Should Christians Become Secular Psychologists?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Should Christians become secular psychologists?

I've always been perplexed as to how people can press on in secular psychology indefinitely.

If you're a doctor and somebody comes to you with a broken arm you can heal their broken arm without telling them about Jesus. They can flex their arm, go out, and be healed without ever hearing the gospel. And you will have done them some good, though maybe not eternal good.

But if you bring that principle over to psychology it gets a little complicated when you claim that you can do the same thing. You might think, "A person comes to me with a marital problem, some depression, or some eating disorder—whatever—and I give them some tips for self-understanding. Then they get a grip and don't eat so much or don't have as many marital arguments, and I have done them some good."

But it seems to me, at that level, that you're just giving them tips on things that the Bible has a lot more to say about (i.e. why we should do what we do with our spouses, how we should deal with our appetites, and what we should do with discouragement, etc.). And you are withholding from them all of the best news about that very problem.

Sure, it's possible to give some temporary help to a person without Christ, just like you can fix somebody's broken arm without Christ. But when we're dealing with emotional, mental, and spiritual/relational issues the Bible is filled with wisdom about how it should be done.

If you're not doing it that way then it seems to me that you should probably be moving vocationally towards a way of using your psychological training to where it can be completed in the full-blown biblical vision of what those relationships and those spiritual realities should look like.

So my counsel is that I have little hope that, in the long run, a person in secular psychology—where they're not allowed to talk about Christ—can survive indefinitely with a clear conscience. I would be eager for them to move toward a Christian counseling situation, or a Christian psychological situation where everything useful that they have learned about psychology could be completed, permeated, and transformed by biblical thinking.

Full author john piper

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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