Paul's Passing Thoughts

Is All Truth God’s Truth? And How Does the Question Relate to Spiritual Abuse?

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on September 12, 2012

There is a thinking crisis in our culture that is greatly compounded in the church because faith is often a license for subjectivity; an inability to think coupled with an attitude that pragmatism is the antithesis of spirituality. Especially in Reformed circles, knowing things and being solution oriented =’s “arrogance.”

Propositions are judged by how good they sound, or how logical they sound, or if the hearing thereof incites a stimulating chemical reaction in the brain that we seem to like.

All truth is God’s truth; is that true? No. However, the following is true: that truism has led many to destruction. Why? Because it assumes truth is the same as facts, and it doesn’t understand that all teaching is a process of propositions that lead to a conclusion. And, logic always yields the same results.

“Dr. John Doe has said many valid things here; I would only disagree with this point or that point.”

Facts and truth are two different things. Facts are usually passive and an elementary part of a larger schema. 2+2=4 is a fact, and a tree is a fact, but unlike truth, they are morally neutral and can rarely take you anyplace by themselves. Truth has a moral aspect, and usually has a purpose in mind. Jesus Christ is not merely a fact, though His existence is certainly factual—He is “The Truth.” He is the epitome of all that is good and gives life.

When the serpent deceived Eve in the garden, he used facts to take her to a rejection of the truth. The fact that Eve was not going to die on the spot after eating the apple was a fact. Satan presented many facts to Jesus when he tempted Him in the wilderness, but the goal wasn’t truth. Does that make the facts God’s truth? Hardly.

True facts that lead to untruth are not God’s truth, because God’s truth always equals life and has that end in mind. Sub truth, or facts, are only as true as what they yield whether life or death. When ill motives are attached to a fact, it is still fact, but it isn’t truth because the fact was used for ill intent. Truth has a moral qualification.

It is not a good idea to sit under the tutelage of Satan because he espouses facts that are undeniable—his facts never lead to truth, he is “the father of lies.”

“Satan has said many valid things here. I agree that Psalms 9:11,12 states that the angels will bear Jesus up. However, I disagree with his suggestion that Jesus should have jumped off the temple pinnacle.”

Really? That’s nice.

Secondly, each proposition that builds up to the conclusion needs to be evaluated. Sub points need to be true and they need to fit together logically to affirm the conclusion. When we have some disagreement on a point in a message or teaching, the possible application of it for another conclusion should be irrelevant. It needs to be judged according to its proposition and contribution to the conclusion at hand. Not all incorrect propositions on the way to a conclusion do irreparable damage to the conclusion, but it’s rare.

Thirdly, Philosophy forms logic which always leads to the same results. All “truth” teachers have a philosophy. All teaching seeks to lead you to a conclusion. Conclusions form logic and lead to action. Hence, “….the student will be like his teacher.”

Philosophy is metaphysics (what we believe about reality and being), epistemology (the theory of how we come to know what we know, or how we obtain knowledge), ethics (the moral application of what we know), and politics (how we use what we know to relate to others, or how we communicate it). The first two elements of philosophy always determine ethics and politics. Often, behavior reveals the philosophy: “….by their fruits you will know them.”

This is exactly why we categorize teachers and reject all that they say out of hand because once their philosophy is revealed, we know where the logic will always take us. Even if some of what they say is factual, the conclusions they want to take you to are based on the philosophy. Therefore, their factual stepping stones are only relevant to the truth or error that is the goal, and for all practical purposes, the same value is placed on the propositions leading to the conclusion. Hence, the biblical prescription for those who have errant philosophy: “AVOID THEM,” and, “Do not allow them into your home or bid them God’s speed.”

Therefore, facts that are part of a conclusion that is a lie have no moral value and are not truth, but part of a deception.

This is the folly of sitting under the teachings of people with errant philosophy, or even greeting them: even the facts that they present are intended to lead to untruthful conclusions. So no, all truth is not God’s truth. God’s truth always has a good ending. Scripture states plainly to completely avoid anyone with errant philosophy.

How you would then glean what is “good” from their teachings while “leaving what’s bad on the shelf,” or “eat the chicken and throw away the bones” is a mystery to me. God forbids that the chicken is even in our house and disallows the use of our shelves.

What does this all have to do with the war against spiritual abuse in the blogosphere? Well, there is a reason it is beginning to look like the Jerry Springer show more and more every day. Even though the Christian culture of our day is primarily framed with two gospels that are radically different, nobody is required to state their philosophy. Spiritual abuse blogs are fraught with Christian mystics, Gnostics, and proponents of progressive justification.

As I have confronted some of these bloggers in regard to their abhorrent psychobabble solutions for spiritual abuse, at least one informed me that the Bible (what the Apostle Paul called “the mind of Christ”) is “not enough” to fully address the problem. And let there be no doubt: what you read out there is a gargantuan volley of propositions from a myriad of philosophical camps followed by massive chatter that evaluates the propositions.

