“Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us.” – Henri Nouwen
Relationships are essential to God’s very nature because He himself is a relational being who has always existed as a triune being with eternal interactions of love, intimacy, empowerment, and service between the Father, Son, and Spirit. It is no surprise, therefore, that relationships are also essential to the Christian life. Because we are created in the image of a triune, relational God, we simply cannot be healthy as Christians while living in isolation. Every aspect of the Christian journey involves others in the Body in some capacity, from our very conversion to our sanctification.
Just like the disciples grew in their relationship with Jesus in the context of their relationships with each other, we too are called to become conformed to the image of Christ by loving, serving, encouraging, admonishing, accepting, submitting, and forgiving one another—just to name a few!
Whether you are a Calvary student or someone from the community, consider enrolling in our upcoming Group Counseling intensive class, which will be offered September 27-29. This course may be taken for credit or personal enrichment. In this class, you will learn the Biblical foundation’s group counseling, as well as practical skills to lead small groups effectively.
To find out more about this and other seminary counseling courses, contactDr. Joa Braga.
This previous weekend Dr. Smith, Associate Professor and Program Director for the undergraduate Biblical Counseling Department at Calvary University had the opportunity to attend the regional IABC (International Association of Biblical Counselors) conference at Life Fellowship Family Bible Church in Westminster Colorado. Dr. Smith not only had the opportunity to hear from some wonderful speakers, but he also was able to meet some vendors and speak to prospective students and their parents, about Calvary University and the Biblical counseling program with Bill George, the VP of Enrollment Management for the new Calvary University Innovation Center campus located in Fort Morgan Colorado.
In addition, Dr. Smith also had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ed Bulkley, president of IABC and share some of the opportunities for Calvary University and IABC to work together in developing a partnership in equipping the next generation of Biblical counselors to serve in the local church. Some of these opportunities include a potential Biblical counseling conference with IABC and Calvary University. Implementing some of the requirements for IABC certification in our undergraduate and graduate programs, and a possible training center in the future for others who are seeking IABC certification.
This past weekend Dr. Luther Smith, Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling, and Program Director for the undergraduate Biblical counseling department here at Calvary University had the opportunity to travel and speak for three days at Sherwood Bible Church located in Tulsa Oklahoma. Dr. Smith, on Friday night, spoke about the importance of having a Biblical philosophy. Saturday evening he spoke on how genre impacts how one interprets the Book of Revelation, and Sunday morning Dr. Smith observed the specific details of the Book of Revelation and the strengths and limitations of Bible commentaries concerning the Book of Revelation.
Dr. Smith will also have two upcoming speaking engagements in the next two weeks. Dr. Smith, along with his family, will travel to Kansas City to speak at Beth Haven Fellowship this Sunday to discuss Mysticism and Emotionalism in Conservative Christianity. Then the Sunday after he will be teaching Sunday School and preaching at Pioneer Bible Church in Ponsa City Oklahoma.
Christmas time is a holiday celebrated throughout the world as many Christians reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ and what this birth has meant for the world at large. However, there is another important holiday that may have a tendency to be overlooked by many and this is the holiday of Thanksgiving.
The history of Thanksgiving is not just a uniquely American holiday but in terms of the Christian faith is extremely significant. The previous concept of a day of Thanksgiving comes from George Washington, the first president of the United States, who had issued a proclamation for a day of “Thanksgiving and prayer” for all fellowships and denominations on January 1, 1795, in light of the victory of the American Revolution. A portion of George Washington’s proclamation is stated in the following paragraph:
…I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation.
George Washington. Proclamation 6—Day of Public Thanksgiving. Retrived from: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65500.
George Washington’s motive for this proclamation was to seek the Lord, thank Him for all of the blessings that He provided, and to keep the citizens from a proud heart, as noted below:
I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…for the prosperous course of our affairs, public and private; and at the same time humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings graciously to prolong them to us; to imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to Him for them; to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value; to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity, and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits; to dispose us to merit the continuance of His favors by not abusing them; by our gratitude for them, and by a correspondent conduct as citizens and men…
George Washington. Proclamation 6—Day of Public Thanksgiving. Retrived from: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65500.
A day of Thanksgiving, for George Washington, had in mind a day set aside for the saints to pray, reflect and ponder the goodness of God and His benefits to the citizens of a young nation. The same idea was echoed by James Madison, the fourth president of the United States when he writes:
It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.
James Madison. Proclamation 20-Recommending a Public Day of Thanksgiving For Peace. Retrieved from: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65984.
The proclamations of both George Washington and James Madison (and even Abraham Lincoln in his proclamation set aside the last day in November as officially Thanksgiving Day) highlights a very important characteristic of the saint, and this is the attitude of thanksgiving.
