PSYCHOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW OR BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
by Martin & Deidre Bobgan
A psychological worldview encompasses how people think about themselves and others in terms of who they are, how they act and feel, why they act and feel the way they do, and how to change in terms of thoughts, feelings, and behavior from a godless perspective. The world of psychological theories and therapies has shaped the thinking and behaving of how most of American society views human nature apart from God.
The psychological worldview includes the psychoanalytic ideas of such men as Freud, Jung, and Adler; the behavioristic ideas of such men as John Watson, B.F. Skinner , and Albert Ellis; the humanistic ideas of such men as Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers; and from the existential, transpersonal model of man in which autonomous individuals create their own religious and moral values. The psychological world view is focused on the self (psyche) and its needs, desires, and relationships. Self is central and therefore, problems are dealt with from the perspective of personal needs, values, and wants.
We live in a psychological society with psychological ideas about human nature as to why people do what they do, how they change, and how to help them change. Although the psychological worldview is comprised of numerous conflicting ideas, they all boil down to understanding human nature apart from God and generally as a product of evolution.
Most problems are seen as originating from or highly influenced by circumstances outside of the person. The primary help offered to suffering souls comes in the form of conversation between a therapist and client or clients—talk therapy. Therapists listen to their clients’ problems and then directly or indirectly, according to their theoretical orientation, attempt to guide them into finding or working out solutions.
In contrast to the psychological worldview centered in the self, the biblical worldview is centered in God as creator and sustainer of the universe. God created mankind in His own image, male and female (Gen. 1:27). In love He placed them in the Garden of Eden, a virtual paradise. But, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they fell from perfection into a state of corruption that not only changed their lives, but has been passed on to all their descendants throughout the ages. However, God in His great love for His creation provided a means to deliver people from the “power of darkness” and to translate them into the “kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). In the biblical worldview God changes people by grace through faith. God’s way is Christ-centered rather than self-centered and problem-centered. God’s way is the way of love expressed in mercy and truth.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:10-12.)
The biblical worldview engenders love for God and for one another, whereas the psychological worldview engenders the kind of self-love described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
We can see we are in the last days for we are seeing more expressions of the psychological worldview than of the biblical worldview.
Because of the deceitfulness of the world and its psychological understanding of humankind, believers need to equip themselves with the Word of God for their own lives and for being ready to minister His truth in love to one another. Biblical ministry of the Word of God and work of the Holy Spirit through preaching, teaching, and mutual care in the body of Christ is always to be centered in Christ to conform believers into His image. Here Christ’s love will flourish, nourish, and sustain with the truth of the Gospel which sets believers free from the bondage of sin.
In contrast to the biblical ministry of the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, psychological counseling (psychotherapy) is based on a psychological world view and by its very nature is both self-centered and problem-centered as therapists focus on their client and the clients’ problems according to whatever psychotherapeutic system a therapist is using. And, naturally the clients will be self-focused and problem-centered as they are hoping to have someone fix their problems. A counseling environment that is client-focused (self-centered) and problem-centered engenders sinful communication.
Psychological counseling conversations within the counseling environment encourage the counselee to talk about problems, and the natural response is for the client to do so from a deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9). Therefore, in the world of psychological counseling one will hear all forms of evil speaking, sinful communication, and blame, as the counselor attempts to elicit as much information as possible in order to help the client. The client is generally allowed and even encouraged to speak without restraint regarding the client’s circumstances, including the people involved. There will be much unsubstantiated talebearing as the client complains about other people, including parents and spouse. Parents, spouses, and others will be verbally dishonored and blamed, as many clients see themselves as victims. With all the unsubstantiated talebearing and possible slander, the counseling environment becomes a kind of kangaroo court in which those who are not present to defend themselves are further condemned, at least in the minds of the clients.
