Eclecticism in general terms is an approach to a specific subject that doesn’t hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of ideas, but instead draws upon multiple theories to gain insights into that matter. It is choosing the best from an array of options, which leaves the best conclusion broad in interpretation and application. This point of view in the area of discipleship and admonishment has led to much confusion because so many methods have become more popular than the Word of God. This attitude has led to the church looking more like the world than set apart for Christ.
When ministering to church members, pastors and elders more and more frequently turn to methods from the world of psychology. Sigmund Freud says one thing, Carl Rogers says another, and B.F. Skinner proposes another. How do you know which approach is right, true, and the most effective? We should realize that they are using techniques that grow out of non-Christian principles and rest on unbiblical presuppositions. This results in using ineffective and spiritually dangerous methods to handle life’s problems. There are three main implications: 1) the Word isn’t sufficient or adequate to every need or problem man has, 2) God isn’t powerful enough to help, and 3) sin isn’t that big of a deal.
An eclectic approach to helping those in emotional turmoil takes the best of everything that has been discovered, studied, suggested, and advertised as good and glues it together. Peter told the Jews this would happen, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:2) after he had taught them that God has supplied them with everything they need to live a godly life. “…through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…”(2 Peter 1:2-3)
Biblical shepherding must keep the Word of God and the character of God central. God designed man to need and follow counsel from an outside source rather than his own wisdom. He wasn’t created to know all the answers and be able to solve all his problems, but to be dependent on our Creator and true Counselor, God. Paul reminded Timothy of this need that in order to be wise, a mature man of God, and to do good works he needed the scriptures as, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17) Because man has been corrupted by sin his need for godly direction is even greater. Any method that tries to minimize sin because it’s too harsh, judgmental, or self-deprecating should be evaluated through the lens of scripture and thrown out. Man is sinful, (Romans 3:23) and as a result our problems are linked to sin committed by ourselves, other people, or (more generally) from a fallen world. The Bible doesn’t need to be balanced or combined with modern psychology in order to help people change and grow. It is complete and sufficient on its own.
I would like to suggest that there are two reasons believers and the church have adopted these unbiblical methods and reformatted them to look more “Christianized.” While God’s Word is sufficient enough to meet our every need, trial, and problem, it is the harder, narrower road to take. It takes work to study and know the scriptures that apply to our particular struggles, and the answers aren’t quick fixes. As fallen creatures we want what is easy, not what is hard. We will always choose our way over God’s way because of our sinful nature. Without the Spirit’s presence within us we are helpless against the wicked world, which is why Jesus told the disciples that he was sending a comforter to help them when he left. (John 14:15-19, 26)
The second reason the church has adopted worldly psychology is because they have rejected the clear teaching of Genesis regarding six-day creation. Every modern psychological model is based in large part on the evolutionary tale that we are just animals here by random chance, and thus should be trained and retrained as one.
By logical extension, since God didn’t create us, then his words don’t apply to our every need and struggle. It only applies to issues of the soul, and even then only years and years of therapy can retrain man. To say man is descended from what basically amounts to pond scum (the “primordial soup”) is in direct contradiction to the Bible. The church has been deceived in thinking that in order for people to continue to attend they need to think that the church is relevant and not stuck in the “stone ages,” so they support evolution and other professions that proclaim it. This decision has been eternally costly.
A non-Christian method may look similar to a biblical truth, but the scriptures must be central, not secondary. It’s like the story Jesus told about the house built on the rock: “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon the rock.” (Matthew 7:24) A wise teacher will use the Word of God and what Jesus taught as the solid rock foundation to teach, admonish, correct, and rebuke a disciple. The result will be a house that stands and remains in the midst of problems because the trials were dealt with using the Word of God first and centrally. Unwise Christians will build on another foundation that will leave themselves and their brothers and sisters in Christ weaker and unable to deal with future problems biblically.
I believe this is the fruit we are reaping in the church because we have traded God’s truth for worldly truth that’s easier to swallow. “And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27) If Christ taught the disciples and the multitudes how to love God and love others, and gave us the tools in which to do that, then I believe he wants us to be the wise man that heard and did what He asked. From what I see the church of God is looking more and more like the house built upon the sand whose foundation is eroding because it has adopted other means in addition to the Word of God. The fruit is weak Christians unsure of how to weather the storm of life. They have chosen the latter truth of Proverbs 13:15 instead of the favorable one. “Good understanding giveth favor, but the way of transgressors is hard.”