Gary Ezzo & John MacArthur

How To Raise Your Family

Film #1: "The Husband and Wife Relationship"

-  Taped in 1985 in a home Bible-study forum, with Gary Ezzo leading the discussion, and John MacArthur giving amplifying and/or qualifying comments.

-  Ezzo presents his well-worn model of "need theology" as it relates to parent-child relationships -- "well-worn" because a full three years after this series was produced, Ezzo wrote an article for John MacArthur's Masterpiece magazine that could almost pass as a word-for-word transcript of the dialogue on this tape. ("Restoring Your Family's Focus," Masterpiece, Winter 1988).This "need theology" model is virtually identical to that presented by clinical psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb in his counseling model (Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs that supposedly motivate human behavior, which system is derived from Freudian and humanistic/Maslowian psychology with its hierarchy of needs, with greatest emphasis on so-called emotional needs), only some of the concept titles have been changed -- Ezzo changes Crabb's "need for security" to "need to be loved," and Crabb's "need for significance" to "need to know where one fits," as well as adding a third need of children, the "need to know that mom and dad love each other." Ezzo claims that God created children with these three basic needs, but gives no Scriptural support (which is probably due to the fact that there is none)! Rather than accepting the Biblical precept that a child is personally responsible for his bad behavior (Ezekiel 18), Ezzo teaches that a child's bad behavior is usually caused by the parent's failure to meet the child's "need for security."

-  Not only did John MacArthur affirm almost every one of Ezzo's psychological teachings on this video, he even introduced a couple of disastrous psychological concepts of his own. By far the worst was MacArthur's story of a father who required that his son spank him (the father) with a paddle! The father apparently felt guilty that he had been raising his son using an improper discipline philosophy, and thereby, saw the solution as one of letting the son 'take-it-out on dad.' (Supposedly, seeking forgiveness from the son would have been too simplistic a solution!) MacArthur affirmed that it was a legitimate need of the father to be spanked by the son! This is merely a slightly modified form of Freudian ventilation therapy, most recently popularized by Arthur Janoff and brought into the church by James Dobson, Frank Minirth & Paul Meier, David Seamands, et al. (One wonders what Ezzo and MacArthur would counsel the father to do if the son learned to zealously enjoy meeting this new-found "need" of the father?)

Film #2: "The Seven Pillars of Christian Character"

-  Taped in 1985 in a home Bible-study forum, with Gary Ezzo leading the discussion, and John MacArthur giving amplifying and/or qualifying comments.

-  Ezzo details what he calls "seven character traits," that children must develop in order to live productive godly lives: (1) respect for position, (2) respect for elders, (3) respect for parents, (4) respect for property, (5) respect for peers, (6) respect for nature, and (7) respect for self. It is unclear as to what any of the first six "pillars of Christian character" even have to do with Christian character, let alone to call them "pillars" of it; one might call them "six attitudes to help develop godly character," but "pillars" implies that these are actually character traits, which they clearly are not.

-  Ezzo's development of trait number two, "respect for elders," is based on psychological principles of child development, not the Bible. In addition, even though Ezzo's definition of self-respect (trait number seven, defined by Ezzo as "confidence that what I'm doing is right"), was not the typical humanistic one, one cannot help but wonder why Ezzo chooses to borrow terminology from humanistic psychology in the first place? Even so, the clear implication drawn from Ezzo's teachings is that once the first six traits are developed, self-respect and a good feeling about oneself will be the outcome. (One also fails to see where Ezzo's definition of self-respect has anything whatsoever to do with a Christian character trait.)

-  Similar to tape number one in this series, John MacArthur again makes a number of psychological contributions of his own. The following humanistic, selfism-type statements were made by MacArthur:

(a) MacArthur raised his kids to learn that, "You are a MacArthur, and you're special."

(b) With respect to the value of animals and plants found in nature: "If everything else is valuable, I'm valuable; I'm part of God's creation, so that makes sense" (that he's valuable).

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 7/98