by John MacArthur
In 1980, Grace Community Church was hit with a lawsuit charging that the pastors on our staff were negligent because we tried to help a suicidal young member of our church by giving him biblical truth. It was the first clergy malpractice case ever heard in the American court system.
The secular media had a field day as the case dragged on for years. Some nationally aired tabloid-type programs even alleged that our church had encouraged the young man to kill himself, teaching him that suicide was a sure way to heaven. Of course, that was not true. He knew from Scripture that suicide is wrong. We urged him to let the Word of God lead him to intimate knowledge and appropriation of the resources available in the One who wanted to heal his troubled mind. Tragically, he refused our counsel and took his own life.
One of the key issues the case raised was the question of whether churches should have the legal right to counsel troubled people with the Bible. Many would argue that giving someone advice from Scripture is a simplistic approach to counseling. The Bible may be fine as an encouragement to the average person, we are told, but people who have real problems need a psychological expert’s help.
Therefore, this lawsuit contended, church counselors are obligated to refer seriously depressed and suicidal people to mental-health professionals. To attempt to counsel these troubled people from the Bible amounts to irresponsibility and negligence for which church counselors should be held morally and legally culpable.
The truth that came out in court received little or no coverage on the network news. Testimony showed that this young man was under the care of professional psychiatrists. In addition to the biblical direction he received from our pastoral staff, he had sought psychiatric treatment.
Moreover, our staff had seen to it that he was examined by several medical doctors, to rule out organic or chemical causes for his depression. He was receiving every kind of therapy available, but he chose to end his life anyway. We did all we could to help him; he rejected our counsel and turned his back on his spiritual sufficiency in Christ.
All three times the case was heard, the judges decided in our favor, affirming that the church hadnot failed in its responsibility to give him proper care. Their judgment was that our staff had more than fulfilled their legal and moral obligations by trying to help this young man who had sought our counsel.
Eventually the case was appealed even to the United States Supreme Court. The High Court refused to hear the case, thereby letting stand the California State Supreme Court’s ruling, which vindicated the church. Most important of all, the case affirmed every church’s constitutional right to counsel from the Bible, establishing a legal precedent to keep secular courts from encroaching on the area of counseling in the church.
The Professionalization of the Counseling Ministry
Unfortunately, the privilege of counseling people with biblical truth may be in jeopardy anyway—not because of any legal barrier imposed from outside the church, but because of the attitudetoward Scripture within the church. During the trial, a number of “experts” were called to give testimony. Most surprising to me were the so-called Christian psychologists and psychiatrists who testified that the Bible alone does not contain sufficient help to meet people’s deepest personal and emotional needs.
These men were actually arguing before a secular court that God’s Word is not an adequate resource for counseling people about their spiritual problems! What is truly appalling is the number of evangelicals who are willing to take such “professionals’” word for it.
Over the past few decades a host of evangelical psychological clinics have sprung up. Though almost all of them claim to offer biblical counsel, most merely dispense secular psychology disguised in spiritual terminology.
What’s worse, they remove the counseling ministry from its proper arena in the church body and condition Christians to think of themselves as incompetent to counsel. Many pastors, feeling inadequate, are perfectly willing to let “professionals” take over what used to be seen as a vital pastoral responsibility. Too many have bought the lie that a crucial realm of wisdom exists outside Scripture and one’s relationship to Jesus Christ, and that some idea or technique from that extrabiblical realm holds the real key to helping people with their deep problems.
True Soul Work
True psychology (“the study of the soul”) can be done only by Christians, since only Christians have the resources for the understanding and the transformation of the soul. The Puritans, long before the arrival of godless psychology, identified their ministry with people as “soul work.”
Scripture is the manual for all “soul work.” It is so comprehensive in the diagnosis and treatment of every spiritual matter that, energized by the Holy Spirit in the believer, it leads to making one like Jesus Christ. This is the process of biblical sanctification.
