Psychoheresy in the Pulpit

Comments on Britt Merrickís 11-26-06 Sermon at Reality, Carpinteria, CA
"The Spirit-Filled Family: Parents and Children"


The primary promoters of psychoheresy used to be people who studied psychology directly and then combined what they learned with Christianity. These were generally psychologists who practiced counseling based upon personality theories of secular psychotherapists, such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Albert Ellis, and Thomas Harris. Such psychology was incorporated into the pastoral care classes in seminaries and then seminaries began to train professional psychological counselors. Soon these Christians turned psychologists brought their theories and therapies into the Christian mainstream through their books, radio interviews, and speaking engagements. Psychological counseling became the answer to every dilemma, not only in the world, but also in the church.

As demonstrated in our other writing, these counseling theories and therapies are based on human opinion rather than strict scientific investigation. Furthermore, because of how they attempt to deal with the very same issues dealt with by Godís Word, these psychological theories and therapies constitute a rival religion. Nevertheless, there are many who supplement Scripture with psychological theories (opinions), which are no more than the very wisdom of men about which Scripture warns believers. Not only is Scripture supplemented; it is being supplanted. Scriptureís clear meaning is hijacked by these theories as psychology is used to interpret the very Word of God. After about a half-century of expansion, psychoheresy is everywhere in the church to the degree that even many pastors who want to be biblical are preaching psychological answers for living the Christian life. Thus every believer needs to be a Berean!

We recently heard a sermon titled "The Spirit-Filled Family: Parents and Children." This sermon is quite typical of many that are a mixture of biblically sound teachings and psychologically contaminated ones. Since this sermon, along with sermon notes, is posted on the web, we thought it would be helpful to our readers to go through the sermon and notes as an exercise in being a Berean in the pew. While not everyone may be able to identify the source of the psychoheresy, there is a question that every believer must ask as he listens to sermons: "Where is this in Scripture?" This question is especially important when the statement to be examined is being used to explain, clarify, or expand on a verse or its application. Besides the Bereans looking to see if what Paul was preaching was truly biblical (Acts 17:10-11), Paul gave instructions for everyone to judge what is said when believers meet together: "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge" (1 Cor. 14:29). Discernment is especially needful today! Therefore we all need to: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness" (2 Timothy 2:15, 16).

The sermon being analyzed is "The Spirit-Filled Family: Parents and Children" on Colossians 3:20-21 preached by Britt Merrick at Reality, Carpinteria, CA, on 11-26-06.

Sermon: Link http://realitymessages.com/audio/2006-11-26-The_Spirit_Filled_Family_Parents_and_Children-Col_3.20.21.48kbps.mp3

Sermon Notes: http://reality.sjc.cachefly.net/notes/StudyNotes-2006-11-26-Parents_and_Children.pdf

Analysis of Sermon on Colossians 3:20-21
"The Spirit-Filled Family: Parents and Children"

In analyzing this sermon, we title the area of concern, state what the preacher said, describe the psychoheresy involved, and then give a biblical solution. Numerals in parentheses indicate minutes and seconds into the recorded message at the previously given web site.

Adding Psychological Opinions to the Word of God

What the Preacher Said:

At the beginning the preacher said that the Bible "says surprisingly little about parenting. It has some things to say Ö but not as much as we would like" (4:34). He continued with "The Bible approaches life.... by putting Jesus Christ on the throne of our lives and everything will fall into place Ö sets our other relationships in order." We say Amen to that! However, after that he proceeded to use psychological opinions to expand the meaning of Colossians 3:21. In adding psychological opinions to the Word of God, the preacher quoted the following from Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott:

"If he lives with criticism he does not learn responsibility. He learns to condemn himself and to find fault with others. He learns to doubt his own judgment, to disparage his own ability, and to distrust the intentions of others. And above all, he learns to live with continual expectation of impending doom" (Ginott quoted in the preacherís notes, p. 4).

Psychoheresy Involved:

In discussing Colossians 3:21, "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged," his examples were psychologically tainted in describing what provoking anger looks like and why that is so dangerous, to the point of having life-long consequences. Quoting psychologists as experts is preaching the religion of the world, even if some of what they say sounds factual and even makes sense. Psychologists speak as experts, as if what they say is absolutely true, when it is generally their opinion based upon their own psychological viewpoint.

