A Critique of Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Crabb’s Book "Inside Out"

Dr. Crabb’s book tears across the foundation of Christianity. Obedience, faith, love, hope, prayer, and God Himself are not enough or His grace sufficient. "Inside Out" is full of the idea we are miserable and need counselors (Christian Psychologists) like Dr. Crabb. He comes across as if all Pastors are completely inept to perform the task of reaching out to our soul (psyche). We need people like him to reach below the waterline (unconscious mind). We need him in order to be complete Christians!

From the introduction we are led to believe Christianity (fundamentalists and charismatics particularly) fall short of reaching hearts to address our lives problems. He teaches that fundamentalists are too rigid and rule following and charismatics cover their feelings with emotion. Crabb seems to focus a special distaste for fundamentalists in particular. Next Crabb tries to convince the reader that he/she has nagging doubts as to whether or not they are "truly happy" or just covering over problems.

On page 44 Dr. Crabb uses the Freudian iceberg to explain our soul’s makeup. As follows: (Brackets, italics, and bold indicate emphasis from me)

"Think of yourself as an iceberg. Let the visible peak above the waterline represent the things you do, the thoughts you consciously think, and the feelings you sense within you. Let the great mass beneath the waterline represent the part of you that cannot be clearly seen: the motives and attitudes of your heart, those strange impulses that sometime overwhelm your determination to resist them, the painful memories and raging emotions you prefer to keep hidden beneath the surface of your life."

"The Christian community generally presents three options for dealing with the confusing realities beneath the waterline. All three promise deep internal change. In the rest of this chapter, I want to briefly outline these options, each of which has value but is incomplete and unnecessarily frustrating."

Hold the thought, "... incomplete and unnecessarily frustrating".

Continue from Page 45

"Option 1: Do your Christian Duties

Perhaps the most common understanding of how change comes about is this one: If we determine to do whatever God says, and if we couple that determination with involvement in Christian activities, then somehow the power of God is released, enabling us to live as we should."

"We’re told we must obey God but that we must do it in His strength. Every effort to live in the power of the flesh will inevitably fail. Above the waterline [consciously], we do what we should , including immersing ourselves in God’s Word, praying, and serving others. As we do these things, God’s power eventually overwhelms all those problems below the waterline [unconscious] and we are enabled to live in consistent victory."

Then the next paragraph:

"When we fail above the waterline [consciously], then more effort is called for-- perhaps spending more time in the Word or in prayer or enlisting in the church’s witnessing campaign. Obedience to Christian duty and bathing our mind and soul in God’s truth keep us from quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit. As we free Him to work powerfully in our life, His grace enables us to do what is right. There is no need for an inside [unconscious] look. Whatever issues are rumbling beneath the surface [unconscious] will sort themselves out as God gets hold of our life through the performance of Christian duties. An inside look [to the unconscious] is an unnecessary and damaging psychological sidetrack on the path to maturity."

Following this he offers a case to make it clear the above is NOT sufficient.

Option 2 "Depend on the work of the Holy Spirit

A second approach grants that more needs to be done to change than performing Christian duties and expecting the resulting *grace to take care of below-the-waterline problems. The effects of the Fall and our stubborn inclination to sin must be forcefully dealt with by a definite work of the Holy Spirit."

Other parts of option 2 as follows:

"Other teaching prepares us to unconditionally surrender our heart to God by convincing us of the impossibility of living as we should in our own strength."

"Still others encourage us to reckon ourselves as co-crucified and co-resurrected with Christ to the point where we exchange our life for His. Holding to the truth of our identity in Christ and choosing to depend on the reality of His life present within us empowers us to live at a new level of victory."

"Option 3 Work through obstacles to growth [He reviews the first two options and here is what follows]

Frustration to these approaches [options] has opened the door to the modern emphasis on counseling, share groups, and seminars on self-understanding. Doing right or yielding to God’s Spirit has not always produced the change we desired. Disappointed with traditional Christian approaches to change, we eagerly welcome new ideas. When blocks to growth are not overcome by more study or deeper yielding, some form of counseling sometimes seems appropriate."

"I am a counselor. I have worked with hundreds of people and, I believe, have substantially helped many. I am sympathetic to our modern emphasis on counseling because most counselors (not all) encourage an honest look below the waterline [the unconscious]. I regard that as a big one. The tragedy is that counselors are often more aware of the importance of facing who we really are than are churches."

