And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all judgment; so that ye may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; Philippians 1:9,10
Paul opens his epistle to the Philippians with a prayer that must surely sound odd to the modern Western Christian: I pray that your love would abound more and more in . . . all judgment. This prayer reveals a great heresy that has arisen within the Body of Christ. That heresy? That Christians aren’t to judge. This heresy stems from an even greater misunderstanding concerning the biblical doctrine of judgment. From the above verse, it is very clear that biblical love must include “all” forms of judgment. Unfortunately, many of today’s believers have been discipled by the world into adopting the mantra, “Who am I to judge?” (as well as its other variations, e.g., “Jesus said we’re not supposed to judge,” “Don’t be so judgy,” and “They’re so judgmental”). Until the true followers of Jesus Christ know the scriptural teachings on the subject of judgment, we will always be cowered into a corner by the pagans wondering how, if I shouldn’t judge, do I declare right from wrong? (And, by the way, who’s going to tell all the adjectives in the English language they’re no longer needed)? With this article, I intended to answer the following questions: How did the Church and the nation get to this place? How did the Western Church go from being truthful and established to being fluent in doublespeak, so weakly thin-skinned, and shamefully compromising with God’s absolute truth? Answering these questions is quite easy, but to do so we must take a brief stroll through the history of American psychology.
In the 1960’s psychology established a stronghold in American culture, forever impacting people who were sure to never visit a mental health professional. One of the most prominent psychologists of the day was Dr. Carl Rogers (1902-1987). Rogers was raised in a tight-knit, devout Pentecostal Christian family. However, in 1922, after a 6-month trip to Peking, China where he attended an international Christian conference, he began to doubt his faith. Ultimately, he rejected his Christian faith and pursued “a more modern religious viewpoint.” He obtained his PhD from Columbia University in 1931 and began his career in psychology.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Rogers made three major contributions to psychology and American culture. His first major contribution came in the 1940’s when he, together with psychologist Abraham Maslow, developed what came to be known as humanistic or third force psychology, a therapy method that focuses on allowing the client to solve their own problems with minimal help from the therapist’s guide—also known as non-directive therapy. Rogers’ second contribution came in 1956 when he originated the wildly popular concept of “unconditional positive regard” (more on that ahead). Finally, by the 1960’s, Rogers and Maslow began promoting and experimenting with “encounter groups.” This was to be Rogers’ final culture-altering contribution.
He has been called “the most influential psychologist you’ve never heard of.” But what was his influence? What did he do to influence modern culture? And what does this have to do with modern Christianity? As we will see, his three most famous contributions to psychology—non-directive therapy, unconditional positive regard, and encounter groups—have been three of the most toxic and destructive forces ever unleashed on the American culture, the effects of which can be seen and felt in every home, classroom, and sanctuary across America.
Developed in the 1940’s, this form of psychotherapeutic approach refrains from giving “direction,” advice, or interpretation to the client/patient. The client is helped to identify conflicts, and to clarify and understand feelings and values. In short, Rogers’ non-directive approach rejected the notion that the therapist should act as the expert or authority, providing advice, instruction, counsel, or judgment. Rather, Rogers proposed that people should rely less on the judgment of experts and turn inward to themselves, solving their own problems. He believed people are their best expert and are prone to always producing good—if given the right environment. The therapist follows the client, allowing the client to choose the path that they (the client) feel is best for them. Non-directive therapy is based on a non-judgmental approach. The therapist cannot judge the choice the client has chosen. If the client’s chosen path or solution is right for the client, who is the therapist to judge? This form of therapy shuns any form of absolute morality. The result is an obvious reinforcement of moral relativism. This form of therapy is rooted in the belief that man knows what’s best for man. This therapy relies upon, and therefore, aims to foster an atmosphere of “unconditional positive regard.”
