HomeArticlesWhy Psychology cannot be Christian (Part 1)

Why Psychology cannot be Christian (Part 1)

In Psalms 1:1-3 the Word of God has promised us prosperity and blessings if we delight in His word and avoid the council of the ungodly. Yet the Church today has turned to Psychology for it’s council. Is Psychology compatible with Christianity? To answer this question we, must first define “psychology” and identify it’s most influential voices. Gary Collins, who believes in integrating psychology and Christianity states:

Psychology is a science attempting to use precisely defined scientific terms. The Bible on the other hand, is not a scientific volume and uses terms which are much more difficult to define with precision. Words like “ego,” “emotion,” and “depression” are psychological terms which do not have clear parallels in scriptural language. On the other hand, words like “mind,” “soul,” or “spirit” are Biblical terms which are psychologically meaningless.1)Gary R. Collins, Search For Reality: Psychology and the Christian, Key Publishers, 1969, p. 21

If the biblical term “soul” being translated from the Greek word “psyche” is meaningless in psychology then the whole system of psychology is meaningless since it is derived from that very word. Furthermore, it cannot be “a science” since the “psyche” is not something physical that can be dissected or observed; the same can be said about “ego,” “emotion,” and “depression.” Ed Bulky pointed out: “Dealing with the human mind and soul, however, is an entirely different matter. No one has yet observed a mind or dissected an emotion. No X-ray scan has ever detected the soul. Psychologists are not even sure how to define the mind.”2)Ed Bulkley, Ph.D., Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, Harvest House Publishers,1993, p. 132 Bulky further asserted, “The point is that human thinking and behavior cannot be categorized scientifically because each human is unique and one’s reaction to events, circumstances, and other stimuli cannot be predicted or tested using the scientific method…. Psychology rarely deals with established facts or truths but with subjective opinions and interpretations of uncontrolled observations. Psychology is not dealing with the consistent interactions between chemicals that can be carefully controlled in the laboratory, but with analyses that are tainted by the unique free wills of the subjects and the mindset of the researchers.”3)Ed Bulkley, Ph.D., Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, Harvest House Publishers,1993, p. 50-52
Phil Arms accurately identifies that psychology is nothing but theories.

More then 250 psychological counseling techniques of theoretic approaches to counseling exist in the field of psychology. Each include contradictory theories and teachings and each claims to present “truth”…. In fact, of the multitude of ideological interpretations of psychological truth, what chance is there that any of them are correct?4)Phil Arms, Promise Keepers: Another Trojan Horse, Shiloh Publishers, 1997, p. 196

Here is the first danger of integrating psychology and Christianity – a denial of Biblical inerrancy. Norman Geisler explanation of inerrancy “is that the Bible teaches truth about both spiritual and scientific/historical matters.”5)Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks, When Skeptics Ask, Baker Books, 3rd print, 1999, p. 150 When Christian psychologist Gary Collins says the Bible “is not a scientific volume,” he denies the science of the Bible is accurate in exchange for the multiplicity of contradicting theories that make up psychology. Charles C. Ryrie said “If inerrancy falls, other doctrines will too.”6)Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books, 1986, p. 77 He noted, “Some lifestyle errors that may follow a denial of inerrancy include… A tendency to view the Bible through a modern psychological grid.”7)Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books, 1986, p. 78