"Until this situation changes, until communities of God’s people are willing to courageously look at each other’s lives and to search out God’s answers for tough questions, professional counseling will play a needed and vital role in promoting deep change. Unfortunately, individual counselors may not provide biblical solutions for their desperate clients. Unless the church begins to encourage an inside look [to the unconscious]as well, hurting people may only find false and temporary solutions." [such as options 1 and 2 this is very clear]

Dr. Crabb sums up this chapter as follows:

"Dealing with our insides can be frustrating. Disciplined Christian living fails to resolve all the problems of our soul. Inviting the Holy Spirit to take over our life leaves part of our being untouched. Looking honestly at our insides with the help of a counselor leads sometimes to confusion and morbid self-protection. But still our Lord requires us to clean the insides [the unconscious] of our personalities before we can ever experience legitimate cleanness on the outside [conscious]. We must take an inside look [at the unconscious] if real change is to occur."

"In the remainder of this book, I want to develop a framework for understanding "inside-out" [the Freudian iceberg concept] change that can guide us through the joys and trials of life. An inside look can be frustrating, but we can do better than talk about two dogs barking for the control of our life." [one of option 1’s examples] [So ends page 49.]

According to Crabb the Holy Spirit no matter how much we yield, God in all His infinite power cannot reach below the waterline "unconscious". We need counselors, we need our Pastors, and we all need to look below the waterline to be honest with ourselves!!! Dr. Crabb’s material is deceitful. Using the guise that his material is biblical this material methodically picks apart the very essence of being a Christian! Simply, his method is a lie.

The very premise of Crabb’s teachings is based that we have an unconscious, and deceives the naive reader because he never says unconscious! Read the first paragraph again:

"Think of yourself as an iceberg. Let the visible peak above the waterline represent the things you do, the thoughts you consciously think, and the feelings you sense within you. Let the great mass beneath the waterline represent the part of you that cannot be clearly seen: the motives and attitudes of your heart, those strange impulses that sometime overwhelm your determination to resist them, the painful memories and raging emotions you prefer to keep hidden beneath the surface of your life."

Notice Crabb is careful not to say unconscious, but what else could he possibly be referring to? He doesn’t use the word "unconscious" to make his teachings palatable to the Christian. The Bible in no way supports the teaching we have an unconscious which causes "strange impulses that sometime overwhelm your determination to resist them". We alone are responsible for our actions and sin. If you were to follow that thought the cliché "the devil made me do it" would be true in a sense! The iceberg teaching is a textbook classic Freudian explanation of the conscious and unconscious, Freud the Father of Secular (Anti-Christian) Psychology.

When you look how he presents Options 1 and 2 besides the fact he speaks as an outsider to these ideas, he refers to them initially as "... incomplete and unnecessarily frustrating". These options combined ARE in fact the way a Christian lives and breathes! Option 1 live a disciplined Christian Life, option 2 rely on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for strength, considering ourselves unconditionally surrendered to Christ, co-crucified and co-resurrected. At the end of explaining options 1-3 he calls them "...false and temporary solutions."

*Refer to grace. Crabb’s own words show he treats grace with a kind of contempt, and that God’s grace is insufficient to take care of our soul! Again a lie, was not God’s grace sufficient for the Apostle Paul? Is not God’s own Word enough? Not according to Crabb.

Crabb comes to the defense of modern counselors and explains his sympathy and how most of them look at the unconscious which he regards as a "big one". Then proceeds to cut down churches for their lack of emphasis of the unconscious!

Crabb’s summarization of what he said is the last nail in the coffin for his teaching,

"Dealing with our insides can be frustrating. Disciplined Christian living fails to resolve all the problems of our soul. Inviting the Holy Spirit to take over our life leaves part of our being untouched."

God is not able? He goes on with the psychobabble about reaching beneath the waterline, (unconscious) and has the gall to say it is the Lord himself who tells us to do that. The fact is there is no such thing as an unconscious, a great mass beneath the waterline, motives and attitudes of our heart and/or strange impulses that sometime overwhelm your determination to resist them. This is NOT God’s truth! Those are our conscious thoughts to sin the Bible teaches:

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren." James 1:14-16

Have we forgotten we have a sinful nature? Crabb’s teaching could make someone believe we don’t have one!

Crabb seems fond of quoting scriptures, but often misuses them. Example:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

God knows and understands the heart, yet Crabb teaches God does not by misquoting Jeremiah 17:9 on page 53, "our heart is impossible to understand" He leaves off verse 10! Here is what the Bible says,

Vs 9 "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Vs 10 "I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings." Jeremiah 17:9-10

This is where Crabb defines "beneath the waterline" with his "impossible to understand heart", he is wrong. The heart is deceitful because of the fall, we trust no man for that very reason, we are all sinful. The Bible is the ONLY source we can trust on these issues. Whether or not Crabb is deliberately spreading heresy is not for me to decide but to expose the error.

"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Titus 1:9

These teachings will cause the very problems they are supposed to fix. So-called "disappointed Christians" are nothing new, that’s how many a cult got started like the Mormons and etc! Counseling is not our hope for solving life’s complicated problems but rather a combination of options 1 & 2 which Crabb discounts as a waste!

