Masquerades #6: “Psychology-ism”

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Tim Lane and Paul Tripp, in their book How People Change, have a chapter in the beginning called The Gospel Gap in which they identify Christian externalism as a false replacement for gospel-shaped, Christ-confident, and change-committed Christianity.  There are 7 things that surface which deceptively replace authentic Christianity that I will share as I quote from the book:

6. Psychology-ism”

Jen always has a group of people ministering to her. She talks a lot about how many “hurting” people are in her congregation, and how the church isn’t doing enough to help them. An avid reader of Christian self-help books, she is always recommending the latest one to someone. She often says that Christianity is the only place to find real help and healing, yet she doesn’t seem to find that healing herself.

Jen is right that our deepest needs are met in Christ, but she sees Christ more as a therapist than as the Savior. Jen is convinced that her deepest needs come out of her experience of neglect and rejection, and so she sees herself more in need of healing than redemption. She is blind to how demanding, critical, and self-absorbed she actually is.

Without realizing it, Jen has redefined the problem that the gospel addresses. Rather than seeing our problem as moral and relational—the result of our willingness to worship and serve ourselves and the things of this world instead of worshipping and serving our Creator (Romans 1)—she sees our problem as a whole catalog of unmet needs. But whenever you view the sin of another against you as a greater problem than your own sin, you will tend to seek Christ as your therapist more than you seek Him as your Savior. Christianity becomes more a pursuit of healing than a pursuit of godliness. The gospel is reduced to the healing of emotional needs. 

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