I’ve been told a number of times now that if I really want to promote a more biblical, historical, and confessional understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture that I have to prove my bona fides by critiquing secular models of psychology. So, at the risk of writing the least-read blog posts in history, in the coming weeks I plan to analyze the delights of Freudianism, behaviorism, Rogerian therapy, existential therapy, gestalt therapy, and so on. If anyone reads the whole series, let me know, and I’ll send you a voucher for the therapy of your choice. My students usually sleep through my lectures on this subject. Sometimes, I do too. Regular readers and normal people, don’t worry, I’ll only be doing this once a week.
Armed to the Teeth
Before we look at these secular systems, I want to explain my approach to this exercise. I’m assuming that no one is approaching any of these systems of counseling uncritically and unarmed. There is much in them that is hostile to the Christian faith and, therefore, if we enter this arena, we must do so armed with the Word of God and never put it down.
Search and Destroy
So, armed with full confidence in the Word of God and a critical mind towards secular thought, we want to do two things. First of all, we want to search and destroy. We want to cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). Anything contrary to God’s Word must be grounded and pounded with the hammer of God’s Word. Although that’s where many people stop, we must then move on to phase two.
Find and Construct
We want to find and construct. We want to search through the rubble and find any truth that has survived. We shine the light of God’s Word into the wreckage and ask, is there anything in there worth salvaging? Is there anything that would help us understand God’s Word better? Is there anything that would correct our understanding of Scripture? Can we find anything that would supplement our understanding of Scripture while remaining consistent with Scripture (see the inclusion of the wisdom of Amenemope in Proverbs 22-24)? Anything that would help us understand people better and counsel people better? Anything that we could run through the filter of Scripture in order to bring us closer to God’s perfectly comprehensive knowledge of people?
Five Critical Areas
The five areas that we will be examining in each secular system are the five most critical areas in any counseling system:
- Philosophy: What are the system’s basic philosophical presuppositions about truth, reality, etc?
- Personality: What is the system’s theory of human personality, identity, motivation, etc?
- Problem: What is wrong with people and the world and how did it come about?
- Purpose: What is the ideal that we are aiming at? What does wellness or wholeness look like?
- Prescription: How are we going to get from problem to purpose? What is the method of change?