If the Apostle John said that greeting a person with errant philosophy was to also partake in their sin—then it is no less for propositions—factual or otherwise.

Do I think there is an endgame to all of this “all truth is God’s truth” business? Yes. I think it is a ploy to keep us at the feet of those with errant philosophy because there are some “facts” in their teachings that can be added to the “wider field of knowledge.” But those facts can’t help us who strive for truth because the usage of those facts are in a context leading to bad conclusions.

And I think that’s the crux. It creates conduits between ill philosophies and good philosophies. There isn’t the wide separation God calls for.

Whatever is used to endorse error is not God’s truth, even if it is factual. The moral goal is not the same. It may be a fact, but it’s not God’s truth.

Propositions are only as good as the conclusions and results that they always produce. And that qualifies the propositions as either endorsing truth or not endorsing truth. And only TRUTH sets us free from spiritual abuse.

paul

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 12, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

  2. Joe said, on September 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Paul,

    An interesting an insightful post. As in some of your previous posts/comments, I do agree with you to a degree, but I don’t entirely agree with some of your conclusions. As I mentioned before, this may be an area in which on some points we will have to agree to disagree. I think I do have a better understanding, at least compared to before, on your reasons why you dismiss psychology outright. You have certainly put much thought into it, and I can only commend that.

    I am reminded of a saying I have more recently learned. It goes something like, “You can make statistics say anything you want them to say.” This is pretty well true, and I think applicable to our discussion. If you have a set of data, which as you say is amoral, the way we interpret that data is indeed colored by our philosophy. It is our “bias.” It is true that we cannot rid ourselves 100% of our bias when doing a study of any kind, including a psychological study. A truly honest researcher though, will take steps and strive to avoid bias as much as possible. They will follow the data, even if it contradicts their initial hypothosis and feelings. As it relates to psychological research, if a study is done that show people have a very strong tendancy to act in a certain way in a given situation, and for the sake of argument let’s assume that it is true, then it is true no matter what the philosophy of the researcher is, and we have thus learned something. The way the researcher applies that knowledge, or uses that knowledge, or explains that knowledge may not be true, and maybe even completely against biblical principles, but the truth that people behave in that way in that situation has not changed.

    Let me give an example to better explain myself. I’ll use the example of the stages of grief that I mentioned in a previous comment. Now, I will say up front that I do not know offhand who studied grief in people and came up with the stages. Nor do I know the philosophy of that person or people. Let us suppose for the sake of argument though that the person studying grief were, oh I don’t know, let’s say a Buddhist or holds to some similar form of enlightenment philosophy. I think we can agree that the philosophy of Buddhism and similar enlightenment religions is not at all Biblical. While there are some similarities in how practitioners are to treat others, the core values and reasons for why are vastly different.

    So let’s say this Buddhist psychologist believes that intense negative emotions keep people from reaching their true potential, and one of the strongest negative experiences he can think of is grief. He sees many people get caught up in grief and seem to never be able to move on. He isn’t sure why people seem to get stuck in grief though and seeks to apply what he knows about attaining enlightenment in order to help people get out of their grief. Through a lot of time, energy, and research, he discovers that people universally go through various stages when they grieve a loss. This is an entirely new concept that nobody knew of before We are assuming that nobody, including Christians, even had any inkling that this could even be a concept. “Ah-ha!” he thinks. He realizes that people sometimes get stuck in one of these stages, and comes up with theories and practices based on Buddhist philosophy to help people overcome these stages to finally accept their losses and move on and reach their full potential.

    As I said, I don’t know, and I do highly doubt, that this is how we came to learn about the various stages of grief. It is, however, a realistic and possible scenario. Now, this supposed researcher. He is a known Buddhist. It is well known that he applies what are usually Buddhist principles to his theories to explain his research and to offer help for people that suffer from the various things he studies. Now, we do know today that there are indeed 5 stages of grief. Not every person goes through every stage. Not every person spends the same amount of time at every stage. Not every person goes through the stages in the same order. We do know however, that by and large, when people grieve, they tend to go through a period of denial, a time of anger, a stage of bargaining, a period of sadness or depression, and then they usually and hopefully finally accept their loss.

    Now, the Bible is not silent about loss and grieving. It is obvious from the Bible that we should comfort and encourage one another. We should offer love and hope to the hurting. We also know that the greatest healer is God, who is capable of helping us through all of our hurts. He is the one that gives us our ultimate hope for the future. He also very often will use other people as the instruments to bring hope, comfort, encouragement, and love to others. Those are all ideas and principles that we can learn from the Bible. What I did not learn from the Bible though, and I have not ever heard a person teach on directly from the Bible, are these 5 stages of grief. Nowhere, that I am aware of, does the Bible explain that people will usually go through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before acceptance. These concepts of grief are not at all unbiblical. There is nothing inherently sinful about any of it. We can still offer hope and comfort to the grieving. The difference now is that we can more accurately fine tune HOW we offer hope and comfort to those that are grieving. What we say to somebody that is going through denial might be different than what we say to somebody who is going through depression. We change up what we say because we know that their current mental state could change how they respond to what we say. We are still offering the hope and love of God, just said and communicated in a little different way.

