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Welcome back to week 42. We hope the past week has been a blessed one for you. Last week we briefly examined homework examples for the development of good communication patterns. 

This week we will briefly consider cooperation. Should we work cooperatively with a physician or psychologist in the counseling process? What are some of the dangers and/or advantages? 

The answer to our question above is both yes and no. There are differences between the two professions of physician and psychologist of which we need to be aware. Let’s go with the psychologist side of the coin, first. 

In considering cooperation between believers and a psychologist in the counseling / discipleship process we would not work cooperatively with a psychologist. This is because of the fundamental differences in our presuppositional approaches to counseling. A biblical counselor, whether laymen or professional, has a presupposition that Scripture is sufficient for all matters of life, godliness, and counseling (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:2-3).

In contrast to a biblical counseling presupposition, the psychologist erroneously presupposes that man’s ideas are sufficient to counsel another. This ultimately results in one wicked person telling another wicked person how he or she should live their lives. That is foolishness and demonically inspired (James 3:15)! 

In biblical counseling there is one wicked person telling another wicked person how God says, in His Word, we ought to live. The main and important difference is the source of authority. In psychology’s case it’s man’s “wisdom,” but in biblical counseling’s case its God’s wisdom revealed in His Word.[1]

Paul makes it very clear in Colossians 2:8 that we are not to rely on man’s philosophies because they are deceptive and lead people away from God’s Word. As a side note, and because this mistake has happened too many times before, this does not mean that we should arbitrarily tell a counselee to stop taking psych meds that were prescribed to him via a psychiatrist. We are not medical professionals. We did not put them on the meds and we cannot tell them to get off. At the same time, we can and should inform him or her that psych meds sear the conscious, are very questionable in their effectiveness, and even dangerous due to their effects on the inner man (i.e., the soul, or spirit), and outer man.

Psych drugs may temporarily help one feel better, but their sin (i.e., the root problem) is left untouched because the bad feelings have been alleviated. Furthermore, the manufacturers of these drugs are not even sure how these drugs “work.” They use phrases to describe the drug’s effectiveness like, “it is thought that…” and “the theory is…” Check the drug facts insert, you will see it. People who know how something works do not need to write assumptions about its function on inserts, they write factual assertions.

What’s worse is that these drugs are being used to treat a condition that is impossible to have. Mental illness does not exist. The mind, to which the term refers, is inorganic, not physical. The Bible teaches that the mind is the inner man, which is the source of our thoughts, feelings and choices (Matt. 12:34; 15:18; Lk. 6:45; Rom. 9:2; Heb. 4:12). Something inorganic, like our soul, cannot become biologically ill. Thus, no one can be mentally ill because the mind is inorganic and cannot become sick. Furthermore, the inorganic mind cannot be treated with an organic substance, like a psychotropic drug.

However, the brain, the link between the inner and outer man which God gave us, is organic. Therefore, it can have physiological problems a stroke, seizures, external trauma, diseased tissue, etc. In these cases, the physician would run verifiable objective tests like CAT scans, blood work, MRI, etc., to diagnose an organic condition and treat it accordingly. 

In medicine, the symptoms are determined from abnormalities (e.g., tissue damage, disease) in the body.  Robert D. Smith M.D. says, “In contrast, in psychiatry, diagnoses are made on the basis of the behavior of the person, not the reason for the behavior.”[2] As a result of their inaccurate testing and assumptions, psychologists completely dismiss the core issue that Scripture points to –one’s sin.[3]    

On the other hand, in considering cooperation between believers and a physician in the counseling / discipleship process, we would work cooperatively with a medical doctor. That would be in-so-far as the doctor did not advise our Christian brother or sister to take a course of action that would compromise biblical principles.

For example, a doctor claiming that the counselee has a chemical imbalance would work to compromise biblical principles. This happens far more than we might realize. In this case the physician should be asked a few questions like: 

  1. What tests were run to prove a physical problem is present? 
  2. How do those tests prove the presence? Is the condition a proven, demonstrable fact, or simply a theory? 
  3. How do you know the diagnosed physical problem is the cause of the emotional or behavioral actions of the person? Is the link a proven, demonstrable fact, or simply a theory? 
  4. Concerning medicine: What proof do you have that the medicine you are recommending corrects any physical problem? 

