Confusion, Confusion!

In paragraph after paragraph of what the Bobgans have written, misinterpretation of Crabb’s words is intertwined with misapplication of Scripture, and the whole is bound together with faulty reasoning. It is a formidable task to unravel such material. It would be impractical to deal with the whole content of their critique of Crabb. In this section I will point out just a few more of the errors in what they write.

Footnotes that Don’t

Foolish Statements


Footnotes that Don’t

In many places the Bobgans make an assertion about what Crabb teaches and just give a reference in a footnote to a place in one of Crabb’s books. In a significant number of places, the place pointed to by the footnote is clearly – by its general content – the place the Bobgans intended to point to, but careful reading shows that it doesn’t teach what the Bobgans say it does. Often, it is plain that the reason the Bobgans are confident the reference means what they say it does is that they have begged the question. That is, they have read Crabb’s words in the light of what they already are sure he means, rather than coming to them objectively to see what Crabb actually intended by the words. At some places, though, the discrepancy is so great that I can offer no guess as to why the Bobgans interpreted Crabb as they did.

Some examples (all from Prophets of Psychoheresy I) are: Chapter 8, notes 3, 8, 12, 14, Chapter 10, note 25, Chapter 11, note 28.

Foolish Statements

There are numerous sentences in the Bobgans’ work that are either true in themselves but irrelevant to the critique of Crabb, or are ill thought through from any perspective. Some examples not previously given (again, all from Prophets of Psychoheresy I) are:

If a person tries to use the Bible apart from Christ ruling in His heart, he may claim that the Bible lacks practical answers for life’s difficulties.

Crabb doesn’t claim any such thing.

David asks, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” He did not despair because God did not give a full explanation of why he sinned. Instead, he trusted God and asked Him to cleanse him… But, according to Crabb, any counsellor who does not address those questions has a “shallow understanding of problems and solutions that sounds biblical but helps very few.”

David acknowledges that, as a congenital sinner, inevitably he has faults that are invisible to himself. His words do not mean that there is no possibility of ever seeing for himself what they are. Nor do they mean it was not his duty to try. (Some of his faults – for example, his treatment of Absalom – were visible to his friends even though not to David). This verse (Psalm 19:12) is in fact further Scriptural evidence of the existence of that deceitful corner of the heart that Crabb terms “the unconscious”.

…according to Crabb the Scriptures do not tell them what he considers to be the more crucial and fundamental matter: Why do people desire bizarre and sinful action?

For Crabb, in the pages of Understanding People footnoted by the Bobgans, the why is important as a path to deep repentance and thorough dealing with sin. Thus, in the end, obedience is the fundamental matter to Crabb, but, obedience at a depth greater than that which can be achieved if just the surface sin is dealt with.

…the danger in looking for answers to such questions outside the Bible is that psychological systems tend to place answers outside of the person himself.

Crabb does not look for answers “outside the Bible.” See the earlier discussion on the sufficiency of the Scripture.

Surely [Crabb] does not think that the Bible is limited to only external concerns.

The Bobgans seem to have entirely missed the point of Inside Out!

How can one indict counsel from the Bible alone as anything superficial or merely external?

One can if the counsel is not fully biblical in that it presents external obedience as the path to inner change, contrary to the Scriptures.

What about those who have ministered through the centuries without being privy to insights derived from psychology which supposedly deal directly with Crabb’s legitimate questions?

(a) Crabb holds that all of the insights are available from Scripture, and (b) he quoted Lovelace that pastors of previous centuries made good use of them, until an externalist view of sin began to prevail among Christians.1

One psychological counsellor’s answer may disagree sharply with another’s even if both of them are Christians.

But not if both have worked from a thoroughly biblical framework of presuppositions. This is exactly what has been lacking and what Crabb is beginning to put into place.

Such questions and their diverse psychological answers can actually become a smoke screen for not hearing and obeying God’s will. They can easily prevent or delay a person putting off the sinful self-life and putting on the righteousness of God through surrender to Him.

This is in no way a valid argument against Crabb’s doctrine and method of counselling. Because Jay E. Adams has used the term nouthetic counselling to describe the counselling model he subscribes to, people may wrongly assume that Crabb’s model is not nouthetic – i.e., that it evades confrontation with sin. That is not the case: it confronts more of the counsellee’s sin, and more thoroughly than does Adams’ model.2

Millions of Christians will never read Crabb’s psychological answers as to the “why”? They will only be able to rely on their own relationship with God and the study of His Word. Surely the Spirit of God and the Word of God will not leave them with a shallow and deficient view of man! (Page 119 f)

Christ has provided teachers to assist with the equipping of His people (Ephesians 4:11,12). If the teachers are lazy the flock will be poorly taught. In any case, millions of Christians will not exercise the diligence in walking with God and studying His Word that the Bobgans assume they will, precisely because their hidden sins keep them from it. (Have the Bobgans ever opened their eyes and taken a close look at many of the people in our evangelical churches?)

