“To demolish religion with psychoanalytic weapons,” Freud biographer Peter Gay reported, “had been on Freud’s agenda for many years.”
Sigmund Freud, like Friedrich Nietzsche who strongly influenced him, hated God and Christianity. In his book, The Future of an Illusion, Freud describes his “absolutely negative attitude toward religion, in every form and dilution.”
Benjamin Wiker, in Ten Books that Screwed Up the World, explains the roots of Freud’s attitude:
We cannot forget Nietzsche’s assumption that religion was an entirely human creation. Since Freud read Nietzsche, this may have done as much as anything to help form his presentation of religion in The Future of an Illusion.
With that concept at the core of Freud’s thinking, Wiker goes on to describe the psychoanalyst’s resultant, perverted worldview:
His rebellion took the form of baptizing as natural the most hideously unnatural sins, sins condemned by every society as the most unholy and unthinkable…. Freud damned as unnatural the Christian-based morality of Western society.
Freud himself points out several of these “unholy and unthinkable” inclinations: “Among these instinctual wishes are those of incest, cannibalism, and lust for killing.”
Freud believed that it is the people who reject a biblical worldview and follow their “natural” desires that are truly sane. As Dr. Wicker explains:
He [Freud] claimed that psychological disorders were the result of the unnatural repression of our naturally unholy and anti-social desires, and that some people just couldn’t handle the repression….Therefore, neurotics are the only sane people because they react to unnatural frustration by training to reclaim their original, natural, asocial and amoral state. The result: the anti-social psychopath who kills without conscience is the most natural of all. The interesting effect of Freud’s proclamation that evil is natural was the seemingly unintended consequence of making psychopathic insanity natural.
The Bible declares that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It also holds that the world will become increasingly wicked. People will do whatever seems right in their own eyes and will call evil good and good evil. Indeed Freud, Maslow, Fromm, and others in their line of psychologists prove that this has come true. Calling “evil good and good evil,” they declare Christians insane and those who act out compulsions such as child molestation and murder sane.
The Soul of a Soul-less Discipline
The word “psychology” derives from the Greek word “psyche,” the study of the soul—which, ironically, should be impossible for secular humanistic psychologists who deny the spiritual world and the soul. Author Alan Bloom notes that for secular humanists “the self is the modern substitute for the soul.” And when humanists refer to the mind, they really mean the brain.
Contrast the significance the Christian worldview places on this realm which Freud insists doesn’t even exist. The biblical worldview, of course, acknowledges both the spiritual and natural worlds. The brain is part of the natural world, but the mind and heart, as described in the Bible, are connected to the soul—the spiritual side of man.
Scripture mentions the heart 826 times, where “heart” refers to the core of a person’s being. Proverbs 4:23 says the heart is “the source of life.” From the heart proceeds our good and bad thoughts, emotions, and behavior. The Bible admonishes us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
In Scripture, the words “heart” and “mind” are often interchangeable, and other times, they complement one another. Jeremiah 17:9, for instance, describes the heart as “more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick,” so the mind must moderate the heart. The Bible also describes the nature of those who ignore God as it tells us how to practice godliness:
• Psalm 14:1—“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
• Proverbs 23:19—“Hear, my son, and be wise; And guide your heart in the way.”
• Proverbs 23:7—“For as he thinks in his heart, so he is.”
Your heart and mind are part of your soul, the core of your being that will still exist after you die. Souls will live forever and be judged by God (Romans 2:5; Revelation 2:23). The person who repents of sin and surrenders his or her will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the person who has received mercy and grace. That person has been saved by God on the basis of Christ’s complete payment for sin at Calvary.
According to Romans, the moral law is written on the heart and mind of every person—thus the conscience. “Con” means with and “science” means knowledge. So every time people sin or rebel against God, they know it is wrong.
We don’t murder fellow human beings because murder goes against the character of God. We are not to lie, steal, or break any of the other Ten Commandments because doing so would go against Who God is. Romans 1:21 reminds us, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” And Romans 2:15 points out that people “show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”
Did you catch that? Romans 2:15 tells us that the conscience is one way in which man can know he has violated the character and nature of God. The conscience is part of the soul, and yet psychology denies the conscience by denying the soul. John MacArthur explains that killing the conscience is one of the objectives of psychology:
The goal of modern psychology is to train people to ignore their conscience. Your conscience is making you feel guilty? That’s wrong. You’re not a bad person, you’re...what?...you’re good, you lack self-esteem. In fact, you’re so much better than you think you are that it’s really troublesome and most of your problems are because you don’t know how good you really are. So when conscience says you’re guilty, you’re guilty, this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong, you silence that conscience.
People can either accept the guilty feeling of the law upon their conscience that accuses them of transgression when they sin or they can excuse the guilty feeling and learn to ignore it. If they ignore the guilt long enough or often enough, they will become people “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
You can see, then, that people who listen to Freud and his devotees—believing that sinful thoughts and impulses are natural instead of understanding that guilt is a sign they have violated the character and nature of God—are headed in a seriously wrong direction. The end result can be true insanity if their rebellion against God goes too far. This is the effect of having a “seared” conscience, yet no one will have an excuse at Judgment for rejecting God. Romans 3:19–20 warns:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Everyone has broken the law. No one can justify his or her entry into heaven by claiming to have “lived a good enough life.” God’s standard is to keep the complete moral law, and no one has done that, except Jesus.
To further underscore the reality that committing sin is breaking the moral law, 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.” And Romans 3:10 explains, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Finally, Romans 3:23 concludes: “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Humanist, psychologist, and member of The Frankfurt School Erich Fromm greatly respected Freud. And while disagreeing in some areas, Fromm and Freud were united in their attack on Christianity. Fromm declared, “[M]an challenges the supreme power of God, and he is able to challenge it because he is potentially God.”
In a similar vein, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the idea of self-actualization—which means a person’s innate goodness has evolved. David Noebel describes self-actualization this way:
Abraham Maslow refers to those in touch with their inherent goodness as self-actualized. He categorizes this drive to get in touch with our inherent goodness as a need that can be attended to only after we have satisfied our lower needs—namely, physiological, safety, social, and ego needs. We must satisfy these needs as well as our need for self-actualization before we can truly be declared mentally healthy.
Humanistic psychologists deny our sinful nature that results from the original sin of Adam and Eve. Instead, they believe man is simply a product of his environment. When they apply Darwinian evolution to their worldview, they contend that society is evolving along with nature and that things will get better and better as we become more enlightened—or, as Maslow claimed, self-actualized. In truth, the twentieth century was the bloodiest of all centuries. In other words, things are not getting better.
As part of the denial of original sin and man’s depravity, psychology elevates man and claims that our problems do not stem from a sinful nature but from a lack of self-esteem. John MacArthur explains the result of this way of thinking:
Humanistic psychology has had a devastating effect on Christians and on Christian theology for a number of reasons. But one of these reasons is built into the very basic humanistic philosophy that man exists for his own satisfaction. It is the very bottom line in humanism that man to be happy must have all of his perceived needs and desires met. And so humanism says that the goal of life is to have all of my wants fulfilled, all of my desires accomplished, all of my needs met. Man will be happy, say the psychologists, man will be content, man will be satisfied when his desires are met, when his longings are met, when his needs are met, when he is fulfilled. Contemporary presentations of the gospel have sucked up this humanistic psychology and philosophy unwittingly. And you have the good news of self-worth, the good news of the value of you as a person, the good news of security, the good news of significance, the good news of prosperity, of health, wealth and happiness, the psychological gospel, the prosperity gospel.
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