    From what you have described in your posts and comments though, because this supposed researcher is a known Buddhist who applies Buddhist philosophies to his theories, which are very unbiblical, you would categorically dismiss this entire research, claiming that his conclusion that there are stages to grief are completely untrue and should not be used by Christians because 1)his motives and methods were unbiblical and 2)the idea of stages of grief do not come from Bible. Any Christian that attempts to help others through their grief by identifying what stage they are going through it seems you would say is following an unbiblical principle and is leading the person down a dangerous road.

    The process you describe sounds like it has a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” mentality. By categorically dismissing every idea that comes from a psychologist, you completely shut down the possibility of learning something new and something useful. Your assumption seems to be that an ungodly person cannot in any way, shape, or form contribute information, new or old, that can help people better understand how people think and behave and why. In essence, what I am saying is that God can use anybody, even unsaved sinners, to help make something known. We all bear the image of God. It is within the realm of possibility that God could use an unbeliever to help mankind learn something “new” (new to us, not new to God), such as is the case with the stages of grief. Does this idea have truly eternal consequences? I don’t think so. That does not mean though that it is not helpful or that it is not biblically acceptable.

  3. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Joe,
    “The process you describe sounds like it has a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” mentality. By categorically dismissing every idea that comes from a psychologist, you completely shut down the possibility of learning something new and something useful. Your assumption seems to be that an ungodly person cannot in any way, shape, or form contribute information, new or old, that can help people better understand how people think and behave and why.”

    It’s nice to be properly understood–that is exactly what I am saying.

  4. Joe said, on September 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    That does lead me to ask then, what do you think about things that we have learned from psychological study? What do you do with a concept such as stages of a grief that you would not be able to teach as being directly from the Bible, and yet is not against any Biblical principles and has been shown to be accurate and true? Furthermore, why would you dismiss boundaries as being healthy and good, when from what I’ve read from some of your previous posts, you yourself have had to set boundaries for other people that have hurt you?

    This is why I am rather confused. You’ve seemed to mention that would rather see prevention for spiritual abuse rather than recovery. In theory, I agree with you on this. I would rather not have to see anybody recover from spiritual abuse, or any kind of abuse. The reality is though, that because we live in a fallen world, there will still be abusers, and people getting abused. Those people that have been abused very much need recovery. Also, there is no realistic way that we can prevent all people or groups of people from becoming abusive, or stop them from being abusive. With religious cults, especially those who seem to operate on Christian, Biblical principles, it is also important that we help people to recognize those organizations if they are are interested in them, or begin to attend them. As you have said, and as the Bible originally, said, “you will know them by their fruits.” We know these groups are bad because or their charachterisitics. They behave in certain ways that are typical for abusive groups. We can then better identify these groups because of these characteristics. These characteristics of abusers are something again, that we learned from psychological study. Without knowing these characteristics, we would be going off of our “feelings” as to whether or not these groups are abusive. Whereas if we are armed with the knowledge of these characteristics, we can have a better chance of knowing if the group we are a part of or seek to join really is abusive. We can then get out of them and avoid them as you yourself say we should, which is drawing a relational boundary which you have said that we should not do.

    So do you see why I am confused? It seems that you are teaching that some things (psychology, setting boundaries, avoiding abusers based on characteristics, calling people unsafe) is bad, when in reality you are doing just that which you teach not to do, although what you are doing is actually something that is good and healthy. You have set boundaries with your former church, that you will not have fellowship with them until they repent of their offenses against you. That is a good thing. You should have that boundary. They should repent. From what I read, you did not deserve what they did. You are avoiding them and teaching others to avoid them based on their characteristics. Again, I think you should be doing this. If they are as you say they are, I would also be helping others to see the folloy of joining that church so that they do not fall into the same hardship that you have. You are essentially also calling them unsafe. In their current state, unless they repent of their wrongdoing and change how they act and behave, they will continue to be an unsafe group of people to join with. Again, I think you are doing the right thing. Based on some of your recent blog posts and comments though, I would think that if I were doing that, that I would be sinning because those were the actions suggested to me by a godly trained counselor, who learned many of these techniques based upon psychological studies, even though you are doing EXACTLY the same thing.

    I sincerely agree with a lot of what you have written in a lot of your posts that I have been able to read so far, but I must admit, that in this area, your reasoning and conclusions are very confusing to me.

