The Tragedy of Compromise in Psychology part 1: Examples

Recently, I discussed a series of articles entitled “The Tragedy of Compromise,” focusing on the dangers of Christians adapting the theory of evolution to Christian thought. My argument was that this was a violation of the first commandment, since evolution requires the presuppositions of another religion (

As I noted at the time, evolution is not the only area where the Church faces this danger. Another area in which Christians need to be cautious is our acceptance of many elements of modern social sciences; we will begin with a discussion of psychology.

To explain this point, I would like to use a few illustrations of areas where psychology is influenced by naturalistic presuppositions. Maslow and those who have followed him in discussing human needs tend to ignore the preeminent place for the inborn need we have for God, because we were created to serve Him. In many senses (particularly with Maslow), the “higher levels of needs” in many ways suggest a self-focused life that is the antithesis of Christian beliefs. What little reference Maslow makes to religion is solely stated in terms of “security needs,” similar to one’s needs for shelter, a steady job, etc.

Some theories of psychology differ irreconcilably from Christian positions concerning the conscience. In many ways, Freud’s theories assume that the conscience (or as he termed it, the super-ego) developed from external forces, rather than from the workings of God (Romans 2:15) and often painted the conscience as a negative force within the human heart. Thus, at times, he argued that the conscience needed to be weakened, in order to prevent feelings of guilt (guilt, of course, being, in many cases, God’s witness of Himself to draw others to Himself). Similarly, Kohlberg’s theory of moral development seems to imply the desirability of degrading the conscience.

These and other theories demonstrate the reasons that many psychological theories are influenced by naturalistic presuppositions and why many theories need to be rejected. In our next piece we will discuss Christians borrowing from psychology.

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