“Rather than conform thoughts, feelings, and actions to objective reality, man’s inner life itself becomes the sources of truth.”
– Ryan T. Anderson (President, Ethics and Public Policy Center)

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Modern man psychologizes everything. We’ve witnessed the rise and triumph of Therapeutic Theology.

Many preachers and theologians psychologize scripture today. As a result, the Word of God is no longer authoritative and the standard of truth. We now see our individual experiences and emotions as authoritative and the source of truth. In other words, what we feel must indicate what is true. Therefore, anything that threatens or disrupts our individual psychological wellbeing must be false and bad.

I just said the quiet part out loud.

Carl Trueman puts it this way, “Any attempt to express disapproval is therefore a blow not simply against particular ways of behaving but against the right of that person to be whoever they wish to be.”

The Therapeutic Gospel is the new prosperity Gospel. People today don’t care as much about money as they do about feeling good, or at least feeling better. Anxiety and depression levels in America are at all-time highs. As such, people want to hear sermons that make them feel better. Many pastors are willing to shift away from a God-centered exposition of Scripture to a man-centered eisegesis.

Imposing my ideas on the Bible… making it mean what I want it to mean.

Eisegesis is interpretation whereby the reader imposes his own ideas and biases onto the biblical text rather than interpreting the intended meaning of the text. A growing number of pastors use a psychological lens to interpret scripture resulting in therapeutic remedies. Eisegesis allows one to make the Bible mean whatever he wants it to mean. It’s man-centered theology dressed up in biblical-sounding language.

I’ve seen brothers and sisters lulled into a spiritual daze through therapeutic preaching. The preacher weeps on cue and whispers soothing words of inner well-being and feelings. The sharp, two edged sword that is the Word of God is quietly set aside. A hypnotic anesthetic is administered from the pulpit, tickling the ears and silencing God’s Word.

Many Sunday morning sermons are therapy sessions centered around our feelings and experiences. Rather than a clear call to repentance and faith, and submission to the Word of God, we are fed pablum. We hear how Jesus cares more about our feelings than our faith. The Word of God is preached in such a way as to assuage our sinful fears and makes us feel better. After all, God wants us to feel good, right?

Wrong. When we feel the conviction, shame, and consequences of sin, it doesn’t feel good. Otherwise, no one would repent and believe the Gospel. That said, the Bible speaks to human emotions, psychology, and experiences. But, those are not primary… they are not even secondary matters. Truth is of first order.

The Father is the fountainhead of truth, not Freud. (Hebrews 6:18)

Jesus Christ came into this world to bear witness to the truth. (John 18:37)

The Church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

Therapeutic Theology is not just another form of Christian theology, it’s a Christian heresy. Sitting under it is giving approval to it. Sit under therapeutic preaching long enough, it will warp your theology and lead you away from truth… whether you or your pastor realize it or not.

The solution to therapeutic theology is a return to biblical faith and good theology, sound doctrine, and expositional preaching. While pastors counsel people and speak to emotions, they are truth-tellers and shepherds first.

Keep the main things the main things.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.” (1 Timothy 6:3-4)

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

 Resources:

“Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self” by Carl Trueman

“Strange New World” by Carl Trueman

“The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud” by Philip Rieff

“A Secular Age” by Charles Taylor

“Marks of a Healthy Church” by Mark Dever

Related Blog Post:

“Is Your Church Going Liberal?” by Lance Cashion

“Most Pastors Don’t Have A Biblical Worldview and It’s a Problem” – by Lance Cashion 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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