It is reasonable for people to seek medical help for a broken leg, dysfunctional kidney, tooth cavity, or other physical malady. It is also sensible for someone who is alcoholic, drug addicted, learning disabled, traumatized by rape, incest, or severe battering to seek some help in trying to cope with their trauma.
There may also be certain types of emotional or mental problems where root causes are identifiably organic, or where medication might be needed to stabilize an otherwise dangerous person. These are relatively rare problems, however, and should not be used as justification for the indiscriminate use of secular psychological techniques for what are usually spiritual problems. Dealing with the physical and emotional issues of life in such ways is not sanctification!
Certain techniques of human psychology can serve to lessen trauma or dependency and modify behavior in Christians or non-Christians equally. But since the secular discipline of psychology is based on godless assumptions and evolutionary foundations, it is capable of helping people only superficially with no contribution toward their spiritual growth.
“Christian psychology” as the term is used today is an oxymoron. The word psychology no longer speaks of studying the soul; instead it describes a diverse menagerie of therapies and theories that are fundamentally humanistic. That is to say, they are fundamentally at odds with a biblical worldview.
The presuppositions and most of the doctrine of psychology cannot be successfully integrated with Christian truth. Moreover, the infusion of psychology into the teaching of the church has blurred the line between behavior modification and sanctification.
The true path to wholeness is the path of spiritual sanctification. Would we foolishly turn our backs on the Wonderful Counselor, the spring of living water, for the sensual wisdom of earth and the stagnant water of behaviorism?
Our Lord Jesus reacted in a perfect and holy way to every temptation, trial, and trauma in life—and they were more severe than any human could ever suffer. Therefore, it should be clear that perfect victory over all life’s troubles must be the result of being like Christ.
No “soul worker” can lift another above the level of spiritual maturity he is on. So the supreme qualification for psychologists should be Christlikeness, not a degree or a state license.
If one is a truly Christian psychologist, he must be doing soul work in the realm of the deep things of the Word and the Spirit—not fooling around in the shallows of behavior modification. Why should a believer choose to do behavior modification when he has the tools for spiritual transformation (like a surgeon wreaking havoc with a butter knife instead of using a scalpel)? The most skilled counselor is the one who most carefully, prayerfully, and faithfully applies divine sanctification—shaping another into the image of Jesus Christ.
There may be no more serious threat to the life of the church today than the stampede to embrace the doctrines of secular psychology. They are a mass of human ideas that Satan has placed in the church as if they were powerful, life-changing truths from God. Most psychologists epitomize neo-gnosticism, claiming to have secret knowledge for solving people’s real problems. There are even those psychologists who claim to perform a therapeutic technique they call “Christian counseling” but in reality are using secular theory to treat spiritual problems with biblical references tacked on.
The result is that pastors, biblical scholars, teachers of Scripture, and caring believers using the Word of God are disdained as naive, simplistic, and altogether inadequate counselors. Bible reading, study, diligent application, and prayer are commonly belittled as “pat answers,” incomplete solutions for someone struggling with depression or anxiety. Scripture, the Holy Spirit, Christ, prayer, and grace—those are the traditional solutions Christian counselors have pointed people to. But the average Christian today has come to believe that none of them really offers the cure for people’s woes.
by John MacArthur
Why has the church been so quick to accept psychology? In large part it is because psychologists portray themselves as members of the scientific community. In our scientific age, unequivocal acceptance in the academic community must mean that psychology’s truth claims are unassailable, right?
How Scientific Are the Behavioral Sciences?
After decades of growing acceptance, most advocates of psychology simply assume that psychology is a true science. But it is not. It is a pseudo-science, the most recent of several human inventions designed to explain, diagnose, and treat behavioral problems without dealing with moral and spiritual issues.
Psychology is not a uniform body of scientific knowledge, like thermodynamics or organic chemistry. When we speak of psychology we refer to a complex menagerie of ideas and theories, many of which are contradictory. Psychology has not even proved capable of dealing effectively with the human mind and with mental and emotional processes. Thus it can hardly be regarded as a science.