The Haim Ginott Between Parent and Child quote may sound as if it is true, but research has shown otherwise (see our later comments). His words are very Freudian. He sounds predictive, but that generality may apply only to a few people. He has built an imaginary figure based upon his own Freudian-influenced imagination and his own definition of self-esteem. This is an example of the kinds of myths from psychology that many Christians believe.

The Ginott quote, which is stated in absolutist language, is quite characteristic of the psychological mindset. If A happens to a child, he will turn out to be or do B. Except for extreme cases, Ginottís assertion is, scientifically speaking, untrue (more on this later). It is true that no one should be unjustly critical of a child, but it is untrue that such criticism will automatically cause all the horrible consequences Ginott lists in what the preacher quoted.

Ginott and other psychologists over-dramatize the fragility of children rather than referring to the resilience of children (more on this later). Some children may actually become overly conscientious in being responsible as a response to criticism. Self-condemnation does not necessarily lead to finding fault in others. And some, in the face of constant criticism quit listening and form their own judgment and place themselves in a superior position to their parents. Of course this would be bad, too. But the point is that Ginottís statement is too authoritative sounding and too general and should not be quoted as evidence of anything but Ginottís opinion. Quoting Ginott and listing his book in the preacherís sermon notes may encourage parents to read his book. If they do, they will get a psychological rather than a biblical view of mankind.

When a pastor is teaching from the Bible and quoting psychological opinions to expand the understanding, people begin to trust psychology more than they should. As it is too many Christians trust what psychologists say. And when Christian pastors and leaders quote Ginott and others like him, their listeners may easily assume that the statement is true and put it into the same mental category of truth as Scripture. That is why pastors have to be especially careful in quoting psychologists as experts. These are often opinions absent solid research. There is a vast chasm between psychological research and psychological counseling theories and therapies. Personality theories are based more on the personal opinions and life experiences of the theorists (e.g. Freud, Jung, Adler, Maslow, Fromm, Rogers, Ellis). Moreover, none of the theorists who established the practice of psychology were Christians. Some were adamantly opposed to Christianity and some were heavily involved in the occult (Freud, Jung, and Rogers).

A Biblical Solution:

Stick with Scripture and biblical exegesis. The preacher did not have to go outside Scripture. He could have shown what provoking to anger looks like by going elsewhere in Scripture, even though these are addressed to all interpersonal relationships. Examples of sinful interpersonal behavior would have particular bearing on the relationship between parents and children. The preacher could have used Ephesians 4:25-5:2. For instance, "corrupt communication" would include rude, humiliating, debasing remarks that could provoke wrath.

Confirming a Victimhood Stance

What the Preacher Said:

In warning parents about what might happen to their children if they provoke their children to wrath, the preacher said:

"As a pastor again, I sit with people . . . . I have grown men weep in my office. . . . My dad never told me he loved me. . . . My dad said I would never amount to anything. And, my mom called me good-for nothing. . . . . The human heart seldom gets over things like that" (24:56).

Psychoheresy Involved:

In dramatizing the complaints of these men, the preacher may have encouraged a victimhood stance, not only for them but for others who had less-than-perfect childhoods. Psychology has made much of this and has encouraged people to pay attention to how they were hurt when they were children. This is a great emphasis in psychology, because of the false belief that these long-past hurtful things formed the personís present personality and caused his current problems. Examples of adults describing their bad childhood to support sermon points will not help those adults to get over their "woundedness." Rather it confirms their victimhood.

Many Christians are still blaming their parents and past circumstances for their present problems. Many Christians believe the Freudian myth that what happened to them in the past determines their present words, actions, attitudes, and behavior. They are still blaming their parents and past circumstances for their present problems. Or they are still complaining that their parents did such and such or deprived them of such and such. They see themselves as wounded and needing healing. In doing so they are missing a powerful truth from Scripture that would set them free from the position of being a victim of the past needing to be healed.

A Biblical Solution:

The flesh cries out, "Iím a victim!" However, Christians need to be brought to a place where they see first and foremost how they have sinned against others through thoughts and behavior as they were growing up.

The preacher gave a solution when he said, "The truth of Jesus has set you free." The truth of Jesus will indeed set them free if they believe it and follow it to the point of trusting God enough to repent of their bitterness, etc. Indeed, there is much they can do in response to all that Christ has done for them.

