Navigating the Intersection of Science and Scripture

“Scripture serves as the only reliable resource for the Christian counselor’s diagnostic terminology and remedy.” John Street, Counseling

As biblical counseling begins to have a helping influence in the lives of many within the church, a commonly asked question concerns the relationship of the counseling model to science. Many who stand in opposition to biblical counseling have suggested that biblical counselors resist science, choosing instead to focus upon things like sin, and the memorization of Bible verses. These critiques, however, are intentionally reductionistic, and misleading.

The intersection of science and medical technology, and the authority of Scripture has become one of the most hotly contested issues of our time. As dwindling segments of western society continue to assert the authority of Scripture over all of life, the heirs of the enlightenment continue to demand that science reign supreme. The Christian who seeks to adhere to a biblical worldview in today’s culture is increasingly left with what appears to be a losing battle. 

The Untethered Heart of Man

The potential effect of this ongoing phenomenon upon the ministry of biblical counseling, and Christian ministry in general, is profound. Perhaps the most well known flash point of this titanic battle for the heart of man is found in the debate over so-called “gay marriage.” There are many relevant factors that have made this our culture’s apparent center of gravity, but none may be more influential than our steady descent into humanism, and Darwinian evolution, buttressed by the throwing off of a biblical worldview.

Untethered from the wisdom of God, the heart of man proves to be like a lost ship on the ocean’s waters, tossed about by the endless flow of thoughts and ideas that seek to find meaning and purpose in the creation, rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).

The truth of the matter, however, is that while those who hate Christ continue to deny His Gospel, and proclaim a religion of secularism, there remains a good and proper role for science to play in this life. As a matter of common grace, and general revelation, God has equipped man to inhabit the earth, and to subdue it (Gen. 1:28). This is partly an argument for science, not against.

Under the creation mandate, God has gifted man with a finite, limited capacity to dissect portions of the creation, to see how the various parts exist and co-exist, and to thereby work toward the eradication of disease, and to produce other good works. And yet, the creation, and our ability to perceive it was never intended by God to become the object of our worship, or, to the cause of epistemology, the center of what we believe we know (Proverbs 1:7; Romans 1:21-22).

The biblical counselor, therefore, must recall the Bible’s opening phrase, and fixate their eyes on the One who is the subject of its very first action: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

To the extent that the counselor remains committed to this, they will in turn lead, guide, and direct their counselee to Christ, who is the author, finisher, and perfector of the faith, while confidently gleaning helpful knowledge about man and creation from the practice of scientific research and discovery.

Dr. Jeremy Pierre, in his chapter in the book Scripture and Counseling, has challenged us by reminding that the Bible does not, in fact, tell us everything we need to know for our seventy- or eighty-year journey through life (i.e. cancer research). But, the Scripture’s do provide all that we need to frame our understanding of the origins of the universe, the nature of man, and our relationship to God.

Discerning Science from Pseudo-Science

Contrary to the many myths that have been posited by those in opposition to biblical counseling, today’s biblical counselor affirms the good and proper role of sound, empirical, physical science, while rejecting those unbiblical philosophies of modern psychology that so-often masquerade as physical science.

Even the most cursory research into secular counseling theory makes clear that the immaterial, philosophical commitments of psychotherapy are legion, and require a great faith of their own. To this point, Dr. John MacArthur, in his book Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically, quotes Karl Kraus, a Viennese journalist, as saying, “Despite its deceptive terminology, psychoanalysis is not a science but a religion, the faith of a generation incapable of any other.”

What this discussion informs us of then, is that all Christians must exercise wisdom and discernment when evaluating truth claims that may or may not contradict Scripture, especially those that attempt to explain the nature of man, and the motivations of human behavior. 

It is proving to have been a dangerous experiment in its own right to blindly receive, without question, that what culture calls a science, in any normative sense, is so. Yet, there is a stark difference between taking an MRI of the brain in order to explain traumatic brain injury, and theorizing concerning the heart of man, and what is his greatest need.

All extra-biblical sources of knowledge, therefore, must be properly submitted to Scripture. And, this isn’t the commitment of the biblical counselor alone, but the proper pursuit of all believers of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 4:1).

Join the Conversation

What do you think about the role of science in the Christian faith?

What are we to make of the truth claims of psychological theory, which so often stand in direct opposition to biblical truth?

Support Baylight Counseling

If this article has been a help to you, would you consider a monthly, or one-time contribution to the ministry to help us produce new content? Thank you for your prayerful consideration! Click here to partner with us: DONATE.