Gary Collins

General Teachings/Activities*

-  Gary Collins, a licensed clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. in Clinical psychology from Purdue University, and author of more than 40 books, taught pastoral counseling for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Illinois; affiliated with The Evangelical Free Church of America, and since renamed Trinity International University), for much of the time as department chairman, before leaving to head up the psychological counseling program at Jerry Falwell's correspondence school, The Liberty Institute for Lay Counseling (LILC, established in 10/89). [Falwell advertised that LILC was established in order to train, by correspondence courses, laymen interested in helping "victims" of such "psychologically damaging afflictions" as child abuse, stress, family crisis, AIDS, depression, addictions, drug abuse, aging, etc. All courses offered had a heavy emphasis on Freudian and humanistic approaches to counseling.]

Collins has authored more than 150 psychoheretical articles and over 50 books, including Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, The Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling, Can You Trust Psychology?, and  Family Shock: Keeping Families Strong in the Midst of Earthshaking Change. He was general editor of the thirty-volume Resources for Christian Counseling series of professional counseling books mostly published in the 1980s, the Word Christian Counseling Library of cassette tapes, and the twelve-volume Contemporary Christian Counseling series of books that appeared in the early 1990s.

Collins subsequently left LILC to head up the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) in 1991, a psychologically oriented counseling organization that grew to about 5,000 members in 1993, more than 17,000 in 1997, and 24,000 today. (Collins is no longer president of the AACC, resigning in 1998, but remains the executive director of  Christian Counseling Today, the official AACC magazine that he founded.) Currently, he is heading the newly formed International Institute for Christian Counseling, chairs the International Federation for Christian Counseling, and frequently travels overseas and within North America to give lectures and conduct seminars for " Christian" counselors. The 5/17/93 issue of Christianity Today was devoted entirely to the defense of psychological counseling. In the special advertising section of this issue, Collins ran the following advertisement for AACC:

"The AACC is made up of nearly 5,000 professional, pastoral, and lay counselors who are equally committed to psychological excellence and biblical truth. Members of the AACC seek to encourage the integration of counseling principles with biblical theology ... AACC provides its members with support that includes its newsletter The Counseling Connection, its magazine Christian Counseling Today, cassette tapes of interviews with counseling leaders, regional conferences, liability insurance, and opportunities to purchase Christian counseling books at reduced rates."

No one should have any doubts as to where Gary Collins places his loyalty -- he is committed to the integration of psychology with the Bible.

-  Collins participates in a number of confusions that are typical among professing Christians who are enamored with psychological counseling and its underlying psychologies. Collins supports the "All Truth is God's Truth" perspective, as well as the "medical model," and he believes all of the principle psychological myths (described in detail by the Bobgans in PsychoHeresy): (1) that psychology and its underlying psychotherapies are science; (2) that the best kind of counseling utilizes both psychology and the Bible; (3) that people experiencing mental/emotional/behavioral problems are "mentally ill"; and (4) that psychotherapy has a high record of success.

-  In his 1988 book Can You Trust Psychology?, Collins' conclusion was that you most certainly can trust psychology, since after all, "psychology is a science." His reasoning is: Since we don't throw out the conclusions of the physical sciences (such as chemistry and physics) merely because the Bible doesn't speak to them specifically, why should we ignore the insights gained by studying the social sciences (such as psychology and sociology)?

The answer to that question is that the social "sciences" are not "science." For an area of study to qualify as science, there must be the possibility of not only refuting theories, but also predicting future events, reproducing results obtained, and controlling what is observed. Yet the cause and effect relationship so evident in the physical sciences is largely absent in the "social sciences"; instead of statistically significant casual relationships, the social sciences rely heavily on covariation (events which appear together, but are not necessarily related). Yet to support his position that counseling psychologies are science, and that psychological theories are "scientific conclusions," Collins fails to mention one true expert (a philosopher of science, a Nobel Laureate, or a distinguished professor) who holds his subjectively held personal view. That is because there are none!