There is great hope in Romans 8:28-29, knowing that "all things [truly] work together for good," not only for believersí present and future circumstances, but also for all that happened to them prior to salvation. If a grown believer, for instance, who has survived great difficulties as a child sees that God can and does use every circumstance in his life for a purpose, there is hope. For indeed God does use "all things [past, present, and future to] work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose." The words of the very next verse speak of Godís foreknowledge. Therefore God was cognizant of all that was happening to one who would become "conformed to the image of His Son."

Rather than wallowing in self pity or blaming parents for oneís own sinful ways, a person can become free from the bondage of the past by the truth of Scripture. Part of that bondage has come through the lies of the enemy that cause people to believe that they are the way they are because of their past and are therefore stuck to the past. Part of that bondage comes from hanging on to the old man through thinking about all the bad stuff of the past. Freedom comes through realizing that God allowed those circumstances for reasons beyond human comprehension: for His glorious purposes to bless His people, to conform them to the image of Christ, and to use His children in present opportunities to minister in the Body of Christ, and for magnificent purposes extending into eternity (Romans 8:28-29). Remember what Joseph said to his brothers: "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Genesis 50:20). Indeed there have been Christians whose most difficult childhoods prepared them for serving God in unique and important ways.

Another consideration is that if Christians blame the past for their present circumstances, they are also blaming God for their past and present circumstances. Rather than pathetically looking for healing, they need to repent. They need to turn around and quit looking at the past, quit blaming the past, and put off the old man. Christians have been given a brand new life in Christ. How can they live that new life if they are looking backwards at what happened to them in the past? They need to follow Paul through Philippians 3:13-14: "Ö but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

This turning around may not be easy, because the flesh is so accustomed to think according to the old ways of self-pity and blaming the past. But, thatís what it is to put off the old man, to be renewed in the spirit of the mind, and to put on the new man (Eph. 4:22-24). Here also is the road to sanctification, overcoming the flesh by walking according to the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). Wouldnít it be glorious to hear those bitter and weeping men begin to be grateful to God for all He has done to give them the gift of salvation and new life!

Past Determinants of Behavior

What the Preacher Said:

The preacher quotes the following from John Phillips regarding the deterministic impact of the first seven years of a personís life:

"The Jesuits used to say that if they could have the commanding influence in the life of a child until that child was seven years old, the child was theirs. By then the child's character was formed, his convictions were embedded, and his course was set. No amount of contrary teaching would greatly alter the basic bent of that child" (John Phillips, Exploring Proverbs, p.168).

Quoting Phillips (preacherís sermon notes, p. 10), who quotes the Jesuits (Catholics), who merely regurgitate Freud plus two years (seven instead of five) is double jeopardy. Phillips and many others in the church are blind about the extent to which they have been psychologized.

Psychoheresy Involved:

The above statements promote the psychological idea of past determinants of behavior and particularly the importance of the first seven years. This psychological myth of past determinants of behavior leads most people to believe that they are what they are and do what they do because of childhood experiences. In other words, itís still the parentsí or caretakersí fault. This idea has been promoted so heavily in our therapeutic culture that people remain victims rather than going on with life. Psychoanalysis and its offshoots attempt to fix the past, but any attempt to do that is purely a fleshly activity, and when Christians do that they are indulging in the flesh and strengthening it.

The idea that what happened during a personís early childhood is a powerful force that controls his emotions and drives his present behavior is both erroneous and dangerous. Freud postulated that a newborn will go through several "psychosexual stages of development." He named them the oral (0-18 months), anal (18-36 months), phallic (3-5 years), genital (through puberty). Freud believed it was the first five years of life and how a person maneuvered through these stages that determined the personís life.

There is no predictive validity to the relationship between early life circumstances and present life. If you want to test it out, examine 100, 200, 500 kids in preschool or at whatever point in early life. Give all the tests you want and then predict what the children will be like as adults. Even Freud knew better than this. He could be postdictive (look back to connect oneís early life with oneís present adult life), but never predictive (look ahead from a childís present life to tell how his future life as an adult will be). Given an adult with a problem, a Freudian (or any number of psychologists who use theories that continue the idea of a past that powerfully motivates or drives present thinking and acting) will then interview the person and tell him how his childhood determined his present life. It is obvious that there is no science involved in this, only guess work.

In his book The Psychological Society, Martin Gross summarizes the work of Dr. Stella Chess, professor of child psychiatry at New York University Medical Center. Gross says that a potent conclusion that evolves from Chessís work is that "the present psychiatric theory that the first six years of life are the exclusive molders of personality is patently false."

