LinkCare & Christian Psychology
Jon Lutes, Missionary
Many times American Christians have told me that Godís Word is important but not all-sufficient. That there are real problems from our past that must be dealt with by psychological probing, evaluating, and counseling. That validating past feelings is necessary for present healing. That simple trust in and obedience to God are just not adequate in dealing with modern "dysfunctions." That there is a "new" priesthood (Christian psychologists) who have hidden knowledge, which with a sprinkling of Scripture equals healing truth. And all this for mere mammon.
At first I scoffed at this blatant defiance of GOD, His Spirit, and His Truth. But now I am so thankful to the Lord that He opened my eyes. I was able to undergo "Christian" psychology for 5 intensive weeks (for $5,000+). My suspicions and doubts of psychology are gone. They are now convictions based on Godís truth and my experience. I now acknowledge this psychology as a "Trojan Horse" of Satan. It appears to be a gift from the world, but internally it is full of enemies set to steal, kill, and destroy. I cannot say that Christian psychologists are mal-intended or that all their counsel is wicked. I cannot even say that there are not some positive results. Some valuable points may be gleaned. However, whenever truth and error are mixed, the result is impurity and eventual diversion from devotion to GOD alone.
I am not about to write a book critiquing psychology. Rather, I simply want to present a few fundamental snares of the devil in "Christian" psychology. I certainly will not say anything new, but rather some things eternal and unchanging. The basis of this brief article is my experience during a five-week stint at LinkCare, a counseling center for Christian workers. My wife and I were directed there to get help for our marriage. We are missionaries and had returned to the states to grow stronger in our marriage. We had had no prior marriage counseling. However, we came away from this experience at LinkCare not only NOT helped, but instead rather more confused about our marriage and ourselves.
The. whole foundation of psychology is subjective and therefore faulty. There is no objective basis to counseling psychology. Rather it is hidden, mysterious, and subjective. Supposedly only those with the proper degrees have the keys.
There is no absolute, objective standard for normalcy in psychology. Every evaluation we took was produced by natural (unsaved-soulish) men who cannot understand Godís truth (1 Corinthians 2:13-16). These were my judges, the determiners of whether or not we were normal (right).
Rather the LORD is our Judge, He alone is the unchanging standard of righteousness, and His judgment is on the basis of His Word. See I Corinthians 2:14-16; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Hebrews 4:12; John 7:24.
Much of psychology is based on the premise: Our past doings are the key to our present well being. But, in order to open up the past and then evaluate it we need trained professionals. It is too complex for us alone. We spent hours and hours doing preliminary testing. Unsaved, natural people produced all these many tests. In "Christian" psychology we supposedly need other "teachers" (cf., 1 John 2:26,27). It is so complex when we take secular evaluations and assessments to analyze our past that only a "professional specialist" can interpret these secular evaluations.
This premise is not true. My Lordís past and present doings are the key to my present well being! The past is a testimony of His gracious deliverance. See 2 Corinthians 11:3; Philippians 3:13-15.
LinkCare de-emphasizes spiritual affliction and spiritual warfare. It also de-emphasizes spiritual deliverance. There was not one prayer of faith or deliverance on our behalf by a "Christian" psychologist in our 5 weeks. A Bible was never opened or quoted from by a "Christian" psychologist. When we brought up Bible truth we were "affirmed" and our feelings were "validated" and then we proceeded with the secular counsel. When we asked about the possibility of demonic involvement as revealed in the Scriptures, we were told how modern research has shown physiological (natural) bases for such manifestations.
Be wary of the unspiritual! See Galatians 6:1,7,8; Acts 10:38; 1 Peter 5:8,9; Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
This was very frustrating. We sought help. For us, this means: show us our problem, show us the remedy (or correction) of it, equip us to do the right thing, and then be there when we fail or succeed. Some of our problems (which we already knew) were pointed out to us. So far so good. But when we asked about how to overcome we were asked by our psychologist what we feel we ought to do. But that was our problem; we didnít know how to overcome. We were given no practical steps of guidance. We wanted direction and practical help getting there! This is Godís will.
GOD is always directing us to Himself by knowing and living His truth! See Psalm 23:3; John 16:13; 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
LIFO, Life Orientations seminar by Stuart Atkins, which we attended at the strong urging of LinkCare staff (though not required), defied scriptural truth regarding male/female role difference and affirmed bossy and aggressive attitudes as acceptable personality traits. As an example, several of the wives scored high as "Controlling-Talking." They were told by LinkCare staff that this was a positive personality type. God thinks otherwise. See 1 Peter 3:4,5. We were warned, "Donít read the first part of this book. It is merely the LIFO foundersí philosophy and is evolutionary" The whole seminar was built on these principles! Not only unbiblical but also anti-Biblical! Not only ungodly but anti-Christian.
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend was our primary curriculum at LinkCare. This was the only material recommended to us. In fact it was recommended in book form and video to all. This was the focus of our weekly community meeting. It is based on the presupposition that each individual should do what is right in his or her own eyes by setting his or her boundaries of relationship. Sounds like the Biblical book of Judges (see Judges 21:25). But we believers do have a KING! And we are to do what is right in His eyes! See Proverbs 14:12.
