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Misunderstanding – Crabbs Needs
The Bobgans’ unreflective prejudice against Crabb can be seen in the way they treat the shift he has made from using the word "needs" to using "longings". In the preface to Understanding People, Dr Crabb says,
Here is how the Bobgans treat what Crabb has said. In a passage in which they quote the first two sentences from the section from Crabb which I have given above, the Bobgans say:
What Crabb has said could be paraphrased, "My doctrine has not fundamentally changed, but my earlier terminology caused people to badly misunderstand my doctrine; therefore I have changed my terminology." What the Bobgan’s have done with that is to say, "The doctrine is still the same, therefore we will continue to use Crabb’s earlier terminology." They therefore make certain that casual readers of Prophets of Psychoheresy I will take away exactly the same wrong understanding of Dr Crabb that he has tried to guard against by his change of wording – all the more so, because the Bobgans omit the sentences in which Crabb explains what he believes the misunderstanding to have been.
Is this dishonesty? Not consciously so, but I think it is evidence of the prejudice which the Bobgans have brought to their "study" of Crabb. Their readers need to beware of it.
Two chapters earlier, in chapter 10 of Prophets of Psychoheresy I, the Bobgans had also made reference to this same quotation from Crabb, alluding to its content at the start of the chapter (page 135), and citing part of it at the chapter’s close (page 146). However, they chose to call chapter 10 "Need Theology." In the first half of the chapter they pay occasional lip-service to Crabb’s preference and use the word "longings", but always in close proximity to "needs". Overall, in that part of the chapter, "needs" appears three times for every occurrence of "longings."
In the second half of the chapter, "longings" disappears from sight altogether, except for one occurrence of its synonym, "desires." Relentlessly – about 65 times, in fact – the Bobgans press the word "need" or "needs" upon their readers: words which Crabb said he has realized carry connotations contrary to what he had intended to teach. The Bobgans show no sign of having given serious thought to what Crabb has said; they treat "longings" as identical to "needs", and their every page imports into their argument all the emotional baggage that "needs" carries with it. The Bobgans do not refute Crabb, they ignore him.
In fact, the bulk of the final section of chapter 10 (the section subtitled "Need Psychology/Theology") does not deal with Crabb at all. It is chiefly a summary of what humanistic psychologists teach about human need. If it stood as part of a critique of secular psychology, without reference to Crabb, I would find no fault with its repeated use of "need". The trouble is, it purports to be part of a critique of what Larry Crabb is teaching, and Larry Crabb very definitely and deliberately has chosen to use the word "longing" in order to show his disagreement with many of exactly the same elements of secular psychology that the Bobgans disagree with.
The Bobgan’s rationale for including this overview of secular psychology is given in three statements which appear on page 140:
As was discussed in the preceding parts of this essay, these assertions are false. Crabb’s doctrines of man and of change are grounded in the Bible and his model does not "borrow" from humanistic psychology, so the entire section is irrelevant to any objective critique of his work. The casual reader, however, comes to the end of this section feeling that the Bobgans have delivered a powerful blow to Crabb’s teaching, when all in fact that has been delivered is seven and a half pages of irrelevant information which stir up the reader’s emotions against secular psychology and unjustly against Crabb. (There are also numerous false statements and logical fallacies within the individual paragraphs of this section of chapter 10, but I will not deal with them just yet).
All lies proceed from the father of lies. They do not become true just because they pass through the hands of born again Christians. In its disregard for Crabb’s own careful choice of words, chapter 10 partakes more of the lie than the truth. Only unthinking prejudice could have entrapped obviously earnest Christians such as the Bobgans into writing it.
(After reading a footnote, click your browser’s Back button to return to the point in the document from which you branched to the footnote.)
1 Crabb (1987) p. 15-16
2 Bobgan (1989) p. 162
3 Bobgan (1989) p. 140
© 2009, Matt. All rights reserved.
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