God vs. Man: Theology and Psychology

Posted: November 15, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes God teaches me what He wants even when I’m trying to learn about something else. Today, I was working on a paper about career choices for my Psychology class. Yes, I’ve actually decided this time not to wait until the night before! The objective of the paper is in part to list what careers currently interest us, and then to relate those to psychology. For example, I wrote about how I’d like to pursue a career in computers, perhaps programming or something along those lines. Then, I related it to psychology by saying I could analyze computer software to see how effectively it interacts with human users. Research was going well, thoughts were flowing fairly freely. Then I got stuck on my second career interest. I had already written about how I might like to take a job involving theology, and now was just trying to relate it to psychology.

This task was harder than I thought it would be. I assumed that because theology and psychology both involve, to some degree or another, man’s thought processes, the correlation would be easily presented. What I failed to consider was that Christianity and secular psychology have two entirely different platforms on which they build their cases about man’s thoughts. Christianity assumes that mankind is by nature sinful and in need of a Savior, while secular humanistic psychology presumes that man can improve his state simply by discovering his genetic predispositions and manipulating his behavior. Website after website warned me about this, and at first I thought maybe these were some overly judgmental Christians. But as I read what they had to say, I saw the seriousness of the situation.

You see, Christian theology and humanistic beliefs simply clash. They don’t have common ground because they start with opposing premises. I think psychology is an interesting subject and can tell us a lot about how the human mind works, but when it assumes a philosophy contrary to what God teaches us and tries to answer underlying “why” questions, it’s downright dangerous. Humanistic psychology tells us that man is basically good, and we’ve simply been corrupted by a flawed society. Fix the mind to disregard those skewed societal thought processes and we’ll live in a much better world some day.

Yet Jesus tells us in Mark 7, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (v. 21-23). Our natural sinful condition is our problem, not external influences.

Extending this knowledge of secular humanism beyond the classroom, it means that as Christians we need to be discerning in our culture. Humanistic ideology is so pervasive, and psychology is only one realm in which it spews its atheistic ideals. For example, we constantly see on tv that sex outside of marriage or getting drunk to drown out our sorrows is acceptable. This comes from the secular humanistic idea that we are only here to enjoy ourselves however we want in this life because this is all there is (secular humanism does ascribe to some moral code, but that code is a bit vague because it can change with new discoveries). Let’s look out for these lies so that they may not permeate our theology and faith. We must be on guard to grow in knowledge of truth and in godliness.

If you’d like, you can use this prayer that I’ve prayed during this process.

Lord, help me to be discerning in this world that is hostile to your Truth. May I see past the futile teachings of the day to understand that I am utterly sinful outside of the gospel. Psychology and science cannot change my eternal condition before a holy Judge. Thank you that you sent your Son to forgive my sin. Help me to declare the truth of Jesus Christ to others who have bought the lie that they’re not really in that bad a situation. May you open hearts to this truth, Father. Amen.

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