It has recently come to my attention that popular Christian apologist Gregory Koukl wrote an article in which he attacked me. While he did not single me out personally, he took aim at a larger group in which I am a member. We are a group of Christians who believe in the sufficiency of scripture for addressing and correcting problems of living in a Christian’s life. Specifically, those problems many are now referring to ‘Christian’ psychotherapists. We are opposed to the use of psychotherapy, either by itself or integrated with scripture, in an effort to solve those problems. In his article “Is the Bible Sufficient?” Koukl not only takes the opposite view, he made some astounding claims as to how, and why, the Word of God can be adulterated.
Unfortunately, Koukl was not exact in his use of terminology in his article; he used the term psychology when the content of his article clearly shows he meant psychotherapy. There are some typical reasons for authors to be ambiguous, as he was in other palces. The author may not have done the necessary research. The author, who in this case uses logic and reason to defend the faith, may not be so reasonable as he supposes. Finally, the author may purposely be obscure because definitively producing the argument he opposes would make it difficult or impossible for him to rebut it. I am not pleased to say it, but it appears it was the latter reason in this case.
In fact, it has already been demonstrated by another reviewer of Koulk’s article that in his argument he committed the logical fallacy of creating a straw man.1 In argumentation, that is portraying another’s position as something other than what it really is in order create an opponent that one can easily defeat.
As egregious as this tact is to argumentation, rarely does it draw my personal ire anymore. My faith stands in the power of God, and not in the words of man’s wisdom. (If I could have been reasoned into my faith, I could be reasoned out.) However, there was one element in Koukl’s assault that I am obliged to rebuke. Indeed, Koukl attacked something I am always set to defend: the gospel truth.
I should first acknowledge that it can be said in Koukl’s defense he has fallen prey to what has caused many to sacrifice perspicuity in headlining God’s word; the popular use of inferior translations of the Bible. That otherwise mitigating factor in his favor must be dismissed here, however, because his fallacious argument revealed he was too happy to commit the offence.
Here is the verse in point, as he chose it:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Tim 3:16-17, NASB; emphasis added)
Firstly, Koukl believes he corrects us by pointing out the that the word ‘adequate’ modifies the term ‘man of God,’ and does not modify the word ‘scripture.’2 That is: scripture is not adequate, but the man of God is made adequate by scripture.
Now, I don’t know everyone in our group of the sufficiency-of-scripture crowd, but I am familiar with the work of Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Their PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries champions the sufficiency of scripture in treating problems of living for the Christian, and they strongly oppose using psychotherapy alone, or integrating it with the Bible, in attempting to solve those problems. It was the Bobgans who coined the phrase pyschoheresy to define that resulting heresy of such an adulteration. Neither I, nor anyone I know, nor they, nor anyone they know,3 have made the mistake which Koukl thought he did us the service of correcting.
Here, though, the favor of correction may be paid to Koukl. He got the word in question from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) version. As stated, the word ‘adequate’ does modify the believer, but the use of the word ‘adequate’ is an inadequate modifier which actually helps to cripple his reasoning.
To demonstrate, we examine the verse from dependable King James Bible:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2Tim 3:16-17; emphasis added)
First, you will note the elevated modifier for the believer. He is not made merely ‘adequate’ through the scriptures; he is made ‘perfect.’ Anyone can easily recognize that ‘adequate’ is a far cry from ‘perfect.’ Further study into the Greek word translated ‘perfect’ here will reveal that to be perfect in this sense means: to have been completely and perfectly fitted with special aptitudes for a given use. The condition of being ‘adequate’ means one need only meet a minimally acceptable condition for use.
By using the NASB’s mistranslation, Koukl subtlety sets the tone that the Word of God is deficient and in want of supplement. From there he drives towards his obvious conclusion.
Establishing that the believer’s condition is only ‘adequate’ (in Koukl’s mind), he can confidently say that such level of sufficiency “does not preclude other sources of learning that give further instruction in mental health and skill at living.”4 Koukl wraps his argument with two more astonishing claims: 1) that the Bible nowhere claims it is sufficient in the instruction that saints require for correction, and 2) that Christians who “promote that narrow view encourage unnecessary conflict in the church.”5
As an aside; there are other supports Koukl assembled in his argument, but they are puerile and not germane to my rebuttal. Suffice to say of them that in stretching facts and misrepresenting truth he went as far as to charge the Holy Spirit with plagiarism.6
Firstly, this conflict he complains of may be inconvenient for Koukl, who is also an adjunct profession at BIOLA University which boasts of a 10,000 square foot facility for training future evangelical psychologists,7 but it is a necessary conflict for the church. The fight is between nothing less than the gospel of grace and a false gospel of works authored by unregenerate men who had in their ranks one who confessed to being taught it by demons.8 And what Koukl tries to lightly pass off as “principals” promoted by psychotherapists are in fact what they claim are scientific laws to be obeyed.9 Albeit, where the Christian is concerned that claim is softened, and the therapists’ assistance is represented as the dispensation of wise counsel. However, when the advice from those great physicians translates into ‘doing’ by the patient it becomes works of the flesh.
As for the biblical claim of sufficiency, it is amazing that Koukl had an exemplary scripture in front of him in his own argument, and wherein I pointed out the saint was perfected by scripture.
It is expressly claimed in 2Timothy (above) that the inspired Word of God provides for our correction and instruction in righteousness. What is meant by correction is it provides the way for restoration to an upright state in life and character. What is meant by instruction is that it provides the whole course of training we require for cultivation of our mind and morals, and to correct our mistakes and curb our passions. That this instruction is also in righteousness means that it also restores us to a condition acceptable to God.
Furthermore, the scriptures additionally claim that in all this we are thoroughly furnished for all good works. Thoroughly furnished means furnished with that which is required completely and perfectly. Nothing is lacking, nor can be added to the completeness of the Christian furnished by the Bible, and in the power of the Spirit of God.
This is what a theologian can tell us from study that the apologist apparently cannot.
Finally, this topic, which also touched on the NASB’s deficiency, was a timely one because we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. And as it happens, the Christian conference series Living In The Faith is currently in progress here at TheNewsBeats.com. The conference covers the false gospel of psychotherapy, this idea of ‘professional’ Christianity, and the power and sufficiency of the Word of God. There is even an action plan and practical example for Living In The Faith. As with all our online conferences, admission and materials are free, and you are invited to attend.
1. Martin Bobgan, critique “Gregory Koukl ‘Is the Bible Sufficient?’” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, January-February 2008, Vol. 16, No. 1. Online: http://www.pamweb.org/gregory_koukl.html (accessed April 14, 2011).
2. Gregory Koukl, “Is the Bible Sufficient?” Solid Ground, May/June, 2007.
7. Biloa Counseling Center Clinical Training, Rosemead School of Psychology, BIOLA University. http://www.rosemead.edu/clinical_training/bcc.cfm.
8. On this point, the public domain is saturated; search “Carl Jung” and “Philemon.”