Private matters concerning those who are not in the counseling room will be revealed, including private matters between a husband and wife. There will be expressions of sinful anger in marriage counseling. There may be arguing, bickering, and blaming the spouse in front of the counselor, in hopes that the counselor will make the spouse change for the better. Any idea of a one-flesh marriage (Eph. 5:31) is violated as husbands and wives stand against each other and the counselor takes charge and thereby usurps the biblical role of the husband.
As sinful communication, stimulated by the counseling environment, continues and mounts up over weeks of counseling, the clients may not be helped, but may continue with counseling because unloading one’s feelings may make some clients feel better for a while. Nevertheless, the more such things are verbalized, the more they become entrenched in the thinking.
Not only is the psychological counseling environment dependent on sinful communication because of its problem-centeredness and self-centeredness, but a psychological worldview itself encourages people to be problem-centered and self-focused and thereby engenders evil speaking. That we live in a psychological society with a psychological worldview can be seen most blatantly in talk shows in which guests tell all without restraint. This psychological worldview with its self-centered and problem-centered counsel has sorely influenced biblical counseling with its problem-centered and even self-centered counseling.
Shift in Confidence
During the past fifty-plus years there has been a dramatic shift in confidence on the part of Christians—away from the sufficiency of God’s Word for problems of living and towards man’s wisdom. After World War II, materialism and affluence led to selfism and a breakdown of the family. This rising affluence with its accompanying narcissism provided fertile ground for the problem-centered counselors and their openness to sinful speaking.
Early on, the mental health associations began sponsoring meetings for dialog between local psychological counselors and pastors. These counseling psychologists convinced pastors that they were not qualified to handle the hard cases and that they needed to be referred out to professional counselors.
With the field of psychological counseling exploding and pastors beginning to refer their flocks to professional counselors came the great “psychological awakening” of evangelical Christianity. If pastors must send their flocks to professional counselors, then there was a crying need for Christians to become trained in psychology. After all, pastors did not want to send their people to “godless” counselors who might not appreciate Christianity. Thus began the era of so-called “Christian psychology,” which is an amalgamation of psychotherapy and the Bible, for which we coined the word psychoheresy, because it is an heretical move away from the Bible.
Sixty years ago evangelical Christianity was almost totally devoid of what we call psychoheresy; now it is predominantly embraced by Christian schools at all levels, mission agencies, denominations, and Christians of all persuasions. Because of concerns about the psychological counseling movement, a group of Christians developed what they called “biblical counseling.” However, they followed the format of psychological counseling with its violation of Scriptures related to evil speaking, the unruly tongue (James 3:2-12), and addressing problems. In essence they have a mixed view of people and how to handle problems. Thus, regarding the nonphysical aspects of mankind, many Christians actually hold conversational aspects of a psychological worldview, while at the same time thinking they hold a fully Christian worldview.
Biblical Worldview of the Soul
How can a Christian develop a biblical worldview of the soul, which includes those immaterial aspects of the human called the soul (the psyche) in the midst of a society that assumes and promotes a secular worldview of the soul and has captured the word psychology, which means the study of the soul? And, how can a Christian develop a biblical worldview of the mind, will, emotions, and behavior in the midst of a church that has been combining the carnal with the sacred regarding human nature? The initial answer comes from the following question: What does the Bible say?
The Bible majors on the identity, nature, and acts of God and also on what God says about the identity, nature, and acts of mankind. What higher source is there? Because God created mankind in His image (male and female) individuals cannot truly know themselves without knowing God, who is perfect in love, mercy, justice, power, knowledge, and presence. God has revealed both Himself and all aspects of the soul in His Word and in His Son, who is Himself the revealed Word of God.
The Bible also shows forth the condition of mankind lost in sin and all that is possible in the new nature, which has been procured by Christ through the Cross. The old nature, also called the “old Man” or the “flesh,” began in the Garden of Eden when Eve trusted Satan more than God and when Adam followed Eve into sin. The new life in Christ was first demonstrated by Christ in His dependence on the Father and in His constant communion with Him. The new life in Christ is described throughout the New Testament.