  5. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Joe,

    “What do you do with a concept such as stages of a grief that you would not be able to teach as being directly from the Bible, and yet is not against any Biblical principles and has been shown to be accurate and true? ”

    Joe, the world does not cover anything concerning how we live life that is not covered in the Bible. When the world uses like concepts, they are collaborators in a bad conclusion in most cases, and when they aren’t–it’s information that’s already in the Bible anyway without the necessary time invested in vetting.

    In regard to the “boundaries” post, we have an excellent example. Boundaries are a fact. But the “boundaries” in the post are not the same boundaries specifically spoken of in the Bible. So, is the concept of boundaries true in and of itself. No. The boundaries that I set up in my own personal life were specific biblical boundaries. The boundaries spoken of in the post are the antithesis of the relational boundaries that the Bible speaks of specifically. Really, I have no patience for youthful arrogance that deems itself wiser than the Holy Spirit.

  6. Joe said, on September 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Paul,

    The way you phrase it leads me to think that if I were in a situationin which a friend/family member/pastor continually oversteping their bounds with me (by say showing up at my door unannounced time after time, or continuously giving me unwanted advice, or criticizing all of my decissions, or the like), that I would be wrong in setting up a boundary and insisting that their behaviour was not acceptable and that I would not tollerate, and that there would be consequences for breaking those boundaries (not being allowed into my home for example, or depending on the severity, possibly a reduction or even elimination of the relationship). Those are the type of boundaries that I am talking about, and that the other post is talking about. From what you have described, I would be led to think that I should allow people to walk all over me, and that I were the one sinning for trying to stop them from hurting me. If this is not what you are saying, I would strongly suggest that you consider rewording your teaching/comments on this matter to make this more clear, because that is how it is coming across to me and from the post at “Liberty for Captives” at least a couple of other people. There would certainly be more.

  7. Joe said, on September 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Oh, one other small addition to the boundary part. If the person you are dealing with is not a Christian, then the Matthew 18 process does not entirely apply, because they do not follow or hold themselves accountable to Biblical standards and cannot be effectively disciplined by the church if they are not a part of the church to begin with.

  8. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Joe,

    I was a pastor for several years and never experience such a thing. Why? Because I counseled them when they came to me. In most cases, solution oriented counseling sends these people running for the hills, but if you feed them the psychobabble of our day, they will come back to feed on it like a drug, because that’s what it is. The whole “boundaries” thing is a stopgap for people who don’t really know how to counsel biblically.

  9. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Joe,
    See: “Police”

  10. Argo said, on September 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Paul,
    Hmm…this is very interesting. I’ve been wrestling with the topic for some time now, mostly as it relates to biblical infallibility. I need to read the post again I think to properly digest it, so forgive me if I make assumptions or interpret what you are saying incorrectly.

    I would say that facts are facts precisely because they are true. Would you not agree? I believe that when we get into philosophical arenas where facts can’t be truth, I think that can breed some problems. I would see it as making facts irrelevant and truth subjective. The bible is God’s revelation, it is not TRUTH (capital…as in THE standard by which EVERYTHING is created). Only God is TRUTH. And he is truth because he is true, and that means, in a sense he is factual. So the distinction is not between truth and fact, but between TRUTH (i.e. God) and facts (laws, truths, ideas, etc., where outcomes are the same regardless of contextual application, but where context is necessary in order to see the truth’s meaning is in fact a constant).

    If the Bible was TRUTH there would be no reason for the Holy Spirit or God. God would not have been able to write it, it would have existed as God for all time; and the Holy Spirit would not need to guide us in our understanding and application of it; for it would speak for itself…God cannot improve on the interpretation of Himself, by definition. That doesn’t mean that the Bible is not true, per se, but I would argue that it is not TRUTH, if we are saying it is TRUTH. God is not understandable by mortal man, so his revelation to man about how man should live cannot be infallible TRUTH by definition. It is not TRUTH precisely because if it were, it would be utterly irrelevant to us. It would, in effect mean this: here is TRUTH, and here is how GOD is applied BY man…here is what you DO to apply God to your life. That is an impossible equation. God cannot be applied by man at all. The only way the Bible works is if it is a revelation to man about how man applies knowledge and instructions from God in service to himself; his eternal existence and freedom. So the bible is man’s instruction for life, yes, and instructions for man given by God are certainly GOOD, but they are not God Himself. They require man for their meaning (and right there, then, how can anything requiring man be infallible?). Thus, they are going to need to contextual application and interpretation for them to be true. This is where the Spirit comes in. So, the revelation from God on how man is to live is NOT God, thus is NOT TRUTH. It may be true, but it is eminently subject to individual context, historical context, et al. to derive its consistent meaning. This being the case, it cannot be inerrant and infallible. Anything inerrant and infallible a. cannot be wielded effectively by man, thus must be ultimately irrelevant to him, and b. cannot be subject to any kind of context for its meaning. TRUTH is its own meaning; it does not need man. Indeed, man could never grasp it.

