Should a Christian trust psychology?Question: "Should a Christian trust psychology?"
Answer: Psychology is the study of the human mind and its functions. We can learn much from the observation of how the mind works. However, there is a difference between learning from psychology and trusting psychology for the answers to mankind’s spiritual condition.
First, the worldview of psychology is often far different from the teachings of the Bible. Modern psychology frequently takes a solidly humanistic approach in which decisions are made based on human observations apart from the sufficiency of Scripture.
The Bible teaches that it is sufficient to equip the child of God with what he or she needs to serve God in this world: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). In other words, unless there is some kind of physical or medical condition involved, the principles needed to answer the problems of our human condition can be found in Scripture.
Second, the Bible frequently points people to God as the source of help for times when we mentally struggle. The book of Psalms expresses many difficult struggles and emotions yet consistently points to God’s strength as the solution (see Psalm 43:5). Even when Jonah was angry with God and wanted to die, the answer to his wretched mood was not human counseling or medication but to see God’s perspective on the situation (Jonah 4).
Third, it is important to recognize there are many mental issues that involve both physical and spiritual conditions. For example, a person could experience low energy due to a medical concern that also leads to showing less compassion for other people or outbursts of anger toward loved ones. Scripture does not condemn addressing problems with our physical body through medical assistance. However, it also calls us to be responsible in our actions regardless of our physical issues.
Fourth, Christians should be careful not to rely on modern psychological methods as an excuse to live irresponsibly. Just as Adam and Eve blamed others when they sinned (Genesis 3), we likewise often seek to place blame on other people or reasons other than our own sin. When we struggle, we need to honestly evaluate whether our problem is due to our own wrong decisions and desires or due to something else. We should not automatically blame a psychological condition.
In many cases, biblical counseling with a pastor or godly therapist can address the daily issues we face with God’s answers. In these situations, we do not need to trust modern psychology for help; rather, we can rely on God’s Sprit, God’s Word, and God’s people to encourage and guide us. When we do face situations involving genuine physical issues, we can seek medical assistance while continuing to live for God despite our physical limitations.
Recommended Resource: Christian Counseling, Revised and Updated Third Edition by Gary Collins
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