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Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 )

When it comes to counseling, we must be very careful when we suggest that we can integrate secular psychological theories with a biblical counseling model.  As we will see, these theories have very little common ground among them.  Whenever we are exposed to counseling, or counseling models, we need to be good Bereans, to see if this is what the Scriptures actually teach us.

I’m going to examine four different counseling methods here: Freudian, Neo-Freudian, Rational-Emotive, and Biblical.  I’m not going to go in-depth with these but I just want to illustrate how these theories are diametrically opposed to the Biblical view.  I’m going to go through a series of questions and show how each methods answers the question.

1. Who is seen as the leader of this theory?

Freudian: Sigmund Freud

Neo-Freudian: Alfred Adler, Abraham Maslow (Also seen Christianized in works by Dobson and Crabb among others)

Rational Emotive: Albert Ellis (Christianized in Osteen, health & wealth movement)

Biblical: God

2. What is man?

F: Man is an instinctual animal made up of the id, ego, and superego

NF: Man is a socially goverened animal

RET: Man is a basically good being with internal potential

Bib: Man is created by God to glorify God

3. What is man’s problem?

F: Man has conflict between the Id and Superego

NF: Man is born small and weak, and feels inferior because of limitations that are determined to him by the time he is 5 or 6 years old.

RET: Man is a victim of flawed irrational beliefs about himself that are rooted in childhood.  Man’s belief system is the cause.

Bib: Man is a fallen sinner by his own choice.

4. Who is responsible?

F: Not man’s

NF: Not man’s, but society’s

RET: Not man’s

Bib: Man’s

5. What is your view of man’s guilt?

F: Man’s guilt is the result of imposed standards from others.

NF: Man’s guilt is a product of mistakes in thinking and values, and a lack of confidence.

RET: Man’s guilt is crooked thinking resulting in neurotic behavior.

Bib: Man’s guilt is real and the result of sin.

6. How is man treated?

F: Man must actualize his potential, strengthen his ego, make the unconscious conscious, and find source in insight and awareness.

NF: Man must strive for superiority.  He controls his own fate – emphasize emotional health and importance of birth order.

RET: Man must eliminate his self-defeating outlook on life and acquire a rational view of life.  This includes a process of re-education and positive thinking, and practicing actively changing self-defeating behaviors.

Bib: Justification by faith, progressive sanctification by the Spirit and the Word.

7. Who is the counselor?

F: An expert

NF: An encourager who adapts to client’s “needs”

RET: Teacher and educator with an emphasis on insight

Bib: Biblical Discipler/Counselor

8. What are the problems with your theory?

F: Unbiblical view of man, promotes self-absorption, narcissism, and a victim mentality

NF: Unbiblical view of man, victim mentality, and pride.

RET: Unbiblical identification of beliefs, and a substitution of therapist’s belief system rather than God’s Word for counselee’s belief system.

Bib: NONE that can’t be overcome by God, His Word, and His obedient children.

As we can see through this brief survey, these theories are not compatible with the Biblical counseling view because they are built on such different foundations.  Even in the “Christianized” versions of secular theory (or especially in these versions) we need to be good Bereans and see if what we’re getting fed is the word of God, or the folly of man.

~ Isaac ~