…human depravity and treachery do not prevent the Word of God from doing what it says it will do.

More false dichotomy. The Bobgans quote Hebrews 4:12 in support of their assertion, but the author of those very words also says:

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

The Word of God is quick and powerful, but pastoral counsel, together with encouragement by fellow-believers, is still required if the people of God are to grow in holiness. That is God’s own plan.

After unconscious causes of the problems have been exposed, the counselor can set about the process of reprogramming both the conscious mind and the unconscious. This is accomplished through the focused effort to program into the mind a new strategy about how to satisfy the two needs.

False. The goal is not the development of new strategies. It is to help the counsellee to repent and to elect to submit to the real world of God’s sure promises and sovereign control. The Bobgans here impart a thoroughly man-centred interpretation to Crabb’s work.

The person must jump from the cliff of safety and trust God to meet his two needs in the unconscious.

A double distortion. The longings are now consciously felt and acknowledged. However, the imperative to trust God is because that is the only right response to the truth of the gospel, not so that the longings will now be tangibly satisfied.

Crabb contends that unconscious denial, erroneous thinking, wrong conclusion, and wrong beliefs in the Rational circle need to be replaced with accurate thinking so that needs for security/relationship and significance/impact can be met more effectively.

This utterly misrepresents what Crabb says, ascribing to it a man-centred goal that is wholly absent from his teaching – see Understanding People, pages 135, 138 and 148.

Many Christians have bought into the humanistic lie that when people’s needs are met, they will be good, loving people.

Crabb hasn’t.

In [Crabb’s] system sin is defined as the attempt to fulfill the demands of those unconscious needs apart from God.

Unsupported by any footnotes, and false.

Thus in Crabb’s model, the basic inner nature (the self) is not the problem.

Nonsense. The Bobgans have written 112 pages about a man whose books they seem not to have read!

Although Crabb objects to criticism about his teachings having a “man-centred focus on fulfilment rather than a God-centred emphasis on obedience to Him and preoccupation with His glory,” what he teaches does indeed lead to a humanistic rather than godly emphasis. The reason why this happens is because Crabb’s integration includes the doctrines of men whose psychologies centre on man and his innate goodness, his worthwhileness, his psychological reasons for behaviour, and his goal of fulfilment.

The premises of the Bobgans’ argument here are (1) that Crabb’s system includes doctrines uplifted from humanistic systems and (2) that all systems with humanistic input must have a humanistic rather than God-centred output. I have shown that both premises are false. Therefore the Bobgans’ argument is unsound.

[Crabb] says, “It is therefore true that no one sees himself clearly until he is exposed by another.”.. This denies the sovereign work of God in a person’s life.

False. See Crabb’s actual words in Understanding People, page 146. The “other” who exposes us is often the Spirit of God Himself, acting in His Word. Even when he acts through His people, it is still He who acts.

It seems odd such a crucial doctrine would have been hidden all these years and now only be discovered through the help of minds that are darkened to the Word of God.

(1) Under different terminology, it had been discovered (see Lovelace as quoted by Crabb).

(2) Even if it had not, that would be no objection. From the time of the death of the apostles until the days of Anselm of Canterbury, God allowed the Church to operate with a faulty doctrine of the atonement; for an even longer period (until Luther), He allowed it to operate with a faulty doctrine of justification. People were saved, and achieved progress in sanctification nonetheless. But our walk in our day is that much easier than theirs because of the greater light we have received.

Does the Bible teach that an unredeemed person will reach his full potential through the satisfaction of two all-powerful needs?

No – and neither does Crabb, so why ask the question?

Commenting on a particular counselling example given by Crabb, the Bobgans say,

…since unmet needs and longings drive her to wrong conclusions and self protective actions, her sin is not her fault… She is further exonerated by saying that this is beyond her conscious awareness and conscious control.

But Crabb does not exonerate her, and nothing in his system logically implies that she is exonerated. The Bobgans misrepresent Crabb yet again.


(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. 127f
2 There was much that was true and insightful in Adams’ work. It was a breath of fresh air in its day. I don’t begrudge Adams the adjective he chose, given the providential fact that he was a pioneer. Nevertheless, the Christian public needs to know that his model is not wholly correct, and that the word nouthetic more properly belongs in Crabb’s system.
3 Crabb (1987) p. 127f
4 My argument here is from the greater to the lesser. If the Lord allowed such great doctrines as these to be eclipsed for centuries (and He did), surely He might have allowed lesser doctrines to be obscured, too.

© 2009, Matt. All rights reserved.