be the church. But so often we are pulling the church into directions that aren’t even of the Lord. When the kingdom is established and strong, that is when they forsook the law of the Lord. Many today are doing the same thing. The church world is less and less looking to God’s Word as fully authoritative and fully sufficient.
I am personally amazed even, at how what you might call relatively good pastors of evangelical churches, the way they speak of the Word, the way they teach it, the way they want to supplement it with other things. Respected Christian leaders are sadly illustrating even what the leaders of Israel did back then. They are just diminishing confidence in the Word of the Lord. Oh yeah, maybe saying it’s great and good and from God, but in word and deed indicating they think it is inadequate. It is not enough and that’s why we’ve got to have these theories from the world. That’s why we need to have worldly-wise men teaching us how to really affect and touch lives for Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 28:4 gives an interesting implicational warning to that kind of thinking. It speaks about this matter of forsaking the Word in kind of an interesting perspective.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But such as keep the law contend with them.
To apply this to the church world today in the counseling field, it seems like those who are losing their grip on, or diminishing their perspective on Scriptures—they get weak concerning the Word, the time, the attention they give it, the hope they place in it, they commend psychological theory. They accept it. They want to integrate it into their ministry. And those, it seems, who are just convinced that the Word is not only inspired and authoritative but sufficient, they resist this integration. They expose it. They warn about it. It’s sad sometimes to look out in the church world and see people who give all kinds of evidence of loving the Lord and having some confidence in His Word that they’re kind of cozying up to psychological theory. I mean, the roots of psychological theory are anchored in human wickedness, if not Lucifer’s self-exaltation.
You know, psychological theory didn’t come from Biblical study and Biblical theology. It came from humanistic, godless men imagining what life is all about and what man is and how to help him and all. The roots of all this is anchored in wickedness. It is humanistic self-centeredness. “Those who forsake the law, praise the wicked.” Many in the church are forsaking the Word of God to praise these geniuses in the world and say, “We’ve got to train leaders in the church, bring it back in the church, to kind of take advantage of the great things they are doing. Those who forsake the law praise the wicked. Those who keep the law—they cherish it, they hold to it—they strive with the wicked. They battle against the wicked. They say, “No, we don’t want that in the life of God’s people.”
These are theories that came from godless men. Forsaking God’s Word is even taking place in the evangelical church. The evangelical church that is the part of the church that still professes allegiance to the Word. It is happening in many ways. One of the ways it is happening is the subtly of hearing the Word, but not being interested in walking in it; a kind of dead orthodoxy and sometimes even dead and watered down orthodoxy.
James 1:21-22 kind of touches on that kind of danger we don’t want to get caught up in. We want to stay away from and warn others, and we often need to do that in our counseling.
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness of overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
In humility we are to receive the Word of God. This is God speaking to us. We are to come humbly to the Word. Not with self-assurance, not thinking we know it all, not thinking we can just read and go out and make it happen. But come humbly and receive the Word meekly, the implanted Word which is able to save our souls. God can take His Word, that is that seed of life that He just imparts in speaking to us, and plant it in our hearts. It can save our souls, not only rescue us from hell, but deliver us day by day from the things we need to be out of and unto the things God has for us. We are to be humbly receiving the Word. Laying aside filthy things and wicked things and just humbly receiving the Word.
But then being doers of the Word, wanting to live it. Not just hear it but living by its truth. Not just listening to it. It’s great to listen to the Word of God, that is, if we are humbly receiving it. If we are just going through the motions, counting the moments till it’s done or thinking, “Yeah, I got to log one more message.” That is not what it’s about. But if we are humbly receiving it, it’s great to listen to the Word of God, but we want to be convinced that it’s something that we are to stand on, live in, and live out. What God says it is to become where we walk and what we do and how we think and how we talk. Living the Word out, not just hearing it talked about.
We are to “be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” There is a real deception in thinking that just hearing is all that matters. No, we want to hear it with the desire that it change us, that what we hear becomes what we are in life. We become a listening and progressive doer. In other words, we live out the Word that God is planting in. We want it to change our lives.
