The following question has been recently asked on Facebook and it has provoked interesting discussions:
How do you think, it is good for a citizen who attends an evangelical church to go to a psychologist?
I posted a few comments, but then I found that it is better to write an article on this issue and express my position. But firstly …
Let us give the definitions
The word “psychology” comes from Greek and it is a combination of two words: psyche – soul and logos – study, or science. According to Dictionary.com…
PSYCHOLOGY –noun, plural –gies. 1.the science of the mind or of mental states and processes. 2.the science of human and animal behavior. 3.the sum or characteristics of the mental states and processes of a person or class of persons, or of the mental states and processes involved in a field of activity: the psychology of a soldier; the psychology of politics. 4.mental ploys or strategy: He used psychology on his parents to get a larger allowance.
The dictionary gives the following definition for the person who practices psychology:
PSYCHOLOGIST, a specialist in one or more branches of psychology, especially : a practitioner of clinical psychology, counseling, or guidance.
If psychology is the science of the mind, and if the psychologist is a fine observer of the human nature, then I think a Christian should go to his pastor to receive spiritual healing through the Word of God. And if not, then going to a psychologist, he will be counseled by the latest and, I fear, that he will be led to a different direction than the one that God gives us in His Word. Someone said on Facebook that psychology is one who listens to you and asks you questions, but does not give solutions. I do not think so. People go to a psychologist just because they want solutions to the problems of their soul.
Pastors must shepherd souls
Jesus Christ has ordained that in the Church, who is His body, Christians must be led and built up spiritually by pastors. This is what the Scripture says in this regard:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-15)(NASB)
Pastors and all the other ministers listed in this passage must teach Christians and thus strengthen their souls that they may grow up in faith and not be weak in their souls, becoming victims of heresies, or other things.
If someone goes to a psychologist, he does it because he has problems with relationships, problems of attitudes, in a word, spiritual problems. Can psychologists really give better solutions and remedies for the human soul than the ones that God gives us in His Word?
Have you heard of women who went to psychologists to complain of depression and they were recommended to start sexual life (fornication), even if they are not married? I do not mean that all psychologists do so, and I have nothing against those who try and make efforts to help people who face spiritual problems. I just can not understand why a Christian needs to turn to them if he is part of the Church where the Lord Jesus gave pastors and teachers to build him up spiritually.
But, there was an objection on the forum and maybe the reader will also have it …
What to do when the pastor is not a reliable man?
It is sad but this is the a reality. If so, then seek another pastor, another servant of God whom you can trust and to ask for help. But do not try to run from the confrontation you expect to have from your pastor. And pastors who are not trustworthy and do not shepherd the souls, should take heed to the words of the prophet Ezekiel that are valid for us, those who shepherd the Church of the Lord Jesus:
Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’”(Ezekiel 34:1-6)(NASB)
Pastors must build up the souls of believers
If believers begin to go to a psychologist, this means that they either ignore the teaching they receive in the church or there is not sound teaching and counseling in the church. Apostle Paul and other apostles cared to build up the souls of believers and to continually strengthen their disciples’ souls. It it written about Paul:
After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” When they had appointed elders for them in every church, havingprayed with fasting, theycommended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.(Acts 14:21-23)(NASB)
Just to ensure a continuous building of the souls of the disciples, the Apostle Paul appointed elders in every church. Every pastor should be a good psychologist in the sense of being a fine observer of the human soul and know how to properly address the spiritual issues of those whom he ministers. The spiritual needs of Christians must be fulfilled in the Church.
I want to be understood correctly. I have nothing against psychology as science (to the extent that it is science), nor against psychologists. But I am absolutely convinced that they can not meet the needs of the soul of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Their needs must be fulfilled in Christ because we have “everything complete in Him.”
What does the reader think on this subject? What experience did he have in this regard? I invite you to share on comments.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru