Tool of the Lord or Evil Philosophy?
A Rebuttal to the "Sound" Doctrine
by David W. Horn
One of the greatest challenges facing today's Christian mental health professional is the dwindling, though still formidable challenge of those who believe and teach that psychology, especially "Christian psychology," is some sort of unholy marriage between a man-made philosophy and God; and as such, is to be opposed. Rather than attempt to learn from the myriad facts and research projects that continue to add to our knowledge of the human mind and its many facets, these groups steadfastly attack Christians working in the mental health fields as spiritual traitors, spreading a worldly philosophy that contaminates the Christian community.
I recently had an experience in which I was able to learn first-hand just how potent this force can be. Shortly after the purchase of my first computer and modem, I logged onto a small religious bulletin board in the Denver metropolitan area. Its operators called it the "Sound Doctrine," after the church that they operate under the same name.
A little background information is called for here. The "Sound Doctrine" Church is not a church in the commonly understood sense of the word. It is a small group of religious zealots, numbering fewer than forty, who meet in the basement of the home of Tim Williams, its self-proclaimed "pastor." Williams possesses neither ecclesiastical credential nor any formal training in the Bible or in the pastorate. He is assisted by a "co-pastor," Mike Sinak, whom he apparently "shepards." Williams proudly proclaims that "he [Sinak], too, is unqualified..." Though the statement of belief of the "Sound" Doctrine says that no one member is the leader, Williams is clearly in charge. He runs both the "Church" and its sundry other operations, including a short-lived radio show and the computer bulletin board system (BBS).
The "Sound" Doctrine teaches a number of things that most Christians would have little argument with; but a number of doctrines that most Christians would find at least suspect if not abhorrent are practiced. These doctrines, upon investigation, can be shown to be the result of poor exegesis on the part of Williams. They include "hating for Jesus," the forced wearing of "coverings" by female members of the church, the greeting of fellow "Sound Doctrinites" with a "holy kiss," a selective rejection of things "worldly," a near-communal operation, and the belief that saved Christians can go to Hell. There are also a number of other doctrines, violations of which generally result in accusations that the guilty party is not "fully carrying their cross" or has not "fully given his/her life to Jesus." Among these are the wearing of "long" hair by men -- which the "Sound" Doctrine will not define but which they claim is prohibited by I Corinithians 11:14 -- and the support of most forms of contemporary Christian music.
Shortly after I logged on to the "Sound" Doctrine computer bulletin board, I became enmeshed in a "discussion" on the merits, or lack of merits, of psychology, especially "Christian" psychology. I found myself attempting to break through the circular and unBiblical reasoning of Williams, Sinak, and another "Sound" Doctrine BBS user.
Admittedly, I am not always at my best when dealing with such people. We all have "pet peeves" and one of mine is willful ignorance masquerading as Christianity. It soon became apparent that, while Williams and Sinak seemed to be soliciting comments, they were not really interested in anything that disagreed with their viewpoint. Though I am sure that they read the comments I wrote, the showed very clearly that either they were not really all that interested in what I had to say or they were having serious trouble understanding it. Oftentimes they would twist a comment in order for it to appear as if something was said that clearly was not. Furthermore, they "supported" their viewpoint with Bible references that were, upon examination, almost always completely irrelevant. Finally, and most interstingly, Sinak -- though obviously having a severe problem with psychology in general and me in particular -- could not resist practicing his own peculiar form of psychology, often saying "Well, you said this; but you *meant* this..."
I soon became convinced that I was wasting the valuable time that I was given charge of by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit further moved me to detach myself from the discussion. When I informed Sinak and the other "Sound" Doctrine user that I would no longer respond to their poor argumentation, I was chastized by Williams, who said that I would no longer be allowed to say with whom I would communicate and with whom I would not. "You must let others make that determination," he said.
With this bit of tyranny, I informed Williams that I would never again patronize the "Sound" Doctrine BBS. That was March, 1989. I have not called since, though I have had minor run-ins with them on other bulletin boards and computer communications echoes.
What follows is an article that is available through the "Sound" Doctrine BBS. It is indicative of the poor exegesis and lack of scholarship of the subject matter. The article will be quoted fully; with my comments interspersed throughout.
"There is no such thing as a Christian Psychologist. Unless of course there is a such a thing as a Christian strip tease dancer."
Although it is badly written, this serves well as a "grab-
ber, i.e., it gains the early attention of the reader. Unfor-
tunately, it is also a very gratuitous statement.
"Psychology is a philosophy and a religion."
By redefining psychology in such a way, Williams is able to
twist the facts to support his premise. If psychology is a
"philosophy and a religion," it must be opposed to Christianity,
which is also a "philosophy and a religion;" but which prac-
tices an exclusivity uncommon to religion. By referring to
psychology as a "philosophy and a religion," and by implying that
it must, therefore, be opposed to Christianity, Williams hopes to
automatically call all Christians to his camp.