"For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." 2 Corinthians 1:12

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him]." 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Crabb teaches using the Bible to prove there is a subconscious mind from Romans 12:1-2, "but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" This is error. If Crabb had read Romans 12:3, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Crabb approached verse 12:2 with the presupposition of the unconscious, but when put together with verse 3 Paul tells us it’s the conscious mind "Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought". No place can be found in the Bible to support claims like Crabb’s, God has defined the nature and make-up of man. Here are the verses which prove the context:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Romans 12:1-3

How can we be consciously happy, joyous, blissful, content, but at the same time be miserable and unhappy? This another of Crabb’s contentions in this book! Another Freudian concept!

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" 2 Corinthians 6:14 -15

Examples that we should feel victimized: page 186 read the 3/4 of the page.

"The first act of changing his current relational lifestyle had to be to open himself to feeling the pain of his past. Only then would he be in a position to realize how deeply determined he was to never feel that pain again...moving on to deeper levels of involvements with others required this man to more deeply feel his pain and face his self-protective sin. The more deeply we enter our disappointment, the more thoroughly we can face our sin. Unless we feel the pain of being victimized, we will tend to limit the definition of our problem with sin to visible acts of transgression." [emphasis mine]

From the book PsychoHeresy I by Martin & Deidre Bobgan, "This return to feel the pain of past is based upon the Freudian theory of abreaction. The Dictionary of Psychology defines abreaction as "the discharge of tension by reliving in words, feelings, and actions" a painful event from the past. Supposedly reliving the pain of past experience relieves a person from its unconscious grip. However, research has never proven this idea. On the other hand, there is a great deal of suspicion that quite the reverse is true. ... You may be creating new pain"

To quote Dr. Jay Adams, a respected Biblical Counselor (one who teaches the Bible is wholly sufficient), "Crabb sincerely wants to be biblical and thinks that his system is. But as long as he continues to build his basic system out of pagan materials [Freud, Maslow, Alder, Ellis, plus others] he will never achieve his goal."

"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words." Colossians 2:2-4

Crabb is really saying, we have to feel and think about the pain of past sins against us, realize how much we hate it to move on because releasing the pain allows us to move on to deeper relationships with others. We have to feel victimized by other’s sins or we don’t address the problems in our heart. To put it bluntly this is a lie. First of all show me in the Bible where we need to feel and think about the pain of past sin against us. (that’s a sin in itself!) Secondly, remembering sin often causes the problems Crabb says he wants to help with (depression, sadness of heart). Worst of all we are to think of OUR sins only to become repentant sinners! We alone must answer to God for our actions and not for the actions of others. Talk about getting side-tracked!

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8

In another place Crabb says, "The gospel really is good news. When the internal troubles of people are exposed, when unsatisfied longings are felt in a way that leads to overwhelming pain, when self-centeredness is recognized in every fiber, then (and not until then) can the wonder of the gospel be truly appreciated."

Crabb interprets the gospel by the means of his "needs psychology"! He commits many errors contrary to the teachings of the Bible with his statement. Yes the gospel is really good news, but from there he’s unbiblical. Examples: "Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," 2 Timothy 1:9 "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Acts 16:30-31

How can anyone dare put conditions on salvation beyond those specified in scripture? What do my unsatisfied longings have to do with my salvation? Must one feel overwhelming pain? Must I recognize self-centeredness in every fiber before I can appreciate the Gospel of Christ? The Bible makes no such stipulations or conditions, I only "need" to see myself as a sinner, then repent and accept the salvation freely offered by God. Crabb must be listening to the author of confusion, his writings often leave me miffed to what he means. Some Christians call it psychobabble because it makes no sense and is self-contradicting. Even the world recognizes the foolishness of Freud’s teachings. Why do people like Crabb continue to parade around like they have more knowledge about the nature of man then even God?

Even the title of the book "Inside Out" is a direct reference to Crabb’s theology of the subconscious needs. It is not Biblical. We are called to deny our "self" when people like Crabb teach us to exalt it. Humanism, psychoanalytic techniques, behavoristic ideas, and personality psychologies stand against the way of the Cross. How can we support such teachings? These things need to be rooted out from our church and from the body of all true believers.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 16:24-25

The list of problems with this book could go on and on. The thought of using this book in any capacity within a Bible believing church should be immediately scrapped. It is heresy, it directly contradicts the True Word of God. Crabb misuses scripture for his own purpose with his own words attempts to deceive the reader into thinking that God does not reach the innermost parts of our being. He teaches no amount of yielding to God will help, and that we NEED him to counsel us into God’s real truth to overcome our problems. Crabb’s God is a God far off who if he wishes to help may, but not the God of the Bible who loves us and cares for the MOST difficult of problems we could ever know in our "heart".

"The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, [Is] not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us." Micah 3:11

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" II Corinthians 10:5

Created: February 2/94 Revised 1/97 By John Beardsley


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