-  But it would make no difference if psychology was science, because God has already claimed as His exclusive domain, all truth relating to the nature of man, how he should live, and how he can change (2 Pe 1:3; 2 Tim 3:15,16); He needs no help from godless, anti-Christians (Freud, Jung, Rogers, et al.) and their so-called scientific theories and therapies, which were neither derived from Scripture nor compared with Scripture. Yet Collins claims that the only reason that Jesus and His disciples did not use psychology was merely a matter of technology; i.e., it just wasn't available then, just as the radio and antibiotics were not then available! By this same reasoning, would Jesus have then used the modern psychological principles of stress management had they been available to Him; to wit, the occult practices of visualization, self-hypnosis, positive self-talk, etc.?

-  In Can You Trust Psychology?, Collins does admit that Christians cannot trust all of psychology. However, in answer to his book title Collins says, "It all depends on the psychology and the psychologist." Then he gives his criteria of acceptance:

"When a psychologist seeks to be guided by the Holy Spirit, is committed to serving Christ faithfully, is growing in his or her knowledge of the Scriptures, is well aware of the facts and conclusions of psychology, and is willing to evaluate psychological ideas in the light of biblical teaching -- then you can trust the psychologist, even though he or she at times will make mistakes, as we all do. If the psychology or psychological technique is not at odds with scriptural teaching, then it is likely to be trustworthy, especially if it also is supported by scientific data."

But at the present time there are over 250 competing and often contradictory therapies and over 10,000 not-always-compatible techniques! To determine methodological systems used by professing Christians who practice psychotherapy, the Bobgans conducted a survey with the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS), a national, integrationist organization composed of numerous practicing "Christian" therapists. A simple questionnaire was used in which the therapists were asked to list in order the psychotherapeutic approaches that most influenced their private practices. Only ten approaches were listed, but blank spaces were provided at the bottom of the sheet for adding others before final ranking. The results indicated that Client-Centered Therapy (Rogers) and Reality Therapy (Glasser) were the two top choices, and that psychoanalysis (Freud) and Rational Emotive Therapy (Ellis) followed closely behind -- all therapies invented by godless, anti-Christians! Collins claims that since "Christian" therapists have goals that are different from secular therapists, we should not be alarmed. Nevertheless, the "Christian" therapists use theories and methods borrowed directly from approaches devised by secular psychologists whose systems have underlying presuppositions that are antithetical to the Bible.

-  Collins readily uses the vocabulary of humanistic psychology, both adopting it and adapting it with Biblical explanations and examples. He claims that "the Bible does not condemn human potential," that God "molds us into new creatures with reason for positive self-esteem," and that God "enables us, through Christ, to find real self-fulfillment." (Compare with Lk. 9:23; 2 Tim. 3:1-4; 2 Cor. 12:9,10.) Collins fascination with the god of self has even led him into New Age occultism; i.e., he explains Job's boils as the product of great duress, that went away only when Job used "positive mental imagery." This is an ancient occultic technique, dressed up in modern psychological terminology, and brought into the church under the protective umbrella of modern science, and with the support of psychologically-based Scripture exegesis.

-  In the Fall 1991 issue of Liberty University's Christian Counseling Newsletter, Collins reports his occultic/New Age recommendation for dealing with pain: "Many counselees can benefit from relaxation techniques [meditation, visualization, etc.], a better understanding of the nature of their pain, counseling to reduce stress and anxiety, biofeedback, and cognitive-behavioral techniques that [use] self-talk or teach management skills. Although some Christians are critical of visualization techniques these are often helpful, especially with children." (Emphasis added.)

Collins also allows for variations of New Age meditation. He says even some counselors misuse visualization and guided imagery, but "this does not mean these practices are wrong in themselves." He believes that the same technique can be occultic or non-occultic. In another book, Collins asserts that different counselors learn their techniques from different schools. He also understands that there are Christians angrily condemning practices such as hypnosis, visualization, self-talk, or imagery. Even though Collins does not openly promote such techniques, he says "We do seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit in our work, and we are sensitive to the issues Ö" Finally, he says "we may choose to disagree." In other  words, Collins is saying, if you want to use hypnosis and other meditation type techniques, you may do so (Collins, Can You Trust Psychology?, pp. 105-106; Collins, What is Christian Counseling?, pp. 12-13).

Collins also believes self-help books and tapes are not necessarily harmful. There can be value in them. These resources include those that teach hypnosis (Gary Collins, Innovative Approaches to Counseling, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1986, pp. 64-65). Collins agrees that parapsychology is a controversial field, but it is a serious attempt to study psychic phenomena. His conclusion is that: "Christians should not ignore or completely dismiss this field" (Collins, Can You Trust Psychology?, pp. 152-156). 

