In the 1970’s, the concept of Self Esteem began to make its way into The Church. As with most “new” concepts, the issue of the human self was a little confusing. My first encounter was a Seminary President, researching a book on The Self and asking pastors what they thought it was. No one had a cogent answer.
The Self is The Stuff of psychology and The Church was not into psychology….not as much as it is today. The Self is the sum total of man’s immaterial being. Secular psychology generally denies this reality, which begs the question. Regardless of what psychology is built upon, it has begrudgingly accepted the idea of a ‘ghost in the machine,’ even if it continues to deny that reality.
Is psychology schizophrenic? Sadly, the idea of Self and Self-Esteem has invaded the Church and moved to the Head of The Line, so to speak. With the likes of secular-trained psychologists, Dr. Clyde Narramore, Dr. Gary Collins, Dr. James Dobson and Dr’s Minirth and Meier, Christians were introduced to secular philosophies and techniques to solve human problems. These concepts (and their solutions) are now imbedded in the Christian psyche [that’s ‘soul’ for you non-professionals], so much that it is being preached in pulpits on Sunday Mornings! Your remember Worship Services, don’t you?
Perhaps not. The Bible has a lot to say about the soul and it’s not all good. The Bible’s message is that only God can cure a soul. All the pills, therapies and techniques in the world will not compensate for a diseased soul. In fact, the Bible declares that soul ‘desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.’ [Jer. 17:9] This is a reference to mans’ heart — his immaterial being.
Knowing the only Hope a sinful being has is Redemption, why would Christians seek to help struggling men and women by emphasizing the r Rehabilitation of ‘the Self,’ and not the Rescue? Answer? They have been trained in secular theory and practice. They have bought into those principles. They are not sufficiently educated, spiritually, to understand the huge differences that exist between these philosophies.
One the most influential psychologists, today, is Dr. James Dobson [PhD, Psychology, Univ. Southern California]. Dr. Dobson has emphasized this idea of a healthy Self, in book-after-book, pointing it out as The Problem. I’m not sure where ‘sin’ enters the picture, but I’m certain it’s in there, somewhere.
For Dobson, a lack of self-esteem seems to be at the heart of the problem, it creating all the other problems of life that aren’t physiological or chemical. He writes in terms of “symptoms of psychiatric disorders,” which points to the attitudes, actions and motivations we view as abnormal [not good] and therefore problematic.
This philosophy, however, creates more questions than it resolves. For example: Are my behaviors ‘The Problem?’ or are is it the motivations behind them? Is it my psyche [soul] that’s disordered [impaired or diseased], or am I a sinner at heart; morally corrupted by sin? You can see that this philosophy creates as many questions as it answers.
In his book: “What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women,” Dobson writes: “If I could write a prescription for women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy does of Self-Esteem and Personal Worth (taken 3 times a day until the symptoms disappeared). I have no doubt this is their greatest need.” I know Dobson is speaking from a balanced view-point, but look at the extreme Feminist Movement.
What you see is Self-Esteem being exerted over anyone and everyone who criticizes or limits them in their quest for equality. What is a “healthy dose?” How do you regulate it, once it gets revved up? Who is it that’s throwing cold water on a woman’s sense of worth? Why are we not focused on them?
If you were reading the works of Carl Jung (pronounced Young), father of The New Age Philosophy and Analytical Psychology, you wouldn’t notice enough difference to matter. Jung believed he secret to a good life consisted of a ‘journey of transformation,’ to find the true self and bring it into harmony with the Divine. His view of the Divine was not yours. His book: “Septem Sermones,” (The 7 Sermons to the Dead) was dictated by spirits.
Other than his internal motivation, terminology and desire, Dobson is not saying much more or less than did Jung. In reflecting on the same core issues and solutions, Dobson is deceiving the Christian Community and the world, at large.
The Bible defines, describes man’s problem as sin! This sin is the corruption of thought, desire and feelings, that result in destructive behaviors and confused emotions. To begin with the destructive behaviors and confused emotions is to miss The Point! Certainly, the ‘pointy stick that poking someone in the eye,’ must be dealt with, before anything else of value can occur. But, just because the stick is no longer poking you in the eye, doesn’t mean The Problem is solved!
Human Beings Love Talk Therapy. They will seek it out on a weekly basis, for years [at $80.00 an hour — a 45 min hour]. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel they are making progress. It makes them feel they are important. It gives them hope (although 3 years of ‘therapy’ should be telling you something).
Human Beings Hate Biblical Counsel. The first time you tell someone they are a sinner and that’s why thy are what they are do what they do, they’re gone!
Can you see it now? Don’t be confused. Biblical Counsel is much more that simply pointing out the obvious. But, that’s a discussion in another place, for another time. The Bottom Line is: Unless You Are What God Made You To Be, You Will Not Be Able To Do What God Intended You Do. That failure will produce all sorts of emotional, psychological and physical responses.