    My posit is that there are only two infallible, inexorable TRUTHS which derive their meaning from themselves apart from anything else…they mean what they mean, and they are what they are. The first is God, and the second is mans ABILITY. This forms a central theme in my current essay. Both of these things are the absolute beginning of everything that follows and IS (in a TRUTH sense, not in an existence sense…obviously man’s ABILITY is from God, thus, it is ultimately inferior to God, of course).

    In addition, I’m force to agree with Joe here. I think a big problem Christians have is acknowledging that truth–that is, practical truth concepts with consistent meanings that are fit for improving humanity and existence–can exist outside the Bible. I love it when Christians say the Bible is infallible on one hand, but on the other readily acknowledge that there are areas where “it is silent”. If it is infallible, it isn’t possible that the Bible can be silent on anything. If it is TRUTH, nothing can exist outside of it that isn’t ultimately an illusion, or utterly irrelevant, which means that it is functionally non-existent. So the danger is that Christians attempt to squeeze clearly extra-Biblical truths into the Bible and what the result is is some grotesque amalgamation fit only for the beakers on the desk of your local mad scientist. We need to acknowledge that we have a world view, of course, but that our ideas are not infallible…only God is infallible. We need to acknowledge that truth (what is conceptually true, that is) can come from many places, and even, in some cases, it might contradict the bible, because again, the Bible, being not infallible is subject to all kinds of context (which is why the Holy Spirit is soooorley needed in how we understand what we read). Things were assumed back then that simply are not true anymore. This doesn’t mean that God’s ultimate TRUTH is negated, nor does it mean His revelation is somehow inert in 2012. No, it just means that we need to allow our reason to guide us, not JUST the Bible because we falsely believe that it is inerrant. Claiming the Bible is TRUTH is an invitation to stop thinking, which negates the reason for our existence. It is a very dangerous thing to claim that anything other than God is God.

  11. Argo said, on September 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Also, Joe…your point in your first comment I can relate to; the comment about the Buddhist philosophy and how it might contribute to mans’ existence and well-being, even though it’s not biblical. Along that same vein, I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding his faith. He is a Christian, and a good one, but he is a big fan of eastern culture, both pop culture and the traditional culture. He was explaining to me that many eastern belief systems do a wonderful job of integrating paradox into their worldviews, and that, as a result of studying some of these philosophies, he has since become less anxious and much more at ease with the apparent paradoxes of his own Christian faith, coming to believe that the need to create contradictory theologies from biblical paradoxes is merely an offshoot of western european cultural thought. So, in a sense, I think you are right…just because something isn’t expressly biblical, or even “Christian” does not mean that it cannot be used for the well-being of God’s children. All truth may not be God’s truth, but I would say that there is nothing created that He did not create. Thus, if it isn’t wicked, it can certainly be useful. I believe the vigilant opposition to any philosophy that is deemed “unbiblical” stems from a false fear that by accepting that other philosophies can have an effective place in a believer’s life, based on his or her personality, situation, context, etc., etc. is a strike against their very protective feelings of biblical infallibility. In a sense, you see, to them, the Bible is God…it is God’s TRUTH, which is really the exact same thing as being GOD, and that’s why everything else is ipso facto (quid pro quo??) false, and ultimately unhelpful to any believer. But I argue the Bible is not infallible because, among other reasons, ultimately, it is a book about MAN, not about God. It is to let man know who God is, yes, but more how man is to live for HIS OWN sake in light of his creation by God so that God is glorified and man is FREE to exist FREELY and eternally free. Thus, the revelation is certainly from God but it is NOT God. The operative theme is MAN, and the context by which the Bible has meaning is MAN, not God. Thus, the bible was never meant to be considered infallible or inerrant. Thinking this way naturally creates a bubble around Christians…insulates them from the very blessings that God has created for them in this life because these blesses are seen as subversive forces which do not readily conform to their idea of biblical inerrancy…because to these Christians, “worldly” means “evil”, even though the world is not evil, evil is evil. The world is a euphemism for evil in the bible, but the logical leap to: everything not in the bible is evil, I’m not sure how they make. So the Bible certainly is good, but it is not meant to be MOTHER, protecting her little boy from the big bad world of everything that is not “Christian”, and forcing upon him her relentless and unrealistic expectations in service to her own lost fantasies of perfection and omnipotence. I suspect that one reason we seem to have so many narcissists in western Christianity stems precisely from false “orthodox” themes like biblical infallibility. Think about it. I mean…it really does kind of make sense.

