Hopeless Man-made Idea Series (Idea #2)

Hopeless Man-made Idea Series (Idea #2)

Rogers, Carl R. On Becoming a Person. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1961.

In my library, I have the following words written on this book's inside cover:

"And Now... 

The godless point of view:  
No Hope
No Solution 
No Peace 
No Joy
 
Written by Carl Rogers, 
but I believe, inspired by Satan."

          Carl Rogers (1902-1987), Ph.D., is a renowned and influential psychologist whose extensive body of work on human behavior and potential has left an indelible mark on the field (x, rear cover). Rogers, a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Award of the American Psychological Association, has significantly shaped mainstream psychology throughout the 20th century. His theories on self-esteem and client-centered therapy (x-xii) are particularly noteworthy. 'On Becoming a Person' is a compilation of Rogers’ papers from 1951 to 1961, where he shares his experiences navigating the complexities of modern life (xxi). Rogers believes that his therapeutic concepts in humanistic psychology are not just academic but have practical relevance for personal living in our perplexing modern world (xvii). He aspires for this book to meet the public need for “competent skills” in managing “human tensions” (xx).

           One of the book's strengths is its accessibility and readability, making it suitable for a broad audience. Rogers presents his ideas in a manner that is comprehensible to almost anyone, a stark contrast to his favorite existential philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (xi). For Christians, this work offers an opportunity to delve into the dangerous ideas and assumptions underpinning client-centered therapy: the absence of God (xiii), the denial of sin (177), and the constant need to accept others, trust in oneself, and a best-practice to transition clients from the façade of “ought-to” to “congruence,” self-direction, and personal experience (167–175).

          Client-centered therapy, in contrast to Christian beliefs, starts with misguided assumptions about God and man’s sin problem. Rogers' view is that life's goal is not to glorify God but to exalt oneself, a form of self-idolatry recognized by Christians. He asserts, “The locus of evaluation is myself,” and “I am the one who determines the value of an experience for me” (122). What's most concerning is Rogers’ repeated plea to trust his claims only if your experience matches his own (relativism), while presenting himself as an objective Ph.D. scientist serious about empirical research. He cleverly neutralizes criticism and seeks to disarm those who would say he relies too much on his “experience” instead of letting his limited data speak for itself (217, 274, 372–79).

        The Rogerian theoretical assumption is that people inherently gravitate toward “achieving positive psychological functioning” and that the client is believed to be an “expert in their life and therefore can lead the direction of therapy, while the therapist [provides information] and takes a non-directive role.” Client-centered therapy advocates for humans to rule themselves relative to what makes them happy, explicitly directing that its therapists must “trust their clients as sovereign human beings who can and should be the architects of their own lives” (Current Psychotherapies, Corsini and Wedding, 2019, pg. 102). For client-centered therapists, human nature reigns above everything as completely “trustworthy.”

              For Christians, however, the source of human dignity and value is being made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). God's sovereignty is absolute. While humans have freedom of choice, they also bear responsibility before God—who alone provides power and life to creation while guiding and maintaining all creation (Psalm 33). Christians do not view self-improvement as their chief aim, but instead, the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).  God reigns over all aspects of life, and therefore, He is the architect of life—not the therapist’s client. His ways are higher than our ways (Is. 55:9). Humans are dependent upon God, and as such, Christians seek His will when making life choices (Ex. 10:20, 27; James 5:13-18). The human heart is not assumed to be trustworthy (Prov. 3:5), for all have sinned (Ro. 6:23), and this biblical truth directly contradicts Rogers's belief in human self-direction or “to [morally] select and choose [their] own values” (105).

          Christians also understand that God weighs the heart and keeps the soul (Prov. 24:12), and so any notion of “ought to do” or “should do” must be viewed through the lens of walking with God and keeping his commandments (John 14:21). Unlike Rogers, Christians believe the notion of a ‘fully-functioning human’ as one that has been renewed by the Spirit and saved in Christ Jesus (Mark 8:35, James 3:2, 1 Pet. 3:23). In contrast to Rogers’ notion of human choice involving “subjective ways,” the Bible teaches absolute truth. No subjectivity or relativity exists when making moral choices—there is an absolute right, and there is a wrong choice (Josh. 24:15). Therefore, Christianity rejects any human proposition to “pardon all” behavior in order to “understand them.” Christians first must examine themselves soberly to deal with their own sin and then lovingly confront the sin of others to the glory of God (Matt. 7:1-5, 18, Ez. 3:20). There is a way “which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Pr. 14:11). God rules in authority, and as such, Christians seek Godly counsel—not ‘self’ (Pr. 12:15).

          Going further, Christianity also stands in direct opposition to the assumptions Rogers makes about the nature and condition of mankind and the true solution to man's problems in life. Loving others and having positive regard for them does not entail blind acceptance of sin or affirmation as sin (Ez. 3:20). Christianity rejects the self-directed evaluation of  'moral' success. God’s Word is the standard-bearer (2 Tim. 13-14), as the human heart does evil continually (Jer. 17:9). God’s word tells us we must live by its truths and not by the wisdom of men (Job 12:13). As such, sinful humans should not relatively define what moral happiness or life “success” looks like (Gen 39:2; Heb. 11:35-36). Although environmental factors may influence human behavioral choice, the Bible teaches that humans are not tempted beyond what they can endure (1 Cor. 10:13), so once again, Roger's arguments fail. Victory in the face of sin’s environmental corruption, therefore, becomes the message of the Bible, not man’s hopeless enslavement or blissfully ignorant self-rule (Ro. 6:6 Gal. 4:1). Given that Christians can overcome their sinful nature through Christ and live a life of victory, their suffering and related life problems occur when they fail to love God with all their hearts (Matt 22:37); Client-centered therapy instead promotes men to focus on themselves and their self-driven felt needs. Men install themselves as rulers over their lives in an idolatrous fashion, loving themselves more than they love God.

          In sum, Client-centered therapy offers no real hope, no actual change, no true redemption, and no possibility of reconciliation with the God who created all humanity. It allows men and women to remain in their sins, exalting them to act as the de facto God of themselves. Nothing in the theory points to the truths of God. The entire approach uses a faulty understanding of humanity’s most significant problem: sin separation from God. Scripture explains that natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolish” (1 Cor. 2:14) and that because men have rejected God, “they have become futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart [were] darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Ro. 1:21- 22). Conversely, the solution in Christianity is to repent and turn to God (Is. 30:5) and to trust Christ by faith as Lord and Savior (Ps. 22:5, Ro. 10:11). Through renewing one’s mind in Christ, it becomes possible to present the human body as a living sacrifice (Ro. 12:1), to glorify God (Ro. 15:9), and to find true peace and joy (Phil 4:9).

          So, what is the final conclusion? Once again, always look to God's Wisdom and test man's wisdom!

Bibliography:

[1] Rogers explains his methods in C.R. Rogers, “Significant aspects of client-centered therapy,” Am Psychol. 1, no 10 (Oct. 1946):415-22. Lucy Yao and Rian Kabir, “Person-Centered Therapy (Rogerian Therapy),” In StatPearls, (Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls, 2023). Rogers says the therapist’s role is to “provide a space conducive to uncensored self-exploration [… leading to psychological growth.]”  “The therapist [is] not [supposed to] signal judgment, approval, or disapproval, no matter how unconventional the client's views may be. This may allow the client to drop their natural defenses, allowing them to freely express their feelings and direct their self-exploration as they see fit.”



At best, our best ideas are 'rough drafts.' God’s wisdom is the masterpiece. 

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