Why Christians Can’t Trust Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology

By Rick Miesel, excerpted from The BDM Letter, Vol. 3, No. 5.,

Biblical Discernment Ministries, P. O. Box 6154, Bloomington, IN 47407.


Dr. Ed Bulkley is the author of Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology (Harvest House, 1993). There are a number of problems with Bulkley’s book, theology, and advanced degree.

As one looks at the cover of the book, one sees after Bulkley’s name in large letters the designation Ph.D. The material BDM [Biblical Discernment Ministries] requested and received from LIFE Fellowship, the church Bulkley pastors in Westminster, Colorado, is littered with "Dr." But what kind of a doctorate is this?

Bulkley received his Ph.D. from Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, a non-accredited correspondence school (accredited by a non-recognized accrediting agency). There are many non-traditional schools, colleges, and seminaries in America that do meet the minimum standards of accreditation. But Trinity Theological Seminary is not one of them.

Bulkley’s correspondence Ph.D., which is prolifically used at his church, is not acceptable in academic circles nor in academic institutions. For example, no accredited seminary would be interested in employing someone based solely upon such a degree. Bulkley, like many other pastors, seems caught up in the desire for prestige and respect that accompanies the using of academic-sounding letters after one’s name.

To his credit, Bulkley believes that the place for counseling is in the church (Trust, Chap. 13). However, this is an example of verbally stating one position and practically holding another one. In contrast to his the-place-for-counseling-is-in-the-church position, Bulkley recommends the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), a counseling ministry outside the church (Trust, pp. 290-292, 358). (To make matters worse, CCEF is an organization that practices psychological integrationism.) What sounds like a strong position about counseling ministries needing to be in the church turns into a strong support for a ministry outside the church. And, like CCEF, Bulkley charges fees for counseling—$50 per hour at LIFE Fellowship (personal letter on file). To his credit, this fee is charged only to non-members; yet there is no rationale for such a charge unless Bulkley also charges non-members for attending services at his church. We doubt he would do this.

Another discrepancy in Bulkley’s position is how he says he believes that Christians can’t trust psychology; yet he praises or excuses the psychologizers themselves. By so doing, Bulkley leaves the impression that he, at some level and in some ways, actually trusts psychology, but never says where or how. His book gives the impression of greater generosity towards those who promote psychoheresy than those who fight it. In fact, Bulkley is quite critical of the vanguards and veterans of the battle against psychoheresy (Trust, p. 8).

Overall, it appears not to bother Bulkley that "Christian" psychologizers are destroying the church with their heresy. To the contrary, Bulkley has many nice things to say about psychological integrationists in Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology. He refers to Christian psychologists as "my psychological brethren" (p. 7) and "my integrationist brethren" (pp. 271, 351). He says, "I truly believe that they are sincerely trying to help the hurting. I love them and respect them" (p. 271). But are we to love and respect those who teach a false gospel, which psychology clearly is? Or are we to rebuke and correct them?

Bulkley even believes that Christians can benefit from the godless teachings of psychology. He says, "I do not dispute the fact that biblical counselors can glean from psychology some helpful ideas, observations, illustrations, and generic methods with which to communicate God’s solutions for man’s problems. [What about 2 Peter 1:3? Is God’s Word sufficient or not?] But these are not the same as accepting ‘psychological’ findings as essential truths about man’s nature, problems, needs and solutions" [sounds pretty close to it] (pp. 28-29,32).

Bulkley also "readily admit[s] that some of what integrationists write is helpful and biblically solid. . . . [yet] as committed to Christ as many integrationists are, their theories of counseling appear to be strongly influenced by unproved psychological concepts. . . . [Nevertheless] I genuinely commend Christian psychologists for their desire to serve the Lord and His people" (p. 33). Bulkley doesn’t explain how these "committed integrationists" can be committed to Christ, desiring to serve Him, when all the while they reject the exclusivity of His all-sufficient Word (2 Peter 1:3). These types of generalizations and hypothetical statements are common in Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology.

(From PAL V3N2)


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