Social psychologist Dr. Carol Tavris discusses research about constancy versus change in an article titled "The Freedom to Change." Referring to Freud and his psychoanalytic therapy, she says:

"Now the irony is that many people who are not fooled by astrology for one minute subject themselves to therapy for years, where the same errors of logic and interpretation often occur. . . . Astrologists think we are determined at birth (or even conception) by our stars; psychoanalysts think we are determined within a few years of birth by our parents (and our anatomy)."

Tavris cites research that opposes the idea of Freudian determinism and describes the work of Dr. Orville Brim of the Foundation for Child Development in New York. She says, "Most of Brimís career has been devoted to charting the course of child development and its relation to adult personality." She reports that Brim is convinced that "far from being programmed permanently by the age of 5, people are virtually reprogrammable throughout life." She quotes him as saying, "Hundreds and hundreds of studies now document the fact of personality change in adulthood." She also quotes Brim as saying:

"Social scientists are unable to predict adult personality from childhood or even from adolescence in any important way. We canít blame the methods anymore, and we canít say that people who donít fit the predictions are deviant, unhealthy or strange. They are the norm."

Brim and Dr. Jerome Kagan, a professor at Harvard University, wrote a book together titled Constancy and Change in Human Development. They say:

"The view that emerges from this work is that humans have a capacity for change across the entire life span. . . there are important growth changes across the life span from birth to death, many individuals retain a great capacity for change, and the consequences of the events of early childhood are continually transformed by later experiences, making the course of human development more open than many have believed."

Kagen and his co-researcher Howard Moss say they "could find little relation between psychological qualities during the first three years of lifeófearfulness, irritability, or activityóand any aspect of behavior in adulthood."

Victor and Mildred Goertzel investigated this fallacy of early life determinants. In their book Cradles of Eminence they report on the early environments of over four hundred eminent men and women of the twentieth century who had experienced a wide variety of trials and tribulations during their childhood. It is surprising and even shocking to discover the environmental handicaps that have been overcome by individuals who should have been psychically determined failures according to Freudian formulas. Instead of being harmed by unfortunate early circumstances, they became outstanding in many different fields of endeavor and contributed much to mankind. What might have been environmental curses seemed to act, rather, as catalysts to spawn genius and creativity. This study is not an argument for poor upbringing; it is an argument against psychic determinism.

A Biblical Solution:

There is no biblical basis for the use of the past (past determinants of behavior). The Bible includes the past works of God in history, because we are to remember the works of God both individually and corporately. But, regarding the Christian walk, the cross took care of the past. The walk of the believer is to be according to the new life and is therefore present and future oriented. In Philippians 3 Paul gives his religious and personal background, on which he had depended for righteousness before God. But when confronted by Jesus he saw his own wretched sinfulness, not only that he had persecuted the church, but that he was sinful to the core. He knew he could not make himself righteous by going back into his past. Therefore he declared: "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14). This does not mean an inability to recall the past; it means that the past now has a different significance. Biblically speaking, trying to fix the past through psychological means is purely a fleshly activity, which when indulged in wars against the spirit.

A person need not be trapped in negative patterns of behavior established in the early years of life, for the Bible offers a new way of life. Put off the old man; put on the new. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again," and He said elsewhere that new wine could not be put into old wineskins. Jesus offers new life and new beginnings. One who is born again has the spiritual capacity to overcome old ways and develop new ones through the power of the Word, through the action of the Holy Spirit, and through his own response of faith, obedience, and ongoing spiritual growth. One wonders why so many have given up the hope of Christianity for the hopelessness of past determinism.

Fragility and Innocence of Children

What the Preacher Said:

In spite of the preacherís statement regarding children near the beginning of the message, "They donít listen very well and they donít behave all that often" (9:54), he authoritatively quoted Warren Weiersbe as saying, "For the most part children do not CREATE problems; they REVEAL them." A false implication could be made that any rebellion on the part of children did not create problems, but simply revealed their parentsí problems. There was also an underlying psychological idea throughout the section on Col. 3:21 that children are very fragile.

Psychoheresy Involved:

Over-dramatization of the child with the broken spirit may make parents so afraid of damaging their children that they will fail to discipline them. Some children happen to be more rebellious and need stronger discipline than others, who may need only a look or a soft word.

