Psalm 19.7-14 teach that the counselor cannot blend together modern psychology and the Bible without severely compromising the sufficiency of Scripture. The quality of the Scriptures is perfect and restorative. The Bible is the only trustworthy source of wisdom. The right paths of Scripture lead to joy. It provides clear illumination in a very dark age. The Scriptures are flawless and endure forever. They are true and righteous altogether. Forsaking the sufficiency of Scripture means forsaking the sufficiency of God Himself (Jeremiah 2.13). The Scriptures provide “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1.3).
Romans 15.4 states that believers “are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.” Yet the world warns the Christian that he should not enter a venue for which he has not been prepared. Modern psychologists, medical doctors, psychoanalysts, and so-called settled scientists generate all kinds of error. Many of God’s people are duped into believing that the Scriptures are insufficient to meet the needs of the inner man.
Many so-called Christian counselors grope for the latest and greatest psychological theory and then bend Bible verses to support it. But God’s Word has everything we need for every good work (2 Timothy 3.15-17). Since God has given us His Word, we can meet every true need as a biblical counselor.
The integration of modern psychology and the Scripture tends to fixate on how one might have a particular need and not the why behind that need. For instance, we might recognize a need to be better parents. Yet our greater need is understanding why we are such bad parents. We should be asking, “What is wrong with us?”
Abraham Maslow focused upon what motivates a person. He asked about what desire, want, or yearning compels a man. Maslow asked, “What do you want?” Some want respect. Others want to be accepted. Still others don’t want anxiety to rule over their lives. Maslow fixates on our needs. The Bible teaches us to interpret those desires or needs honestly. Our desires are termed the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Those lusts or desires are idolatrous cravings to meet legitimate and/or sinful needs. The Scriptures teach us to change what we desire. The Scriptures re-direct our desires through our needs and show us the benefit of living an eternal quality of life.
Larry Crabb is an integrationist. He wrote that the Bible is sufficient “because it provides either direct information or authoritative categories for answering all questions about how life should be lived on this earth and about how it can be lived according to an effective pattern. Whenever the Bible is not explicit about a given concern, biblical categories provide a framework for thinking through an adequate response to that concern [emphasis mine].” The biblical counselor might agree with this statement, but David Powlison challenges the way Crabb frames his authoritative and biblical categories. Are they truly authoritative and biblical? He counters:
[W]here does Crabb in fact get his system-shaping categories? Scripture nowhere yields Crabb’s view of “deep yearnings/needs for relationship and impact”; his Jesus Who encounters us primarily as the meeter of our needs; his reductionistic analysis of the psyche into four nested circles of emotion, volition, rationality and need; his distinction between casual, critical and crucial longings; his definition of ontological maleness and femaleness. These ideas are the drive train and steering mechanism of Crabb’s distinctives. These ideas are explicit betrayals of Crabb’s stated goal. These ideas are exegetically and theologically insupportable. “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Good intentions are no hedge against the noetic effects of sin on systems of thought.
We need to challenge one another about the idea of meeting needs as the goal of biblical counsel and help. Perhaps what truly needs to change is what we feel we need. Perhaps a need is nothing more than a want. Sacrificial, service-minded Christianity thrives only as we love God supremely and love others as we love ourselves. A genuine love for others informs them of their need to demonstrate the righteousness of God for the glory of God.