History gives a prominent place to brave soldiers who have fought valiantly and demonstrated courage in time of war. A general who is able to capture a city held by the enemy is held in high regard. However, God considers one who is able to control his spirit (attitude) greater than a mighty military hero. Citations are won on the field of battle, but the real struggle is of the mind...in the depths of the soul. Some may conquer kingdoms and control cities, but the one who rules his own heart, controls his speech and conquers his spirit is the real hero according to God's word.
How easily we become entangled in a quarrel. It is sometimes difficult to cope with insecure, hostile and aggressive individuals. Contention can overwhelm us as a storm. We must take care lest the flood gates of passion flood our minds with hateful thoughts and our mouths pour forth angry words. Remember, "The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts" (Prov 17:14). Our thoughts are the fountain of life, therefore the wise man, Solomon, said, "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life" (Prov 4:23). It is impossible for one to have a pure life who does not control his thinking. Jesus said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." ("Mat 15:19-20).
One can and must control his temper. James gives this timely admonition: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). By controlling our spirit we control our thinking. By controlling our thinking, we control our words.
In gaining and maintaining control over our spirit (attitude/temper), we must first fully surrender our will to God. Secondly, we must drive evil thoughts from our hearts by letting the word of Christ richly dwell in us (Colossians 3:16). Thirdly, we must continually pray for strength to overcome anger and truly be the ruler over our spirit.
The revelation was made straightforwardly by my doctor and it was a bolt out of the blue to me. He lingered and listened as I poured out my emotions, wept, and tried to come to grips with this new struggle that I didn't even realize I had been fighting. But when he began to describe what depression is, it all began to fit. I had always had this picture of myself as competent, in charge, and perfectly able to cope. Yet that evening I began to see that my ways of coping were dragging me down physically and emotionally. Indeed, the depression had long since set in and all the time I had not even considered having a very low emotional state. Wasn't I always smiling at people and didn't I try to cheer others up? Problems, yes, but nothing sever, I thought.
As a preacher you are the person to whom many people look for strength, encouragement, patience, power, advice, and a host of other qualities which spring from a strong character. How can people respect you if you admit that you have a problem? (I found most folks understanding and supportive.) It is a wound to the ego to resign yourself to the fact of "having a problem." But it is not the end of the world. Nor was it the end of my ministry.
Depression is not mental disease, leprosy, alcoholism, or even drug addiction. In fact, depression happens to everyone. But to some it becomes a more severe or lasting problem. Depression may come because of loneliness, a broken love affair, loss of a loved one, or prolonged problems. Stress has a great deal to do with becoming depressed, and stress is a big part of the modern lifestyle. "Burnout" and stress are close neighbors.
Being a preacher, in fact, is quite stressful. Forget the work you see him so every week and realize that the preacher struggles with apathy in the pew, lack of visible progress in the church, contentious church members, brotherhood issues, fear of being labeled either a "liberal" or a "right winger" and of course, he must present the appearance of being dynamic, educated, friendly, jovial, a good family leader, successful, zealous but not fanatical, and supportive. And if you think this is easy your are welcome to walk in his moccasins for a full moon!
If i, as a preacher, can admit to having depression you can too! And if you suffer from it you must admit to it and then battle to overcome it.
The first thing which must be dealt with in depression is your own feelings. Depression brings down our spirit. It works on our moods, our frustrations, our angers, and our bitterness. Those feelings make us prime candidates for depression to move in. And we all have those feelings.
It may be observed, however, that depression hides our feelings from us. It did in my case. I lost touch with "what was eating me." My frustrations and anger were turned inward. The bitterness began to brew. And the need to continue to function and not cave in to those feelings make the problem all the more difficult.You may have some trouble detecting depression in yourself. Don't be deluded. Get some things out in the open with yourself. Why do you feel tired all the time? Are there certain tasks which you just refuse to do? Are your emotions raw and on edge? Do you have stomach problems? Are you not sleeping well? Do you withdraw from others and become uncomunicating? Some of these may apply to you. If they are a problem admit it to yourself, then seek some advice. Your physician may help you with the problem, or a psychologist or counselor may help. Realize that this is a problem which does require help!
Apathy and lethargy are two allies of depression. If you can't get interested in your favorite pastime and activities, or if your productiveness has diminished you may be headed for a dark mood.Several physical ailments may attend depression. Watch out for stomach trouble, weakness, tightening in the chest, breathing difficulties, tension headaches, even too much perspiration. Any of these may signal other things, but coupled with the "blues," worry, stress, etc., they may be pointing to depression.
In this article I have tried to deal with my feelings about having depression and my findings about this malady. In later articles I will deal with living with depression and its spiritual meanings.
Depression robs us of the joy our Lord intended us to experience in him. Therefore, it is a spiritual problem. The spiritual must, in fact, be a part of the system which copes with this age-old discomfort of mankind.
"Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
Randy Mashburn is a native of Dallas, Texas. He is a 1966 graduate of Oklahoma Christian College and has also done graduate work in Bible. Randy has preached for churches in Texas and Oklahoma. Although he is now in secular work he continues to be a faithful proclaimer of the gospel. He and his wife Kathleen worship with the Belt Line Road church in Irving, Texas where Randy teaches a Sunday morning Adult Bible Class.We appreciate his giving us permission to use his excellent article, first published in VOICE OF FREEDOM, April, 1985.
by Wayne Jackson
Christian Courier: Archives
Exactly what is “psychology” and how does this area of interest relate to the Bible?
For the past several decades, “psychology” has been a popular theme in American society. Countless students become “psychology majors” as they matriculate through school. The Yellow Pages of the phone book are filled with listings for psychologists and psychiatrists. For many, it is the “in” thing to have a therapist. Exactly what is “psychology,” and how does this area of interest relate to the Bible?
Psychology may be defined in two very different ways – depending upon whether or not one is approaching the topic from the biblical vantage point, or from the humanistic viewpoint. The humanist, i.e., one who considers man to be the measure of all things, with no need for belief in a supreme Being, suggests that psychology is “the study of human and animal behavior.” (We will probe this concept additionally later.) “Psychiatry,” a related discipline, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems.
The term “psychology” actually derives from the Greek root, psyche (soul), and pertains, therefore, to a study of the soul (or spirit) of man.
One may affirm with confidence, that no “psychological” theory can benefit man that fails to consider the “soul” aspect. This would include such issues as:
In the balance of this article we propose to highlight several glaring contrasts between biblical psychology and the psychology – falsely-called – that so dominates our modern culture.
There is a vast, unbridgeable chasm that exists between valid psychology and that which proceeds from a humanistic ideology. Let us probe some of the various questions just raised.
First, does the human being possess a soul? Logic demands, and the Bible affirms, that there is an entity within each human that sets him or her apart from all other biological creatures. This entity is the soul.
One atheist, Julian Huxley, has even authored a book titled, The Uniqueness of Man, in which he acknowledged that, since the days of Darwin, when mankind was viewed strictly in animalistic terms, the “man-animal gap” has been “broadening” (Huxley, 3). By that he meant that it is becoming increasingly difficult to view human beings as mere animals.
Another writer says that “...the very fact of human personality carries metaphysical overtones. Man’s psychological nature suggests something transcendent of which the psyche is but a partial reflection” (Progoff, 256).
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote:
“Either we have an immortal soul, or we have not. If we have not, we are beasts; the first and wisest of beasts it may be; but still beasts. We only differ in degree and not in kind; just as the elephant differs from the slug. But by the concession of the materialists we are not the same kind as beasts; and this also we say from our own consciousness....it must be the possession of the soul that makes the difference” (Mead, 416-17).
Second, if we have a soul, what is its nature? Those who accept the Scriptures as the Word of God are bound to acknowledge that human beings possess an inward essence (cf. 2 Cor. ) known as the “soul.” Initially, let us observe that the term “soul” is found in at least three senses in scripture.
