Heath Lambert has a fine article here on the Ham v Nye creation debate and the way worldview determines how we all look at the same evidence.
Halfway through, he points out how in this respect the “Counseling Wars” are so similar to the “Origins Wars” and then says:
I know of no single biblical counselor who rejects the observations of secular psychiatry. Biblical counselors embrace the same facts as secular counselors, integrationists, and Christian psychologists. Biblical counselors are not distinct from these other approaches in their embrace of the facts but in their approach to and understanding of these facts.
I think this is true in principle, but I don’t see much evidence of it in practice. That’s where I’d like to see the biblical counseling movement mature and develop, and it could do so by taking a leaf out of Ken Ham’s book.
When compared with biblical counselors, Ham and his creationist colleagues seem to be much more informed about the science they are interacting with and much more capable and courageous in entering the scientists’ world, taking the scientists’ facts and findings, and re-framing them within the biblical worldview.
I don’t see so much evidence of that in biblical counseling, a field I read a lot in, teach in, and do almost daily as well. What is much more common is disinterest in, hostility towards, or even outright rejection of the whole field of psychology and pharmacology IN PRACTICE. Note these last two words. I don’t doubt the “we embrace the same facts” theory, as Heath Lambert ably articulates it. But where’s that actually being practiced and who is actually practicing it?
Criticism and Condemnation
Instead, whatever is claimed, the most frequent Christian note with respect to psychology and pharmacology seems to be criticism and condemnation.
Yes, there are exceptions to this. For example, Ed Welch’s Blame it on the Brain? though brief and now a bit dated is helpful. Bob Kellemen’s post on counseling someone with serious depression who wants to try meds, though couched in cautious terms and lacking any “good news story” about medication, is also welcome, although I would not recommend Hodges book to someone in that desperate situation.
So, yes, there are exceptions. But here’s the question: If our biblical worldview is so sure and so strong, why do we rarely see anyone entering the lecture halls, Psychology journals, science labs and research facilities, returning with current facts, figures, and findings, and presenting them from a biblical worldview, as Ham and others do so well in the area of origins. Is there nothing positive to find, learn from, and apply?
If our worldview is so sure and strong, why can’t we more frequently recognize, praise, and use findings, advances, practices, and even meds that secular scientists and psychologists have discovered and have used to help others?
Some Christians might be embarrassed by Ham’s worldview and presuppositions (I’m not, by the way), but you cannot be embarrassed by his current knowledge of the field he is critiquing. I’m afraid that’s not the case in many areas of biblical counseling. If I hear the ancient concession line about the thyroid gland being repeated one more time, my eyes and veins will pop without any thyroid problem!
How about some current brain research? How about some good news stories about medications and how they helped a Christian? How about working much harder to study current secular theories and therapies and finding even the odd grain of helpful truth in them?
I’d love to see a counseling debate along the same lines as the creation debate. But for all the gifted theologians, sound exegetes, and compassionate carers that we have, I don’t know if we have anyone anywhere near as able a champion as Ken Ham on our side; someone who knows enough about our worldview opponents to stand toe-to-toe with them in an informed debate, and debate knowledgeably and respectfully with an opponent of a contrary worldview.
It’s certainly not me, but if you’re out there I’d love to meet you.