If you want to change your life, you need a self-help book to guide you through the process. The good news is that there is a perfect book for you. It’s called the Bible, the world’s most perfect psychology book. In the Bible, you have a system of thought that can radically change your life.
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You may want to read:
- The First and Unique Step to Problem-Solving
- Rick, Why Do You Use the Word Psychology?
- How to Counsel Non-Christians with God’s Word
In the last chapter, I talked about your nonnegotiable presupposition. It is God. He is your starting point. He is the window through which you view everything in your life, assuming you are a Christian. You will never have a more solid foundation, starting point, or worldview than the Lord. He is the only person who can equip you for living well in His world.
But knowing there is a God and that He is your foundation are not enough. You must have a system of thought, a way to think like He thinks (Isaiah 55:8–9). You cannot imitate Him if you do not know what He is thinking (Ephesians 5:1). Believing in Him or His existence is not enough. You need to be fortified by Him when trouble comes (James 2:19).
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8)
You need a way of thinking about the human condition. To be more specific, you need a way of thinking about you. There has to be a body of knowledge that can guide you into God’s truth (Philippians 4:8). If you possess this body of knowledge, you are ready to answer and engage some of your most life-perplexing questions. For example,
- Why do you do what you do?
- Why do you respond to life’s trials the way you do?
- Why do you affect people the way you do?
- Why are you affected by people the way you are?
The system of thought I am describing is called psychology. Psychology is the most accurate way to think about the human condition. It is a Bible-implied word. Just like theology is a Bible-implied word that describes what we know about God, psychology explains what we know about people.
The word psychology is a compound word that means psyche and logos. The word psyche means soul, and the word logos means the word concerning or the study of the soul. Some people say the word psyche means mind. That is part of what it means.
Whether you are talking about the mind or the soul, the meaning is the same in that you are talking about your inner being. Humans consist of two parts: nonorganic or spiritual and organic or physical. The word psychology points to the nonorganic part of a person, their inner being. For example, anthropology is the study of their outer being.
- Theology is the study of God.
- Anthropology (Anthropos Logos) is the study of people.
- Psychology is the study of our inner being.
The problem happens when different people groups compete for who knows best about the inner workings of a human being. This confusion does not make psychology a bad word. It makes how we think about psychology problematic. The Christian is in the best position to think correctly about psychology because the Christian’s starting point is God.
The problem is when nonbiblical or sub-biblical people groups try to foist their presuppositions and worldviews onto the word psychology. When they do this, psychology becomes twisted and unhelpful. This would be similar to an anthropologist studying bones and making a case for evolution. Reasoning is circular: an evolutionistic presupposition is going to lead to an evolutionistic conclusion, which will affirm an evolutionistic presupposition.
I expect the non-Christian anthropologist to study bones and tell me why evolution is true. Before I became a believer, I bought into many of those conclusions. After I had become a believer, my presupposition changed, which changed my conclusions about the study of humanity. The same applies to the field of psychology. The non-Christian person is entitled to his opinions, and I am entitled to mine, which is why I reject his presupposition, his worldview, and his conclusions. (Of course, he rejects mine, too.)
If there is anything he or she says that I accept, it is because I filtered it through my God-centered presupposition. From my worldview, it can only be true if it lines up with God’s Word. The Canon (God’s Word) becomes the rule from which I determine what is true and false.
The Author of the Psyche
In Genesis 2:7 we learn that God breathed into Adam and he became animated—he became a living soul. The Lord was the author and creator of the nonorganic (psychology) and the organic parts (anthropology) of humanity. God made Adam’s psyche. His soul did not come through random evolutionary processes. It came by the predetermined wisdom and action of God. The Lord thought of the soul. He created the soul. He was the architect of the soul.
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
This is a big deal, and it is a faith issue, which is the same for everyone. We all believe what we believe by faith. I am a Christian. Therefore, my system of thought is uniquely God-centered. That is my faith.
This article is from Rick’s book, “Change Me” – Get your copy now!
The Author of the Logos
Paul, under the controlling, illuminating, and inspiring power of God, gives us insight into how our Bible came to us. He tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that the Lord breathed again. This time, He breathed into selected men, whom He chose to write words. This divine exercise inspired the writers of the Bible. In time, those words breathed out by God were put into one edition. The culmination of this process gave us the Bible.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).
The Bible is a book that tells us about God, humanity, and life. Everything we know about God (theology) comes from the Bible. No other book in the world gives us new or undiscovered information about God. Any other author from any other book that tells us about God (theology) gained his or her insight from the Bible. All books about God are supported or discredited by the clear teaching of God’s Word.
The same goes for psychology. The Lord created the soul (psyche), and He created the logos (Word) concerning the psyche. The purest soul book ever written is God’s Word. Any literature outside of God’s Word that seeks to explain our souls (psyche) is supported or discredited by the clear teaching of God’s Word.