“Soul” is sometimes employed as a
synecdoche (the part for the whole) to designate the entire person. Eight
“souls” were saved in Noah’s ark (1 Pet. ).
Every “soul” should submit to the civil authorities (
Additionally, the “soul” can
denote biological life. In the Old Testament, all living creatures are said to
possess “soul” (Gen. 1:30. Nephesh is the Hebrew term; the Greek
equivalent is psyche, LXX). During a dangerous shipwreck en route to
Finally, and most significantly, is the use of psyche to designate that part of the human being that is in the very “image” of God (Gen. 1:26). In this instance psyche is the same as “the spirit” (pneuma). To this component of mankind various qualities are attributed. Consider, for example, the following:
In modern humanistic “psychology,” however, none of these matters are considered, and therein lies the worthlessness of the system. Humanism sees the universe as consisting solely of matter; soul does not exist.
Can one be a true “psychologist” who does not even believe that human beings have souls? It is not without significance that the founders of modern psychology were men whose chief interests were in material or physical phenomena, e.g., chemistry, physics, and physiology (Cosgrove, 28).
One of the underlying tenants of modern psychology is a skepticism about the existence of a supreme Being to whom man ultimately is accountable. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), known as the founder of psychoanalysis, was a tremendously significant figure in the field of psychology. His influence permeated the educational field in many ways. Freud was an atheist who contended that religion is but an “illusion.” He argued that early man did not understand the material forces of nature. Hence, out of that frustration, our ancestors felt “the need to make tolerable the helplessness of man.” As a result, they “personified the forces of nature,” and endowed them with qualities that reflected a “father-longing” (30,32,38).
Other leading dignitaries in the field also had atheistic inclinations. John Dewey (1859-1952), who exerted a vast influence over a number of disciplines (including psychology), and B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), a leading advocate of “behaviorism,” both were signatories of the infamous Humanist Manifestos, which utterly repudiated faith in God. Carl Rogers (1902-1987), prominent for “client-centered” therapy, was quite religious in his early years; eventually, though, he leased his brain to skepticism.
Here is a very important point. When men repudiate an awareness of the very Creator who designed them, they cannot possibly have a view of humankind that is normal and conducive to mental soundness. Humanistic psychology (which is the basis of virtually all modern psychology) is, therefore, bogus.
And yet many, who profess a reverence for Christianity, are mesmerized by the theories of these men. One writer, for instance, in glowing language, says: “Carl Rogers seems to have brought a lot of God’s truth to light by discovering some of God’s principles for healthy human behavior” (Kirwan, 60). More on this later.
As we mentioned earlier, modern psychology is generally defined as the study of “human and animal behavior.” This very definition should be a “red flag” signal that we are talking about a school of thought that is grounded in evolutionary dogma. Dr. Paul W. Leithart has written: “All traditional psychiatry rests on two errors: 1) The acceptance of evolution; 2) Secular humanism” (8).
This point can be amply demonstrated; Charles H. Judd wrote:
“If ... psychology is to gain a complete understanding of human nature, it must take into account the findings of the science of biology, which traces man’s bodily structures and some of his traits back to remote origins in the lower forms of animal life” (15).
One writer, in a book titled, Apes,
Men, and Language, stated: “
After much research regarding this matter, Prof. Raymond Surburg concluded:
“The evolutionistic influence on modern psychology
must be traced back to
If modern humanistic psychology is grounded in Darwinism – and clearly it is – then the various theories that arise from this presupposition are as false as the doctrine of evolutionism itself.
Psychological theory plays a significant role in either:
And herein lies one of the dangers.
Reflect for a moment on these two points.
First, for example, Sigmund Freud, and those who were influenced by him, argued that the “sex drive” is the primary force of all emotional life. This suggests that man is but a biological machine driven by the sex urge, which implies that such a dominating “instinct” leaves little, if any, room in man for the exercise of will and the expression of moral choices.