For example, we’ve been hearing things like Colossians 3 and Romans 15 that say we are to “counsel one another.” We have been hearing that. Well, the Lord doesn’t want us just to hear and say, “Amen, I believe that. Count me in. I’m orthodox.” Or even against the trend of the church world, I say, “Yes, we’re to be counseling each other. I hear it. I agree with it. Praise God for that. That’s good. That’s well done.” But we want to do that, you know. We want to walk in that. We want to actually be the instruments through whom the Wonderful Counselor can pass His counsel one to another. Not just hear it and say, “Amen.” And never walk in it. That is a delusion and we are deceiving ourselves. God doesn’t tell us these things just so we can know what’s right and wrong, but so we can avoid the wrong and become more and more walking and practicing the right that He’s speaking of.
We have heard in Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3 and elsewhere, the authority and sufficiency of the Word. Do we believe it to the sense that we act upon it? That we make decisions by it and it changes what we say or don’t say? Or where we look or don’t look for counsel. Are we looking elsewhere, personally, for counsel beyond the wisdom of God?
We’ve heard these things. The Lord wants us to be walking in them. We don’t want to be self-deceived. It’s not only wrong just to hear the Word and not want to walk in it, but it is trouble! It leaves one open to deception and deceiving ourselves.
On this issue of open to deception, Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 11:3.
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted [or led astray] from the simplicity that is in Christ.
What a verse this is. The apostle Paul, early in the history of the church, had a concern or an apprehension. I must confess that I have it as well. Maybe you do too. And that is, that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, the church might be deceived, which is the implication here. It is that our minds might be led astray or corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
How did Eve get pulled down? She was deceived by the enemy’s craftiness. He’s so clever. He’s so ingenious. She was deceived by his craftiness.
It’s one of my personal convictions that psychological theory is one of the most crafty tactics the enemy ever came up with to plague, bind, wipe out, pull down, distract, swallow up the human family. It’s almost like a way to live with God left totally out of the picture. A way that is so satisfying to the mind and so enticing to the flesh. It is crafty!
I have mentioned at times when I was in college, how intrigued I was at psychological theory. I marvel that I didn’t get totally swallowed up in it. I’d just read it and I, oh, I just couldn’t read enough. My mind was just feasting on it. Oh here, gorge me some more, you know. Everything I’d read it seemed to make such sense. “Oh yeah, that’s me. Oh, that’s the hope. And oh yes!” It’s clever. It’s crafty and many give their whole life in the pursuit of it and they think it is the great hope of humanity and so much so that the church now wants it in her life. Crafty and clever! What happens in all of that? Our minds get corrupted or led astray. You could translate it either way. They get corrupted or led astray. From what?—from the simplicity that is in Christ.
There’s a wonderful simplicity that is ours in Christ. That is, it’s not complicated in the sense that all we need is right there in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all there. It’s not some of it there and some of it elsewhere. Or some of it’s there, but you’ve got to make it all work yourself. You’ve just got to figure out the jigsaw puzzle. It’s simple. Life is all there in Christ and it is ours by faith and trust. We are obeying our Lord because we are believing and trusting our Lord. It’s simple. In Christ is all the fullness. In Him we are complete. It is simple.
It is not simplistic, but it is simple. Simplistic is often used in the sense of non-substantial, you know. Oh that’s so simplistic. It’s like there’s nothing to it and there’s nothing there. No. It is simple, yes, in that is it is not complicated.
I often think of my precious little seven-year-old granddaughter. She loves to talk about the Lord. She loves to sing songs about the Lord. She understands profoundly significant things about the Lord. She says, “Daddy, am I going to go to Christian school next year?” Because they’re praying about it and she wants to go there. And then she says, “Grandpa, they don’t talk about Jesus in my school.” At seven years old, she knows that’s not right. There is something big missing. No life in it at all. It’s like a wasteland. And this is first grade, where little lives should be feasting on who the Lord is.
It’s simple and yet it’s not simplistic. You can take the greatest genius, the greatest brain among the family of man and if he gets to know the Lord, God can share the simple reality of Christ with him in a way that will just use up every circuit in his brain. It’s not simplistic, it’s just simple.
This verse hit me many years ago. I have prayed and thought on it many times. We don’t want to get led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ. Often when I travel and teach the seminars on counseling God’s way, one of the popular responses to those who are skeptical or resistant is, “Yeah, a lot of good information there, but it’s too simple.” You can almost hear it coming and usually they mean it is too simplistic. “It’s insubstantial. I mean, come on. This mountain of theory on man and you are just setting it all aside and saying it’s just all there in one Person and His Word. There’s not enough there. Come on, be real! It’s too simplistic.”
