Adapted from Revolt Against Maturity: A Biblical Psychology of Man
Humanistic psychology gives us a doctrine of man radically at odds with Scripture. It has become routine for clergymen to look to humanistic psychologies for guidance in pastoral counselling, and books applying such psychologies to pastoral problems have had a ready market and a widespread influence. The result has been the steady infiltration of humanism into Christian circles and the steady erosion of the Biblical doctrines of man and of salvation.
In analyzing the Biblical doctrine of man and the psychology of man, it is necessary, first, to recognize that man is declared to be a creature, created by the sovereign act of God on the sixth day of creation (Genesis 1: 26-31). This fact gives us a radically different picture of man than that provided by evolution. Instead of emerging out of chaos and an animal ancestry, man is the direct and immediate work of God.
This means, second, that man has a short history, not a long and unknown past. Third, by virtue of the fact of creation according to a pattern, the eternal purpose and counsel of God, (and in His image), man's psychology is not an evolving fact but a fixed reality.
Fourth, man was created a mature being, not a child. This is a fact of central importance. We thus cannot make child psychology basic to an understanding of man.
Humanistic psychology looks backward to a primitive past in order to explain man, whereas Biblical psychology looks neither to the child nor a primitive past to explain man but to a mature creation, Adam, and to God's purpose in man's creation. If man in his origin is a product of a long evolutionary past, man is then best understood in terms of the animal, the savage, and the child. However, since man was in his origin a mature creation, his psychology is best understood in terms of that fact. Man's sins and shortcomings represent not a lingering primitivism or a reversion to childhood but rather a deliberate revolt against maturity and the requirements of maturity.
Fifth, man was created a mature being in terms of the sovereign purpose of God, so that the meaning of man's life transcends man. Man can never be understood in terms of himself but only by reference to the sovereign purpose of God.
Sixth, man was created in the image of God. Man was created good because he was created in the image of God. Therefore, righteousness, holiness, knowledge, and dominion are normative for man. Sin is unnatural and a deformation of man's nature, a cancer and a sickness unto death.
Seventh, God having created man in His image, ordered man to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth. This is man's basic calling and a basic aspect of the nature of man. Thus, not only is man's nature created by God, but man's calling to dominion is written into the nature of man. Inescapably, man is that creature who has been created to exercise dominion over the earth and to subdue it, to create tools and institutions whose purpose it is to enable man to bring all things to their proper development in the Kingdom of God.
Eighth, we are told that "male and female created he them" (Gen. 1: 27). The sexual character of men and women is not a blind and accidental product of evolution but the purpose of God and basic to any understanding of man. Attempts to deny the validity of Biblical sexual regulations, to read homosexuality as an expression of a primitive development or as another form of man's free sexual expression, or to deny the psychological differences between a man and a woman, are thus morally as well as psychologically wrong. The facts of maleness and femaleness are basic and constitutive of God's purpose for mankind, and any psychology which denies them is thereby sterile and void of understanding.
Ninth, basic to man's psychology is the creation mandate, "Be fruitful; multiply; fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1: 28, Berkeley Version). This commandment is preceded in the same verse by the declaration, "And God blessed them." The commandment itself is a blessing, and the act of obedience to every commandment of God is in itself a source of blessing.
Tenth, it is twice stated in the account of creation (Gen. 1: 26, 28) that an aspect of man's dominion is over the animal world, "over every living thing." Man was thus created with a relationship towards animals established as normative to his healthy psychology. Man's relationship towards animals is therefore not one of warfare but of dominion.
Eleventh, man was created to live in a perfect world and to till it and to keep it (Gen. 2: 15). Thus, man's psychology has basic to it a relationship to the earth itself, which is reinforced by the fact that man was formed out of "the dust of the ground" (Gen. 2: 7) and then made into a living soul. Man is thus earth-bound, physically and psychologically. The earth is the area of his dominion, the place for his fertility to manifest itself, and his treasure to develop into that order which God requires of him.
These are some of the elemental and elementary aspects of man's psychology. Man was created into maturity, and his sin is a resolute but futile attempt to escape from maturity. However, while man may fail to meet his responsibilities, he can never escape them.