  12. Argo said, on September 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Actually…that’s pretty good. I mean, when you think about it, your average Calvinist spiritual despot pastor is really just a textbook case of narcissism; in fact, Calvinism kind of IS a recipe for the disorder. You have the true self, which is the scared little boy, lacking confidence, intelligence, and is generally and perpetually sinful, mired and inadequate in every way…but not him, you see. Oh no, the false self–the mask–denies this. It is not him, even though deep down he knows it is, it is the lay people. They are his true self, not him. So he projects his true self upon the congregation and lives his life in deluded utopia via the false self. The omnipotent self. The all knowing and perfect one. The one who is really God, standing in the stead of Himself, for the sole purpose of reminding the “people” how inferior they are, and how superior and invincible they are. Their claims of “biblical authority” are really just appeals to their utter need for narcissistic supply. Their constant need to get the affirmation of their worth not from God, but from the people they lord over. Sycophantic fawning of laypeople, constantly sacrificing their money and minds in service to pastoral spiritual superiority is exactly the kind situation that any narcissist would crave. I mean, it is an endless upon endless supply of narcissistic supply of the most gilded kind! Wow.

    Like I said. That’s coming pretty close to explaining it, I think.

  13. Argo said, on September 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Actually…you know, I think John Immel has already linked Calvinism with serious narcissism. That might have been where I got the idea. I think he has a post on this on his site.

  14. Argo said, on September 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I hate to keep harping, but really. Calvinism is is the abuse which leads to Christian narcissism. You have two selves. The evil, depraved one, and the one God really loves, which isn’t really you at all. Well…it is, sort of, because you are elect, but since YOU can never please God, the ideal you, the one God actually cares about, is really a false you because the real you is that sinful, horrible worm that God hates. So, the Christian spends his formative years “being” a person he can never be. A perfect person, the one God saved, the one God loves, and loves only because this one is really just God DOING for him…the one the real person can never be because the real person is forever is hated by God. This eventually blossoms into the Christian narcissist. The one we all know…who lives his life being so holier-than-thou; so righteously indignant, resorting to threats and lies and extortion without even a hint of shame, haughty, arrogant, full of their own doctrine and self righteous tyranny, because he IS God, and an affront to his orthodoxy then is an affront to the Creator. And then, at night, deep down, he knows that his true self is vile, and this true self he hates as much as God hates him. So develops a form of Christian masochism where the abused Christian stays in the abusive church because he hates his true self so much, because God demands that the only way to be righteous is to hate his true self, and WISH it punished perpetually. So his false self, the one God loves, drives him to his masochistic desire to put himself to death, giving his very life to his spiritual authorities. So also the narcissistic Christians stay in churches where the hypocrites at the pulpit swoon and sway in their superior God complexes and continue to elevate the false self of the believer, the one God elected and loves, the perfect one…,and seek to kill and paralyze the true self…the wicked little sinner. So we on the outside ask ourselves how? Just how could these people stay in these churches, with the bodies laying at their feet as they sing Bob Kauflin and Mark Altrogge again for the one billionth time, blissfully waiving off the carnage with their swaying hands and a nod and a wink to their “sound doctrine”.

    You want the really, really sad truth?

    There is no “they” left to leave the church. “They” died a long time ago. Only the false self remains. The true self has burned to ashes, with only brittle and grayish pieces of bone left to remind them that they ever existed at all. And that’s who keeps going back to the auditorium every Sunday.

  15. Joe said, on September 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Paul,

    I do not know what you mean by “See Police.”

    Argo,

    I do not wish to be misunderstood, so let me clarify. My argument is not that other philosophies can teach us something per se. What I am saying is that there are things about humans in how we act, think, behave and respond that for all intents and purposes, universally true. Because these things about humans are true, it does not matter who learns these things about humans or why they get there. If they are true, they are by definition correct, and thus we have learned something. Furthermore, just because something is not in the bible does not make it untrue. The Bible is silent on many aspects of science, history, mathematics, and engineering. And while I believe it covers in basic principle all aspects of the human condition, it is NOT an exhaustive manual on how people behave in detail every specific situation.

    I used my example of the 5 stages of grief because it was simply the first relatively simple and neutral example that came to my mind. The Bible does talk about grief. It does talk about sadness. It talks about denial. It talks about anger. It talks about bargaining. It talks about acceptance. HOWEVER, it does not anywhere relate all of these things back to grief and how they are all connected in any way, shape, or form. That is something that we can ONLY learn by observing people who are grieving. We must study how people think and behave, which is the very definition of psychology. If I replace the Buddhist in my example with a Christian, they would come to the exact same conclusion, that there are 5 stages of grief. This is the point I am trying to get across. If it is true, then it is true for all people, in all places, and all times. it is otherwise false. This truth however, that people grieve in stages, is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Paul’s argument from what he is written is that this makes it false, and that we can learn this from the Bible. The fact is, we didn’t learn it from the Bible, we learned it from psychology.

    I also do want to point out, that in these instances I am not talking about things that have an eternal value. In other words, these things that psychology teaches us cannot get us to heaven. They cannot save our souls. That truth is very plainly and exhaustively spelled out in the Bible. Just because something does not have eternal value though, does not mean that it cannot be good and useful. While our primary focus must be on God and eternity, it is not our only focus. We still live in a present world with fallen mankind, some redeemed, some not. We must still relate to these people and learn how to relate to them. In principle, all of this is taught in the Bible. We must love one another. The question then becomes, how do we love one another? The Bible speaks a lot on this, but again, it does not cover in detail every specific situation which may arise.