Ed Bulky’s commented: “The integrationist position is scientifically invalid, theologically confused, and biblically inconsistent.”8)Ed Bulkley, Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, Harvest House, 1993, p. 32-33 He adds, “diluted theology is the inevitable result of integration.”9)Ed Bulkley, Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, Harvest House, 1993, p. 197 The apostle Paul warned: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Paul Tautges criticized, “Therefore, it is to be expected that, when a church or seminary departs from the doctrine of inerrancy, a rejection of the Bible’s authority and sufficiency will follow not long afterward. And once the authority and sufficiency of the Bible are undermined, it soon follows that belief in the total depravity of man and his desperate need of redemption through Jesus Christ is replaced by the psychological gospel of self-improvement.”10)Paul Tautges, Counsel One Another: A Theology of Personal Discipleship, Day One Publications, 2009, p. 16 The Bible proclaims its authority and sufficiency in “all things” and to integrate psychological theories with Scriptures is to diminish its sufficiency. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4) “Every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5; Psalms 12:6; 19:8; 119:40), and we are warned not to add to it which would dilute its truth and purity (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).
Christian psychologist Gary Collins warns “Most would agree that even well-meaning and sincere Christian psychologists can be contaminated by secular assumptions and practices that pervade much of modern psychology.”11)Gary R. Collins, Can You Trust Psychology?, Intervarsity, 1988, p. 91 Relying on secular psychological theories over and above ministering from the Word of God is “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).This is why it cannot be integrated. “Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?” (Job 13:7-8). We can either accept God at His word as it is or handle it deceitfully and diminish the sufficiency of it. This should be obvious considering what John Ankerberg and John Weldon wrote, “The presuppositions that provide the general framework within which most psychology is practiced include the following: 1) naturalism, 2) materialism, 3) reductionism, 4) determinism, 5) evolution, 6) empiricism, 7) relativism, 8) humanism, and 9) increasingly, occultism.”12)John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The Facts On Self-Esteem, Psychology, and the Recovery Movement, Harvest House Publishers, 1995, p. 8 Notice that the overwhelming majority of this list exclude the possibility of the soul‘s (psyche) existence, so how can it thence be studied? The answer is it cannot be studied scientifically. “In essence, psychology cannot be a coherent science because it does not deal in the realm of the observable, testable, and predictable, but rather in the realm of complex human behavior and motivation and in subjective perception and evaluations.”13)John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The Facts On Self-Esteem, Psychology, and the Recovery Movement, Harvest House Publishers, 1995, p. 11 This is why it is increasingly moving towards occult spirituality and the metaphysical as humanism is bound to do (Romans 1:18-25).

In reality, modern psychology is a bankrupt “religion” with no real capacity for helping people. Under the guise of psychology, occult concepts have gained acceptance as being legitimate scientific principles. Hence, occultism is increasingly moving forward in the name of psychology and the human sciences.14)Gary H. Kah, The New World Religion, Hope International Publishing, Inc., 1999, p. 61

Occultism runs deep in the heart of all the major psychological theorists. “Jung mythologized Scripture and reduced the basic doctrines of the Christian faith into esoteric gnosticism…. Freud was also involved in idolatry and the occult.”15)Martin & Deidre Bobgan, The End of “Christian Psychology,” EastGate Publishers, 1997, p. 105 “One of its [psychology‘s] leaders, Carl Rogers, renounced Christianity while in seminary and turned to the study of psychology.”16)Dave Hunt, Countdown to the Second Coming: A Chronology of Prophetic Earth Events Happening Now, The Berean Call, 2005, p. 56 “Erich Fromm, an atheist, popularized the idea of self-love. He got it from Nietzsche. One of Fromm’s books was Ye Shall Be as Gods. He took the lie of the serpent for its title.”17)T. A. McMahon, The Berean Call, February 2012, p. 6 Caryl Matrisciana acknowledged, “Psychology and psychotherapy’s most influential thinkers, such as Freud, Jung, Pavlov, Skinner, and Maslow, were atheists, drug-users, occultists, and avowed humanists. Yet their techniques and psychological remedies are popular in Christian circles.”18)Caryl Matrisciana, Gods of the New Age, Harvest House Publishers, 1985, p. 194 Secular historian have also referenced this fact frequently. “The dissemination of Jungian thought in America has occult as well as clinical bearings.”19)Howard Kerr and Charles L. Crow, ed., The Occult In America: New Historical Perspectives, The University of Illinois Press, 1983, p. 6
Sigmund Freud admitted, “It no longer seems possible to brush aside the study of so-called occult facts; of things which seem to vouchsafe the real existence of psychic forces… or which reveal mental faculties in which, until now, we did not believe.”20)Freud, cited by Nandor Fodor, Freud, Jung, and Occultism, University Books, 1971, p. 129-130 Carl Jung is a clear example.

