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THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONNECTION

Written by: Cornerstone    Posted on: 05/01/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

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                      THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONNECTION

              an interview with William Kirk Kilpatrick,                   author of Psychological Seduction.

  This article was taken from the magazine: CORNERSTONE VOL. 12 ISSUE 68

How closely related is Rev. Schuller's theology to secular psychology?

    Schuller seems to have gotten his self-esteem ideas in toto from psychology.  He  appears  to  be  using the same criteria as they do.  The therapeutic idea of belief is to ask of a thing,  "Does it  make  me  feel good about  myself?"  or  "Does it meet my needs?"  But Christ didn't say.  "If you love me you'll feel good about yourself."  He said, "If  you  love me, you will keep my commandments."   After all, there are plenty of beliefs that can make us feel good about ourselves.  If  faith  is  reduced to the feeling it generates,  we become prime candidates  for  psychological  seduction,  because  psychology  can produce good feelings, too.    Schuller  is letting psychology call the shots here.  Instead of taking what's useful in psychology and fitting it within a  Christian  framework, he's  taking Christianity and trying to fit it within a procrustean bed of psychology.    Not  only  does  Christianity  currently  stand  in  danger  of  being psychologized,  but  there's  always  the  danger  of  being Americanized, accepting the current American criteria for being a success.    Schuller's success theology is very cruel because  it's  just  for  the winners  in  life.  A  society  of great expectations is also a society of great frustrations.  If you lead people to believe that by  the  power  of their mind they can become rich and change their life, and if in fact that doesn't happen,  not only are they going to feel frustration but also more guilt for not having enough faith. 

          How has self-psychology so easily invaded the Church?

  Instead of a merging of Christianity and psychological ideas,  we  have seen  in  practice  a submerging of Christianity while psychological ideas tend to float  to  the  top.  It's  really  foolishness  on  the  part  of Christians  who  are doing this mixing.  It's like the Republican National Committee asking committed Democrats to devise their campaign strategy.    When we begin to import social science language into  Christianity,  it carries  the  implication  that  all  the  deep mysteries of the faith can somehow be encompassed within secular psychological categories. 

    What makes the psychological idea of self-esteem so dangerous in light of man's true condition?   If what Schuller says about self-esteem is true,  then people with high self-esteem wouldn't sin.    In my own case, the most shameful incidents of my life occurred when my self-esteem was very high by  psychological  standards.  It  was  only  in retrospect  that  I  saw  my  behavior  for  what it was.  Self-esteem can actually get in the way of self-awareness.    Like the rich man who will have such a hard time getting  into  heaven, his  riches protect him from the knowledge of how utterly dependent on God he is.  In the same way the man who is brim full of self-esteem is  unable to see how utterly broken he is, how we all are.      The person who is having difficulty in life, whether that difficulty is mental  illness or neurosis,  or just plain troubles,  they're in a better position to understand the desperate state we're all in, how badly in need of salvation we are. 

  Do you see Rev. Schuller's  concept of self-esteem affecting the  doctrine of salvation?           

  The  message  of self-acceptance turns the doctrine of salvation upside down;  we have to give up the old self before we put on the new.  If we're okay the way we are,  the good news of the gospel is reduced to the status of "nice" news.  Nice because there was never anything wrong  with  us  in the  first  place,  and  therefore this business about needing a Savior is superfluous.                                              C.S. Lewis says  that in the long run the Christian religion is a thing of  unspeakable confort,  but he also said,  it does not begin in comfort.  It begins in dismay.  It's no use trying  to go on to that comfort without going through dismay.                    One thing that's very clear in the Bible  is that an encounter with God is a traumatic experience, because we see ourselves as we really are. 

  Is there a biblical concept of self-esteem, and if so, how does it compare to the psychological model? 

  There is good reason to feel good  about  ourselves  from  a  Christian point of view.  We're made in the image and likeness of God,  Christ loves us enough that He gave up His life for us,  we are redeemed by Christ,  we are brothers with Christ, we are children of God...there's plenty of solid reasons.    On the other hand, psychology doesn't offer  us much reason for feeling good about ourselves.  It just says we should.  It doesn't really give any reasons why there is this thing called human dignity.    The Christian model is much more realistic.  It takes into account both the potential glory of human nature and the depths of human nature.    Schuller does try and bring a Christian perspective in there.  I  mean, he'd say some of the things I just said,  but he seems to have a one-sided message,  he seems to leave out the other part  of  the  gospel.  He  says Jesus never called anyone a sinner.  That may be technically true,  but he did call the Pharisees a brood of vipers.  He  called  Peter  Satan,  "Get thee behind me,  Satan."  When Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more," what are we to infer?  She was  in  fact  a  sinner.  Schuller  here  is  trying to fit Scripture into prepackaged psychological categories. 

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