My pastor says I should see a psychologist to help with my problem. Should I?
It doesn’t shock us to hear that pastors are pushing their church members to psychologists for help. Larger churches are even hiring psychologists to be on staff to better align with today’s social justice agenda, which stresses mental health.
But psychology is not what hurting believers need. In a thousand lifetimes, no amount of humanistic psychology could accomplish what Jesus Christ can do in a single moment.
When we were coming up in church, if a believer had a problem, he went to the pastor and received what the Word of God said about his situation. Then the pastor—and sometimes the whole church—prayed for him. The Lord was our help then, and He is our help now.
But most churches now consider faith in Christ and the cross a thing of the past. Psychiatry, psychology, and psychoanalysis are now the guiding lights of the modern church.
In his book, The Psychological Society, Martin Gross, said, “When educated man lost faith in formal religion, he required a substitute belief that would be as reputable in the last half of the twentieth century as Christianity was in the first. Psychology and psychiatry have now assumed that special role.”
Almost every major denomination promotes the world of psychology as the answer to the ills of man. While many of these preachers and religious leaders might claim to believe in the cross, the truth is, you cannot promote both causes at the same time. Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
With psychology’s hold on the pulpit, Christians suffer. Those who desperately need divine deliverance and healing from addictions, anxieties, depression and oppression, suicidal thoughts, family troubles, and stress are being redirected from Jesus Christ to the “science of mind and behavior.”
If pastors think psychology is the answer for sin, then they’re only fooling themselves because it holds no answers, can cause extreme harm, and leads believers away from the true help available in Christ Jesus.
What Is Psychology?
Psychology is not a viable science, and no true scientist will claim that it is. In fact, there is no proof that it has ever helped anyone.
The trouble with psychology is that it declares neither the cause of man’s problems nor the cure. Psychology centers on symptoms. A Christian goes to a psychologist and when his symptoms are identified, he grows confident that the psychologist also knows the cause and cure of his problem, but he doesn’t.
The Bible is very clear on this subject—man’s problem is sin. He fell in the garden of Eden through pride, deception, and unbelief, and these three maladies continue to plague humanity.
Nothing can be more opposed to the fundamental truth of the gospel than the theory of a gradual improvement in the sinner’s condition, which completely blows to pieces the hypothesis of humanistic psychology. The sinner is born in a certain condition, and until he is born again, he cannot be in any other condition. He may try to improve, and he may resolve to turn over a new leaf and live a different sort of life. But all the while, he has not moved a single hair’s breadth out of his real condition as a sinner. He may become religious, try to pray, or exhibit an appearance of moral reform, but none of these things can, in the smallest degree, affect his negative condition before God.
Psychology teaches that man is inherently good, and if he does something wrong, it’s because of his outside environment, or events beyond his control. No person is ever guilty, so there can be no judgment because there is no culpability on the part of the individual. But if man is not guilty, as psychology claims, then why is he plagued with guilt?
The Bible teaches the very opposite: as a result of the fall, man is sinful and wicked, responsible for his actions, and will ultimately answer to God. Man’s problem is a spiritual problem, and the only answer to his spiritual problem is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The great struggle that goes on in the Christian is whether to trust man or God. A decision of whether a believer should seek “Christian counseling” is a perfect example of this struggle.
The problem with Christian counselors is that they don’t view the Bible as sufficient to heal or get through the issue, so they grab humanistic psychology and try to intertwine the two. What they fail to understand is that problems in living—emotional, mental, relational, or behavioral—all of it has a spiritual core to it.
Sociologist William Kirk Kilpatrick said, “True Christianity does not mix well with psychology. When you try to mix them, you often end up with a watered-down Christianity instead of a Christianized psychology. But the process is subtle and is rarely noticed. It is not a frontal attack on Christianity. It is not even a case of the wolf at the door. Actually, the wolf is already in the fold, dressed in sheep’s clothing. From the way it was petted and fed by some of the shepherds, one would think it was the prize sheep.”
We believe the Lord takes the same dim view of this Christianity-psychology mix as He did of King Asa and his heathenistic physicians.
At the beginning of his reign, the Bible says, “And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God” (II Chron. 14:2). But later on, Asa decides to ignore the Lord. He fails to remember all that the Lord had done for him and chooses to follow the way of the world.
Asa was drifting—spiritually drifting—as are so many Christians today. And, like King Asa, they no longer remember what the Lord did for them at Calvary’s cross, so they turn—with the help of those leading them—to the ways of the world.
The Bible says, “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians” (II Chron. 16:12).
To be clear, the Lord is not opposed to Christians seeing medical doctors. Luke, who wrote two of the great books of the Bible, was a physician. The physicians spoken of in this passage were probably Egyptian physicians who sought to bring about healing by charms, incantations, and mystic arts.
Asa had the privilege of seeking the Lord or demon spirits. He chose demon spirits and paid dearly for it. Are Christians today doing the same thing when they choose psychology over the counsel of God? The foray of the church into humanistic psychology presents a direction that is not of God. The Holy Spirit refers to this as human wisdom and says it is “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).
The psychological way and the way of the cross are so diametrically opposed to each other that there is no way the two can be wedded. Preachers who claim these can work together are walking in terrible ignorance of the cross of Christ or gross unbelief.
Christ the Counselor
The hurting child of God should turn to Christ for His counsel.
The Holy Spirit through Isaiah gives Christ five glorious names, “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Counselor, and His is the only true counsel there is. As Creator, He knows everything about us—our past, our present, and our future. Christ’s counsel is the Word of God, and it contains everything that man needs (II Peter 1:3-4).
To entertain the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ—the Counselor—is not totally qualified to meet the needs of modern humanity and somehow needs the help of humanistic psychology is ignorance at best and blasphemy at worst.
Anything that lauds the psychological way is, at this same time, repudiating the cross. The church cannot have it both ways; it must return to Christ and the cross. If we attempt to address man’s sin problem through psychology or any manner other than the cross, the result will be failure.