Therapeutic Humanism seems to sum up the erroneous aim and focus of so much of the contemporary Church.
From Grudem's Systematic Theology regarding “Kenosis Theory” page 551: It just seemed too incredible for modern rational and “scientific” people to believe that Jesus Christ could be truly human and fully, absolutely, God at the same time...Smith points out that one of the primary influences leading some to adopt Kenotic theology was the growth of modern psychology in the nineteenth century: ‘The age was learning to think in terms of the categories of psychology. Consciousness was a central category. If at our ‘center’ is our consciousness, and if Jesus was both omniscient God and limited man, then He has two centers and was thus fundamentally not one of us. Christology was becoming inconceivable for some.’...In other words, pressures of modern psychological study were making belief in the combination of full deity and full humanity in the one person of Christ difficult to explain or even intellectually embarrassing: How could someone be so different from us and still be truly a man?... In this as in many other points of doctrine, our understanding of what is ‘possible’ must be determined not by modern empirical study of a finite, fallen world, but by the teachings of scripture itself.
This same type of erroneous thinking and belief is what has led to the prevalence of therapeutic humanism in the modern Church as evidenced by the prevalence of the modern recovery movement/industry in the modern Church.
An excerpt from an article over at TheBereanCall.org by Dave Hunt entitled, God as You Conceive Him/Her/It to Be:
In fact, the 12 Steps of A.A. came by direct inspiration from the demonic world and they open the door to the occult by introducing members to a false god. Step 2 says, "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Step 3 continues, "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we [Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Mormon, shaman, agnostic, et al.] understood Him." In Christianity Today , Tim Stafford says, "The 12 Steps are Christian." Yet they contain no mention of Jesus Christ, much less of the gospel. In fact, they are anti-Christian. An official A.A. publication says, "You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'Higher Power.'" Stafford admits that A.A. founder Bill Wilson "never pledged his loyalty to Christ, never was baptized, never joined a Christian church...." Instead, the Christian church has joined A.A!
Pastor John MacArthur, in his book Our Sufficiency in Christ, on page 67 states the following in regard to human/secular therapies:
Human therapies are embraced most eagerly by the spiritually week - those who are shallow or ignorant of biblical truth and who are unwilling to accept the path of suffering that leads to spiritual maturity and deeper communion with God. The unfortunate effect is that these people remain immature, held back by a self-imposed dependence on some pseudo-Christian method or psychoquackery that actually stifles real growth.
Pastor John MacArthur, in his book The Truth War, on page 159 addresses the 12 steps as follows:
Others would formally affirm Christ's sovereignty and spiritual headship over the church, but they resist His rule in practice. To cite just one instance of how this is done, many churches have set various forms of human psychology, self help therapy, and the idea of 'recovery' in place of the Bible's teaching about sin and sanctification."..."So wherever the work of God's Word is being replaced with twelve step programs and other substitutes, Christ's headship over the church is being denied in practice.
T.A. McMahon who is the editor of the Berean Call writes the following regarding Bill Wilson, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the man who wrote the 12 steps:
A.A.'s official biography indicates Bill Wilson received the details of the twelve steps through spirit dictation. Does anyone see a simple, idolatrous problem here?
Regarding so called "Christ Centered" 12 step programs and support groups such as Celebrate Recovery, Hunger for Healing, and others, T.A. McMahon writes:
But what about evangelicals just using the methodology the familiar spirit gave to Bill Wilson? Simple again: God condemns the source, and the approach is contrary to the way He wants to transform our lives. Furthermore, why turn to such a spiritually toxic system? Where are the evangelical pastor's heads in this?
In their book 12 Steps to Destruction, authors Martin and Deidre Bobgan state the following on page 116:
Twelve -Step programs are in essence New Age religions and archetypical precursors of a one-world religion. They do not hold a common doctrine of God and His creation. Instead, each group holds a common goal, centered in saving self.
