The Christian and Psychology

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

I.        Psychology is the science of behavior

          A.       It dates back to the late 1800s

          B.       Since it's founding, it has grown to influence both the Christian and non-Christian.

          C.       There are many disorders that have physical origins

                     1.       Injuries, diseases (such as tumors), drugs, aging

                     2.       These can be treated medically

          D.       But others are not organic

                     1.       Many classifications of disorders

                     2.       Both Christians and non-Christians fall victim to mental illnesses

                                a.       Guilt, temperament, physical conditions, grief, anxiety, lack of self confidence can put us off balance

          E.       Should a Christian seek out a Psychologist for help?

II.       Psychology uses philosophies of men as guidelines for behavior

          A.       Many guidelines are followed - as you would expect with men involved.

                     1.       Behaviorists - Man responds to his environment

                     2.       Psychoanalysts - Man responds to his mind

                     3.       Humanist Psychologist - Man doesn't react, but choses his own answers

          B.       These guidelines are not based on facts

                     1.       These are predictions (guesses) based on men's observation

                     2.       The psychologist attempts to explain the observation by some scheme (a hypothesis).

                     3.       But these explanations are based on the psychologist's own biases.

          C.       There is no standard, no agreement between psychologists on:

                     1.       How to interpret the information they observe

                     2.       What information is useful

                     3.       What conclusions can be drawn

          D.       The therapy given is based on their own beliefs

III.      These professionals are considered "experts" on human behavior

          A.       Their opinions are revered as truth

          B.       We are encouraged to believe that common men cannot understand ourselves without "expert" help

          C.       Overtly and subtly we are told that only professionals can unlock the mysteries of human behavior

          D.       By giving in to these prodding, Christians are encourage to set aside their defenses

                     1.       After all these people are professionals

                     2.       They are highly educated

                     3.       Psychology has had notable successes in the past

                     4.       It looks good.

                                a.       But what about the consequences?

                                b.       Eve thought that what Satan offered looked good

                     5.       The biggest danger that a Christian faces is sin encouraged from those we trust

                     6.       Some of their advise may be good. But it also can be wrong when we least expect it

                     7.       Example: is drunkenness a sin or a disease?

                                a.       Many Christians have accepted the latter

                                b.       Ignoring the Scriptures - Gal. 5:19-21, I Cor. 5:11

                     8.       Example: is homosexuality a sin or a lifestyle to be chosen or a genetic disorder?

                                a.       The scriptures are plain

                                b.       But Christians have been brow beaten into questioning what God has said

          E.       It is being practiced under the guise of "Christian Psychology"

                     1.       While working on this lesson in New York, I received an announcement for a seminar "Burdens of Grace". The experts conducting the classes have titles like "Pastoral Psychotherapist"

                     2.       Faith in God is not enough. We need to add psychology to help with human interactions.

                     3.       God can help us with spiritual problems such as our nature, our origin, our destiny, and our faith. But for problems related to living in this world, we need a professional psychologist.

                     4.       But the Bible is not some abstract religion.

                                a.       Ecclesiastes addresses happiness and contentment for mankind on earth.

                                b.       God's desire is that we should be happy. His book addresses not just the future, but also the here and now - Luke 18:29-30, I Tim. 4:8

                                c.        God teaches us about social life, family life, economics, and governmental responsibilities.

IV.      Modern Psychology directly conflicts with the Bible

          A.       It is inevitable

                     1.       The Bible satisfies our needs (II Pet. 1:3, II Tim. 3:16-17) and modifies our behavior (Rom. 12:1-2, Gal. 2:20, Phil 4:8-9)

                     2.       Psychology makes the same claims!

                     3.       Either they will overlap or conflict and where human wisdom is involved you can expect more of the confrontation.

          B.       Example: Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis was an atheist

                     1.       He felt that religion was a neurosis of humanity. "neurotic" is one who fails to adjust to life.

                     2.       He wrote several essays against the Bible.

                     3.       Not everyone agrees with Freud, but all agree that he heavily influenced psychology.

          C.       Lusts are not a sin

                     1.       They are normal. Each person has to determine what is right for himself.

                     2.       The Bible says otherwise - James 1:13-16

          D.       Sin is due to external problems

                     1.       It is the fault of a mother, or father, or your upbringing

                     2.       The guilt of sin is removed! It is not my fault, I'm the product of my environment.

                     3.       The belief is so strong, that we now know that many psychologist accidently place false memories in people while they attempt to look for a past cause to a person’s current problems.

