Ep. 155 Rick, Why Do You Use the Word Psychology?

Shows Main Idea – Mailbag: During a few of your podcasts as well as on the free counseling training introduction I noticed you used the same language. I have a Masters in Counseling Psychology and what I do know is psychology is a humanistic approach with many different modalities that lead people away from Christ.

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Question Continued

You mentioned in your training course where you have broken up the word Psychology, “psyche” meaning soul and “logos” meaning the Word of God? You also stated that the Bible is the first psychology book?

I have a problem with this terminology as I find it confusing? Psychology is humanistic and is not of God. The Bible is the Word of God, it is complete, perfect, it is God’s truth and our Guide of how to live our lives, it is NOT a psychology book and never will be.

Psychology books are man’s own beliefs and thoughts. The Word (the Bible) is from the One and only Creator. (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 2:16-17) The Bible is the Word. His Word was here from the beginning John 1:1-4, His Word is pure and refined Psalm 12:6. Gods Word does not need any help, and we are never to add to or take from the Word (Deuteronomy 4:2).

I am writing you this not to point a finger but to get a fuller understanding of your stance when it comes to psychology vs. the Bible? Please help me to understand where mixing the word psychology and the True Word of God is okay? Sounds like offering strange fire. (Leviticus 10) We as Christians must be cautious at our choice of words as we are held accountable for our actions. I look forward to your reply.

This question is excellent. Thank you for asking it. I wholeheartedly agree with you that secular psychology is problematic in more ways than I can describe fully. The bottom line for me is that I do not subscribe to secular psychology, and I intentionally try to move folks away from it skillfully.

Of course, there is the question about whether or not we can learn anything from our culture. Of course, we can. Common grace (Matthew 5:45) implies that we can learn things from the pagan culture, but whatever those things are, they do not refute or contradict God’s Word.

For the record, I have a sufficiency of Scripture perspective, and I don’t deviate on this issue. Webinar #3 in my Introduction to Biblical Counseling series addresses this problem.

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The word psychology, in a vacuum, is a good word. There is nothing wrong with it. Truthfully, it is a Bible word because of its Greek roots. Of course, we don’t live in a vacuum, and words are not neutral. Thus everyone brings their presupposition to their words, and from those presuppositions come their interpretations.

Illustration: Let’s say that you and I are standing at a plate glass window, looking through it at the word psychology. You see problems, heresy, inferior teaching, and dangerous applications. If I were looking at that word with your presuppositions, I would see similar things, which is why I agree with you. Your points are not arguable.

But I’m not looking at the word with your presuppositions. I’m looking at the word through a Bible filter, and when I do that, I see something entirely different. Let me give you a few other “good” or “bad” words, depending on your presupposition:

  • Bible – Christian Bible or Mormon Bible? Or, you love it or hate it.
  • Christian Counseling – Biblical or Integrated Counseling?
  • Theology – Christian or Other Religions?
  • Faith – Faith in God or Faith in Yourself? Read this on faith.
  • Father God – Secure in Him or Terrified by Him?
  • Fundamentalist – Christian Believer – Muslims Believer? (The fundamentals of the faith.)
  • Psychology – God’s Word or the Secular World?

The problem is not about any of these words–in a vacuum–but an individual’s presupposition that gives interpretations of these words.

As for the word, psychology, it literally means the study of the soul. And the only correct presupposition for studying the soul comes from Genesis 2:7 and 2 Timothy 3:16.

Genesis – “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living (soul).”

2 Timothy – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

God is the Author of the soul and the Author of “word” concerning the soul (our Bible). I said it this way in my article, Five Things to Know to Be Mastered By the Bible.

The Bible speaks clearly to all the problems in life (2 Peter 1:3–4) because it is the soul book. The more technical term for the Bible is a psychology book. The Bible is the only divinely given, authoritative book that teaches humans how to be restored from the inside out, which begins by being reconciled to God.

God is the Creator of the soul (Genesis 2:7), and He is the Creator of the Word for the soul (2 Timothy 3:16–17). He breathed into man, and man became animated. Years later, He breathed into several men, and we now have God’s inspired Word, which teaches us how to be right with Him, as well as how to overcome our fallenness. We have the perfect psychology book because it contains God’s words.

You can also read about my perspective on secular psychology as I refute part of the teaching of Alfred Adler in the article, All Psychologies Bow at the Foot of God’s Word.

But the question remains, “Why do I use the word?” There are several reasons. For example, it’s the right word when interpreted and defined biblically. Similar to other words from the same “logos family.”

  • Theology–the doctrine of God
  • Bibliology–the doctrine of the Bible
  • Christology–the doctrine of Christ
  • Anthropology–the doctrine of humanity
  • Soteriology–the doctrine of salvation.
  • Hamartiology–the doctrine of sin.
  • Ecclesiology–the doctrine of the church.
  • Eschatology–the doctrine of end times.
  • Psychology–the doctrine of the soul.

Christians need to know that the Bible has perfect psychology, and rather than turning to heretical modalities (secular psychologies) for soul problems, they need God’s Word.

I’m not ready or willing at this point to give up on some words that first belonged to us, though they have been hijacked by the culture and paganized for God-rejecting reasons.

I’m not party to taking bad words like hedonism and making them good because that’s an unnecessary confusion, i.e., calling evil good. But if the word is good, I’m not willing to call it bad–at least not yet with the word psychology.

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