It is not wrong for someone to write about the soul. But the litmus test that verifies an author’s truth claims about the soul is God’s psychology book.
Thus, you can conclude the following:
- God created the soul.
- God created the soul book.
- God gave us psychology: the Word concerning the soul or the study of the soul.
My Psychologist Is Greater
The greatest soul (psyche) care provider who ever lived was Jesus Christ. As Son of God, He created the soul (psyche), and He gave us the Word concerning the soul (logos).) John spoke of Jesus and His ability as a psychologist in this way:
“Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24–25).
Imagine sitting on the Savior’s couch, being analyzed by Him. He would be able to figure you out quickly and tell you exactly what is wrong with you and what you need to do.
Jesus was a Master Psychologist because He studied the soul book (Luke 2:52). Any person who spends their life studying the soul book can grow in their understanding and practice of the purest psychology known to humanity.
The Christian has a distinct advantage over any non-Christian when it comes to the study of the soul (psychology) because he has God’s inspired Word—the psychology book. Non-Christians grope in the dark when it comes to understanding psychology because the Bible is a mystery to them, if not downright foolish (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 1:18–25, 2:14).
The Christian has the illuminating power of the Spirit of God to guide him into all the truth contained in the Word of God (John 16:13, 17:17). The Christian also has the providential guidance of a sovereign Lord, who orchestrates life events on behalf of His children (Genesis 50:20).
Additionally, the Christian has a community of psychologists (God’s children), who are always pursuing a better understanding of the psychology book while seeking to make practical applications for God’s glory and each other’s mutual benefit (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Thus, you can conclude the following:
- You have the Word to guide you.
- You have the Spirit to guide you.
- You have your illuminated self to guide you.
- You have the community of faith to guide you.
Problems arise and skirmishes ensue when people deviate from the clear teaching of God’s Word. Even with all the aforementioned protective measures that we have, it is still easy to drift from pure psychology—the study of the soul. I will not elaborate on all the ways in which our psychology runs afoul, but I will mention the most common one I encounter: God’s psychology book versus the world’s psychology book.
We call our psychology book the Bible. They (secular psychologists) call their psychology book the DSM-V, (It used to be DSM-I, II, III, and IV.) Their bible has gone through five iterations. We are still working with our first one, including the Old and New Testaments. The DSM-V has its language, which is often communicated through acronyms: OCD, ADD, ADHD, and so forth. The secular psychologist also uses disorder language, meaning most of the problems they describe are disorders. Let me illustrate.
Alex does not behave well at school. He misbehaves. His parents take him to a psychologist. The psychologist looks at Alex. He asks Alex a battery of questions, and then he questions the parents. He gives Alex a test to take.
The psychologist concludes that Alex has ADD and sets an appointment with a psychiatrist. The parents take Alex to a psychiatric appointment where the psychiatrist prescribes medication. Alex’s behavior changes for the better. The conclusion is Alex has ADD.
The diagnosis begins to fall flat when you start asking better questions. What you would learn is that it does not matter to the parents what the psychologist says as long as he can fix their child. Here are a few questions I would ask his parents in a logical order.
- Do you like Alex’s new behaviors? Yes.
- Why did he change? It was the medication.
- How did you know he had a medical problem? We took him to a psychologist.
- What did the psychologist say? He said Alex had ADD.
- How did the psychologist come to that conclusion? He asked a few questions. (Subjective, nonscientific diagnosis.)
- What was the filter he used to interpret the answers you gave him? The DSM-V.
- How did the DSM-V come to these conclusions? I do not know.
From here it becomes convoluted. It does not matter to the parents how the psychologist came to his conclusions. They are not going to challenge his presuppositions because they like the result: Alex is better behaved, which is pragmatism that divorces itself from God’s Word and possibly from all the Lord would like to do in their lives.
A Leap of Faith
The tension I have with this kind of reasoning, process, and outcome is that so many of our brothers and sisters have naively bought into the persuasive lies of our secular psychologized culture. They have willingly swallowed subjective analysis without question, which is befuddling and disheartening.
Every week I am told by a Christian about their disorder or how a relative has been diagnosed and labeled with an acronym. This kind of thinking is one of the biggest weaknesses in Christian sanctification. Our inability to understand and live out God’s practicalized Word is doing as much harm to the Christian community as anything else that is assaulting it.
I believe in psychology as taught from the Bible. I hope to continue growing and maturing in the study of the soul because I want to be more like Jesus. Learning God’s Word and practically living it out is the only way any of us can do that.
Call to Action
- How would you describe your view of God’s Word? Do you see it as the purest form of psychology ever given to humanity?
- How would you describe your practice of God’s Word in your life? (The most effective way to answer this question is by assessing your responses to the problems in your life.)
- What do your responses to life’s trials reveal about your understanding and practice of God’s Word in your life? Are you an effective biblical psychologist?
Also published on Medium.