Counseling, Therapy, Pastoral

Should You Trust Your Pastor For 1-On-1 Counseling If He Doesn’t Accept Psychology? by David Lee Chu Sarchet

While Nouthetic Counseling is growing in popularity within Reformed Christian circles, there are a number of pastors who do not accept psychology as a legitimate practice. These same pastors may accept psychiatry, but they absolutely reject psychology.

I do understand the hesitance to accept psychology especially since psychology has a history of being anti-biblical. However, I reject the notion that all modern psychology is anti-biblical and I also reject the notion that Nouthetic Counseling is Reformed. As a matter of fact, I have made the case in a previous blog article that Nouthetic Counseling is inconsistent with a Reformed Two Kingdom theology.

Michael Horton has made the case that the idea that Christians needing to see other Christians for certain services is actually an Anabaptist concept which the Reformers rejected. However, this blog is not about trying to convince you that Nouthetic Counseling is not Reformed. The purpose of this blog is to help you understand why you cannot trust any pastor who does not accept psychology. The two reasons why you cannot trust these pastors is

  • 1) They do not have a proper understanding of mental illness and
  • 2) They will give you wrong and/or harmful advice. 

Not Properly Understanding Mental Illness

This is a vital problem with these pastors because their beliefs about mental illness will directly affect how they counsel.

If a pastor will not accept psychology then they will not have a proper and full understanding of mental illness and this will lead into all kinds of problems both for them and the people whom they counsel. For example, if they believe that mental illness is the result of individual sin, they will then work towards confronting your sin regardless of whether or not you are aware of any such sin.

If they believe that mental illness is the result of demon-possession, then they will attempt to “cast the demons out” of you. Both of these ideas are unbiblical, outdated, and unscientific. We know that mental illness is not the result of one’s individual sin or demons. Mental illness is the result of the Fall of Adam and Eve and because of the Fall now some people are born with chemical imbalances in their brains that cause them to have a mental illness.

There are other factors that cause mental illness too such as environmental, drug abuse, and childhood trauma. It is because of these causes that mental illnesses should be treated like any other medical problem. 

They will give you wrong and/or harmful advice

Like I said earlier, a pastor’s beliefs of mental illness will directly effect how they counsel. Even if they do not believe that mental illness is caused by demons or individual sin, they may still have harmful advice.

For example, if someone with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder comes to meet one of these pastors, the pastor may tell them that they need to pray more or read their Bible more. They may even quote Bible Scriptures at these people. The reason that this is insufficient is because one must help the person identify what is causing their OCD and then address that first.

The pastor telling them to read the Bible and pray more or even quoting Scriptures at the person without first addressing what is causing the problem can and will cause severe damage to the person’s mental well-being. This is why I believe that unless the pastor is trained in mental health counseling he should stay in his lane and just focus on the preaching of the Gospel.

What should we do? 

If you are a Christian with mental illness and you find yourself in this situation, first I would like to tell you not to panic. I know that it is tempting to panic when you find out that your pastor does not accept psychology because you intuitively understand that he will have harmful views about mental illness. However, this is not a reason to leave a church. As long as he is preaching the Gospel every Sunday then you can listen to his sermons and even grow in your faith by hearing him preach.

However, you must never approach him for personal one on one counseling. It would be better for you to see an atheist counselor who has a better understanding of mental illness than that pastor and its OK to see that counselor because according to common grace they have the knowledge to know how to give good guidance that will help you manage your mental health.

Anyone who tells you otherwise has a weak view of common grace.

Now, according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2, we must pray for our leaders. So, I would highly recommend that you pray for your pastor that he will be open to learning more about psychology and mental illness and even pray that he will be open to hearing about your struggle with mental illness. The only way to eliminate the stigma against mental health within the Body of Christ is through education that raises mental health awareness. Also, make sure that when you talk to your pastor you show him the utmost respect because we are not to be disrespectful towards those who are called to shepherd God’s flock. –Dr. Michael Horton On Psychology

-David Lee Chu Sarchet 
Christian Mental Health Advocate

Click Here To Read More By David Lee Chu Sarchet

 For 24 hour peer support, please call the Christ-Centered Mental Health ministry line at 567-343-3727 or email me at

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