He [Jung] Delved deeply into the occult, practiced necromancy, and had daily contact with disembodied spirits, which he called archetypes. Jung described his whole house “crammed full of spirits” crying out to him.21)Martin & Deidre Bobgan, The End of “Christian Psychology,” EastGate Publishers, 1997, p. 157

Jung confessed: “These conversations with the dead formed a kind of prelude to what I had to communicate to the world about the unconscious: a kind of pattern of order and interpretation of its general content.”22)Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Aniela Jeffe, ed., Richard and Clara Winston, trans., Pantheon, 1963, p. 192 Hence, Jungian psychology is a demonic deception that has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4). One of these demonic entities he called Philemon. “Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru.”23)C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams Reflections, Aniela Jeffe, ed., Richard and Clara Winston, trans., Pantheon, 1963, p. 183 Jung engaged in what the Bible calls an abomination (Deuteronomy 18:10-14), yet most, if not all of his theories was a product of necromancy. “In 1916, after experiencing some bizarre paranormal events, Jung wrote in three nights a mystical tract called The Seven Sermons to the Dead. He ascribed this writing to Basilides, a Gnostic teacher of the second century in Alexandria.”24)Douglas Groothuis, Jesus In An Age of Controversy, Harvest House Publishers, 1996 p. 80 Spiritism opens the door to demonic possession which Jung also admitted. “There was a daimon in me, and in the end its presence proved decisive. It overpowered me, and if I was at times ruthless it was because I was in the grip of the daimon.”25)C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams Reflections, Aniela Jeffe, ed., Richard and Clara Winston, trans., Pantheon, 1963, p. 356 Scriptures admonish “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15), and “try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1), but Jungian psychology has been embraced by Christian psychologists.
Freud and Jung have the farthest reach influence on psychology. “For a period of about six years, Jung worked closely with Sigmund Freud.”26)Gary Kah, The Demonic Roots of Globalization, Huntington House, 1995, p. 81 Freud wrote of himself, “I regard myself as one of the most dangerous enemies of religion.”27)Sigmund Freud cited by Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 3, Basic Books, 1955, p. 124 Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz stated, “One of Freud’s most powerful motives in life was the desire to inflict vengeance on Christianity for its traditional anti-Semitism.”28)Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy: Mental Healing As Religion, Rhetoric, and Repression, Anchor/Doubleday, 1978, p. 146 This fact caused Jay Adams to conclude: “In my opinion, advocating, allowing and practicing psychiatric an psychoanalytical dogmas within the church is every bit as pagan and heretical (and therefore perilous) as propagating the teachings of some of the most bizarre cults. The only vital difference is that the cults are less dangerous because their errors are more identifiable.”29)Jay E. Adams, More Than Redemption, Baker Books House, 1979, p. xi-xii
Consider the general attitude of the National Education Association (NEA) of children who are raised by religious parents as presented by Mel and Norma Gabler in their book What Are They Teaching Our Children? “Although they [children of religious upbringing] appear to behave appropriately and seem normal by most cultural standards, they may actually be in need of mental health care, in order to help them change, adapt, and conform to the planned society in which there will be no conflict of attitudes of beliefs.”30)Mel and Norma Gabler, What Are They Teaching Our Children?, Victor Books, 1985, p. 121-122 This attitude was also propagated by M. Scott Peck, who wrote, “psychiatrists must spend enormous amounts of time and effort in the struggle to liberate their patients’ minds from outmoded religious ideas and concepts that are clearly destructive.”31)M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, Simon & Schuster, 1978, p. 207-208 This is taken for granted the assumption the psychiatrist knows what religious ideas are destructive. Take M. Scott Peck for example. “The god of Peck is but an idol invented by his mind. He combines his personal experience in Eastern religion with the teaching of liberal theologians such as Teilhard de Chardin, Paul Tillich and Erich Fromm.”32)H. Wayne House, Richard Abanes, The Less Traveled Road and the Bible: A Scriptural Critique of the Philosophy of M. Scott Peck, Horizon Books, 1995, p. 208
Peck played a major part in popularizing the synthesis of secular psychology and spirituality.

This “marriage” of therapy for both mind and soul is perhaps best exemplified in the works of Harvard-educated psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, whose 1978 book The Road Less Traveled initiated the entire psychology-spirituality movement. As of April 26, 1994, his landmark volume was still on the New York Times bestseller list – a full 600 weeks after first appearing there. For this accomplishment, Peck has won himself a place in Guinness Book of World Records. He is arguably the most famous and influential of all the counseling gurus promising spiritual and emotional wholeness.33)H. Wayne House, Richard Abanes, The Less Traveled Road and the Bible: A Scriptural Critique of the Philosophy of M. Scott Peck, Horizon Books, 1995, p. 2

Peck did not “initiate the entire psychology-spirituality movement,” but he definitely made it more popular. Ram Dass preceded Peck by a decade and William James by almost a century. What distinguishes Peck from others is that his influence infiltrated the church.

