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Guest editor, Kenneth Scribner, has researched widely in the Bible, the writings of Ellen White, and the broad area of the helping professions. You may be surprised by what concerned writers are saying. Please ask God to give you discernment and a willingness to study the articles of this volume and choose to let God's will be done in your life and practice. I commend a thorough study of each article. Mercedes Dyer, Ph.D.
"It is Satan's constant effort to misrepresent the character of God, the nature of sin, and the real issues at stake in the great controversy. His sophistry lessens the obligation of the divine law and gives men license to sin." (Great Controversy, p. 569)
Israel's example warns the last-day church that if we do not follow the Lord and His will for us we will be in grave danger. Israel wanted to be like the other nations of her time. Her leaders demanded, "Lord, give us a king!" Samuel was not happy, but God told him to give the leaders what they asked for.
1 Samuel 8:6-9 says: "The thing displeased Samuel, when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, 'Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. Now therefore hearken unto their voice:...yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them."
The warning was given, but the people's request remained the same, "Give us a king to rule over us!" You and I know "the rest of the story."
Today, many of God's people, desiring to be "up with the times," have mistakenly sent forth the cry, "Lord, give us psychologians, i.e., ministers of the gospel of psychology, to guide us in these dysfunctional, abusive, co-dependent times. The church has failed us. It has not met our needs, and pastoral counseling isn't adequate, even if the pastors don't charge us anything. Biblical counseling and prayer are just too simplistic for the complex problems and addictions we face today. We need professional helpers, experts, and 12-step groups that understand our psychological diseases and illnesses. Sin isn't our big issue." So goes the request.
Psychotherapy to enhance "mental health" has become modern man's confessional. Where once church members went to God or to their pastor or even to other trusted fellow church members, for help and guidance with the struggles of life, today they are off to what I choose to call psychologians. Could we hear our Lord speak, He would say, "It is I, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of peace, whom you have rejected."
I am not alone in my criticism. Dave Hunt is not an Adventist, but hear what he says: "Christian psychology represents the most dangerous and at the same time the most appealing and popular form of modernism ever to have invaded the church. Many of today's staunchest evangelical and fundamentalist leaders, in order to be relevant and professionally respected, are preaching a form of Religion Science, apparently without even recognizing it. Psychology, which entered the church as a Trojan horse, now wields such a powerful and all-pervasive influence, that to call Christian psychology into question is taken as an attack upon Christianity itself. This is all the more astonishing when one realizes that, in actual fact, Christian psychology doesn't even exist.
Gary Almy, another Evangelical, adds that the term, "Christian psychology is an oxymoron. The two religions are inherently contradictory."
Paul warned us: "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:2-4).
This prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes. Another well-informed commentator writes, "The church has capitulated and lost its own identity by allowing (and often encouraging) the norms and diagnoses of contemporary psychology to replace the gospel.
Thus the desire today is for psychologians, who will speak smooth things, things that won't "rock the boat" as it were. Counselors who do not press the matter of personal responsibility, the deadly nature of sin, or our need of repentance, forgiveness and transformation are not facing the true issues of mankind.
"Every week," says another commentator, "500,000 self-help meetings are held in this country. The fastest growing of these free, confessional meetings is Co-dependents Anonymous. There are over 1800 Co-dependents Anonymous groups in this country."
Self-help groups are fast taking the place of prayer meetings. Who becomes the center of focus in these groups, God or self?
Psychology sees mankind as victims, not as sinners in need of the Savior. Persons do not want to face the reality that they are sinning. The conscience of mankind is vanishing.
Psychologists play the blame game. Guilt, they say, is detrimental to mental health. Thus the psychological world has convinced many that what was once sin is now actually a sickness or disease and not really our fault. Having a disease doesn't seem half as bad as saying, "I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."
Martin L. Gross makes this comment: "Today, the M.D. psychiatrist and his first cousin, the Ph.D. psychologist, have appointed themselves the undisputed Solomons of our era. The new seer delivers his pronouncements with the infallible air of a papal bull, a stance which intimidates even the most confident of laymen."
I have observed that even ministers, lawyers, and judges too often accept without question these "experts." But there are some 500 studies that show that the results of therapy provided by supposed "experts" are hardly any better and are often worse than the results of the advice of lay counselors. Being "my brother's keeper" would reap better results.
The mental health field today is a confused mass of conflicting theories presented by many who have no belief in God, the Bible, prayer, or Christianity. There are some 250 theories by one count and upwards of 500 theories by other counts, all vying for our attention and dollars. These theories are as varied as their founders. The structure is massive, yet its foundation is flimsy. Psychology would love to be promoted as a science, but it fails to match up to any true science. It is actually a false religion, and if a false religion, integrating it into Christianity will only help to destroy the biblical message on mental health. This issue of Adventists Affirm deals with this problem, but only with a "tip of the dangerous psychological iceberg."
The general subject, mental health, is vital to our church today! A warning needs to be given. "Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology" by the late C. Mervyn Maxwell is an excellent place to begin. Clemency Mitchell shows us how to obtain "positive mental health." Her simple yet profound advice will give us all a NEWSTART. Neal Nedley, a full time practicing physician, deals with one of the most serious issues in mental health today, depression. Vicki Griffin, Health and Temperance Director of the Michigan Adventist Conference office and Paul Musson, a physician in private practice, tell us what happens inside an "Addicted Brain." It is fascinating! Vicki has also contributed an article dealing with her personal struggle with addiction and growth in spiritual and emotional living. Ken Scribner, a pastor on leave, deals with one of the most devastating episodes in the history of psychotherapy, generally termed "Recovered or Repressed Memory." John Treat, a doctoral student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, has written what some may consider a controversial article on self-esteem. Can self-confidence be over stressed? He draws strong words from Ellen White. Also included in this issue is an article written by Ellen White in 1884 for The Signs of the Times. Its message is still relevant today. Judith Vyhmeister, herself a psychiatrist, has contributed a short but powerful article entitled "Deceived." We trust that you will be stimulated by all these significant articles.
(You can paste this url to your browser to go to the magazine where you can find links to the articles mentioned here. http://www.adventistsaffirm.org/article.php?id=107 )
We want to AFFIRM what ADVENTISTS have long believed, that Christ's "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 Pet 1:3, 4).
The question is: Can a Christian use psychology as a tool in ministry. Its corollary is : Can a psychologist use faith as a tool for helping people?
The heart of the matter? Any ministry which has no firm foundation in Holy Scripture does not have power to fully confront the spiritual realities behind much of our behavioural and emotional anguish and will tend to act at best as a band aid and at worst as a deceptive avoidance of evil.