Paul Tautges identified, “Perhaps no man has popularized this man-centered approach to Christianity more than radio psychologist James Dobson. Setting aside any question of his sincerity or personal integrity, it must be recognized, however, that his media ministry has been more responsible for spreading the Christ-diminishing gospel of self-esteem, self-love, self-respect, and self-acceptance than many others. For over three decades, Focus on the Family has been beating the self-esteem drum with a passion. Unfortunately, as mush as Dr. Dobson‘s enduring fight for morality and the preservation of traditional family values is deeply appreciated by all who love and serve Christ, his fundamental view of man‘s need is erroneous and, therefore, subtly undermines biblical foundations.”1)Paul Tautges, Counsel One Another: A Theology of Personal Discipleship, Day One Publications, 2009, p. 146-147 Martin and Deidre Bobgan recognized, “Because of his tremendous influence in bringing psychology and self-esteem teachings into the church, Dr. James Dobson’s work is an appropriate subject for examination.”2)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 8-9 This is because, “Dr. James C. Dobson is one of the most influential spokesperson in the evangelical spectrum of Christianity.”3)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 13

The Bobgan’s research into James Dobson revealed, “According to the State of California Psychology Examining Committee, Dobson holds a generic license.”4)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 14 Citing a letter from the State Office:

 

The license provided for in California law is a generic license. Given, however, the wide variety of activities in which psychologists engage, the Examining Committee allows candidates to specify an area of emphasis for oral examination. Dr. Dobson indicated “educational psychology” as his area of competency when he completed his oral examination in 1968.… Under the generic license requirements one is titled “licensed psychologist” in California5)Letter from Board of Medical Quality Assurance Psychology Examining Committee, State of California; as cited by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 14

 

James Dobson writes, “It has been my purpose to formulate a well-defined philosophy-an approach to child rearing-which will contribute to self-esteem from infancy onward”6)James Dobson, Hide or Seek, Revised Edition, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1979, p. 58-59 So he admits his goal is to formulate a philosophy; not present the biblical manner of “child rearing.” One of the philosophies he adopted is from E. L. Thorndike. “Dobson has great confidence in the Thorndike Law of Reinforcement…”7)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 37 Dobson states:

 

The most magnificent theory ever devised for the control of behavior is called the “law of Reinforcement,” formulated many years ago by the first educational psychologist, E.L. Thorndike. This is magnificent because it works.8)James Dobson, Dare to Discipline, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1970, p. 49

 

Notice its magnificence is based on pragmatism. The Bobgan’s comment, “…Dobson tells how marvelously well this Law of Reinforcement worked on his dog. That makes sense, because Thorndike was an animal psychologist, best known for his work in animal learning.”9)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 37 Jay Adams criticizes,

 

James Dobson’s book Dare to Disciple… is based upon this non-Christian ideology. It is basically a godless humanistic book. The discipline advocated is behaviorist (Skinnerian). According to Dobson, a child is to be “trained” as one would train his dog. The methodology does not differ. The presupposition (not stated, but underlying the book) is that man is but another animal.10)Jay Adams, The Big Umbrella, Baker Book House, 1972, p. 131

 

“Thus Dobson seems to be preaching two messages: the Christian message and the humanistic psychology message.”11)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 144

Dobson’s “Christian message” is shallow at best. In truth, it is a self absorbed, pagan notion of deification commonly coming from the secular psychologists, sprinkled with a few references from the Bible. Similar to Robert Schuller,12)see http://truthwatchers.com/robert-schullers-spiritual-seduction/ Dobson’s entire system revolves around self-esteem being the cure for all the ills of the world. He writes, “In fact, low self-esteem is a threat to the entire human family, affecting children, adolescents, the elderly, all socioeconomic levels of society, and each race and ethnic culture.”13)James Dobson, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Women, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1975, p. 24 In James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Martin and Deidre Bobgan explain, “The issue of self-esteem is not peripheral issue with Dobson. It is central to all he teaches about children, adults, and society. It is such a foundational assumption for him that it permeates all of his other work.”14)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 47 Paul Brownback wrote in The Danger of Self Love, “For almost two thousand years theologians studied Scripture without discovering the doctrine of self-love as we have it. However, a decade or so after its debut in psychology it appeared among us. It is no coincidence that there are many parallels between the secular and Christian theories. Often evangelical writers themselves will mention the teachings of Carl Rogers or some other psychologist as a springboard for their own thinking. Unfortunately they do not always indicate what or how much they have drawn from these sources.”15)Paul Brownback, The Danger of Self Love, Moody Press, 1982, p. 69