Many, I’m sure, will object to my classifying psychology as a pseudo-science. But that’s exactly what it is. Little more than a century ago debate was raging over a different kind of “behavioral science” called phrenology. Phrenology held that personality characteristics were determined by the shape of someone’s skull. A phrenologist would feel people’s skulls, diagnosing their problems by the location of bumps on their heads.
If you think behavioral science has advanced greatly since then, ask yourself how reasonable it is to surround an adult in the fetal position with pillows so he can get back in touch with his prenatal anxieties. Given the choice, I believe I would opt for someone poking around on my head!
Modern psychologists use hundreds of counseling models and techniques based on a myriad of conflicting theories, so it is impossible to speak of psychotherapy as if it were a unified and consistent science.
But the basis of modern psychology can be summarized in several commonly held ideas that have their roots in early Freudian humanism. These are the very same ideas many Christians are zealously attempting to synthesize with biblical truth:
- Human nature is basically good.
- People have the answers to their problems inside them.
- A person’s past is the key to understanding and correcting attitudes and actions.
- An individual’s problems are the result of what someone else has done to him or her.
- Human problems can be purely psychological in nature, unrelated to any spiritual or physical condition.
- Deep-seated problems can be solved only by professional counselors using therapy.
- Scripture, prayer, and the Holy Spirit are inadequate and simplistic resources for solving certain types of problems.
Those and other similar godless theories have filtered into the church from the assorted stuff in the psychological tank. Tragically, they are having a profound and disturbing effect on the church’s approach to helping people. Many sincere Christians are seriously off track in their understanding of what counseling is and what it is supposed to accomplish.
Ironically, even before the church became infatuated with “behavioral science,” those who know it best were beginning to question whether psychotherapy is a science at all. In 1979, Timemagazine ran a cover story called “Psychiatry on the Couch.” It said this:
On every front, psychiatry seems to be on the defensive. … Many psychiatrists want to abandon treatment of ordinary, everyday neurotics (“the worried well”) to psychologists and the amateur Pop therapists. …
Psychiatrists themselves acknowledge that their profession often smacks of modern alchemy—full of jargon, obfuscation and mystification, but precious little real knowledge. …
As always, psychiatrists are their own severest critics. Thomas Szasz, long the most outspoken gadfly of his profession, insists that there is really no such thing as mental illness, only normal problems of living. E. Fuller Torrey, another antipsychiatry psychiatrist, is willing to concede that there are a few brain diseases, like schizophrenia, but says they can be treated with only a handful of drugs that could be administered by general practitioners or internists. …
Even mainline practitioners are uncertain that psychiatry can tell the insane from the sane. 
The article concludes with a pessimistic forecast by Ross Baldessarini, a psychiatrist and biochemist at the Mailman Research Center. He told Time, “We are not going to find the causes and cures of mental illness in the foreseeable future.” 
Several years later, a conference in Phoenix, Arizona, brought together the world’s leading experts on psychotherapy for what was billed as the largest meeting ever held on the subject. The conference, called “The Evolution of Psychotherapy,” drew 7,000 mental-health experts from all over the world. It was the largest such gathering in history, billed by its organizer as the Woodstock of psychotherapy.
One truth came out clearly in the conference: among therapists there is little agreement. There is no unified “science” of psychotherapy; only a cacophony of clashing theories and therapies.
The Los Angeles Times, for example, quoted Laing, who “said that he couldn’t think of any fundamental insight into human relations that has resulted from a century of psychotherapy. ‘I don’t think we’ve gone beyond Socrates, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or even Flaubert by the age of 15,’ ” he said.  Laing added,
“I don’t think psychiatry is a science at all. It’s not like chemistry or physics where we build up a body of knowledge and progress.” 
Jeffrey Zeig, organizer of the conference, said there may be as many as a hundred different theories in the United States alone. Most of them, he said, are “doomed to fizzle.” 
