Psychology and Counseling for the Christian
In the Genesis account of the creation of man, there is no indication that God only created the physical. In a single act, God created the whole man. I believe this includes not only his physical body, but also his intellect and his emotion. When man sinned and experienced the fall, mankind was sentenced to death. This was primarily a spiritual death, but it clearly included physical death. Along with sin came sickness and disease. This extends beyond the physical body to the intellect and emotion. When my body is sick or injured, I seek the assistance of a medical professional to help restore my health. This does not mean that I do not have confidence in God’s ability to heal me. I believe He can heal me either directly or through the work of a skilled physician. God is no less in charge of my healing.
I think the use of psychology within the framework of ministry works in a similar fashion. Broadly defined, psychology is the study of how people think and behave. Thanks to the first Adam and the fall, the way we think and behave has been damaged. Essentially, this is the problem of sin. Clearly, acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer to the problem of sin. There is no biblical reason the study of psychology cannot be one of the tools used show individuals freedom and healing in Christ.
One thing that cannot be denied is that sin leaves scars in people’s lives. This is true physically. If an individual lives a life of drug abuse, then accepts Christ as his savior, his body still bears the damage that the drugs caused. Over time, God may heal him and use him. God may even choose to take away the damage done, but that is not an automatic benefit of salvation. This is not unlike the emotion. Damage that is done before a person’s conversion is not automatically healed. A trained counselor can be very beneficial in helping this individual experience the freedom and healing found in Christ.
This in no way negates the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Romans 12 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This implies that God can redeem the damage that has been done. Nowhere does it say He can not or will not use human agency to help accomplish that task.
In my opinion, the use of psychology is both appropriate and beneficial for the Christian worker. It will help him or her offer counsel and insight into some of the ways God can take that which was damaged and make it more useful for His kingdom.
What do you think? What role, if any, do you see for counseling and psychology in Christian ministry?