VIEWS OF GOD
All major systems of psychology are atheistic, explicit or implicit, although there may be reference to “The god in all of us” or other such euphemisms. There is freedom for the client to make God anything he wants Him to be, usually one who does not judge him or loves and accepts everyone. Often, there are New Age philosophies taught to the client. God as revealed in Scripture has no role in the methodology.
Biblical counselors maintain that God ordains man’s life and all his circumstances. He not only creates the individual, but is also completely involved with him in an intimate and personal way (Psalm 139). He has given man a guidebook, the Scriptures, to impart knowledge of Himself and His expectations of how man is to relate to Him.
VIEWS OF THE NATURAL MAN
Both Freud and B.F. Skinner were prominent in developing foundational concepts of psychology. They believed that man is an animal, a product of evolution. Freud believed man is driven and controlled by instincts while Skinner thought man followed conditioning of genetics and environment. They both taught man is not responsible or accountable and taught no concept of personal sin, no absolutes, and no guilt or conviction of sin was considered valid. Carl Rogers and A. H. Maslow also greatly impacted the field of psychology with their views of man believing him to be basically good and self-sufficient with no need for God. The answer’s to life’s problems lie within himself. Because man is not accountable to God, he is autonomous and there is no concept of sin or God’s judgement.
Biblical counselors understand that man is created individually and uniquely by God (Psalm 139) but is basically sinful and evil; totally depraved (Rom 3:10; Eph. 2:1). Man is spiritually dead in his trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1) and he has a heart that is desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Sin begins within a man (Mark 7:15) and he is accountable to God for his sin (Matt. 12:36; Heb. 4:13; Lev. 5:17). The answers to man’s problems lie outside himself, in God and His Word and the power to change is found in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
VIEWS OF THE PURPOSE OF MAN’S EXISTENCE
The secular view of the purpose of man’s existence is to glorify and esteem himself. Man’s goal is to become self-sufficient and dependent upon his own resources to live a “successful life” as designed by himself or society. Man is to live only for his temporal pleasure and sees his earthly existence as an end in itself.
The Biblical view of our life’s purpose is to glorify God in his attitudes, words and deeds, to find sufficiency in God and dependency upon Him, and to live his life for an eternal purpose. Man is to focus his life on knowing God and on serving His Kingdom. Man’s view of this earthly life is to fleeting and only a time of preparation for eternity with his Savior.
VIEWS OF MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY
Most schools of psychology see man as autonomous, independent and accountable to himself. Many schools encourage blame-shifting while ignoring personal guilt and one’s own conscience. Most encourage a great self-focus promoted by an emphasis on identifying and expressing feelings. An ongoing evaluation of how everyone else impacts his life is necessary because he “needs” approval and acceptance to be a “whole” person. Along with how others meet his needs is an ongoing evaluation of his ability to meet his own needs and to build his self-esteem. Many schools of psychology label their clients as “patients” and, further, label their clients as “mentally ill” and treat them as such. The patient is then taught that his “mental illness” is beyond his control which leads to helplessness because the solution to the problem is beyond his control and hopelessness because he must wait helplessly for his “cure”. The patient is taught irresponsibility because he depends on an “expert” to bring solution to his problems rather than learning to solve them biblically. Additionally, the patient is taught that the solution to his problem lies outside himself. Thus he is dependent on drug therapy, shock treatment, recovery groups or treatment by qualified “experts” in the field of mental health for recovery and/or healing.
Biblical counseling teaches that man is responsible and accountable to God (Gen. 3:12-20; Heb. 4:13; Rom. 2:6; 14:11,12; Ecc. 12:14). The Bible teaches obedience to God’s commands and reliance upon His promises to produce positive results. The disciple will learn to trust in and to depend on the Lord, he will come to know God intimately, he will learn to forgive and to love others, even his enemies. He will learn to accept responsibility for his own sin and to seek forgiveness of God and others. He will change in a way that promises he will not continue to create problems cause by his repeated sin and the result will be a victorious Christian life in the midst of difficult, unchanged circumstances. The fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in the person’s life (Gal. 5:22,23).
CAUSES OF PROBLEMS
Man’s problems as seen by secular counselors are caused by society or environment, parents or other offenders who have “victimized”, a conscience which is overly strict and produces guilt or shame, a view of oneself as “bad” or unworthy or having low self-esteem. The inability to identify and verbalize his feelings, painful past or present circumstances, and lack of affirmation, respect and encouragement of key people are also major problems in a person’s life.
The Biblical view of the cause of man’s problems include not understanding the character of God and how to rightly relate to him. Not understanding who he is before a holy God and seeing his own sinfulness and depravity are key, as well as not seeing his need for a Savior and finding sufficiency in Him. Biblical counselors also see the man’s problems to be largely caused by not living by biblical principles and responding to difficult people and circumstances in sinful ways.
In Part Three we will discuss the secular versus Biblical views of “needs”, the means to change, and how the views of guilt and how to handle it.