One day I was thinking on this and my imagination ran wild. I’ll tell you what happened. I found myself in a conversation with a fish—candidate for therapy, right? I trust the Lord will give fruit to this and keep me out of the institution. I was talking to Mr. Fish and he was troubled and felt empty and needed help and wanted his life changed and was unfulfilled.
And I said I knew just what he needed.
“What’s that Mr. Counselor?”
“Mr. Fish, all you need is the ocean.” He thought a moment.
“Oh come on. That’s too simple. I need the mountains. I need the deserts. I need the valleys. I need the hills. I need the canyons. That’s too simple. I need to get better counsel than that.”
I was stirred to say to Mr. Fish, “You know what I perceive by your answer is that it has been a long time since you really considered what is in the ocean. If you don’t think there is enough there to have a full, whole, complete, abounding, abundant, exciting life, you just haven’t been looking at the ocean very carefully.”
I think the application fits many Christians who hear a teaching like this and they say, “Yeah interesting. It’s kind of helpful. Yes, maybe. But bottom line, let’s face it, it’s too simple.” I can sense they’re meaning it is non-substantial, you’re not giving us enough. One Person, one book, come on.” I want to say to that Christian, “You know, I perceive by that answer that you haven’t really been considering the Lord Jesus Christ. You don’t know how much is there in Him. You don’t realize what that ocean is to that fish, Christ is to you.”
You think of Ephesians 3:8, which speaks of the unfathomable riches of Christ. They are unfathomable! You can’t fathom them. You can’t measure the fathoms and ever get to the bottom. And yet you proclaim to people the resources they have in Christ and our Wonderful Counselor, He has it all. “Oh, come on. That’s too simple. That’s too simplistic.” I think it’s a strong indicator they have not been seriously, consistently, earnestly taking a look at the Lord Jesus Christ, finding out who He is, what He’s done, what He offers, and who they are in Him.
And look at the danger of this. “But I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Sometimes when a person says to me, “You know, Bob, this is interesting and kind of helpful. But it’s too simple.” Inside, I kind of go, “Yes!” I think I said it pretty right. Maybe it didn’t sound real complicated. It had a simplicity to it. “Yes!” I mean, I don’t celebrate outwardly with them. And I get burdened for them immediately because I see a real problem of underestimating who Christ is. To say that it is too simple, you know what’s happening? The crafty techniques of the enemy are leading our minds astray from the simplicity that is in Christ. Sure the wisdom of Christ can go beyond the human comprehension, but it is this simple. What we need to know is in Him and He has revealed it in His Word. We need to have our lives changed, full, abundant, fruitful and it is in Him, as He’s described in His Word. It is that simple.
May we not be open to deception, not have our minds led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ.
In 1 Timothy 4:1,
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
This is prophesied in the first century that later on this would happen. People would be departing from the faith. What is the faith? It is the content of truth in the Word of God in which we put our faith. The Word of God, this is the faith in which we put our faith, and the Lord who is behind it and described in it. When we start shifting our hope and our help in other directions, we are departing, at least to that degree, from the faith. Not necessarily becoming a total apostate, but we are departing. We are moving away from the faith which provides all we need for life and godliness.
Even “giving heed some to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” I shudder at that. I think immediately of Carl Jung. Remember he said that he got all of his theories from Philemon who was his spirit guide. Philemon. This genius. What an amazing thing that this genius would get it from, well, a greater genius. One who is even greater than him, in devilish thoughts, self-centered thoughts and in self-exalting thoughts.
Can you imagine a philosophical theoretician like Carl Jung—very religious, in a sense, maybe a better word is spiritistic—that the church of Jesus Christ would be all excited about him because he uses spiritual terms and even talks about Jesus some. And yet he got all of his ideas from the pits of hell, from the enemy himself and from the agents of the enemy. I mean, how specific can you get in prophecy? Later on, people “depart from the faith, giving heed to [paying attention to] doctrines of demons.” Demons taught the doctrines to Jung. The church has read them. And now we are giving heed to them. He is maybe one of, if not the most popular of the theorists who were trying to integrate into the Christian message. I mean, he talks about Jesus as the great archetype of a savior and things like that. And obviously that’s another Jesus. We don’t need an archetype, an ancient symbol of salvation. An ancient symbol reminding us we need help, by the way, to which the answer is, “you can help yourself, if you reach deep enough. In fact, if you reach deep enough you will even get some spiritistic help.” We don’t need that kind of message. That undermines the entire heart of the Gospel. Doctrine of demons. They’re in the church heavy.