Too many parents have failed to discipline their children because the psychological wisdom of men has taught them that they might damage their childrenís psyches for life, or, according to "Christian psychology," cause their children to have a "broken spirit." Thus, if the children become angry or resentful when disciplined, the parents may worry about having "provoked their children to wrath" and back off from necessary discipline. They may become hesitant to discipline if their children sob "uncontrollably" or react in anger, resentment, hurt feelings, etc. What often happens after a sermon like this is that parents who are doing it right will think theyíre not if their children are not responding well, and those who are truly doing a bad job of parenting may be blaming their own parents, etc. (Incidentally, Freud blamed nearly every problem in an adult personís life on the personís parents and particularly the mother.)

A Biblical Solution:

Later in the message, the preacher actually gave a good solution to his earlier emphasis on the psychological fragility of children when he quoted Proverbs 23:13-14 (NASB): "Do not hold back discipline from the child. Although you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol." Indeed, children are not as fragile as people thinkónot even as psychologically fragile as psychologists would have us believe. In fact, some psychologists are taking a second look at this because of research in this area. A recent issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter (Vol. 23, No. 6, pp. 5, 6) says the following:

"For a half-century, long-term studies of child development have shown that some people remain psychologically healthy even after years of severe deprivation and trauma. These findings surprised many clinicians, who tended to regard such experiences as overwhelmingly destructive. In response, some researchers have shifted their focus away from the causes of psychopathology and toward the characteristics and circumstances that buffer against stressÖ.

"Interest in resilience is also encouraged by the positive psychology movement, which has turned attentionó in all circumstances, not just stress or traumaóaway from pathology and toward strengths and virtues. That movement has also been concerned with the phenomenon of post-traumatic growthóa process through which suffering can give rise to compassion, wisdom, and well-being. Advocates of positive psychology judge that stress and trauma are as likely to stimulate as to impede adaptation and growth."

Whether our children are sturdy or fragile, the admonitions of Col. 3:20-21 and Eph. 6:3 are commands to be diligently followed by all parents in obedience to the Lord, just as the preacher said near the beginning of the sermon regarding the command to obey given to children: "The reason [to obey] is for the Lord." And just as children are to obey their parents "in all things," parents are to obey the Lord in all things. That is the foremost reason for parents to follow the admonitions of Col. 3:20-21 and Eph. 6:3.

Why People Are the Way They Are and Do what They Do

What the Preacher Said:

The preacher asked, "Why are parents sometimes critical?" and then gave three reasons. Fortunately each of his answers started with "It may be. . . ." Nevertheless, these were typical guesses from psychological theories.

Psychoheresy Involved:

"It may be. . ." may compute in some listenersí minds as "It must be . . ." or "It is . . . ." Personality theories attempt to tell us why people are the way they are, why they do what they do, and how they change, but they are only guesses. The answer, "It may be all they know from their parents" sounds very psychological, as if only the parents influenced the child. Once children are in preschool or regular school and exposed to people outside the family, they have many opportunities to learn all kinds of thingsógood and badófrom other adults and especially from peers.

People themselves often do not know why they do certain things. They may explain and rationalize after the fact, but we have to remember Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?"

A Biblical Solution:

The Bible gives the true reasons why people do what they do. If they are Christians, they are either walking according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. If they are being Spirit-led they may be critical of wrong behavior and want to bring about correction. Moreover, they will teach and encourage the child to do what is right. However, if a parent is constantly critical of the child and not teaching and encouraging, he is walking according to the flesh. Our own behavior is a good indication as to whether we are walking after the flesh or the Spirit, because if we "Walk in the Spirit," we will "not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal 5:16).

Overly Dramatic

What the Preacher Said:

Some of the statements sounded overly dramatic, such as the preacherís comment that boiled down to "One hard day" equals "a child losing heart" (23:22) and "crush the spirit of a child" (23:58), as well as the Ginott quote (cited earlier) and the following statements:

"Iíve seen 40-year-olds sit in my office. As their pastor, counseling with them, I have seen them seethe with resentment and irritation against their parents" (15:25).

"As a pastor again, I sit with people . . . . .I have grown men weep in my office. . . . My dad never told me he loved me. . . . My dad said I would never amount to anything. And, my mom called me good-for nothing. . . . . The human heart seldom gets over things like that" (24:56).