This is why, more and more, we are hearing the refrain that human beings personally are not at fault for their aberrant conduct. We simply can’t help what we do, it is alleged. For a further consideration of this point, see my book, The Bible & Mental Health (89-96).
Second, modern psychology not only attempts to rationalize man’s behavior with mechanistic suppositions, frequently, it actually encourages wrong activities.
Earlier we mentioned the name of
“It has seemed clear ... that when the counselor perceives and accepts the client as he is, when he lays aside all evaluation and enters into the perceptional frame of reference of the client, he frees the client to explore his life and experience anew, frees him to perceive in that experience new meanings and new goals. But is the therapist willing to give the client full freedom as to outcomes? Is he genuinely willing for the client to organize and direct his life? Is he willing for him to choose goals that are social or antisocial, moral or immoral? If not, it seems doubtful that therapy will be a profound experience for the client .... To me it appears that only as the therapist is completely willing that any outcome, any direction, may be chosen – only then does he realize the vital strength of the capacity and potentiality of the individual for constructive action” (48-49).
Anyone remotely cognizant with New Testament ethics can perceive how destructive the Rogerian method is.
As we conclude this brief survey of humanistic psychology, surely it has become evident to every reader who regards the Bible as a divine revelation, that there is a vast difference between modern, humanistic “psychology,” and the wholesome mental health principles that abound in the Bible. Think about some of the vivid contrasts.
The Humanist Manifestos I, II asserts: “Ethics is automous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction” (17). This means that man is subject to no higher moral law than what he himself determines. Were that the case, there could never be a “situation” during which one could do wrong! That is precisely the position argued by atheist Jean Paul Sartre. He contended that whatever one choses to do is right; value is attached to the choice itself so that “...we can never choose evil” (279).
By way of vivid contrast, the Bible teaches that human conduct is the result of the exercise of man’s free will, and that bad choices, i.e., a violation of the law of God, as made known in the objective revelation of sacred scripture, have resulted in the numerous problems that afflict the human race today. “God made man upright; but they have sought out many devices” (Eccl. ).
Moreover, the objective source of remedy is the divine revelation of scripture (1 Cor. 2:6ff), amply documented by a wide variety of evidences. These inspired documents are able to satisfy completely every genuine need of the human mind (2 Tim. -17).
The fact of the matter is this: the reputation of humanistic psychology/psychiatry these days is somewhere between that of the alchemist and the snake-oil salesman.
Sometime back, TIME magazine carried a major article titled: “Psychiatry’s Depression.” Dr. E.F. Torrey, a psychiatrist, has written a book dubbed: The Death of Psychiatry. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry at the State University of New York, authored the shocking volume: The Myth of Mental Illness (1960), and O. Hobart Mowrer, an atheist who served as President of the American Psychological Association, produced a work called: The Crisis in Psychology and Religion (1962) in which he challenged the entire field of psychiatry for its dependence upon Freudian premises (see Adams, xvi).
The more one reflects upon the presuppositions of modern, humanistic psychology, the more he is inclined to think that Lucy, of the Charlie Brown comic strip, was overcharging when she gave counseling sessions for five cents!
Adams, Jay (1970), Competent to Counsel (
Cosgrove, Mark (1979), Psychology Gone Awry (
Freud, Sigmund (1949), The Future Of An Illusion (
Humanist Manifestos I & II (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1973).
Huxley, Julian (1941), The Uniqueness of Man (
Judd, Charles H. (1939), Educational Psychology (
Kirwan, William T. (1984), Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling (
Liebman, Joshua (1946), Peace of Mind (
Leithart, Paul W. (1980), “Psychiatry and the Bible,” The Christian News, September 15.
Mead, Frank (1965), The Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations (
Progoff, Ira (1956), The Death and Rebirth of Psychology (
Rogers, C.R. (1951), Client-centered therapy (
Sartre, Jean Paul (1966), “Existentialism,” reprinted in A Casebook on Existentialism, William V. Spanos, ed. (
Surburg, Raymond (1959), “The Influence of Darwinism,” in