Larry Crabb's Gospel

Dr. Lawrence Crabb, Jr. has written a number of books on counseling and Christian growth. From his background in psychology he comes to Scripture with a viewpoint that sounds both appealing and workable. He sees Christians struggling with difficult problems of living and wants to help. He also addresses serious problems having to do with superficiality and ineffective Christian living. He encourages people to develop a close relationship with God and to recognize their dependence on Him. Crabb’s goals for a deeper walk with God, loving relationships, and effective Christian living have inspired many to follow his ideas and methods. However, the way he hopes to solve problems and lead people into a closer walk with the Lord depends heavily on psychological theories and techniques.

Crabb has been sensitive to the criticism of his work through the years. When people criticized him for using psychological terminology rather than biblical, he worked to improve his expression. Along the way he has discarded much of the psychological vocabulary while keeping the psychological concepts, but making them sound more biblical. When he discovered that aspects of his work did not fully satisfy and that he had not yet reached his goal of bringing the best of psychology and the Bible together for the entire body of Christ, he expanded his eclecticism.

Crabb’s book Connecting (1997) includes some admissions, as do his other books. He gives the impression that he is constantly discovering more about the very best way to help people change and grow in their relationship with God and with one another. Yet, his basic model of man and methodology of change remain firmly tied to the psychological theories presented in his earlier books. Each book has enough truth in it to make it appear that the most recent version of his approach is even better and more biblical than the previous one. He is careful, however, to justify the value of his previous work so that no one will misunderstand and think he has discarded his former ideas or repented of his former teachings.

Our first chapter in this book raises the question "Has Larry Crabb Changed?" Our next two chapters examine some of Crabb’s additions and expansions developed in his later books. The remaining chapters are an abridged, revised, and updated version of "Inside-Out Theology," which was originally authored by Martin and Deidre Bobgan and Richard Palizay and was included as Part Two in our book Prophets of PsychoHeresy I. That section examined Crabb’s works up through the publication of Inside Out. However, these chapters (four through ten) include additional examples and references from Crabb’s later books. These references reveal that his original model is still intact even though he has expanded his eclecticism.

Crabb’s amalgamation of psychology with the Bible impinges on the gospel message. Even his theologically correct statements feed into his psychotheology. For instance, he says,

The gospel really is good news. When the internal troubles of people are exposed, when unsatisfied longings are felt in a way that leads to overwhelming pain, when self-centeredness is recognized in every fiber, then (and not until then) can the wonder of the gospel be truly appreciated.1 (Emphasis added.)

While the first sentence is correct, the remainder of the above quote adds psychological requirements beyond those of Scripture.

Crabb interprets the message of the cross according to his psychological ideas about the nature of man and how he changes. The gospel becomes the good news that Jesus meets the needs/longings/passions which motivate all behavior from the unconscious. Sin becomes wrong strategies for meeting the needs/longings/passions. Confession is telling our stories and gaining insight into those wrong strategies. Full repentance comes through getting in touch with the pain of the past. Hence, the gospel message itself is directly tied to a psychological construct. Not only is the doctrine of man psychologized, but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are made subservient to Crabb’s psychospiritual theories.

[Excerpted from Larry Crabb’s Gospel.]

(From PAL V6N4)

PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

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