Cedarville Magazine, Fall 2023

ourselves and our lived experiences. David Powlison, one of the pioneers of biblical counseling, recognized that psychology is one among many sources for providing significant knowledge: “Human beings operate psychologically. The torrent of experiences, thoughts, feelings, motives, attitudes, memories, volitions, beliefs, assumptions, schemata, perceptions, and so on” are well-investigated and described by psychology. However, when psychology presents alternative rationales, aspirations, and solutions for human well-being, it presents a competing and critically incomplete paradigm. In this, Christian scholars and psychologists must offer empirically and biblically sound directives. SIGMUND FREUD AND THE APOSTLE PAUL ON THE HUMAN CONDITION To illustrate an example of our approach to psychology, let me use a classical figure to make a point — Sigmund Freud. To simplify one of his theories, Freud postulated that there are three hidden forces within each person: the Ego (the Self); the Id (impulsive, emotionseeking drives); and the Super Ego (pressuring towards perfectionism and conformity). Since the motives of Id and Superego are opposing forces acting on the Ego, the individual would often feel conflicted or stressed as a result. This psychological concept has often been caricatured in cartoons as people having an angelic version of themselves speaking good on one shoulder and on the other shoulder, a devilish version of themselves suggesting mischief to the person. The goal of Freudian psychotherapy, then, is to help the individual strengthen the Ego so that the person can resist the enticements of the Id and the pressures of the Superego. Arguably, this internal struggle that takes place within each person is similarly described by the Apostle Paul. He said, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... . For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing … , Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:15–24). In this passage, the conflicting forces of good versus evil within oneself, and the stresses that result, are comparably described. For Freud, who had rejected Christianity, and Paul, who was guided by the Holy Spirit, both were able to observe a common human dynamic. The key difference between them, however, lies in their respective attributions of causes and, more importantly, solutions to the human struggle. For Freud (and much of psychology), the solutions lie within the human self: we are our own best resources for deliverance and standards of what is ideal. For Paul, and as it should be for all believers, the redemption from our human plight and the apex of our joy comes in the very next verse: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25a). ONLY THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM As educators in Christian higher education, and uniquely at Cedarville University, we are charged by Peter to “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge” (2 Pet. 1:5). The Department of Psychology is committed to making our faith excellent through an education that is grounded in the Bible. Students are trained to exercise diligence and discernment when engaging the information of psychology (or any subject matter) so that they may present themselves as ambassadors for Christ in the fields of psychology, counseling, and other professions and ministries. For only “through the knowledge of Him” (2 Pet. 1:3) can psychology be properly understood and properly applied. Luke Tse is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Cedarville University. He earned his PhD in psychology and counseling and Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In a post-Eden existence, nonChristian scholars do not understand that this present reality is, at best, a vague glimpse of the infinite reality of God. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10, ESV) 17