Is Self Esteem Contrary To Christianity

Is Self Esteem Contrary To Christianity



The philosophy of​ self-esteem is​ probably the most influential doctrine to​ arrive on​ the scene in​ Christendom's recent history. at​ least in​ my lifetime, it​ has had as​ much affect, if​ not even more, on​ evangelical Christianity than the modern tongues movement that surfaced in​ the late 1960's. Not only has self-esteem psychology crept into every aspect of​ Biblical doctrine and​ practice but society as​ well. a​ Korean War era fighter pilot turned minister in​ the 1957 movie "Battle Hymn," was rebuked on​ the front steps of​ his church for​ preaching too harshly on​ man's condition, and​ not enough on​ love and​ forgiveness. Even Hollywood got into the act! Actually, the entire self-movement is​ perhaps the most single cause of​ the mainstream church losing the vision​ for​ preaching the cross of​ Christ. After all, if​ man's problems can be healed with positive self-esteem, and​ preaching the depravity of​ the human spirit hurts people's feelings, then it​ logically follows that our message must be changed.

if​ there is​ any doubt, review some of​ the sermons from the Puritan era and​ compare them to​ what we hear today. Here's a​ portion​ of​ Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon, "Sinners in​ the Hand​ of​ an​ Angry God" given by him on​ July 8, 1741 in​ Enfield, Connecticut:

"your​ wickedness makes you​ as​ it​ were heavy as​ lead, and​ to​ tend downwards with great weight and​ pressure towards hell; and​ if​ God should let you​ go, you​ would immediately sink and​ swiftly descend and​ plunge into the bottomless gulf, and​ your​ healthy constitution, and​ your​ own care and​ prudence, and​ best contrivance, and​ all your​ righteousness, would have no more influence to​ uphold you​ and​ keep you​ out of​ hell, than a​ spider's web would have to​ stop a​ falling rock."

Not only does Edwards expose the utter ruin​ of​ man with colorful metaphors, he condemns man's "healthy constitution" which can only refer to​ one's lofty self-esteem.

How did we come so far so fast in​ losing our first love (Rev. 2:4)? Can theology and​ psychology be integrated? Psychology attempts to​ conform the Bible to​ its standard and​ states that man is​ innately good, whereas the Bible teaches man in​ inherently sinful and​ desperately wicked. Self-love theology taught by Christians is​ the result of​ the lack of​ a​ practical theology, or​ a​ failure to​ understand​ the implications of​ Biblical truth. Additionally, Christian psychologists who attempt to​ accommodate psychology theories with the written Word have compromised Biblical truth; not unlike what C.I. Schofield did with his famous "Gap Theory." Schofield attempted to​ dovetail recent scientific theories on​ evolution​ with scripture producing a​ "theistic evolution."

The most striking change in​ my understanding of​ this​ topic of​ self-esteem has been in​ the area of​ soteriology. a​ correct view of​ God in​ His relationship and​ dealings with man is​ vitally important when a​ sinner approaches the throne of​ Grace. Note Luke 18:13, "and​ the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as​ his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon​ his breast, saying, God be merciful to​ me a​ sinner." Man's failure to​ understand​ and​ see his wickedness in​ the presence of​ a​ Holy God is​ probably the single most cause of​ man's unwillingness to​ repent. The doctrine of​ self-love, self-esteem, self-image, and​ etc., has convinced man to​ reinforce his resolve to​ not confess his frailty and​ seek the righteousness of​ Christ.

Is it​ true that people really hate themselves? Actually they hate their behavior or​ the circumstances that results from their bad behavior. Ezekiel 20:43, "There you​ will remember your​ conduct and​ all the actions by which you​ have defiled yourselves, and​ you​ will loathe yourselves for​ all the evil you​ have done." Actually Ephesians 5:29 says, "After all, no one ever hated his own body…." Counselees frequently have bad feelings. Many clients will tell the counselor they are suffering from low self-esteem. Frequently they have taken on​ a​ persona of​ victimhood to​ nourish themselves. They seek stroking because they assume they are loveable. in​ reality, many are suffering from guilt due to​ sin​ and​ want to​ feel better. The counselor instead of​ attempting to​ relieve pain​ should expose the sin​ and​ seek a​ confession. Galatians 3:24, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to​ bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." The pain​ itself can be as​ schoolmaster to​ bring one to​ repentance as​ Paul said in​ 2 Corinthians 7:8-9: "Even if​ I caused you​ sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it--I see that my letter hurt you, but only for​ a​ little while yet now I am happy, not because you​ were made sorry, but because your​ sorrow led you​ to​ repentance."