-  AACC's membership is made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, licensed counselors, mental health professionals, pastors, youth leaders, missionaries, pastoral counselors, Christian educators, and others interested in Christian counseling but who have little or no professional training. Membership costs $86 per year. Only 44% of its members are men, versus about two-thirds four years ago, and about 88% hold Masterís Degrees or higher. The AACC Advisory Board is made up of such notable psychologizers as Dan Allender, Steve Arterburn,  Larry Crabb, Richard Dobbins, Archibald Hart, Grace Ketterman, H.B. London, Robert McGee, Paul Meier & Frank Minirth, John Trent, Sandra Wilson, and H. Norman Wright. Christian Counseling Today, the AACC Quarterly magazine founded by Collins, is heavy in psychological themes. We examined four issues of the magazine from 1995-1996 and found numerous psycho-spiritual articles authored by the likes of Sandra Wilson, Ron Hawkins, Jan Hook, John Trent, Archibald Hart, Ed Dobson, Larry Crabb, Dan Allender, and Gary Collins. (Source: AACC's Internet web site -- 8/01.)

-  The Atlanta '92 meeting of the AACC is typical of the thinking and practice of Gary Collins:

In Atlanta in November of 1992, a bevy of psycho-occultists were assembled by Collins' AACC for the five-day Second International Congress on Christian Counseling ("Atlanta '92"). Collins advertised that "more than 50 national professional organizations, mental health corporations, and academic institutions have joined as Congress sponsors. ... A group of 19 professional counselors -- all committed Christians -- has worked together to produce an informative, state of the art program featuring experts in almost every field of Christian counseling. ... Over 300 separate papers, workshops, video presentations, demonstrations, and plenary addresses will focus on the diverse issues that make up the field of Christian counseling."

Plenary speakers were self-love proponent Charles Stanley, clinical psychiatrist Grace Ketterman, liberal pantheist Tony Campolo, Adlerean/Maslowian/Freudian psychologist Larry Crabb, as well as Collins himself. Other well-known psychologizers on the program were David Stoop, Bruce Narramore, and H. Norman Wright. Receiving special recognition awards were pop psychologist James Dobson, "inner healer" David Seamands, and Larry Crabb, all "for their significant contributions to the Christian counseling field."

Just a sampling of the titles of the more than 300 presentations given at Atlanta '92 was very revealing as to just how psycho-occultic, and thereby anti-Christian, this gathering turned out to be:

-  Lee Strobel is a pastor on the staff of church growth guru Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Strobel has authored a number of heretical books, one being a 1993 book titled Inside the Mind of Unchured Harry & Mary: How to Reach Friends and Family Who Avoid God and the Church. The book is endorsed in its Foreword by Bill Hybels, and on the jacket is endorsed/recommended by thirteen even more neo-evangelical psychologizers, including Max Lucado, Tony Campolo, Howard Hendricks, Stuart Briscoe, C. Peter Wagner, Joseph Stowell, Elmer Towns, Bill Bright, and Gary Collins.) In this book, Strobel makes it clear that he was drawn to Hybels' church, not by the message of truth, but by the music of the world. After he found himself comfortable with the music and modern style of worship, he simply reasoned his way to a conversion experience. Strobel is completely geared to a needs based religion. His purpose is to meet man's needs, based on his own perception, rather than honoring man's obligation to worship and glorify God. Strobel's purpose is to find out what works, and not to find out what is Biblical. His purpose is to please lost, unregenerate men, and not to please God. To read Strobel's book (and by nature of endorsement, Gary Collins' thoughts also) you come up with the idea that the problem with people is that they are simply unchurched. To the contrary, they need to be seen as lost and in need of a Savior (1/96, Plains Baptist Challenger, pp. 5-7).


* Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of Collins' teachings would be two books by Martin and Deidre Bobgan (EastGate Publishers, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110): Prophets of PsychoHeresy I, pp. 15-103 (now out of print), and Prophets of PsychoHeresy II, pp. 195-210 (reissued as James Dobson's Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology). Unless otherwise stated, all quotes and excerpts used in this report come from these two sources.


Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 8/01

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