A good place to maybe wrap up this section of our study before we go into our brief conclusion is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, earlier on it says to preach the Word. Why is it so important? Because—
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heed up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
One of the things about psychological theory is that it is filled with fable and myth. And the church, in many ways, has come to the place where she won’t endure sound doctrine. It is like doctrine has become a dirty word in the church world. Doctrine means teaching. We want the teaching of the Word of God and must adhere closely to it.
The time has come when many won’t endure sound doctrine. They would rather have their ears tickled. “Give me another theory, a self-improvement theory, self-enhancement theory, self-actualization theory, or a self-justification theory. It tickles my ears.” People are turning away from the truth and to myths.
When people turn from the Word of God as their absolute source of the things of God and the knowledge of God for life and godliness, they are turning away from the truth and they are turning to myths, fables, theories, and guesses of man. We will talk more about that in our next unit of study.
In conclusion, perhaps the strongest warning verse in the New Testament on this whole matter of psychological theory is Colossians 2:8,
Beware lest anyone cheat you [or it could be rendered, take you captive] through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of man, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
We are to be alert, aware, watching out, lest anyone whether it is a worldly, psychological practitioner of humanistic theory or whether it is some beloved Christian leader who is dedicated to integrating psychology with Bible. Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy. Anyone!
Folks often ask when I’m out teaching around, “Well, what about Dr. Dobson? Are you for him or against him?” I first like to tell them I don’t think that’s the right question. Why would you be against a man that loves God? The question is: Does his message and his method match the Word of God? That’s the question. As a brother in Christ I’m totally for him. I want the best for him. And he has a powerful aspect to some of his ministry, when he stands for righteousness, against abortion, and for abstinence and things like that. He is fearless. He is one of the most courageous Christians that has ever spoken out in the American community on issues like that. Why is he so mighty? Because the only place he can anchor himself on those issues with that conclusion is right in the Word of God. And he has touched multitudes of lives because of that.
That doesn’t mean we close our eyes to another aspect of his ministry, as a second major part, his counseling, family, child rearing and all. And it is heavily seasoned with psychological theory. He’s totally committed to self-esteem as the way to raise your children. Well, I want my kids and the Word of God wants our kids raised esteeming Christ highly. Not self. Self-denied. Self-crucified. Self-humbled. Not esteemed. He is totally off base there. I am not saying I’m smarter than him. I’m saying, at that point, he has been fooled. He just missed the mark. And he may see some that I miss. And he has total spiritual right and responsibility to tell me. But he’s missed the mark there. He didn’t learn that in the Bible. He learned that at school. He learned that from the wisdom of man. He became a doctor in that stuff, right? Where he has no doctorate he is mighty. He’s just a disciple who believes the Word. He’s bold and it blesses you totally. And lives have been touched everywhere because of it.
So it’s not are you for or against a person or even a ministry. It’s how does the ministry and the method measure up to the Word of God? And sometimes it’s all strong or all weak or sometimes, most often, it’s some combination of the two and hopefully much stronger than weaker. But in this case it’s kind of like two prongs: one is mighty in God because it’s anchored in the Word and one is just contaminated with wisdom of man. I believe he’s totally well-intended, though I’m not his judge there. I can’t know his heart. But my impression is he hangs on to these things because he thinks they help people. And the more you hang onto something like that—it is tough to let go of a vested interest of twenty some years—being the expert with the answers from human wisdom. And he is in a real tough spot. I pray for him regularly, that he’ll get stronger in the places he’s anchored in the Word. And that he will totally lay down the wisdom of man. Can you imagine? It would be like part of a new reformation probably.
