The Psychology Epidemic and Its Cure -- By: John F. Macarthur, Jr.
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The Psychology Epidemic and Its Cure1
Professor of Pastoral Ministries
The Master’s Seminary
The church’s right to counsel from the Bible has been reconfirmed in court rulings of recent times. Yet in many instances the church has surrendered that right and responsibility because of the “professionalization” of the counseling ministry among Christians. This is tragic because the behavioral sciences are not, as is commonly believed, scientific. Neither have they proven effective in changing the human heart. “Christian psychology,” with its claim of a secret knowledge about dealing with people, has made deep inroads into the church, but it is no more than a duplication of its secular counterpart with Scripture references occasionally interspersed. A reliance on Christ, the “Wonderful Counsellor,” and God’s sufficient Word as dispensed by spiritually gifted Christians to one another is the church’s only solution in meeting the spiritual needs of its people.
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In 1980, Grace Community Church became the object of a lawsuit charging that the pastors on staff were negligent for trying to help a suicidal young member of the church by giving him biblical truth. It was the first clergy malpractice case ever heard in the American court system. The secular media had a field day as the case dragged on for years. Some nationally aired tabloid-type programs even alleged that the church had encouraged the young man to kill himself, teaching him that suicide was a sure way to heaven. Of course, that was not true. He knew from Scripture that suicide is wrong. We urged him to let the Word of God lead him to intimate knowledge and appropriation of the resources available in the One who wanted to heal his troubled mind. Tragically, he refused our counsel and took his life.
One of the key issues the case raised was the question of whether churches should have the legal right to use the Bible in counseling troubled people. Many would argue that giving someone
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advice from Scripture is a simplistic approach to counseling. The Bible may be fine as an encouragement to the average person, they say, but people who have real problems need the help of a psychological expert.
Therefore, this lawsuit contended, church counselors are required to refer seriously depressed and suicidal people to the mental-health professionals. To attempt to counsel these troubled people from the Bible amounts to irresponsibility and negligence for which church counselors should be...
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