Issues and Answers

The Merging Of Secular Psychology & Christianity

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: J. D. Quinn (Host), Magna Parks


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000421

00:01 Have you ever thought about the merging of secular psychology
00:04 and Christianity? Stay with us. We'll be right back.
00:07 Music being played.
00:32 Welcome to Issues and Answers. My name is J.D. Quinn.
00:36 We have a special guest today, Dr. Magna Parks.
00:39 We're going to be talking about the merging of secular
00:43 psychology and Christianity. Dr. Parks, Welcome to
00:46 Issues and Answers. So good to be here.
00:49 Thank you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
00:52 Well, I guess they designate me as a Christian psychologist.
00:57 I've been in the area for over 20 years. Boy! That dates me.
01:03 I have taught for seven years, been in private practice for
01:08 about 14 years until the Lord called me to something different
01:12 and here I am. You're married?
01:15 Yes, I am. Okay. Your husband's name is Al. I believe I met him
01:19 this morning. That's him. Amen, Amen.
01:23 Now we have a ministry together called Be In Good Health.
01:26 Amen. So you get to work together?
01:28 Yes we do. He's a wonderful blessing.
01:30 How precious. That's to me the epitome of being yoked together
01:34 What motivated you to begin to see that there might be a
01:39 difference between secular psychology and Christianity?
01:45 Well, you know, what actually happened to me is one day I was
01:49 on the internet actually looking at different sermons. I like to
01:53 read sermons on the internet sometimes and I ran across a
01:56 sermon by a pastor who talked about secular psychology.
01:59 You know, when I first heard it I pretty upset. I went to my
02:02 husband and I said, Come read this. I could not believe what
02:06 he was saying. He just debunked everything that I had been
02:09 taught in school. Then the Holy Spirit began to work on my heart
02:13 and say, You know what, Magna, you need to put this into
02:15 further study. So I picked up the scriptures and started to
02:19 read some of what he said and the Holy Spirit started to melt
02:22 my heart and I said, you know, there is something here.
02:24 Even though you spent these thousands of dollars with this
02:27 training, there is something here I want you to look at.
02:30 Then there was something else that happened to me as well.
02:34 I had the opportunity to briefly work with Neal Nedley, a
02:38 Christian physician and learned a lot from him. In fact, he
02:41 called me to work for him. I actually learned more than I
02:44 probably contributed, but that was okay; God had that worked
02:48 out. When I left working with him and I went back to my
02:51 practice, I said, things have to change. I can no longer
02:54 practice the way I am doing and God just lead me down this
02:58 road. So I'm assuming that there must
03:02 be secular psychology and then some place from a historical
03:07 standpoint there became inroads to Christianity. Yes. How did
03:11 all that take place? In about the 40s or 50s mental
03:16 health and the mental health profession began to rise; a
03:19 little after World War II. Counseling psychology, which is
03:21 where I have my Ph. D., began to rise because the war veterans
03:24 started to come back and they needed help. So that field
03:28 started to rise and at the same time they began to approach
03:31 various pastors and say, You know what? Your parishioners
03:35 need a little more than what you have to give, so why don't
03:39 you use our expertise and why don't you allow them to come to
03:43 us and refer them to us. As a result of that, not only did
03:47 pastors do that, but they also began to go out and get training
03:50 themselves in knowing how to apply these secular
03:53 psychological techniques and methods to help their
03:56 parishioners. So that's kind of where the inroad began.
03:59 Yes that makes sense. It did. I mean, we see the same thing
04:02 today with the boys that going home. Right. Having never
04:05 been in a war, I can't really appreciate it, but I can see
04:09 that lots of people are being scarred. How has the secular
04:13 psychology impacted Christianity?
04:16 Well even though it was good in a way, believe it or not, there
04:20 were a lot of interesting things that came about. Let's look at
04:23 it first on the corporate level. When we look at our church
04:27 today, it's a little different than how it used to be. Secular
04:30 psychological principles are affecting our worship services,
04:33 they are affecting the sermons that we preach, they are
04:37 affecting our programming. We were a little bit more
04:41 biblically based in how we approached programs, but when
04:45 secular psychology came in we started to pull from that field.
