Putting an End to Christian Psychology

"You're committing professional suicide," a colleague recently told psychologist Larry Crabb. In recent speeches, Crabb has been raising eyebrows by joining in the chorus of those questioning the utility of psychotherapy for Christians. According to Crabb, the church must reclaim its job of healing people who are struggling emotionally-including those with problems that are generally referred to psychologists and therapists.

Crabb is founder and director of the Institute of Biblical Counseling in Morrison, Colorado, and a professor at Colorado Christian University. Books such as Inside Out and Finding God have made him a popular author and speaker in the Christian community. But lately, with his idea of dismantling the Christian counseling industry, Crabb seems on the verge of bewildering more than a few of his followers. Here he talks about his vision for the church becoming a healing sanctuary.

What has been the effect of professional counseling in the church?

The church has bought into the idea that its spiritual role is a very limited one. If a woman struggles with depression or lacks sexual desire for her husband because of past sexual abuse, the immediate response is to send the woman to a professional counselor. The underlying assumption is that spiritual resources aren't sufficient to deal with what's going on-that only people with massive levels of professional training can help. Ultimately, we're saying the Scriptures and Christianity don't meaningfully address the core concerns of our lives.

You don't hold to the three-sided model that therapists are qualified to treat psychological problems, pastors spiritual problems, and doctors physical ones?

I say no, for two reasons. First, ...

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