"Psychology is not a science."
In fact, psychology *is* a science. A "science" is defined
as a "systematic study." Science is what scientists do. It
follows the "scientific method" so well defined by Popper. Work-
ers in psychology observe, hypothesize, experiement and observe,
and theorize in the manner prescribed by science and the scient-
ific method. Williams is neither well-educated in science nor in
psychology. Though he is a proclaimer of "Truth," it is clear
that this statement is nothing more than uninformed opinion.
"You cannot show me a[n] id, ego or super-ego."
This is true; but I cannot show you an atom, a radio wave,
or a a charged alpha particle, either. This is a gratuitous
argument. Most of what we define as "science" has never been
directly observed in the manner that Williams would like us to
believe is required. If he ever actually sees gravitation, for
example, then he is one up on both Newton and Eistein.
"Not only that, but psychologist[s] cannot even agree on what the truth is concerning human behavior."
What Williams seems to be doing here is accusing psycho-
logists of being scientists, i.e., they compare notes, question,
experiment, and argue. The fact is that a number of psycho-
logists have little trouble agreeing on the "truth," whatever
*that* means, regarding human behavior. Differences of opinion,
however, do persist in how to treat various mental conditions.
"When I was majoring in psychology one message came through loud and clear. Psychology has all the questions, but no answers."
In fact, psychology has a number of answers. If you add
psychiatry you have even more answers. However, as is true with
any science, psychology will not claim to have *all* the answers.
What is clear here is that Williams either wasn't "majoring in
psychology" for very long, or he had serious trouble understand-
"That is why it changes concepts every 6 hours. Yesterday Freud was in with his Penis envy and castration complexes. A few years ago it was Maslows heirchary of needs. Today it is left - right brain voodoo."
The first sentence in this paragraph is utter nonsense and
reveals Williams' obvious anti-intellectual bias. Psychology no
more "changes concepts every 6 hours" than any other science
The reader may notice that, by the selective use of terms
such as "Penis envy," "castration complexes," and "left - right
brain voodoo," Williams hopes to sensationalize certain aspects
that many would find distasteful. This gives his article a
"National Enquirer" air that probably was intentional.
It should be noted that Williams refers to all of the above
as if they are or will be pass‚ very soon. In fact, Maslow's
heirarchy of needs still enjoys considerable popularity, espec-
ially among government institutions and the military.
"'Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria.' Jeremiah 2:36"
When questioned as to the relevancy of a number of Bible
verses that he provides, Williams will often state that unless
one truly "carries his cross" as he [Williams] does, then the
relevancy escapes them. This allows Williams to dodge such
"What is considered wisdom today, like yesterdays ideas, will 'disappoint' us tomorrow."
Once again we see that Williams seems to be accusing psycho-
logists of being scientists.
"The reasons there is no such thing as a Christian Psychologist is because the Spirit of God does not dwell with someone offering man's
No evidence of this is provided. Williams does not distin-
guish between this use of a product of "man's wisdom" and his own
use of another product of "man's wisdom," the computer.
All of the things that we use in day-to-day living are the
products of man's wisdom. Psychology is a study and the results
of that study are simply tools used to help our fellow man.
Furthermore, Christian psychologists do use prayer and Bible
reading as part of the therapeutic process. Williams' argument,
therefore, is invalid.
"They have prostituted themselves to the world's ideas. They have been taken captive and are taking others captive."
This sort of thing may or may not sound good from the pulpit
of this self-proclaimed "pastor;" but it is obviously uninformed
opinion, not fact. All science is the result of "man's ideas"
and, contrary to what Williams declares, not all of man's ideas
are necessarily evil. Unless Williams and his church are prepar-
ed to forswear use of all products of "man's ideas," then we must
recognize the hypocrisy of such a position as his.
"For psychology is based upon the world, not Jesus Christ."
Psychology is based on the human mind, arguably the greatest
of God's creations. Though asked for clarification many times,
Williams has never provided a clear definition of "the world" nor
has he ever shown how he and his group are so different from "the
"And God says we are to guard ourselves against such."
"'See to it that no one takes you captive through hallow [sic] and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.' - Colossians 2:8"
We see now why it was so important for us to allow Williams
to redefine psychology as a "philosophy." It is clear that he
already has his mind made up on the subject and so needed a Bible
verse that seemingly backs him up.
I remember an old saying that I was taught years ago: We
don't teach the Bible, the Bible teaches us.
"A[n] individual who tries to go by the title of 'Christian Psychologist' has only been taken 'captive through hallow [sic] and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world.'"
Here we have been more or less quoted the verse again.
"Jesus said to leave such blind guides! They offer you no lasting hope. 'See to it that no one take you captive'!!"
Again this is a basic repetition of Williams' position.