    Paul’s arguments in this suffer from a problem similar to a fallacy of division (he assumes that if the outcome or purpose of the outcome is unbiblical that everything that goes into getting to that conclusion is also unbiblical) and also suffers from something similar to an appeal to authority. He is assuming that something is categorically wrong based completely on who it is that is saying it. As I’ve said many times, I agree with quite a bit of what Paul has said in several posts, but I believe his reasoning here to be severely flawed.

    Furthermore, I do want to address this statement: Joe said–”Your assumption seems to be that an ungodly person cannot in any way, shape, or form contribute information, new or old, that can help people better understand how people think and behave and why.”

    Paul said–”It’s nice to be properly understood–that is exactly what I am saying.”

    The only thing that I can gather from this statement is that I would have to suspect Paul has a very low regard for anybody who is not a Christian, and I would suspect also Christians who do not share his exact philosophy of Christianity. With the above statement, what I hear and what I can promise a non-Christian would hear is this: “You are are stupid, having nothing to contribute to this world, and I have no time for the likes of you.” While I highly doubt this is what Paul would actually say to somebody, this is the only real conclusion I can draw from these statements. There is no love whatsoever in it. No grace, no room for error, no humbleness, no humility. I would suspect that if you said something like this to a non-Christian, they would never listen to a word you said, no matter how right you may be. You would have completely killed your entire witness by essentially insulting their intelligence and claiming that they have nothing to contribute (essentially they are worthless). This is why I am challenging Paul to rethink his positions here. I am NOT asking him to look at the Bible more lowly or to think that Christ is not the only real hope we have for salvation. Neither am I asking him to consider anything that is works based religion, or even to agree with all psychology has to offer. I am asking him to have more respect for his fellow man, because his comments make me think he has little to none.

  16. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Joe,

    That’s sociology, not psychology. Socially is a science that depends on the empirical, not the intuitive–huge difference.

  17. Argo said, on September 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Hi joe ,
    Thanks for your response. I hope that you saw that I was in fact agreeing with you. I liked your responses and thought you made excellent points. I get wordy, so just wanted to be sure I made that clear. Thanks!

  18. Bridget said, on September 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Paul -
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology

    You seem to have a different meaning of psychology?

    Just like the fact that there are helpful and not so helpful “Christian” and secular counselors, the same holds true for psycologists, MDs, dentists, psychiatrists. The abuse or misuse toward another human being comes from the lack of integrity in the person, not from the field one practices. The integrity issue should be much improved if one IS a Christian.

    You appear to have something against the science of psycology and/or psychiatry?

  19. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Bridget,

    First, it’s Origin:
    < Greek, combining form of psȳchḗ breath, spirit, soul, mind; akin to psȳ́chein to blow ( see psykter).

    With suffix "ology" which makes it the study of spirit and soul. There is only one authority on that area of study: the Bible.

    I am not sure why the very definition of the word doesn't end the argument.

  20. Joe said, on September 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    From Dictionary.com:

    psy·chol·o·gy   /saɪˈkɒlədʒi/ Show Spelled[sahy-kol-uh-jee] Show IPA
    noun, plural psy·chol·o·gies.
    1. the science of the mind or of mental states and processes.
    2. the science of human and animal behavior.
    3. the sum or characteristics of the mental states and processes of a person or class of persons, or of the mental states and processes involved in a field of activity: the psychology of a soldier; the psychology of politics.

    Psychology is not the study of the spirit and soul as you suggest. It is the study of the mind, thinking, and behaviour. Your definition is wrong.

  21. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Joe,

    Then why did Sigmund Freud use mind altering drugs to test theories? And which of the 200 different theories do you agree with? And when people go to a Psychiatrist, do they know which of the four primary underlying assumptions about man that they function by? No. And why do theologians, primarily of the Reformed camp, reject the only clinical/counseling approach in Psychiatry that had proven results?

  22. Argo said, on September 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Paul,

    How is the Bible the final authority on anything? Why do we assume that the Bible is intended by God to be the final authority? Isn’t God Himself the final authority?

    Not trying to be argumentative, just don’t really understand where you’re coming from here. Sorry if I’m not getting it.

  23. Bridget said, on September 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Paul -

    I am not arguing. I am sorry if you feel that way. I am trying to understand your perspective on psychology and/or psychiatry. You said:

    “First, it’s Origin:
    < Greek, combining form of psȳchḗ breath, spirit, soul, mind; akin to psȳ́chein to blow ( see psykter).

    With suffix "ology" which makes it the study of spirit and soul. There is only one authority on that area of study: the Bible.

    I am not sure why the very definition of the word doesn't end the argument."