Even before the release of People of the Lie [1983], Peck had announced his “conversion” and, as a result, was beginning to garner support from Christians…. Peck’s greatest popularity soon shifted from New York and Los Angeles to the Bible belt…. This relationship between Peck and the Christian community remains strong to this day.34)H. Wayne House, Richard Abanes, The Less Traveled Road and the Bible: A Scriptural Critique of the Philosophy of M. Scott Peck, Horizon Books, 1995, p. 38

Concerning his alleged conversion in 1980, Peck wrote in his second book, “My commitment to Christianity is the most important thing in my life and is, I hope, persuasive and total.”35)M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie, Simon & Schuster, 1983, p. 11 It persuaded many, but from his own writings his conversion proves to be a farce. Peck spoke of Erich Fromm saying, “I applaud his view” about people becoming evil not being born sinful,36)M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie, Simon & Schuster, 1983, p. 82 and espoused Freud’ s “Oedipal dilemma” theory which is pure incestuous perversion.37)M. Scott Peck, The People of the Lie, Simon & Schuster, 1983, p. 154-155 “Unveiling Freud’s theories exposes lust, incest, castration anxiety, and for a woman, penis envy. And Freud was convinced that all of these are psychologically determined by age five or six. Can you think of a more macabre, twisted and even demonic explanation for human sexuality and mental disorders than Freud’s central theory of infantile sexuality?”38)Martin & Deidre Bobgan, The End of “Christian Psychology,” EastGate Publishers, 1997, p. 135 Oddly, victims of sexual predators seek psychological healing from those that propagate the very dogmas that create sexual predators. Carl Jung reported that Freud once said to him, “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory, that is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark.”39)Edward C. Whitmont, “Jungian Analysis Today,” Psychology Today, December 1972, p. 70 His dogma assured freedom from a guilty consciences permitting man‘s “instinctual wishes” and most perverse lusts. Freud wrote: “Among these instinctual wishes are those of incest, cannibalism, and lust for killing.”40)Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion, trans. James Starchey, W. W. Norton, 1961, p. 13

Wicca priestess Miriam Starhawk identified her Freudian influence when she said, “We become whole through knowing our strength and creativity, our aggression, our sexuality, by affirming the self, not by denying it.”41)Miriam Starhawk, cited in Yoga Journal, July/August 1986, p. 4 This is so adverse from biblical Christianity which teaches to deny self (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23), “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18), “avoid fornication“ (1 Corinthians 7:2), “abstain from fornication” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Jesus defined Freudianism when He said “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20).

Freud’s impact as “the father of psychoanalytic theory” has rippled through psychological thinking and into the general population, leaving bizarre thoughts and actions in its wake.42)Brannon Howse, Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and their Worldview that Rule America from the Grave, Worldview Weekend, 2009, p. 303

Freud’s goal was to clear his own conscience by making his diabolical perversions the social norm.
Freud was strongly influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche. Walter Kaufmann, a translator of Nietzsche’s writings, stated: “But if we reflect on the three things which, according to Nietzsche, had been maligned most, under the influence of Christianity, and which he sought to rehabilitate or revaluate – were they not selfishness, the will to power, and sex? Nietzsche’s early impact was in some ways comparable to that of Freud or Havelock Ellis.”43)Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Translated and with a Preface by Walter Kaufmann, The Viking Press, Inc., 1954, 1966, p. 150 Nietzsche himself wrote “He that taught to bless also taught to curse; what are the three best cursed things in the world? I shall put them on the scales. Sex, the lust to rule, selfishness; these three have so far been best cursed and worst reputed and lied about; these three I will weigh humanly well.”44)Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Translated and with a Preface by Walter Kaufmann, The Viking Press, Inc., 1954, 1966, p. 187-188 These three things are also defined in the Bible (1 John 2:16). Nietzsche blasphemously asserted, “He whom they call Redeemer has put them in fetters: in fetters of false values and delusive words. Would that someone would yet redeem them from their redeemer.”45)Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Translated and with a Preface by Walter Kaufmann, The Viking Press, Inc., 1954, 1966, p. 91 Freud’s influence from Nietzsche thus sparked his goal to redeem the world from Christianity. Os Guiness revealed, “It is well known that Freud dismissed religion as an ‘illusion’ and saw himself as a ‘new Moses’ with [Carl] Jung as his ‘Joshua.’ He advocated psychotherapy as ‘a reeducation’ for a new human civilization through a complete reversal of Mosaic morality and God-grounded objective guilt. Psychological liberty to Freud was a mater of messianic liberation.”46)Os Guiness, “America’s Last Men and Their Magnificent Talking Cure,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, 15/2, 1997, p. 24 Paul Tautges confirmed, “Adding the teaching of Sigmund Freud to the teachings of Jesus Christ could result in nothing less than a departure from biblical truth, since Freud considered himself a savior whose purpose was to rescue people from the bondage of faith in God.”47)Paul Tautges, Counsel One Another: A Theology of Personal Discipleship, Day One Publications, 2009, p. 15
Exactly when did such heresy infiltrate the Church?