Forbidden to pray. We were told that due to the state of some of the brothers we were not allowed to pray during this time. There are several ironies here. This was our time to speak about anything we wanted to. We all expressed a desire to pray together. We were forbidden to pray together during "our" time. I prayed with each member of my menís group after the session (after the clinical psychologist departed). To a man, each brother in my group testified that the prayer time was much more meaningful than the session with the psychologist. He never accepted our invitation to join us in prayer. The most tragic irony is that the Lord has promised healing in praying for one another and this was never allowed in any LinkCare session. See James 5:16.
VALIDATION OF FEELINGS
We were consistently counseled that all our feelings were real and valid. We were affirmed in our feelings/emotions. We were told that we could not control our emotions. However, not all emotions/feelings are valid or good! While we all may have jealousy, pride, envy, hatred, lust, joy, etc., it is not true to say that these are all always good and valid. And the Lord does tell us to control them. We must choose what to rejoice over, what to love, what to hate, what to be jealous about, and what to weep about, etc. (i.e., make proper choices).
Jesus was sorrowful unto death (Matt. 26:37-41; John 12:27-28). Jesus dealt spiritually with feelings and commanded His disciples to do the same! He commanded the weary to come to Him and promised relief (Matt 11:25-30).
Feelings/emotions can be very good signs (indicators) but are terrible leaders.
THE USE, DISUSE, AND MISUSE OF SCRIPTURE
What should make Christian counseling different from secular psychology? The answer is obvious: the objective revelation of God, given to reveal the truth about God, man, and Godís ways and means by which man can be righteous and at peace with God. In other words, the Bible. This was one of the greatest heartbreaks of LinkCare. There seemed to be an assumption that since all or most of the clients were professing Christians that the Bible should not be used. Probably because there could be a "been there, done that" attitude.
In other words, since we were all Christian workers who have been reading the Bible and we still had problems, we needed something besides the Bible. What a lie! Each of us was desperate for absolute, objective, unchanging truth, something on which to anchor our hope.
Instead, we got our feelings affirmed, with no positive direction or guidance. I remember several times pleading for scriptural guidance and being diverted away. Only one time in a session with a pastoral counselor was a Bible opened and we were given scriptural input. We were given three references regarding forgiveness. The amazing thing was that I carefully examined each reference and realized that what we were told these passages meant and what they actually meant were exactly opposite! Daily I checked the Scriptures after our sessions to see if what we were being counseled was true and good. I remember several times bringing up scriptural objections, and they were pooh-poohed as being perhaps relevant then but not today in the light of modern psychological understanding.
A WRONG UNDERSTANDING OF SOUL AND SPIRIT
The whole premise of LinkCare seemed very much to be a backwards understanding of the relationship between soul and spirit. God, the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and all such "spiritual things" are relevant for the spirit. But for the soul these spiritual things were not considered adequate. The soul needed insights and "truth" gleaned from those who have studied the soul ("psychologists"). The fact that these psychologists, especially the founding fathers (e.g., Freud, Erikson, Rogers, Lewin, Fromm, Maslow, Skinner, etc.), were not Christians did not seem to matter because the soul and spirit were viewed as totally separate and distinct.
The way this worked out at LinkCare was a dual track of counseling. We were assigned a clinical psychologist and a pastoral counselor. This seemed to be a rather poor attempt to minister to both the soul and the spirit. Our pastoral counselor did not use Scripture, except one time after much pleading. When we asked him to tell us what he saw our problems were and how we could get out of them, he stated that he was merely a pastoral counselor and therefore not qualified to evaluate our tests. Meanwhile our other marriage counselor, a female clinical psychologist, offered not a single word of marriage counseling.
Actually, the primary difference between the types of counseling was that the pastoral counselor could share on a personal level while the clinical psychologist could only share at a professional (impersonal) level. The common issue is that the soul was emphasized over the spirit. This is wrong. I have done a lot of study on what God says about the soul and spirit. The gist is this: in an unbeliever the soul is dominant. However, in a believer the spirit is dominant, as it has been made alive by the Spirit of God and can therefore understand Godís will and His ways. It can overrule the soul. Obviously this is not true for the unbeliever who does not have this spiritual relationship with God. Indeed, the soulish or natural man (unbeliever) cannot understand and does not accept the things of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:12-16 describes the difference: "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which manís wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man [Greek = "psuchikos"; or "soulish man"] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."
These comments are far too brief and are based on my personal experience. Perhaps this will cause you to wrestle with this yourself and search the Scriptures and seek the Lord. Then it is worthwhile for all of us!
I fully realize this will trouble some of you. Those of you still paying psychologists, I feel for you. On one hand I am glad that you have had someone to talk to and that you may be feeling better. But at what cost? More than money, probably you have missed an opportunity to turn this trial into an intimate, transforming encounter with the Master. But of course He is willing still to take over the counseling and provision of your well-being. And the best part? The cost has been paid by the blood of Jesus!
In a very real sense the end of the matter is this: LinkCare is ministering to the old man, the soulish man, thereby resurrecting that which God wants us to reckon as dead. Due to sensitivity for those who have been through LinkCare or who arc still in bondage there, I have not mentioned other precious brethren who have experienced similar distress at the hands of LinkCare. It is for these dear saints and for those who may be exposed to LinkCare that I dedicate these brief words.
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
PAL V11N5 (Sept-Oct 2003)