    It seems to me that the Greek definition combined mind with spirit and soul. You left "mind" out when you termed it "the study if the spirit and soul." Wasn't it common to combine spirit, soul, and mind in ancient thinking?

    The mind, as it is studied today, is considered an organ that can undergo massive problems and brokenness, just as any other organ or body part can. We have learned much since the Greeks and more since Freud. Why are you assessing psychology through the lens of Freud and an ancient definition of the word which is not what we understand the word to mean today. We now know so much more about the body, including the mind (which IMO is a good thing). Don't you think we should use that knowledge to help people?

    It does not solve the problem of sin in a man's life, nor can a man be saved by psychology, but they could be helped with psychology/ psychiatry so that they can receive and understand the Good News. A person's mind could also be healed in any way God chooses to heal it. I just don't see ruling out the people who have studied the way the body and mind work. They aren't claiming to have the answer to our spiritual needs. They only have an answer for that if they are a Christian as well and present the Good News.

  24. Argo said, on September 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Bridget,
    I must agree with you. I have a friend I’ve known for decades who is a text book narcissist. I mean in the clinical, objective psychiatric sense. I’ve been studying it quite a bit and the psychiatric experts not only describe this person toam utter perfect T, but they all admit that the problem is ultimately incurable, and can only be mitigated by serious psychotherapy and medication. I am a Christian, but I agree. There is little help for this man in the bible as far as I can see. Especially since he has rejected God, and only speaks to God insofar as to use him in his narcissistic way. This man needs psychiatric help, not biblical counseling.

  25. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Argo and Bridget,
    Based on what Scripture states about itself, I believe it is the final authority on two things as specifically stated by it: 1. Life. and 2. godliness. Hence, I reject all other sources that claim to speak authoritatively to those issues. Their is really no argument here at all–my view on this is very narrow. It is what it is. I know its extremely narrow, but this is simply the position that I hold to.

    ….and love and kisses to everybody. This is what is great about America. It’s nothing personal. If others aren’t persuaded by my argument–I still think they have a right to what they believe and I respect that. And btw, let me add that I do reject psychology in totality and on all levels. And let me add that it even drives Susan nuts. When we were first dating, she was seeing a “Christian Psychologist.” Woe! really, it’s a wonder we got married–there were definitely fireworks.

    Nevertheless, it is time, I think, to post up on my position in detail. I am just throwing comments around here and there, and it is just creating more questions than answers. I will work on it in the morning.

  26. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Argo and Bridget,
    Based on what Scripture states about itself, I believe it is the final authority on two things as specifically stated by it: 1. Life. and 2. godliness. Hence, I reject all other sources that claim to speak authoritatively to those issues. Their is really no argument here at all–my view on this is very narrow. It is what it is. I know its extremely narrow, but this is simply the position that I hold to.

    ….and love and kisses to everybody. This is what is great about America. It’s nothing personal. If others aren’t persuaded by my argument–I still think they have a right to what they believe and I respect that. And btw, let me add that I do reject psychology in totality and on all levels. And let me add that it even drives Susan nuts. When we were first dating, she was seeing a “Christian Psychologist.” Woe! really, it’s a wonder we got married–there were definitely fireworks.

    Nevertheless, it is time, I think, to post up on my position in detail. I am just throwing comments around here and there, and it is just creating more questions than answers. I will work on it tomorrow and hopefully have it posted by the afternoon.

  27. lydia said, on September 13, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Argo, I have been studying Narcissism and Anti Social personality disorder (which is more common than we think and the name gives off the wrong impression as they are usually very charming and not anti social as we tend to think of it). These two traits often are blended in one person and the lines are blurry.

    It is incredible to me in my studies that RARELY do these types change. And the reason this blows my mind is that one would think with all the wounded in their wake, broken relationships, etc, they would get a clue. They don’t care. They really don’t. They just go find another supplier for their needs. It is as if it is demonic and many you will find using Jesus for their own advancement, power and influence and as in a cover for being a “good person”.

    I am starting to wonder if Calvinism attracts these types?

  28. Joe said, on September 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Paul,

    I have more I would like to comment on and respond to with regards to all of these topics, but I will be traveling and staying with friends over the weekend, so I may not have an opportunity to comment or respond for a few days. Even before I comment further, I would like to post in a comment what my own philosophy/beliefs are. I remember you mentioning that you thought bloggers should do this more often, and I agree with you on this. So I will do that with my next opportunity before addressing your comments and blog posts, some things I disagree with, other things I do agree with. I feel that that way at least you would have a better idea of where I am coming from in terms in my philosophy. For now, I will have to let let the conversation rest and come back to it if I have a chance this weekend, or at the start of next week. Good afternoon and good weekend.

  29. Bridget said, on September 15, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Lydia -

    “I am starting to wonder if Calvinism attracts these types?”

    I have often wondered that same thing over the past year. Scripture becomes a “tool” to gain what they desire.


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