Peale confessed that as a youth he had “the worst inferiority complex of all,” and developed his positive thinking/positive confession philosophy just to help himself. In 1937, Peale established a clinic with Freudian psychiatrist Dr. Smiley Blanton in the basement of the Marble Collegiate Church. (Blanton brought with him the “extensive experience” of having undergone psychoanalysis by Freud himself in Vienna in 1929, 1935, 1936, and 1937.) The clinic was described as having “a theoretical base that was Jungian, with a strong evidence of neo- and post-Freudianism” (Carol V.R. George, God’s Salesman: Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Thinking , p. 90). It subsequently grew to an operation with more than 20 psychiatric doctors and psychologically- trained “ministers,” and in 1951 became known as the American Foundation for Religion and Psychiatry. In 1972, it merged with the Academy of Religion and Mental Health to form the Institutes of Religion and Health (IRH). To his death, Peale remained affiliated with the IRH as president of the board and chief fund raiser. Indeed, Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology which became known as Christian Psychology.48)http://normanvincentpeale.wwwhubs.com/, accessed 6/29/2013

Biographer George Mair recorded: “Reverend Norman Vincent Peale is, to many, the most prophetic and moving New Age preacher of the twentieth century. He is also the father of the self-help movement that formed the groundwork for the Church Growth Movement. Peale formed perhaps the most dramatic and meaningful link between religion and psychology of any religious leader in history. It is this same approachable, therapeutic brand of religion that many mega churches, including Saddleback, put forward today. It is this kind of religion that is so appealing to the masses of unchurched men and women that Rick Warren hopes to reach.”49)George Mair, A Life With Purpose: Reverend Rick Warren: The Most Inspiring Pastor of Our Time, Berkeley Books, 2005, p. 93-94 David Cloud explained, “Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), the founder of analytical psychology, has been influential, not only in society at large, but also in the New Age movement and within almost all aspects of Christianity. Jung has influenced both modernists and evangelicals. His writings are influential within the contemplative movement….Jung’s psychology typing provides the underpinning for the Personality Profiling part of Rick Warren’ SHAPE program, which is used by countless churches and institutions.”50)David Cloud, The New Age Tower of Babel, Way of Life Literature, 2008, p. 107-108 Churches today abound with unbiblical, New Age, pop-psychological theories that have no transformative power. Consider Rick Warren who lost his 27 year old son to suicide after a life time of battling depression. “In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided,” Warren wrote in a letter to church members. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” (Galatians 5:22), which cannot be received through humanistic psychology. “Vain, man-centered philosophies or psychology cannot save.”51)Daniel P. Franklin, Christians In Hell: Is Your Faith Merely False Hope?, Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2010, p. 154 A born again Christian is transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2), and “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Depression from unsatisfied lust is the results of ignoring biblically admonitions to “let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). Psychology teaches to esteem self, to love self, it is mere narcissistic selfishness. “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 much 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.”52)Paul Tautges, Counsel One Another: A Theology of Personal Discipleship, Day One Publications, 2009, p. 146-147 All our works for the Lord should be as He commanded (Exodus 39:43) – “that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58).


If you liked this article, you may also be interested in Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.



Heath Henning
Heath Henning
Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and nine children. Read Heath Henning's Testimony

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