04:48 It felt like we needed to mirror that more in order to help
04:51 people. Does that make sense what I am saying? Yes it does.
04:54 For example, I'll just give this for the corporate: I don't know
04:57 if you ever hear of the contemporary Christian music
04:59 movement. I found out a few years ago that that has a strong
05:03 secular psychological base. I was really floored; I didn't
05:07 know that. An example of that is that the underlying
05:10 assumption of that is God must affirm me through my worship,
05:13 which sounds okay, but the other part is I have to feel good
05:17 about myself as a result of the worship. When you hear that
05:21 philosophy, the wheels should start to turn as to what
05:24 direction that could lead if that's the only reason we're
05:28 going to worship. On an individual level, when I first
05:31 started doing therapy, Christians would come in to
05:35 speak to me and their heads would be kind of down and they
05:37 would say, You know, I probably shouldn't be here. I don't have
05:41 enough faith, I'm not praying enough. There was a sense
05:44 of shame, which I felt kind of bad for, but then as time went
05:49 on, the years went on, they would come in to me boldly
05:51 saying, You know, my faith is strong. I pray a lot, I trust
05:54 God, but I just need you to help my mind like I need my physician
05:58 to help the body. I was really excited at that point to see
06:03 them being more open to it, but then there were also questions
06:06 that started to arise in my mind as I started to learn more about
06:10 that. So we can kind of see that the
06:14 Christian started embracing the secular psychology. They started
06:20 buying into it. Why?
06:22 I think there are a lot of reasons for that. One reason
06:26 is that we have really lost the power of the gospel.
06:30 When you look at the early church and how powerful the
06:34 gospel was and we compare to where we are now, we don't
06:38 recognize what the gospel can do to change us, so we look for
06:41 something to fill that void, which just makes sense, because
06:45 God has placed that in us to search and long for him, but
06:48 because the power of the gospel has been lost and we don't
06:51 recognize how to use it, what we are doing is turning to
06:54 psychology for many of our issues. That's one thing.
06:57 I think another reason is because both of those fields
06:59 basically look at some similar things. Psychologists tell us
07:03 we should care for one another, so does God. Psychologists look
07:06 at how do you change. So does God want to help us change.
07:10 Psychologists say there is something inside that needs to
07:14 change. Christianity says the same thing. Psychology says we
07:18 shouldn't judge. So does Christianity. So there are so
07:20 many similarities between the two that what Satan has done
07:23 is he's mixed the truth and the error. He did that in the Garden
07:27 of Eden. Now he's still doing that with us today. There are
07:30 some good things psychology has to offer but there is some error
07:34 there. We must be ever so careful. So I think that is part
07:37 of the reason why it has come in and been embraced by
07:39 Christians so much. There is some subtlety.
07:41 Very subtly; that's how he works. He told Eve if you eat
07:45 of this fruit you shall be gods knowing good and evil. There was
07:49 some truth there, right? Even with psychology there is some
07:52 truth when you look at some of the concepts and what they do,
07:55 there is some truth there. The problem comes when we start
07:59 encroaching into the area of spirituality and then it starts
08:03 to conflict with the Bible. When that happens that causes a lot
08:07 of problems. I agree exactly. We all know
08:12 how subtle Satan is. It brings back the thought that whenever
08:15 we first started talking and how the Holy Spirit impressed you
08:19 heavily, Wait a minute, there's something wrong here. What I've
08:23 been taught perhaps is not exactly the way it is. Now I
08:27 know that we're going to talk about some incompatibilities
08:31 between secular psychology and Christianity.
08:34 Yes, J.D., and we have some graphics that can show that
08:37 even more to the listening audience and we'd like to look
08:41 at that right now. Secular psychology tells us we should
08:45 focus on self. Christianity tells us we should deny self.
08:49 Secular psychology tells us that we are born good. Christianity
08:55 says that we are born with sinful tendencies or are
08:59 conceived in sin. Secular psychology says we need to
09:03 change our behaviors, thoughts, and/or our feelings.