C.S. Lewis on Bill Wilson's communing with spirits, "This is necromancy. Have nothing to do with it."
There will never be enough - that’s the truth that blows the lid off of our modern pre-manufactured, commercialized, consumer driven society. Regardless of how much you earn, how much you buy, how good you look, how famous you are, how sexy you are, how successful you are, how high you are - there will never be enough.
Does that seem like a crazy over generalization? Just take a look at all the fads and fixes that have come and gone in your own lifetime. Look back over the last twenty to fifty years and look at all the self help programs, religions, drugs, medications, fad diets, therapies, books, cults, twelve step programs, motivational speakers, etc… that have come and gone - and yet the world and the people in it are more frantically screwed up now than ever before.
Addiction now grows at a frenzied pace and seems to be just a part of modern life. Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, TV, the internet, Facebook, cell phones, energy drinks, the list goes on and on and on - moderation does not even seem to be considered or attempted anymore. What used to be a large sized soft drink cup at a fast food restaurant twenty or thirty years ago is now quite often smaller than the modern small sized cup! The modern medium and large sized cups don’t even fit into the cup holders in some older cars! Just how much can we consume? And why are we so obsessed with more and more and more?
Look at the stark reality of so many of the people that seem to get through the mass of striving humanity and actually become rich and famous and then completely implode or in the worst and far too often instance kill themselves. Why is such a sad and destructive end so common for so many that have achieved so much of what the world covets? What is missing?
Imagine the horror of spending years of toil and struggle to get that golden ring the world holds up over the heads of the masses, convinced that when you finally have that ring firmly in hand - when fame, fortune, everything you want is now yours and you look in the mirror and realize the pain and fear is still there. Then where do you go? What do you reach for? How do you get rid of the desire for more when there is no more to desire?
When you take all of this and look at it honestly it really becomes clear that the human heart, the core of who we are is really a screwed up mess.
So, as you read this you are either on top of your game and have it all together or, maybe the world has kicked you in the teeth for a while and you are suffering and fearful, maybe numbed up and addicted or drunk. For those that have it all together, then the questions become:
For those with the kicked in teeth and unhealed war wounds - have you just checked out? Have you given up to a chemical or to booze or some other worldly obsession? Maybe you did give up and then started working a recovery program, got some of your life back together - but there is still something out of whack, so you work and work and work that twelve step program and live from one meeting to the next foolishly telling yourself you have serenity and are living spiritually as you watch the revolving door of relapse and death swing back and forth for those on the same dark road you're on as you all spiral downward together.
This may all seem dark and cynical, attacking and negative. But is it not true of the human condition we see all around us?
Thousand of years ago, the wise and wealthy Solomon saw the futility of man's stubborn attempts at self repair. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:14-15, "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted."
And the prophet Jeremiah nails the cause of why humans are so desperately lost when he says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
The heart of the issue is that the heart is the issue!
The human heart is a storm of sinful chaos, striving to find some semblance of peace and calm in a world intent on intensifying the chaos and confusion. People without genuine eternal truth are like tiny boats tossed about in a tempest without an anchor, without any bearing or eternal direction.
...having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
...tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:14)
However, there is an anchor that never fails, that will hold us through any storm we face. When you take hold of that anchor and forsake all that is in contradiction to it you step into the light of truth.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)
the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:16-17)
There is only one sure and steadfast anchor that is grounded in absolute unchanging truth and that anchor is genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless of any storm our faith is the anchor that holds us in Christ, and by grace the Holy Spirit through the Word strengthens our faith.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I will close with more wisdom from the writings of Solomon. Consider his words when the world through heresies like Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, self help books and all the rest try to convince you that God's Word and the steadfast anchor of faith in Jesus Christ is just not enough - that something more is needed, remember these words of Solomon and simply stand firm in your faith, grounded in God's Word, protected by His love in the arms of the Lord.
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:11-13)
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way Ministry Church USA & Kenya.