In 1987 we briefly addressed our concerns about Dr. Lawrence Crabbs integration of psychology and Christianity in our book PsychoHeresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity. A number of people approached us with the understanding that Crabb had changedthat he had discarded his use of psychology and had become more biblical in his approach. Thus, we examined his two books, which had led people to think he had changed: Understanding People and Inside Out. We then critiqued those books along with his earlier ones in Prophets of PsychoHeresy I. Our conclusions, based on evidence from those books, remained the same. Larry Crabb integrates psychology with Christianity, and in those two books he presents a psychologized substitute for sanctification, all the while sounding very biblical to the unwary.
In Prophets of PsychoHeresy I we agreed with Crabb on the crucial importance of Christian sanctification being an inner work with outward consequences. However, we disagreed with his psychological explanations and methods by which he hopes to achieve that inner change. While Crabb contends that his understanding about the nature and behavior of man is thoroughly biblical, his books reveal a heavy reliance on his background in clinical psychology.
Though he claims to be a biblical counselor,
Crabbs explanations and ways of change come from
psychology. On the one hand, he says that "the
Scriptures provide the only authoritative information on
counseling."1 But, on the other hand he
declares that "psychology and its specialized
discipline of psychotherapy offer some valid insights
about human behavior which," according to his own
opinion, "in no way contradict
Like other integrationists, Crabb seeks to combine psychological theories and therapies with the Bible.3 In his earlier book Effective Biblical Counseling, he described his method of integration as "Spoiling the Egyptians."4 The label "Egyptians" represents psychological and psychiatric theorists. He argued there that if a counselor will "carefully screen" concepts from psychology he will be able to determine their "compatibility with Christian presuppositions."5
Crabb argued that his method of screening would enable the church to glean "useful insights" from psychology without compromising commitment to Scripture. Crabb identified his position as striking the balance between what he calls "Tossed Salad" (integrationists who are careless in their integration) and "Nothing Buttery" (those who have a "simplistic model of counseling" since it is based exclusively on the Word of God).6 He claimed that a Christian who would "spoil" according to his guidelines "would be better equipped to counsel," than either the "Tossed Salad" or "Nothing Buttery" counselors.7
Problems with Integration.
While an integrationist may truly admire the Bible, his unwavering reliance on psychology shows an equal, if not greater, confidence in secular theories and therapies. Adding unverified psychological theories and techniques to biblical data reveals an insufficient confidence in Scripture. It broadcasts a constant signal that the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit are not enough for life and godliness. Integration implies that God gave commands without providing all the necessary means of obedience until the advent of psychology. It indirectly faults God for leaving Israel and the church ill equipped for thousands of years until psychoanalytic and humanistic psychologists came along with the necessary insights. It seems to discount the possibility of living the Christian life solely through spiritual means provided by God in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.
Integrationists face the constant dilemma of defending their dual faith in Scripture and psychology. The Bibles claim to be sufficient in all matters of life and conduct contradicts their efforts. Numerous passages extol the sufficiency, power, and excellency of Gods Word. For instance 2 Peter 1:2-4 says:
The Bible is not meant to work independently from God Himself. The Bible is sufficient because the Lord Himself works through His Word. If a person tries to use the Bible apart from Christ ruling in His heart, he may claim that the Bible lacks practical answers for lifes difficulties. However, it is through the Bible that God reveals Himself and works His divine power in Christians. The Bible is more than words on a page. Every word is backed by Gods mighty power, His perfect righteousness, His love, His grace, and His wisdom. Thus God not only gives precious promises and instructions for living; He enables a believer to obey His Word. That is why the Bible is sufficient for life and conduct. Paul declared that he would not depend upon the wisdom of men, but on the power and wisdom of God. Not only is human wisdom foolishness in comparison with Gods wisdom; human words lack the divine power necessary to transform a person into the likeness of Christ and to enable him to live the Christian life according to Gods will. God uses the wisdom and power of the Scriptures to enable believers to please Him and bear fruit:
No psychological doctrine can even come close to that claim, nor can it add power for change.
While sincere integrationists believe that there are psychological theories about the nature of man and therapies for change that do not contradict Scripture, the root remains the same. Jesus was always concerned about ungodly roots and about following the traditions of men instead of the Word of God. Paul also warned:
Thus the problem always haunting an integrationist is the source from which he has borrowed: psychological counseling systems which were devised by agnostics and atheists to answer questions about the human condition without regard for the Creator and His Word.
Is Crabb Still an Integrationist?
Every time Larry Crabb writes a new book people tell us he has changed, but perhaps his statement from Understanding People best expresses the kind of change that really occurs each time he tries to become "more biblical" without letting go of his dependence on psychological notions about human nature. Crabb says:
Crabb may change his terminology and expression, sounding more biblical with each book, yet without disentangling himself from psychotherapeutic theories he likes. Crabbs fairly recent book Finding God once again suggests that he has at last discovered the emptiness of psychotherapeutic theory. But, once again he criticizes those aspects of psychotherapy he does not agree with and he continues to belittle those who would depend upon the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Just as in his earlier books, Crabb presents his seemingly right combination of psychology and Christianity.
In Finding God Crabb attempts to help fellow believers come to know God better. However, once again he presents a murky mixture of worldly psychological notions with the Bible.
1Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. Effective biblical
Counseling. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
1977, p. 15.
PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110
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