09:08 Christianity says our hearts need to be changed. Secular
09:12 psychology tells us that other people or situations are
09:16 responsible for our actions. However, Christianity tells us
09:20 we are responsible for our behavior and actions.
09:24 You know, this is extremely interesting stuff especially
09:27 when we can look at a graphic and kind of see the differences
09:31 of everything. Why don't we go back and let's expound on the
09:34 graphic #1. Okay, I'd love to do that.
09:36 The first one we talked about was secular psychology focusing
09:40 on self. If you look at some of the theories and techniques
09:44 they are about enhancing self, it's about making self feel good
09:49 expressing self and that is the main emphasis of secular
09:53 psychology. If we can just get self better then we will be
09:56 better people. That's exactly what they promote. Yes.
10:00 But the Bible tells us something different. Let's turn to the
10:04 Bible right now to see. In Matthew 16:24, I'm going to read
10:09 that verse: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man
10:14 will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross
10:20 and follow me. So here we are seeing an injunction by Christ
10:25 that we must deny self to follow him.
10:27 There's a big difference isn't there. Big difference.
10:33 I love that because of my relationship with the Lord that
10:39 I can turn this over to him and let him empower me.
10:43 I like that. We should deny self Amen. And not exalt self.
10:48 The next one where psychology states we are born good.
10:54 This is particularly the emphasis of humanistic
10:59 psychology. People like Carl Rogers and Abraham Massel said
11:03 that we are born naturally good and it's these things that
11:07 happen around us that suppresses that goodness. But the Bible
11:10 says something different. Why don't you read that, J.D.?
11:14 Yes, let's go to Psalm 51:5 and it says: Behold I was brought
11:19 forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me. So big
11:24 difference between we are born good and we are conceived in sin
11:29 Yes, right. A major, major difference of the
11:31 foundation that we're going to be able to build off of.
11:34 Exactly. Exactly. That's important to know. Then the next
11:38 one says we need to change our behaviors, thoughts and feelings
11:41 That's what secular psychology says. When I went to graduate
11:45 school, they taught me how to help people change their
11:46 behaviors, their thoughts, their feelings. But the Bible tells us
11:50 something different in terms of where the change should occur.
11:55 So we are going to go to Psalm 51:10. Do you want to read that?
12:00 Yes I can read Psalm 51:10. Now what does it say in secular
12:04 psychology? It says that we need to change
12:06 behaviors, thoughts, feelings. And it says in Psalm 51:10:
12:12 It says here, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew
12:14 a steadfast within me. Amen. Exactly.
12:18 So what needs to be changed according to the Bible?
12:22 Our heart. Exactly. Isn't that amazing. Amazing.
12:26 And I think that I would rather have the creator of the universe
12:29 make that change in me rather than say someone that has a
12:34 good intent. I know lots of good secular psychologists and I
12:39 respect them but there's a big major difference here. I mean
12:43 let's go to the Maker for our heart needs to be changed.
12:49 Then when the heart changes behaviors will change, thoughts
12:52 will change, feelings will change.
12:53 And it says here our heart needs to be changed; not necessarily
12:56 our heart will be changed but it needs to be changed. It puts
13:01 that ball into our court. Now we get to participate. Amen. Wow.
13:05 Then the last one is other people or things such as our
13:10 childhood, unmet needs, not being properly loved and
13:14 accepted, that's what's responsible for our actions.
13:17 When people would come into my office some of them would say
13:21 I don't know why I am the way I am. So I would get into helping
13:25 them understand their childhood or helping them understand who
13:28 didn't accept them and love them and we spent months on that
13:32 trying to figure out why they are the way they are.
13:34 That's what I was taught in school. You know, I didn't know
13:38 better and in some ways I think the insight might have helped a
13:43 few people. But they could have had greater change had we
13:47 recognized what Christianity says which says we are
13:52 responsible for our actions. We are responsible for what we do.
13:56 In Ezekiel 18:20- This verse when I read it, it really hit me
14:01 hard. It says, The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son
14:06 shall not bear the iniquity of the father neither shall the
14:10 father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the
14:15 righteous shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked
14:19 shall be upon him. What's that saying? That's saying that when
14:23 I engage in a behavior, I'm responsible for it.
