Evangelical Syncretism: Therapeutic Confusion

The language of therapy has a stranglehold on our culture. Children don’t lie anymore, they tell stories. Serial adulterers have been re-branded as sex addicts. Drunkenness is now an alcohol disorder—in fact, addiction itself is treated like a disease. Even the gross perversion of pedophilia is listed as a psychiatric disorder in the ever-expanding Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

In short, the world’s pattern for dealing with sin is to diagnose away the guilt, or redefine wickedness as something more innocuous. You’re not a sinner, you’re a victim. And regardless of who or what is victimizing you, you’re not to blame for your flaws and faults.

Tragically, the church is following that thinking.

Today, psychological terminology shapes the way our culture talks about life, and that same terminology has infected the church. This psychological assault has major implications for biblical authority and gospel purity. One prominent professor of a major Christian seminary argues:

It is time for Christian sages—psychologically informed pastors, theologians, counselors, therapists as well as psychologists—to speak wisdom into the mind and heart of the church concerning its mandate to explore human nature.[1]

The only mandate that Jesus gave the church is the Great Commission. The gospel message is not concerned with exploring human nature, it is the remedy for human nature (cf. Genesis 6:5; John 3:19–20; Romans 1:18­–20; Romans 3:10–23). What needs further exploration?

But with the Freudian view of man we don’t need salvation, we need healing. We don’t need to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, we need fulfillment. The self-affirming language of psychology has changed the way we talk about sin, the gospel, and the life of the believer. With a few choice words, we’ve turned the life-transforming truth of the gospel into nothing more than a motivational speech.

Evangelical Syncretism: Therapeutic Confusion.