                     4.       The Bible teaches that we are responsible for our own actions - Ezek. 18 (read verse 20).

                     5.       A criminal is not responsible for his actions - he was temporarily insane.

                     6.       God says we must control our angry and not sin - Eph. 4:26

          E.       Psychology becomes the "faith" of its followers

                     1.       People want relief from the burden of sin. They want happiness, contentment and purpose to life.

                     2.       Psychology promises to satisfy all these needs

                     3.       God knows the creatures that He made. He even wrote a book to guide them - if they would just read it, believe it, and live it.

          F.       More destruction comes from psychology than relief

                     1.       Their answers complicates matters

                     2.       Example: "It is unhealthy to suppress anger and hostility."

                                a.       We are told to release the anger and not to hold back

                                b.       Don't be a hypocrite!

                                c.        However, the Bible calls this foolishness

                                           (1)      Prov. 14:29; 29:11, 20; 22:24-25

                                d.       Anger is not a right to sound off or to retaliate

                                e.       Any good feelings that come from this are only temporary.

                                f.        Do we need a release for our anger? Yes, and God shows us the proper way. - James 1:19-20

                                g.       How do you release the air from an overinflated tire?

                                           (1)      A shotgun?

                                           (2)      Let it out slowly?

                     3.       Example: Family problems

                                a.       Many homes are destroyed by people rushing off to "specialists"

                                b.       Do you have a difficult marital problem? We are told to consider divorce as an option.

                                c.        Some claim that sexual problems can be solved through immoral behavior, such as extra-marital affairs - why don't we call it plainly? It is adultery!

                                d.       Corporeal punishment supposedly encourages aggressive behavior and inhibits the child's personality.

                                           (1)      Instead it teaches children to have no respect for authority whether from God or from man.

                                           (2)      The Bible says - Prov. 22:15

                                           (3)      Children don't learn aggression from proper discipline. They do learn it from those who use physical punishment as a guise for abuse.

                                           (4)      People now in overreaction want to remove all parental authority. The U.N. is pushing a treaty dealing with the "rights of a child".

          G.       Psychology doesn't have the answers to a happy life

                     1.       Some will praise psychologist for their aid

                     2.       It is true that some psychologist may inadvertently follow some of God's principles.

                     3.       It doesn't follow that a success means they have the wisdom to guide our lives

                     4.       What did the wisest man of all times say? - Eccl. 12:13-14, Prov. 1:7, 9:10

                     5.       Due to the advice of psychologists:

                                a.       Homes are miserable

                                b.       Marriages are nothing more than temporary living permits

                                c.        Husbands and wives work outside the home to prove they are equal

                                d.       Success is measured by how many things you can provide

                                e.       Children's lives revolve around school, TV, sports, and other worldly concerns

                     6.       God's prescription for a happy home

                                a.       It begins with God - I Cor. 10:31, Eph. 2:12

                                b.       The family revolves around the spiritual, like Timothy's upbringing

                                c.        Children need to see a father who is the head of the family and a mother who is the keeper of the home working together in their service to Christ

                                d.       Emphasis on developing the whole person: soul, personality, mind, and body - Luke 2:52

V.       Psychology can only succeed when it adheres to God's principles

          A.       I'm not saying that all psychology is bad or that it has never done good for men or society.

          B.       Some psychologists have used Biblical principles, whether knowingly or not. Those principles work whether advised by a psychologist or by a teacher of God's word.

          C.       However, I do reject that they can guide us in all things because they were successful in some things. - Jer. 10:23

          D.       Psychology is merely the study of behavior. It is useful to study the behavior of men. But when it comes to correcting behavior, who is better able to guide us?

          E.       Instead of going to a psychologist hoping he has found the right Biblical principle, why don't we go directly to the source? - Col. 2:8-10

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