Dear Praying Friends,
In a recent class called “Applied Theology” I had to read the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, a timely assignment as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year. In addition to the reading, I had to write a 30-page paper on a topic from the Institutes. I wrote about the powerful biblical anthropology found in Book 3, Chapters 6-9: (6) “Life of a Christian;” (7) “A Summary of the Christian Life;” (8) “Of Bearing the Cross;” (9) “Of Meditating on the Future Life.” I would encourage you to read that section if you have never done so. In the psychologized zeitgeist in which we live, Calvin’s words will shock many ears, but will be a great encouragement to those who want to be radical disciples of Christ.
“[Calvin] became an expert on Man by
knowing God and His Word.”
Calvin was a true master of the soul. He used the weapons of biblical theology and exegesis to expound a solid biblical anthropology. He knew how mankind functions. He did not become an expert after many years of Freudian analysis, nor did he become a master through years of secular education. He simply knew men through the information that he received in the Bible. He became an expert on man by knowing God and His Word. This makes perfect sense because man is made in the image of God. The very first words of his magnum opus highlight this understanding: “The knowledge of God and of ourselves mutually connected —the nature of this connection.” (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 1) If Calvin is correct, then a corollary truth must also be affirmed. A man who does not know the true God cannot truly understand man. Modern psychology is basically built on a Darwinian and secular worldview. Therefore, modern psychology does not understand man as God created him. There is an antithesis between biblical anthropology and secular anthropology. Freud, Jung, Rogers, May, Fromm, Maslow and company cannot be the true masters of the soul if John Calvin was a master of the psyche. Postmodernity may accept differing “truths,” but in the real world which God made, genuine truth stands alone. Modern psychological gurus studied man apart from biblical presuppositions. Calvin went straight to the Bible to understand man. Sadly, many pastors still go to worldly experts in an attempt to be better pastors of the soul. Calvin believed that God’s Word is sufficient to show man how to become more like God, his Creator and Father. This, he concluded, is the highest possible goal for human life. Why settle for anything less?
Please pray for us as we continue to encourage and teach future pastors to hold to biblical presuppositions about man and to use that truth in their pastoral counseling. The private ministry of the Word has too long been influenced by Freud and company rather than by God’s Word and men like Calvin and John Owen. Since the biblical counseling option is new and just beginning in Brazil, many of the current pastors have taken courses in psychology to become better counselors. This leads to an obvious conflict, many consequences, and a hunger for real help. Thank you for your prayers and support as we desire to clarify these issues and practice true biblical, pastoral care for the glory of God.
Rev. Doug E. Leaman