There are many verses in the Scriptures that discuss the saints and their thanksgiving to the Lord. If the Israelites wanted to offer a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” to the Lord they would do so by a peace offering (Lev. 7:11-14). This specific offering was to honor God and how He was the source of their provision and sustenance. There were those in Israel who were charged with singing songs of thanksgiving to the Lord (Lev. 22:29; Neh. 12:7). A person who played a musical instrument was to offer thanksgiving to the Lord (Ps. 33:2). Additionally, the Psalms are replete with the psalmist offering praises of thanksgiving to God for His works (c.f., Ps. 6:5; 9:1; 18:49; 26:7; 30:4, 12; 42:4; 50:14; 69:30; 95:2; 107:1, 22; 116:27; 136:1-26; 147:27).
In the New Testament, there are many verses that speak to the attitude of thanksgiving in light of the Christian’s attitude. Paul often addressed the saints by personally giving thanks to God in his letters (c. f., Rom. 1:8; 1 Cor. 1:4; Phil. 1:3; 1 Thess 1:2;). Paul also instructed the saints to be thankful to God and His works (Col. 3:5, 3:17; Eph. 5:4, 5:17-20). A believer can give thanksgiving, not just by praying but singing to the Lord (Col. 3:16-17). It is observed for the Christian to be thankful in every circumstance, good and bad, is also within the will of God (1 Thess. 5:17-18). The author of Hebrews mentions when a believer gives God thanksgiving they are giving a sacrifice of praise to Him, expressing their gratitude to God and His benefits (Heb. 13:5). In other words, thankfulness for the Christian is not just reserved for one day out of the year, but it is to be an essential quality of the believer’s life.
By contrast, the unbeliever refuses to honor the Lord as God and does not give thanks to Him and the things He has done. As Paul addressing the believers in Rome stated below:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Rom. 1:18-22 NASB emphasis mine
This is the reason both George Washington and James Madison proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to churches in the establishment of this nation: to remember the Lord and all of His benefits. They understood that without the providence and goodness of God, this nation would not have been successful and would not endure. They also understood that it would keep the hearts of those who sought Him humble, knowing that all things that are given to men are given because of the hand of God. The modern history of why Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday is far divorced from the origins of the proclamations of Washington, Madison, and Lincoln. However, the eternal word of God still to this day instructs every believer to give thanks to Him, irrespective of the events and the day. For the believer in Christ, every day is literally “Thanksgiving Day.”
As believers in Christ who are looking forward to Thanksgiving Day let us reflect and give thanks to the Lord for all of the things that He has done and has given to us, not just for the turkey and stuffing with all of the side dishes on the table. In addition, let us continue to give thanks to Him beyond this particular day. For by doing this we are completing the very will of God for us and giving honor and glory to Him.
There have been many believers, in modern times that have been apprehensive when it comes to the study of psychology. This has been with good reason since there have been theories and models have been antithetical and hostile to the teachings of sacred Scripture. One such person is Sigmund Freud, the creator of the psychoanalytic theory, who believed that religion (specifically Christianity) was just an invention of the mind to deal with the guilt that human beings experience.
There are many believers that state the field of psychology has found its origins in Sigmund Freud. After detailing what a chaplain said regarding how “the religious approach” was no good in a mental health institution, one such person wrote the following sentence:
How has [this rejection of a religious approach] come about? What is its base? The answer lies in the fundamentals of Freudian theory and therapy.
Adams. J., (1970). Compent To Counsel. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. p.10.
This author even goes on to say that Sigmund Freud is the chief propagator for the justification of sinful behavior in modern times:
Freud has not made people irresponsible; but he has provided a philosophical and psudeoscientific rationale for irresponsible people to use to justify themselves. Freud is a cause of the ills in modern society only as a complicating factor and not a basic cause of those ills. The ultimate cause is sin.
Adams. J., (1970). Compent To Counsel. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. p.17.
There is no doubt that Sigmund Freud and his ideas found in the psychoanalytic model have run against a biblical worldview. There are some who teach because Freud had a significant impact on this discipline that the origin of psychology began with him, and that a Christian who is serious about counseling should not engage with the field or study of psychology. However, what those who state this fail to observe is that the field of psychology may actually find its roots, not in Sigmund Freud and the psychoanalytic theory, but in the Protestant Reformation under a man by the name of Philip Melancthon.