Psychology is no more a science than the atheistic evolutionary theory upon which it is based. Like theistic evolution, “Christian psychology” is an attempt to harmonize two inherently contradictory systems of thought. Modern psychology and the Bible cannot be blended without serious compromise to or utter abandonment of the principle of Scripture’s sufficiency.
Though it has become a lucrative business, psychotherapy cannot solve anyone’s spiritual problems. At best it can occasionally use human insight to superficially modify behavior. It succeeds or fails for Christians and non-Christians equally because it is only a temporal adjustment—a sort of mental chiropractic. It cannot change the human heart, and even the experts admit that.
It’s very clear, anything short of appraising oneself by the word of God is a false appraisal. More troubling even still is the so-called “Church” promoting complete false gospels and groups founded upon the lies of men who hated God and refused to acknowledge their sin, while blasphemously tacking scripture to the demonically inspired 12 Steps of Bill W and his cohorts. As I recently said to a professor who seeks answers and acceptance from those who engage in such humanistic, demonic lies in lieu of a hard look in the mirror of scripture, this is akin to pasting pictures of the Apostles on Tarot cards and calling them “Christian”. They promise “recovery” but to what? What can a depraved sinner possibly recover TO? Without Christ’s work of regeneration, which creates a new person from the heart on out and in that totally excludes the need for indulgence in this type of group or the ability to stay involved in them for very long….all one is doing is plastering a moral band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Behaviour modification is not even a close substitute for Christ’s regeneration. And the “Steps” and all the psycho-babble humanistic nonsense that goes along with even the most “Christian” appearing group will never substitute for the word of God and the mirror it holds up to one who is truly wanting to look into it and see themselves as they really are according to GOD. Not nearly as “feel good”, but then that is part of genuine regeneration, isn’t it? Sinners who love their sin only go for the quick fix and what makes them feel better about themselves as they continue to drown in it. I wonder what happens when they run out of places to find that false assurance? I wonder even more what happens when they run out of time, and who they shall blame for their own willful rebellion against submitting to Christ instead of slathering pretty pictures over their sin? That is something I surely do not want to see.
In his book, ‘The Truth War,’ the 12 Steps are addressed by John MacArthur. He writes, “Others would formally affirm Christ’s sovereignty and spiritual headship over the church, but they resist His rule in practice. To cite just one instance of how this is done, many churches have set various forms of human psychology, self-help therapy, and the idea of ‘recovery’ in place of the Bible’s teaching about sin and sanctification.” …”So wherever the work of God’s Word is being replaced with twelve-step programs and other substitutes,Christ’s headship over the church is being denied in practice.” (pg.159, Bold mine)
The following article deals with how Christians often unknowingly transfer their faith from Christ unto the 12 Steps; it also deals with the some of the unholy practices the A.A. cofounders engaged in:
Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounders Were Not Christians
It is a fearful thing, leaving AA. The Big Book (the AA “bible”) states, “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.” Because this passage of AA “scripture” is taken literally, alcoholics rarely look elsewhere for help. Christians continue to jam their God, the Ancient of Days, into AA’s chameleon theology.
“Do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11-12)
It is not just fear that keeps us bound to this all-gods religion. The 12 Step experience becomes an idol-long-term involvement almost always results in a transference of faith. Bluntly stated, when it comes to sobriety, many Christians end up with more faith in the power of the 12 Step program than in Jesus Christ.
This idol worship is by no means limited to those in AA, but applies to many in “Christian 12 Step” groups.
This transference of faith is subtle, gradual, and frequently inevitable. The result is that sobriety without the 12 Step program will not even be considered. Biblical wisdom, given by concerned and caring believers, is rejected.
FULL ARTICLE: click here
No matter how much “Jesus” you put on this lie…it is foundationally still a lie leading to eternal Hell. It is not from God. So then, you tell me…who is it from? For those who have ears to hear…