14:26 But, thank you, Jesus, that we have a way out. I would hate
14:29 to sit and think that because of something my father did or my
14:33 grandfather or my great grandfather or whatever did
14:36 created this hole for me that I couldn't dig out of.
14:39 Amen. It's such encouragement. You know, I recognize that those
14:42 things have an impact on us but we can't just spend all our
14:45 time focusing on what our parents did and our grandparents
14:48 did. We have to say, Lord, Okay, here I am right now. What is it
14:52 you can change about me. When we recognize that, that's when
14:56 the true healing begins. I've seen that time and time again
15:00 in my work with people. I remember a woman who came in
15:03 to me who was badly sexually abused, badly, and she had spent
15:07 years in therapy where the therapist continued to rehash
15:11 all the people who had abused her. She came in to me and
15:13 initially I started doing the same thing. But it was during
15:16 this time that I started to make the transition, thank God, while
15:20 I was working with her. We kept rehashing at half her life story
15:23 and drew pictures and just all kinds of things. While the Lord
15:27 was changing me God said to me, Magna, focus on what she is
15:31 doing right now. Help her understand the need for her to
15:34 forgive. And do you know, we started looking at the Bible
15:37 about forgiveness and she said to me, I am really feeling free
15:42 now. All this time that I'd been focusing on all the bad things
15:45 that happened to me, but now that I'm looking at my need to
15:48 forgive those who have done me wrong, I am really starting to
15:52 feel free of this burden of sexual abuse. Can you see that?
15:56 It's so powerful as we work with people.
15:59 So in your own life as this changes, your moving basically
16:05 from secular psychology into biblical counseling here, using
16:09 the power of the Holy Spirit to make up that difference.
16:13 Yes, that's we're doing. I have to rely a lot on the Holy Spirit
16:17 now. I'm not in practice any more, but I still get calls and
16:19 I'm glad because it's sharpening my tools. You know, I can sit
16:23 and talk about all the bad of psychology but people need help.
16:26 That's the reality and we have to still be available to help
16:30 people. Initially when I started doing this I have to admit I
16:32 went to the extreme of saying, you know, down with
16:35 psychologists. But God had to bring the pendulum to the middle
16:38 to me to recognize, I gave you this training, as I trained
16:41 Moses in the schools of Pharaoh in Egypt. I'm pulling you out,
16:45 you're unlearning, but you can still use that position you have
16:49 that title you have to help people, and I'm so grateful
16:52 for that. We're certainly not saying that
16:55 there's not good psychologists out here. I'm not saying that
16:58 at all and I just pray that you're not picking that up
17:00 because we love people of education. Now we're just taking
17:06 a step further and this is the way it worked in your life and
17:09 I know in my life it worked the same way. Why in the world do I
17:16 want to reinvent the wheel? I want to reinvent the wheel with
17:21 the knowledge that I have received from someone else.
17:24 Why don't I just say, Hey Father I'll surrender to you. I just
17:27 want to be a conduit and take the words that are above all
17:33 words and the name that's above all names and let you be
17:37 involved here and make the changes. Wow, wow, wow.
17:42 And it's been a freeing experience for me too
17:45 because this book right here is packed with powerful
17:48 principles we could use to help people, it really is.
17:51 I look at my degree now as a door-opener. We have been
17:56 schooled that folks have to have training to do things. So people
18:00 are going to come to me more quickly. We could talk about how
18:03 that is not good, but the reality is people will come to
18:06 me because I have a Ph. D. in Psychology. So I'm so grateful
18:09 to be able to use mostly the Bible and other things; there
18:12 are some aspects of psychology I still use, not a lot, that God
18:16 can use me in that way to help other people.
18:19 One thing that I do respect about psychologists, they are
18:21 good listeners and you've got to be a good listener because the
18:25 people who are coming to you, you know, their hearts are
18:26 broken and they need someone that will listen to them first
18:29 and someone that cares enough to try to patch it up. If we've
18:34 got a blown out tire we need to try to patch that thing up.