October 31st, 1517 marks the start of the Reformation when Martin Luther took the 95 Theses, a treatise on some of the works of indulgences that were among the Roman Catholic Church, and nailed it on the door of the Wittenberg church in Germany. This act was the foundation for returning back to the Scriptures alone for life, doctrine, and practice rather than church tradition or ecclesiastical authority. It was a year later (1518) when Philip Melanchthon held the position of Chairman of Greek at the University of Wittenberg and became acquainted with Martin Luther. From this point Philip Melanchthon worked alongside Martin Luther and became extremely influential in the Reformation as an author comments below:
A valuable ally, who later supplemented Luther’s bold courage with his gentle reasonableness, came to Wittenberg as a professor of Greek in 1518. At the age ot twenty-one Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) was already well trained in the classical languages an Hebrew. While Luther became the great prophetic voice of the Reformation, Melanchthon became its theologian.
Cairns., E. (1967). Christianity through the centruies. Zondervan. Grand Rapids. p.315.
Philip Melanchthon believed in the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures. He was a defender of sola Scriptura, rejecting the ecclesiastical traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, the Magisterium, and canon law. Philip Melanchthon was also a major proponent of what became known as the Augsburg Confession, which was (and still is) the official creed of the Lutheran church.
Philip Melanchthon also desired to conform disciplines to the teaching of the Scriptures. He commented on the topic of psychology in his writings known as Loci Communes (1521), and Commentaruis de anima (1540) with each book having been revised many times. In his forward Commentaruis de anima (1553) Melanchthon wrote in his book as follows, “…eam partem doctrinae, quae de anima agit” (i.e., “the part of the physical doctrine that deals with the soul.”) (cited by Holzapfel, W & Eckardt, G, 1999). Historically Philip Melanchthon did not see psychology as a stand-alone discipline but as a discipline that was under the umbrella of philosophy, which an author notes below:
According to Melanchthon philosophy includes three branches: 1) artes dicendi (dialectics and rhetoric), 2) physiologia, which contains for example physics, psychology, and mathematics, and, 3) praecepta de civilibus moribus (ethics). Melanchthon assigned psychology to physiology-the scientific branch of philosophy. That is why he saw his treatise upon the soul as a part of a conception of physics.
Holzapfel, W & Eckardt, G., (1999) Philip Melanchthon’s psychological thinking under the influence of humanism, reformation, and empirical orientation. Vol. 20., num 4. p.7
Philip Melanchthon rejected the ideas and the notions of a philosophy that did not have God at the center. He believed that God was the Creator of all things, was the Source of all truth, and that the Scriptures undergirded the basis for scientific rationale in the modern era. The ideas outlined in his books were taught in universities around Europe for over 150 years. His legacy left an impact not just in the area of theology, but also in the field of psychology found in philosophy.
However, despite the significant contributions to this field of study, and his central focus of sola scriptura, there was a limitation concerning his view. Even though he promoted the instruction of sola scriptura he looked to the philosopher Aristotle to build and establish his psychology:
Melanchthon structured the field of psychology following Aristotle, who differentiated between the soul of plants, animals, and humans.
Holzapfel, W & Eckardt, G., (1999) Philip Melanchthon’s psychological thinking under the influence of humanism, reformation, and empirical orientation. Vol. 20., num 4. p.8
In his attempt to build a God-centered approach to psychology he took most of his influence from philosophy, not from sacred Scripture. It is clear through his works Loci Communes, and Commentaruis de anima he attempted to build and establish a cohesive approach that was God-glorifying. However, even though he was pursuing to harmonize the study of the soul with theology, due to his philosophical approach, he was inconsistent.
This is a brief study observing the life of Philip Melanchthon and his observation in the field of psychology, however, one thing is clear: Psychology, as a discipline, does not find its origin in Sigmund Freud or the Psychoanalytic theory. Philip Melanchthon who played a significant role in the Reformation sought to observe the discipline of philosophy and all of its “branches,” such as psychology, from a theological worldview desiring to establish the discipline in its proper place. Yet he failed in this endeavor due to the fact his psychology was built on a theological/philosophical perspective, not from a Biblical perspective. Nevertheless, psychology (or pyschologia as he called it) has a history that is found the Protestant Reformation, and he sought to observe God’s truth in all areas and subjects of life.
There should be a healthy caution when approaching this discipline of psychology in light of its theories and concepts. As Christians who are pursuing the truth let us not be afraid of the discipline itself. In fact, let us take the passion of Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon in desiring to stay true to the Scriptures and continue the reformation not just in the area of theology, but also in the field of psychology. The Reformation was established on challenging and reforming the ecclesiastical ideas and the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church back to Scripture alone, and believers in Christ should do the same with the ideas and concepts found in psychology.
Let us take up the challenge and continue the rich legacy of the Protestant Reformation, not to throw away the field of psychology, but to reform it, and continue to reform it in accordance with the Scriptures, all for the glory of God. Amen.