Psychoheresy Involved:

There were too many generalizations of an extreme nature. Such over-dramatizing is very typical of promoters of psychological counseling theories and therapies. The way the preacher expressed these examples made it sound as if these are common fare. Psychology books are punctuated with extreme examples presented as common occurrences. Psychologists mainly write about extreme situations to show how serious everything is and how much parents need their help.

The section on Col. 3:21 was so extreme and dramatic that it almost contradicted the preacherís more biblical section (aside from the quote about the Jesuits) on nurture and admonition.

A Biblical Solution:

Stick with the Bible and be a Berean! Be aware that psychological ideas from the wisdom of men, about which God has warned His people, permeate "Christian books" on the family and even seep into various Bible commentaries, because too many Christians trust what the so-called psychological experts say, especially if they are also Christians who teach this psychology in Bible colleges and seminaries.

Use of Statistics

What the Preacher Said:

The preacher said:

"It has been estimated that fathers spend an average of 37 seconds a day with their infant sons, and one hour a day with their adolescents. These figures are for intact families. After divorce, 50 percent of adolescent children have no contact, 30 percent have sporadic contact and 20 percent see their father once a week or more. Average it all out and fathers spend approximately 10 minutes a day with their children" (preacherís sermon notes p. 5).

Psychoheresy Involved:

How can we know that is true? Who said this? Where is the source? Is it reliable?

A Biblical Solution:

A preacher needs to be sure that he only uses reliable statistics based on reliable surveys or tests. He needs to be sure that such a statement is not just personal guesses and opinions. He should be able to refer his listeners to the research basis of such statements.

Misapplying Scripture

What the Preacher Said:

The preacher used Absalom for the classic example of fathers neglecting their children and expanded the clear meaning of 1 Timothy 5:8. "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Psychoheresy Involved:

There is no record regarding the amount of attention David gave to Absalom when he was a child. The incident to which the pastor was referring is not neglect of a young child, but a clear example of a ruler not ruling his own household. Instead of confronting his eldest son, Amnon, after he sinned against Tamar, which by Old Testament Law would have been the death penalty, David neglected his responsibility to follow Godís law when it meant harming his own children. Then after waiting two years, Absalom took matters into his own hands and had Amnon killed (2 Samuel 13). This is a powerful example of a father avoiding confronting serious sin, but it is not an example of fathers neglecting young children or even adolescents.

1 Timothy 5:8 refers to necessities, but the preacher expanded the meaning to include luxuries such as "a place to play, a place to study," or "their own possessions" (preacherís sermon notes , p. 6). These could only be given as examples of "necessities" in an affluent culture. Yes, in our society many parents can provide most of these things, but some cannot. During the depression parents who dearly loved their children were only able to provide the bare necessities, as described in 1 Timothy 6:8: "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." We may actually be doing great harm to our children by getting them used to having many possessions, for the time may come when they, too, will have to be content with bare subsistence.

A Biblical Solution:

The preacher could have limited himself to his second statement under #7 in his sermon notes: "By providing necessities parents show their respect and concern for their own children."

One needs to be careful about coming to a conclusion and trying to support the idea with Scripture (2 Samuel:13).

Self-Esteem

What the Preacher Said:

The preacher said, "God has given them [children] a conscience and they need parameters in which they can begin to exercise that conscience and develop healthy self-esteem."

Psychoheresy Involved:

The world has promoted self-esteem. Self-esteem is not a biblical concept. We donít even find "healthy self-esteem" in Scripture. From the early work of Dr. Stanley Coopersmith, whom the preacher quotes, people began to place great faith in self-esteem and its importance in children. Subsequent research has not supported this great faith in self-esteem. In fact, high self-esteem is now a characteristic found in high-risk takers and criminals. (See our book James Dobsonís Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology)

A Biblical Solution:

Please read the article titled "Self Esteem for Christians?" Parts One and Two.

http://www.pamweb.org/selfestm.html
http://www.pamweb.org/selfestm.html#Part Two

Our Prayer:

We pray that this analysis, along with access to the actual sermon and the preacherís sermon notes, can be used as an encouragement to all Christians to be discerning listeners and readers, rightly dividing the word of truth, so that they might walk according to truth rather than according to the psychological wisdom of the world. We also pray that pastors who read this analysis will do this work ahead of time so that their messages will be pure and holy, uncontaminated with the psychological wisdom of man.

(PAL V15N2 * March-April)


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