18:36 They are just crying. I know in pastoral we get calls daily for
18:42 a good Christian biblical counselor, a good Christian
18:47 psychologist, someone that will use his word. I don't know if
18:53 that's just where the Lord has brought them; I don't know, you
18:56 know, I'm not the judge for that but I just know that I think
19:00 that we have a big need for biblical counselors out there
19:03 today. Amen, amen. Now are we saying that there's
19:11 nothing in secular psychology that can apply to Christianity?
19:15 No, we are not saying that. I am just excited about some of
19:20 the research psychology is doing now. I look at it almost every
19:23 day, the different types of research that come out and
19:26 especially when it goes along with the Bible. It is just
19:29 exciting to see, Wow Lord, not that I needed psychology to tell
19:33 me this but your word is really true! Lord, this research is
19:36 saying something you said thousands of years before.
19:39 So I have another graphic that I wanted to put up that kind of
19:43 gives an example of that, if you don't mind us going to that
19:47 right now. There is research that has been
19:50 done in the University of Michigan, 2003, almost seven
19:53 years ago that says that a people who provide no support
19:57 to others are more than twice as likely to die in a 5-year period
20:02 as people who helped spouses, friends, relatives and neighbors
20:07 Giving to a spouse, a friend, a neighbor is linked with a lower
20:12 chance of dying. Isn't that something? And research is
20:15 showing that, that when we help others it will help us with our
20:20 health. Now the Bible says the same thing and if we go to the
20:24 next graphic, we'll see what the Bible says. I think it's in
20:26 Isaiah 58:7 & 8. I kind of truncated that a little, but
20:33 it says: Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that
20:37 thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When
20:42 thou seest the naked, that thou cover him...? Then shall thy
20:45 light break forth as the morning and... here's the significant
20:49 part... and thine health shall spring forth speedily.
20:52 To me that's a good example of how secular psychology goes
20:56 right along with the Bible. Powerful example! And there's
21:00 a lot like that. I have another graphic that gives another
21:04 example of secular psychology going along with the Bible, if
21:07 we could put that up. 16,475 American colleges were surveyed
21:12 between 1979 and 2006. And what they found in this survey was
21:17 that 1 out of 4 students in recent generations showed
21:21 elevated rates of narcissism. Narcissism is this focus on
21:26 self. In 1985, the number was 1 our of 7. So what that's showing
21:30 is that this focus, this me- centeredness has increased over
21:34 the years. What does the Bible tell us? Our next graphic will
21:38 will tell us. In 2 Timothy 3:1,2 This know also, that in the last
21:44 days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their
21:49 own selves. Isn't that something? And the survey of
21:53 those 16,000-plus students showed us, we really didn't
21:57 this survey, we can just see as we look around us that this me
22:00 focus is just increasing more and more as the years go on.
22:04 And it goes back to what we talked about a while ago about
22:08 that we should focus on self. That's where it all starts.
22:11 Me, me, me. I remember back when I was in the first grade
22:18 I was left-handed and the teacher came around with a
22:23 little ruler, spanked us on the back of our hands and every
22:25 thing because, No you need to be right-handed, because you could
22:29 be president of the United States someday and etiquette
22:31 tells us that we need to be right-handed. So it started
22:36 way back then conditioning us, first of all planting those
22:40 little seeds in our head that any one of you here could be
22:43 president of the United States. So if you study hard, if you get
22:46 your education, you do this, this, this and this, then this
22:50 will end up what you could be. I mean, I'm an old horse and
22:58 I mean, they were planting those seed way back then. I love
23:04 watching GYC. I'm loving to see the kids that are taking self
23:09 and putting it on the back burner; but there are a lot of
23:12 other kids out there that are just doing the very best that
23:15 they can do and it all starts with me.
23:18 That's a good example. It is so interesting when we are
23:21 leading people into careers it's about what you can be as
23:24 opposed to what God wants you to be. You know, and that's that
23:28 self focus again. But I'm just so grateful to God that he's
23:31 bringing us out of the darkness of that thinking into his
23:34 marvelous light and I'm glad that he's shown his light on
23:37 me, too. What's wonderful about this,
23:39 doctor, is that we can be educated or we can be
23:44 uneducated. It's God almighty through the Holy Spirit that
23:49 if we'll just surrender and turn it over to him, help me Jesus.