Any physician who is being honest will have to answer with “a theory” in regard to psychological issues and their supposed medicine treatments. In trying to diagnose “mental illness,” physicians wander out of their discipline of the physiological into the theological. The people best equipped to handle theology are theologians, not physicians, as well-intended as they are.

According to Scripture, man is a dichotomist being consisting of a body and a soul which make up a psychosomatic whole (Rom. 8:10; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:4-5; Col. 2:5).[4] Thus, when one tries to deal with a person in ways that draw some kind of a distinction between the organic and inorganic, he runs into problems. The problems cannot and ought not be divided out like parceling a plot of land. 

It is not as if the organic part of man belongs only to physicians while the pastor needs to stay on his part of the dividing line, and Scripture agrees.[5] When faced with an organic problem the counselor will always work from a biblical presupposition –that sin is involved somewhere in the equation of the organic illness. The involvement does not necessarily mean that the counselee is experiencing the direct consequences of committed sin. We do not want to assume that and be like Job’s useless counselors. 

The involvement could be because of the curse of sin on all men. It could be because of sin in the counselee’s life. It could be from God using illness as punishment for sin in an unbeliever’s life. It could be from God chastening the believer. It could be God using illness to produce repentance. It could be God using illness to prevent sin and unbiblical attitudes. It could be God using illness to bring glory and honor to His name by making a person more like Christ. It could be God reminding us of the fragility of life in order to grow love for Him and humility in the sufferer. It could also be God using it to demonstrate a person’s character.[6] There are many reasons one could be sick. 

A person’s body cannot be divided from his soul unless he dies. Therefore, it would be wise that the counselor study the fundamental functions of the human body. The counselor should also seek to form a close alliance with a Christian physician, in-so-far as it is an option, with whom he can work closely. As Jay Adams says, “Such teamwork recognizes and gives expression to man’s fundamental psychosomatic unity.”[7] Yes, we should cooperate with physicians, secular or sacred, who align best with our beliefs. No, we should not cooperate with psychologists or physicians who work to undermine our beliefs.    

We hope our short time considering cooperation in the counseling / discipleship process was helpful. Lord willing, next week we will briefly consider the topic of “total restructuring.” We will describe what it is, how it works, and use an example. Until then may our Lord bless you and keep you.

[1] We are not saying that all psychologists are demonic, evil, and hate others. We are saying that the “wisdom” they use is demonic, evil, and ultimately hurts others. The psychologists themselves, as with many in a service industry, genuinely want to help others. At the same time, they are genuinely wrong about how to do it as well as having wrong motives, known to themselves or not, and certainly the wrong authority.

[2] Robert D. Smith, The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference (Timeless Texts: Stanley, 2000), 82.

[3] That is not to say psychologists are incapable of making accurate observations of symptomatic evidence. It is to say that they are incapable of making an accurate diagnosis of solutions to symptoms.

[4] Psychosomatic in that the body affects the soul and the soul affects the body. 

[5] James 5:14-16 places the organized church in the business of dealing with physical (organic) illnesses because James recognizes that sin can be a cause of bodily sickness while confession of sin, and repentant prayer can be its cure. This concept is not limited to the New Testament. The Old Testament has examples of sin being the cause of sickness and prayer its remedy (1 Kings 13:3-7).

[6] Ezk. 18:4, 20; James 5:15-16; Ex. 15:26; 2 Sam. 12:14-15; Num. 21:5-7; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 12:7; all that happens to a Christian’s body is to be used for God’s glory; Phil. 1:20; Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:20; John 9:1-3; 11:4; made more like Christ; Rom. 8:28-29; James 4:14; Job 7:9; 1 Peter 1:24; Ps. 102:11; Job 2:3-6.

[7] Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 439.

Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Develop Good Communication Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Total Restructuring