A believer does not need any kind of counseling that explores the old nature or the flesh through sinful conversations of counseling. God has already provided new life to the believer, the indwelling Holy Spirit for doing the inner work of transformation, the Bible for instruction, and fellow believers for preaching, teaching, admonishing, and encouraging. The Word of God gives accurate and complete information about how to live the Christian life:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16-17.)
There is no psychological theory of human nature or psychotherapy that can make anyone “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is because God gives the directions in His Word and supplies the ability through His Spirit.
When Christ died in the place of sinners, He not only provided forgiveness and cleansing from sin; He also gives His own life to dwell in them through the Holy Spirit. Thus, He imparts the new inner life for every believer to be conformed to His image. As believers seek the Lord and look to Him daily and as they learn to trust and obey Him, they know Him more deeply and reflect Him more fully. Because the Holy Spirit is working within them, believers become more like Christ as they look at Him and follow Him: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3: 18).
The Daily Walk
The Christian walk is one of a love relationship with God providing all that is needed for life and godliness. God is trustworthy and, as believers follow Christ, they will reflect Him more and more. Jesus said:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:23-25, bold added.)
In his commentary of the New Testament, William MacDonald spells this out:
To deny self means willingly to renounce any so-called right to plan or choose, and to recognize His lordship in every area of life. To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life He lived. This involves: … The reproach of the world…. Complete dependence on the Lord…. Suffering for righteousness’ sake…. Slander and shame….Pouring out one’s life for others…. But it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed. It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward.2
The Christian life is to be ongoing, moment by moment, as Christ is living His life in and through the believer. The saints over the years who have had a deep spiritual walk with the Lord were in the faith daily, because they believed the love of God that passes understanding. They had found the results of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19:
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
How much more satisfying to the soul to turn to God with this prayer than to discuss problems and problem people with much evil speaking that surely grieves the indwelling Holy Spirit! (Eph. 4:30). How much more pleasing to God when the believer is living by “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”! (Eph. 4:24).
Through the centuries there have been believers who have found strength and endurance through trials. In fact, they came to know Christ intimately in difficult times as well as in peaceful times. Some experienced His presence under severe trials to the point of burning at the stake. They found their strength, comfort, joy, and peace in Christ. All these are available to all who have been born of the Spirit by grace through faith.
Therefore, those who come alongside to encourage fellow believers going through trials have much to offer in place of the kind of sin-filled problem-centered counseling. They can remind and encourage fellow believers in their walk with the Lord.
A daily walk in fellowship with the Lord should be the norm for Christians. However, the lack of a daily walk with the Lord is probably one of the biggest shortcomings in many believers’ lives, and this lack is frequently more pronounced when people are experiencing personal and/or interpersonal problems. We encourage all who are in the dire circumstances of life to diligently seek God daily so that they might grow in the things of the Spirit, rather than being swallowed up by the trials, tribulations, and sufferings of life.
The way through suffering is truly the daily walk with the Lord, not the weekly rehashing with a counselor. In contrast to sinfully discussing the problems, as biblical counselors do, we believe that talking about and encouraging the daily walk will serve to mature believers and put them into a position where the necessary wisdom and knowledge for what to do will come from the Lord. Those who minister to fellow believers should themselves have a very definite walk with the Lord each day. Then, as the daily walk is discussed, those who minister will know what to encourage and to suggest, especially in weak areas where changes may need to be suggested.
Living by Grace through Faith
Rather than dwelling on problems, those who are ministering biblically to another person will talk much about the provisions, privileges, and practices of the believer’s daily walk with the Lord. Oneness with Christ is so profound and continuous that He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). Just the idea of the Creator of the universe even bothering to notice one person in His entire cosmos is astounding!
Add to that the tremendous privilege of prayer. Believers can be in communication with God throughout the day. In addition, there is the confidence and security of knowing that God watches over each believer and knows everything that is going on, both in the circumstances and in the accompanying thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. There is the wonderful benefit of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit to guide and to prick the conscience when there is sin.
The believer’s provisions in Christ for walking in a manner pleasing to God are available moment by moment so that the daily walk does not have to be one of self-effort and constant failure. These are privileges available to those who are seeking to please God and to walk according to the Spirit. They all come by grace through faith exercised through obedience and through turning to Him in every situation.
The Christian life consists of doing what Christians are enabled to do day by day by grace through faith according to the Word. Therefore those who minister need to teach, remind, and encourage fellow believers to be walking by faith daily. Encouraging faith in Christ is the most essential aspect of any ministry. After all, whatever individuals truly believe will show up in their words and actions. Those who truly believe that Christ is in them will act accordingly. Thus obedience to Christ’s commands follows faith in Him. A Christian’s behavior is therefore the practical outworking of what is truly believed, because true believers have been given all that is necessary to act according to their faith in Christ. This is the essence of the daily walk.
Those who minister biblically will encourage the daily walk emphasizing the elements without prescribing details. The daily walk can be summed up in a few words: trust and obey throughout the day. In discussing the daily walk with those in need, questions can be asked about what the individuals are already doing and what has been particularly helpful in the past. Some people use a daily devotional guide and/or a Scripture reading calendar. Many worship and praise God by singing and/or listening to recorded hymns and spiritual songs. The believer’s greatest resource for the daily walk is the Lord Himself and His Word.
The Holy Spirit lives in every believer and will enable believers to know whether they are walking according to their new life in Christ or according to their own fleshly nature as they remember that He knows every thought, word, attitude, and action. For instance, when we are not trusting Him, we are likely to become frustrated, irritated, unkind, and unloving. When we are not trusting Him, we may be trying to change things our own way rather than seeking God for His will. These are clues to let us know when we are not trusting and obeying. Then when something goes wrong, we have the privilege of prayer, and, even though God already knows the need, we are placing our trust in Him when we pray.
Even when we are involved in work that takes a great deal of concentration, we can be aware of God’s presence in a similar way of knowing that a family member or fellow worker is in the same room. Then, as we purposely acknowledge His presence at various moments in the day, we give Him honor and He will direct our way: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).
When people are experiencing problems of living—emotional, relational, financial—they need more than conversation, particularly the kinds of sinful conversations found in counseling. They need to know God’s will and they need His power to work in them. Therefore, believers need to pray for one another and themselves the prayer that Paul prayed for the Colossians: “that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9). How can a person know God’s will apart from God Himself and His Word? Will God answer such a prayer? Perhaps not the way a person may want, but He does answer with what a person truly needs at the appropriate time. Psychological counseling and its biblical look-alikes pale in comparison to what God promises individuals when they ask in faith. We can go to God directly and He knows us through and through. He knows our needs and our circumstances.
Paul prays further: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10). How glorious! Paul’s next words of prayer speak to the great need of believers: that they would be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:11). These are God-given provisions for all problems of living and especially for long-lasting trials. Paul continues His prayer with a reminder to be thankful for salvation and the new life in Christ (Col. 1:12-14).
As we thank God for these eternal blessings and think about them at times through the day, we will be encouraged and strengthened in our daily affairs. Moreover, this spiritual life He has so graciously given to believers is not only for the here and now but for all eternity. Therefore, believers have a hope beyond all hope: an assured hope for eternal life with Christ, which is being prepared by Him, in which we will be forever with Him in a love relationship that surpasses what anyone can think or imagine
Believers will grow into the likeness of Christ as they follow Him throughout the day and as they give intentional attention to the Lord and His Word early in the day and at various times throughout each day. By doing this, they will be growing in the knowledge of God, deepening their faith, and thriving in their spiritual walk, while remembering Christ Himself, considering His glorious attributes, living His life in them, and looking for His glorious return. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”! (Rev. 22:20).
1 “Worldview,” Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/world-view.
2 William MacDonald. Believers Bible Commentary: New Testament. Nashville Thomas Nelson Publishers,1990, p. 219.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2018, Vol. 26, No.4)
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2018, Vol. 26, No.4)