"Even if Psychology says something that is in agreement with God's Word it has no power. Even though the two might agree, there is really no agreement."
Good scholarly exegesis would tell us that if psychology is
as diametrically opposed to Christianity as Williams claims that
it is, there can be no agreement of any sort (II Cor. 6:14).
Furthermore, psychology claims no power of its own. If the two
can agree, therefore, it is God's power that causes such agree-
"One is the dung of this world and the other is the Living God who is able to deliver."
This is more "National Enquirer-type" sensationalism; and
any user of the "Sound" Doctrine can tell you that Williams is
quite fond of using terms such as "dung" to refer to things that
he, personally, has a problem with.
"'Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does an unbeliever have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?..."Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord.' -2 Corinthians 6:14-18"
"To hear some 'Christian Psychologist' talk poor Paul was at a disadvantage because he didn't have our understanding of psychology. Pity him, he only had the Holy Spirit and a relationship with a living God."
This argument is based on nonsense. As a "Christian psych-
ologist" I have never heard ANY other "Christian psychologist,"
either in person or in print, talk as if "poor Paul" was either
at some sort of disadavantage or was in any way lacking in an
understanding of psychology. Since Williams has both misused a
Scripture and has drawn an erroneous conclusion from it, we can
easily see how Williams' entire line of reasoning is lacking in
scholarship, good exegesis, and even honesty.
"The only reason people turn to such concepts of this world is that they do not know the power of the cross."
Although this is emphatically stated, it is clear that this
is unjustified condemnation of those who seek aid in dealing with
mental health problems. The fact is that many Christians have
the true power of the Cross confirmed for them through their
counselors, who claim no power of their own; but rely on the
power of the Holy Spirit to provide the psychological healing for
their clients. Christian psychologists are simply tools that the
Lord uses to heal His children.
"'No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began....Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?...For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.' -1 Corinthians 1 & 2"
This verse supports Williams' position ONLY if we accept his
redefinition of terms. As we have seen, we have no reason to do
so, therefore, this passage is irrelevant.
The reader may find it interesting to discover also that
Williams and his followers often consider themselves privvy to
this "secret wisdom" of God spoken of in this passage of I Cor-
inthians. This becomes evident when issues such as proper cloth-
ing and hair length on men are discussed with the "Sound" Doc-
"Don't give way to the foolish wisdom of this world. Instead, leave that so called Christian Psychologist and pray for God's secret wisdom."
Although Williams is quick to provide this advice, he is not
even remotely willing to take the responsibility for the conse-
quences should this advice be followed and result in tragedy,
which it sometimes has. Therefore, it would be best if the
client "not give way to the foolish wisdom" of the "Sound" Doc-
trine's self-proclaimed "Pastor" and stay with your counselor
UNLESS you feel that that counselor is not being used of God to
provide HIS healing.
Williams and I would agree on one thing, here: Pray. It is
best to allow GOD, not this self-proclaimed "Pastor," to help
you to make this decision one way or another.
"For indeed, the wisdom of this world is 'deceptive', 'hollow' and based on the 'human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ' and if you listen to it you will be taken 'captive'!"
This is certainly true some of the time; but not all that
Williams would proclaim as unGodly is necessarily so. In the
meetings of the "Sound" Doctrine, Williams word may be law; but
in the real world, it is best that we let God, rather than this
para-Christian cult leader, help us to make those decisions.
God has a better track record; and He will certainly be better
served in this way.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The role of the counselor is well-spoken of in Scripture,
and the counsel of men is not always frowned upon by God.
Anyone interested in researching this further might want to
check out some of the volumes mentioned in the following biblio-
Hart, Archibald D., Ph.D., Counseling the Depressed
Friesen, Garry, Th.D. and J. Robin Maxson, Th.M.,
Decision Making and the Will of God
Adams, Jay E., Ph.D., The Christian Counselor's Manual
Collins, Gary R., Ph.D., Christian Counseling
Crabb, Lawrence J., Jr., Ph.D., Effective Biblical
Crabb, Lawrence J., Jr., Ph.D., Basic Principles of
Doering, Jeanne, M.A., The Power of Encouragement
Baker, Don and Emery Nestor, Ed.D., Depression
Backus, William, Ph.D., Telling Each Other The Truth
Backus, William, Ph.D., Telling Yourself the Truth
The article that is critiqued through this report is found
on the "Sound" Doctrine BBS in Aurora, CO. It is a text file
that is designated "SOUNDPSY.DOC."
As author of this critique, I am solely responsible for the
contents. This article may be transmitted electronically or
passed along ONLY in unedited form and it must be complete.
Other usage of this article will be by permission only. I may be
contacted through The Electronic Library Exchange, Denver, CO,
at 303-935-6323. I will also entertain any questions or comments
through that number. A text file on the "Sound" Doctrine Church
may also be obtained by contacting me at that number.
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