If Dr. Dobson said, “You know I want to add something to my ministry that should have been there years ago. Self-esteem is of the flesh. Psychological theory is the wisdom of man. Family of God, forgive me for urging you in that direction.” Can you imagine? Oh, wow! Men have done things like that. Like Martin Luther and others. They faced that they were caught up in a wrong system and stood against it. People turn away from the Word and they go to myths, fables. We are not to get caught up in that. Why? Colossians 2:8 says it’s philosophical.
See, counseling God’s way is not anti-scientific or anti-intellectual. It is just that we know the answers don’t lie there. Sure, true science can show the glory of God. We will talk about that after break. We do have an intellect and God says, “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). We can think with God. We just don’t think the ultimate answers are in any of those fields. And we know they are all open to error. But we know Christ and His Word are not open to error. And has all that we need for life and for godliness.
The Scriptures don’t warn us against true science. I mean, the heavens and all of creation, rightly explained, what do they do? “They declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). True science would just show creation the way God made it and we would go, “Wow, glory be to God. Glory be to God!”
I used to love to watch those Moody science films. That was before you guys were ever born. What? Moody, I heard of him. What are these science films? Well, some of you have seen them. They’d be like half-hour films about some aspect of the scientific realm and fascinating. And from that could be bridged right into our Creator and how He does things and His wisdom and even sometimes spiritual application. It’s great. It’s wonderful. But science is not our hope, and the big danger is in philosophy. See, there are some arenas in psychological theory that are somewhat scientific. And personally, I’m not giving a warning at all in those arenas. I don’t think the Scriptures demand that we do.
For example, there are those in the psychological field that would study with child development and take fifty, a hundred, or two hundred five-year-olds and experiment with what they can learn or can’t learn. And you kind of get a picture of what five-year-olds can and can’t learn. That is not philosophy. That is just kind of a scientific estimate. God creates five-year-olds to be able to do this and not do that. That’s all. If that blesses you, if that helps you with your kids, or somebody is into that, there’s no problem with that. You don’t have to have it. It’s not essential. But you don’t have to stay away, “Oooh, five-year-olds. I don’t want to hear it.” It doesn’t matter. If you want to hear it, hear it. If you don’t want to hear it, you don’t have to hear it.
But philosophy, stay away from it as a way of life. Don’t let it shape decisions, values. See it. “Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy” (Colossians 2:8). That’s the warning segment of this course. To a vast extent psychological theory is philosophy. We call them the social sciences. I believe it is deceptive. I think we should call them the behavioral philosophies, in which a bit of scientific methodology exists. Something like that would be much more honest and accurate. It’s philosophy of life.
Freud, “Oh yeah, man, the id, the ego, the superego!” Who said? Where did he find that? He didn’t get that in a laboratory, heating up chemicals and watching them react as creation would cause them to. Scientists can work with chemicals and they will always react in a certain way because God made them that way. But id, ego, superego, those are totally philosophical concepts. And God warns us about philosophy. Don’t let anyone influence our lives with human philosophy. Beware lest anyone, brilliant or loving, or Christ-loving, through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of man, according to the basic principles of the world influence you and not according to Christ. We’re to be captivated, led by Christ, not by the traditions of man. These are the basic elements.
Psychology is the new tradition in the world today. Oh, it’s anchored into American tradition now. We are such a psychologized country. You can’t watch a newscast without them interviewing the psychologist to tell you what that event in history meant. Fifty years ago they would go to the pastor in town. What does this mean? Where does this come from? And he could give a word from God. You never hear that anymore. You can’t go through a day if you are reading or hearing news or anything like that, without getting some psychological interpretation on the times. I mean, it is our new tradition. And we are told not to be taken captive according to the tradition of man, the basic principles of the world.
Psychological theory is all about the basic principles of the world. Sure, they can effect change in behavior. Sure they can build empires. Sure they can get more out of their workers. Sure they can get people hyped up on themselves and more productive or active or expectant. But what do these things mean in the kingdom of God? Nothing. In fact, they become a false hope that gets in the way.
Psalm 1:1-3 speaks to this whole arena of worldly threats to counseling God’s way and forsaking our wonderful Counselor.
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly
[counseling theory came from the ungodly],
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
[What is he doing?]
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD [the Word of God],
And in His law he meditates day and night
[that’s where he gets his thoughts].
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
When we become that kind of person more and more and counsel that way and avoid the counsel of the ungodly, our lives will be fruitful and those we counsel will bear this kind of fruit as well.