Christianity is more than a black-bag technique.

When I finished my doctoral program in clinical psychology, I assumed that the techniques of psychology were well suited for helping people deal with personal problems. But because I was a Christian, I tacked on two disclaimers. First, although I believed the methods of psychology were useful to a Christian counselor, I insisted that the theories behind the methods were often opposed to Scripture and therefore had to be rejected. Second, I regarded the resources of Christianity as welcome additions to the Christian therapist’s little black bag of techniques. However, I clearly distinguished between psychological problems and spiritual problems. For solving psychological problems, I believed that Christianity was often helpful but rarely essential; for handling spiritual problems, however, I knew that only Christianity would suffice.

This line of thinking received a gradual jolt as I began to encounter something unexpected in my counseling. People came to me complaining of surface problems that I had to dig through to find the root difficulty. As I reached in to deal with this underlying disorder, I found myself touching something that I couldn’t classify as a diseased psyche curable by my professional methods. What I discovered beneath the complaints was simply a person—an uptight, insecure, confused person who felt lonely and empty. Probing more deeply, I noticed that this person had a lot of foolish ideas about life that took no real account of God, and that he or she had a stubborn inclination to do wrong and an equally stubborn unwillingness to admit being wrong.

It became clear to me that bringing about a transformation in this person (who beneath the surface differences ...

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