23:52 I need you to show up because, man, I've got some real issues
23:56 here. I had some wrong information in growing up.
23:59 I did focus on myself because I thought that that was what I
24:05 was supposed to do and that's exactly what you're saying.
24:07 It's wonderful to listen to you to see how you're growing at
24:11 the same time. Lots of times we feel like we have arrived
24:17 because we've jumped through the hoops and did all this and
24:20 everything and then we find out it makes no difference where we
24:23 are in life. Wait a minute, I've got another plan for your life.
24:29 It starts with being surrendered.
24:31 It does. That's where it starts and I'm so grateful to God
24:34 for that. Now let's go back. What are some
24:39 of the main reasons that Christians should be cautious
24:41 in embracing certain secular psychology concepts?
24:47 Well, I think we're kind of referring to it here. When we
24:51 focus on self it prevents us from hearing God and being led
24:55 based on his Spirit. I'm not looking to God to tell me which
24:59 way to go; I'm looking for self to tell me which way to go.
25:02 So we need to be cautious when we approach secular psychology.
25:06 The other thing is, secular psychology really can make us
25:10 know, I used to almost think of myself as a demigod.
25:13 I have to be honest, because people were coming to ME for
25:17 help, you know. They were bringing their problems to ME.
25:20 It can really exalt self as the person doing the counseling.
25:24 Not only that, it leads man to look to man for wisdom, as
25:29 opposed to God, for wisdom. So those are the things that come
25:32 to my mind when I think about the cautions we need to take
25:36 and everything that we run across with secular psychology
25:39 has to be compared to the word of God. We have to look at
25:43 secular psychology with word- of-God glasses. If we don't do
25:47 that we can be easily deceived, easily fooled. I just caution
25:51 people out there to really take their time to measure every
25:54 thing. The only way we can do that is if we know the word of
25:56 God. So when people come to me and tell me right now, Should I
25:59 go into secular psychology, I say, Ground yourself in the word
26:03 of God. If you ground yourself in the word of God, and then
26:06 when you go to the schools you can compare everything.
26:08 I have to be honest with you, J.D., not everyone can do that.
26:12 Not everyone can do that. But I just tell the young people,
26:16 because I don't want to discourage them because they
26:17 want to help people, just if you're going to do this, compare
26:21 everything to God's word and from there he will not lead you
26:24 in the wrong direction. I'm so grateful that God has led me to
26:28 his word. I went the other way around. I went through the
26:31 schooling without the secure footing in the word, but God
26:33 was so gracious to me that he brought me back to his word.
26:36 So everything that I've learned right now I compare to the
26:40 scripture, I study the scripture and if it fits I keep it and if
26:44 it doesn't I get rid of it.
26:45 Exactly, which is the gift from him and it goes back to how we
26:49 started. You know, this is how I was blinded; I could not see
26:53 because I was taken what I was given and then the Holy Spirit,
26:56 I invited him in, and the Holy Spirit said, Hey there needs to
27:00 be some changes here. So what you're saying here is why do you
27:03 want to waste all these years? Why don't we go and start at the
27:06 very beginning and that is his word where all pure knowledge
27:09 comes from. The Bible tells us that
27:13 everything that pertaineth to Godliness is in the word.
27:16 I think it's in Peter. And I didn't know that. I know that
27:20 now, thank God. Well you are a real joy,
27:24 Dr. Magna Parks. Praise the Lord You know the Lord is wonderful
27:27 to sit and watch what he is doing in your life, you know,
27:31 the changes that he is making as you are continuing to be a
27:35 benefit to him at the same time that the Lord is educating you.
27:39 So it's fantastic. I just want to thank you for being here
27:44 with us today. Time is running out quickly. What a wonderful
27:49 topic this is because people are wanting to know what is the
27:52 difference. So I appreciate you being here with us today and
27:56 I hope that you have enjoyed being here.
27:58 Oh, it was a wonderful pleasure to be here. I thank God.
28:01 Thank you for being with us on Issues and Answers.
28:05 We love each and every one of you
28:07 and just lift you up in prayer. God bless.


Revised 2014-12-17