Unfortunately, many within​ the Christian community seek to​ build a​ sinner's self-esteem by convincing them they have worth because man is​ made in​ the image of​ God. Indeed, the reason​ Christ died on​ the cross for​ you​ they say is​ because "you​ are so worthy." Not only is​ this​ dogma not found in​ history, it​ directly contradicts the doctrine of​ total depravity. Steele and​ Thomas in​ their book "Romans, an​ Interpretive Outline," define total depravity as:

"Because of​ the fall, man is​ unable of​ himself to​ savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is​ dead, blind, and​ deaf to​ the things of​ God; his heart is​ deceitful and​ desperately corrupt. His will is​ not free, it​ is​ in​ bondage to​ his evil nature; therefore, he will not--indeed he cannot--choose good over evil in​ the spiritual realm. Consequently, it​ takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to​ bring a​ sinner to​ Christ--it takes regeneration​ by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and​ gives him a​ new nature. Faith is​ not something man contributes to​ salvation​ but is​ itself a​ part of​ God's gift of​ salvation--it is​ God's gift to​ the sinner, not the sinner's gift to​ God."

(Note Genesis 2:15-17, Romans 5:12, Psalm 51:5, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 3:10-18, Jeremiah 17:9 John 6:44, and​ Ephesians 2:1-10 as​ supporting proof.) and​ what of​ man being made in​ God's image? John Piper says it​ well in​ 1998 when speaking of​ total depravity:

"in​ Romans 14:23 Paul says, "Whatever is​ not from faith is​ sin." Therefore, if​ all men are in​ total rebellion, everything they do is​ the product of​ rebellion​ and​ cannot be an​ honor to​ God, but only part of​ their sinful rebellion. if​ a​ king teaches his subjects how to​ fight well and​ then those subjects rebel against their king and​ use the very skill he taught them to​ resist him, then even those skills become evil. Thus man does many things which he can only do because he is​ created in​ the image of​ God and​ which in​ the service of​ God could be praised. But in​ the service of​ man's self-justifying rebellion, these very things are sinful."

Tune into any talk show regarding self-esteem and​ you​ will undoubtedly hear the reason​ why you​ feel bad. you​ have low self-esteem because you​ haven't forgiven yourself. The infamous Tanya Harding coveted the 1994 Olympic skating championship to​ the point where she hired some thugs to​ break Nancy Kerrigan's legs. Harding apologized at​ a​ press conference for​ the assault, but said her biggest problem was an​ inability to​ forgive herself. Where in​ scripture are we commanded to​ forgive ourselves? Not in​ Luke 17:3-4, "if​ your​ brother sins, rebuke him, and​ if​ he repents, forgive him. if​ he sins against you​ seven times in​ a​ day, and​ seven times comes back to​ you​ and​ says, 'I repent,' forgive him." The "theistic psychologists" have simply integrated the doctrine of​ forgiving oneself into Christianity.

Paul Vitz in​ his book," Psychology as​ Religion: The Cult of​ Self-Worship," contend that psychology has not only become a​ religion, but a​ secular cult of​ self-worship and​ is​ contributing to​ the problems of​ everyday living by fostering selfishness and​ blame shifting. Jay Adams' in​ his book, " The Biblical View of​ Self-Esteem, Self-Love, Self-Image," presents a​ clear scriptural basis for​ not only the errors of​ the movement, but offers a​ biblical alternative on​ how to​ evaluate ourselves. David Tyler's, "Jesus Christ Self-Denial or​ Self-Esteem," reveals that the life of​ Jesus Chris and​ His teachings were an​ exact opposite of​ what the proponents of​ selfism would have us believe.

God has an​ abhorrence of​ a​ proud and​ haughty spirit. as​ spoken in​ Proverbs 16: 17-19: "The highway of​ the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life. Pride goes before destruction, a​ haughty spirit before a​ fall. Better to​ be lowly in​ spirit and​ among the oppressed than to​ share plunder with the proud." The judgment of​ history may conclude that the self-love movement was more damning to​ people's souls than the heresy of​ Baptismal regeneration​ in​ years past. Time will tell.




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