Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Two Book Christian

I have been concerned that the marriage advice found in Love and Respect incorporates social science into its framework by reshaping the essential message of that science. The highly respected work of Gottman and Murray has been represented as supporting the hierarchical model of marriage. A literal interpretation of the Bible is set down as the standard and any science that is mentioned has a secondary role as supporting evidence. This can be similar to teaching young earth creationism.

The reason for this is explained in the following description of biblical counseling, THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE IN COUNSELING:
    A belief in Biblical inerrancy entails an affirmation of Scripture’s sufficiency for understanding and resolving the non-physical problems of man. Counseling that is truly Christian must be Christ-centered, church-centered, and Bible-based. Various contemporary approaches to counseling question the sufficiency of Scripture, namely the two-book, the no-book, and the filtering device approaches. All three join in affirming that the traditional biblical resources for dealing with man’s problems are not enough. They fail to take into account, however, the finiteness of man’s knowledge, the depravity of human nature, and the sufficiency of Scripture. Psalm 19:7-11, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, and 2 Peter 1:2-7 affirm clearly the sufficiency of Scripture and Christ in dealing with man’s problems. Secular psychological principles are unnecessary and may even be harmful in trying to understand and help people.
This definition of biblical counseling explains that the "two book" approach is rejected because it does not accord with the sufficiency of scripture.

I was raised in a Victorian style home among the Plymouth Brethren. We lived and breathed scripture. But we were a "two book" Christian family. We believed in a Copernican Cosmology, that the earth revolved around the sun, we believed in modern medecine, we believed in the geological succession. We did not believe in the sufficiency of scripture when antibiotics were needed, when surgery was required, when fossils were examined, and when the night sky was the object of comtemplation. Members of our family studied physics, geology and astronomy.

I am sorry to see that Christian counseling has become a "one book" affair. If you don't deny your family the benefits of modern medecine why would you deny them the benefits of a modern understanding of the psychology?


Drew Tatusko said...

Great. So that means that we need to toss out the DSM and psychotropic drug therapy to go back to insane wards in prisons in order to remove the "mad" people from our society too! I hate when religion makes people just stupid. And more than than, harmful to people at the same time.

Kate Johnson said...

I am currently teaching a university class, The Integration of Psychology and the Christian Faith, where we are discussing this very thing. One of the texts, Psychology and Christianity: Four Views by Johnson and Jones (2000) discusses how differing views seek to understand whether there should even be a mixture of the two areas or if it is appropraite because each has something to offer.
The four views are

1. Christian Psychology (where they believe that truths of psychology are found in the Bible and other pre-psychology movement Christian writings, such as Aristotle, Tolstoy, etc.)
2. Integration (where the Bible and Psychology are intergrated to form a base of knowledge through a Christian world view that is shaped by the Bible and our Christian Faith)
3. Levels-of-Explanation view, (where they believe both have something to offer, but each has its area of expertise and the two should not infringe on each other's area)
4. Biblical Counseling (where the Bible is sufficient for all explanations and help in any area of mental anguish)

Each of these views is from a Christian perspective. So there are different views, and Christian Counseling per se does not all believe in a one Book approach, just those who follow a Biblical Counseling view, such as those espoused by Jay Adams. There are, however, certain denominations who hold to this narrow one Book view and they believe psychology has nothing to offer. Others, like myself, believe the Bible is foundational, but there is value in applying the truths of psychology and psychological research to the human condition and understanding, as long as we take it back to Scripture to judge its validity and truth. There are those of us who believe in the intergration.

The class is having some very interesting discussions on this topic...