Friday, June 23, 2006

Faith's Psychology

David Powlison, in an article entitled "Faith’s Psychology and the Psychological Faiths" (html or PDF) explains the essence of the psychology of biblical Christianity. [The bold highlighting has been added by me.]

"Portraying the Christian faith’s psychology in detail lies far beyond the scope of this article, but in its briefest form, our psychology says the following: human beings live actively accountable to the true God who knows and weighs our desires, motives, and actions. We are innately, actively, and thoroughly worshipers, lovers, fearers, trusters, believers, obeyers, hopers, seekers, and desirers of one thing or another. The human heart and our responses are ruled: We heed either the true God or a host of identifiable lies, lusts, idols, voices, and pretenders.

"Human beings are fundamentally depraved: morally bent, dark, insane, and unholy in relation to the God who made us. We are moral responders, but we do not live in a vacuum: significant forces affect us and to some degree constrain and shape us. These forces, however, only set the stage on which we live. They operate within God’s sovereign government and provide the context that reveals our hearts’ desires and our loyalties. Everything in our lives matters—the varied trials and temptations; the sufferings of being sinned against and the joys of being loved; the abilities and disabilities of genetic inheritance and physiological functioning; the blessings and curses of economic, political, and technological conditions; the opportunities and constraints of each historical moment; and so forth—but these forces do not control our fundamental direction. In the Bible’s view, such things can never be the ultimate cause of our soul’s pervasive moral insanity.

"Human beings are not fundamentally deprived, as if the nature and/or nurture we received could explain the most significant things about us. We are active agents. We are not products of conditioned drives (behavioral psychology), physiological dysfunctions (biopsychiatry), unmet needs (humanistic psychology), or traumatized or conflicted instincts (psychodynamic psychology). We are not self-determined, whether responsible to ourselves (per philosophical psychologies, such as existential, logotherapeutic, rational-emotive, and cognitive) or responsible to society (per moralistic psychologies). The Bible teaches a God-centered view of both the outward influences on life and the inward springs of life.

"Consistent Christianity rethinks the modern psychologies, looking at them through the lens of Scripture. When problems of person and situation are conceived in relation to God, then the only sufficient and logical solution is Christ, as the Bible presents Him. In faith’s view, biblical counseling is the fundamentally personalized, face-to-face ministry of this Christ within the context of His redeemed and redeeming community. Biblical counseling is not simply throwing Bible verses at counselees, though. Neither is it tacking verses of Scripture onto secular psychological principles. Biblical counseling involves understanding what Scripture teaches about the human heart’s motivations and then guiding others to this understanding. Out of this understanding come changed hearts, changed motivations, and changed lives—lives that are God-centered, not self-centered."

(HT: Keith Plummer)