Friday, May 13, 2011

Psychology, Self-Esteem, Stress, and Other "Dirty" Words

Because we want to know and love God deeply as a church, one of our goals is to constantly reshape our minds according to God's Word. This is one of the overarching objectives of our current seminar on dealing with anger in our children (and in ourselves). We must learn to think biblically.

This means, of course, that we cannot simply accept what our society hands to us in the way of understanding our own lives, and this even extends to the terminology we use to describe ourselves and our problems. Ed Welch explains in this post why it is important to carefully consider how we talk about our problems.

Biblical counseling has a history of being picky about words. Sometimes it sounded as if we had our own version of George Carlin’s dirty word list. For example, off limits were terms like: self-esteem, needs, psychological, or any psychiatric diagnosis unless you were going to critique it a bit first.
Well—we have our reasons.
He lists several terms in common circulation which need to be examined according to what God says, such as
  • Psychological problems
  • Self-esteem and other self-words
  • Emotional problems
  • Stress
  • Free-will
  • Personality
  • Addiction
  • Some specific diagnoses such as ADD, Bipolar, Asperger's, etc.
He concludes,

This agenda to reclaim everything in the psychological bin is, I think, an ordinary one. As people who have received revelation and illumination, we always ask, “What does God say about this?” From political processes to financial investments, to how we treat our neighbors, we want Scripture’s interpretive gaze to claim everything.
(Read the entire post.)

I like that last line. The Bible looks out from the commanding heights of ultimate truth and claims interpretive rights over the entire world. That's part of why we want to be relentlessly biblical.

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