The Bobgan‘s declared, “Aside from those few statements about God and the Bible, there is little difference between what Dobson teaches about self-esteem and what godless secularist teach.”16)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 147 This is evident in his statement: “Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves, implying not only that we are permitted a reasonable expression of self-love, but that love for others is impossible-until we experience a measure of self-respect.”17)James Dobson, Hide or Seek, Revised Edition, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1979, p. 185-186 Brownback noted, “It is interesting to note that the first contemporary self-love advocate to use this passage [Matthew 22:39] as biblical support for self-love was not an evangelical but Erich Fromm, a psychologist and thoroughgoing, self-declared humanist.”18)Paul Brownback, The Danger of Self Love, Moody Press, 1982, p. 51 Erich Fromm is obviously the source of Dobson‘s interpretation of the Bible and it is sad that so many pastors and “theologians” have blindly followed Dobson’s poor exegesis. Fromm writes:

 

If it is a virtue to love my neighbor as a human being, it must be a virtue -and not a vice – to love myself, since I am a human being too. A doctrine which proclaims such an exclusion proves itself to be intrinsically contradictory. The idea expressed in the Biblical “Love thy neighbor as thyself!” implies that respect for one’s self, can not be separated from respect for and love and understanding of another individual. The love for my own self is inseparably connected with the love for any other self.19)Erich Fromm, Man for Himself: An inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1947, p. 128-130

 

Again, Fromm declares, “If an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he can not love at all.”20)Erich Fromm, Man for Himself: An inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1947, p. 130 Following the example of Fromm, “Christians who teach self-love regularly quote Matthew 22:40 and Mark 12:30 in defense of loving self.”21)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 153 An accurate interpretation of our Lord’s statement is offered by the Bobgans:

 

Jesus does not command people to love themselves. He does not say there are three commandments (love God, love neighbor, and love self). Instead, he says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40)…. To fit self-love theology, the first commandment would have to read: “Love yourself first so that you will be able to love God and others.22)Martin and Deidre Bobgan, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology, Revised Edition of Prophets of Psychoheresy II), EastGate Publishers, 1990, 1998, p. 154-155

 

Dave Hunt further explained,

 

Mankind has always been self-centered, selfish, and narcissistic. Our generation, however, is the first one in history being taught to love self. It is now widely accepted that we naturally dislike ourselves and must learn to love ourselves before we can love God or other people. The first commandment has become “Thou shalt love thyself,” relegating “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God” to second place.

Christ would never have said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” if we all disliked ourselves. His commend to “love your neighbor as yourself” obviously assumes that we love ourselves and is not intended to encourage but to correct self-love.23)Dave Hunt, Countdown to the Second Coming: A Chronology of Prophetic Earth Events Happening Now, The Berean Call, 2005, p. 52-52

 

Scripture teaches us “let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3); and “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). Paul did not esteem himself when he stated, “For I am the least of the apostle… but by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). He called himself “less than the least of all saints” (Ephesians 3:8); and called himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), saying “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14). Christ said if anyone wants to be His disciples to “deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). For Christian leaders to receive the erroneous interpretations of secular psychologists is what James warned about. “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15). Solomon said, “He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him; but to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them” (Proverbs 24:24-25). Paul prophesied “that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1, 4-5). It is the self-love that “come from within, and defiles the man” (Mark 7:23)

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