Unconditional Positive Regard
The philosophy of unconditional positive regard (UPR) evolved from Rogers’ view that man is inherently good, trustworthy, and noble. For these reasons he stated that man has a natural propensity to march towards growth, health, independence, and “self-actualization,” or, fulfilling one’s potential and achieving the highest level of “human-beingness.” Rogers called this “becoming your potentialities.” When this process of “becoming your potentialities” is thwarted, an individual becomes damaged and develops coping mechanisms, which then require counseling. Rogers believed mankind has an innate urge towards “socially constructive behavior,” which is always present and functioning to some degree. He also believed that mankind had a need for “self-determination,” or a strong desire to behave in healthy and effective ways. The more that individual need to “self-determine” is respected, valued, and nurtured, the more a person’s urge to be socially constructive will flourish. In essence, leave people alone and they will do what is right and become what is better. Unconditional positive regard is the attitude and lifestyle that, according to Rogers, would allow a person to become his full potentiality. Unconditional positive regard is, therefore, “the valuing of a person as doing their best to move forward in their lives constructively and respecting the person’s right to self-determine no matter what they choose to do.” According to Rogers:
The central hypothesis of this approach can be briefly stated. It is that the individual has within him or her self vast resources for self-understanding, for altering her or his self-concept, attitudes, and self-directed behavior—and that these resources can be tapped if only a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided. (1)
At first glance it would seem that this philosophy is rooted in compassion. In reality, however, Rogerian therapy brainwashes the public to accept the unacceptable. One famous story from Rogers’ past reveals his UPR philosophy in action:
One day, he was leading a therapy group for adolescents hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. When a boy disclosed that he had raped his sister, a teenage girl expressed revulsion. Rogers turned on the girl, chastising her for being judgmental.
Rogers’ UPR philosophy essentially taught America that judging others limited their ability to succeed. Rogers’ school of thought dared Americans to “judge” and refused to paint morals in an absolute light. In essence, what sounds like the biblical unconditional love is really just another humanistic philosophy that totally rejects any kind of absolute truth. Today, unconditional positive regard is the foundation stone of many psychotherapies.
Encounter groups were sessions of “truth-telling and ice-breaking group exercises” that broke down social inhibitions, fostered a false sense of intimacy, and opened the way for the engineering of group consent through the harnessing of small group peer pressure. These “encounter groups” were also called “training groups” or “T-groups.” Carl Rogers reportedly described encounter groups as “…the most significant social invention of the century.” The T-group was originally developed by the founder of group psychotherapy, Jacob L. Moreno, and further enhanced by the Office of Naval Research (for psychological warfare) and the National Education Association as a tool to change the behavior, morals, standards, and attitudes of the participants. The T-group evolved into “encounter groups,” but retained the same fundamental techniques commonly referred to as the “dialectic process” and more accurately called “the manipulation of small group peer pressure.” In the dialectic process, individuals engage in a group discussion, and through conversation and sharing, are subtly moved towards giving up their confidence in their fixed beliefs. Contradictions in beliefs and opinions among the group provide a mixing pot of ideas. Through the group’s innate social pressure and which is aided by the group facilitator’s oversight (read: manipulation), the individuals give up their previously accepted belief system in exchange for the new mixing pot “truth” (or consensus) the group has developed through their “dialogue and conversation.” In essence, the participant loses their individuality and identity and can only find new identity in the group. This technique inherently rejects the biblical doctrine of moral absolutism, absolute truth, and the value of the individual while replacing it with relativism, humanism, and communitarianism—the truth now being whatever you decide it to be in the moment resulting in the valuing of the group over the individual.
Though Rogers didn’t develop encounter groups, he and Abraham Maslow were instrumental in promoting and experimenting with their effects throughout the 1960’s. In the early 1960’s Rogers began circulating a paper called “The Process of the Encounter Group” to several religious organizations. Rogers famously unleashed encounter groups at Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic convent in California, which resulted in widespread lesbianism among the nuns, hundreds of nuns forsaking their vows, and the eventual disintegration of the entire convent (2). It became readily apparent by the late 1960’s that encounter groups were especially toxic to anyone adhering to strict morality and religious beliefs. Encounter groups were easily tearing down the faith and morality of the religiously pious. Abraham Maslow observed:
“I guess what I’m trying to say here,…is that these interpersonal therapeutic growth-fostering relationships [encounter groups] of all kinds which rest on intimacy, on honesty, on self-disclosure, on becoming sensitively aware of one’s self—and thereby of responsibility for feeding back one’s impression of others, etc.— that these are profoundly revolutionary devices, in the strict sense of the word—that is, of shifting the whole direction of a society in a more preferred direction. As a matter of fact, it might be revolutionary in another sense if something like this were done very widely. I think the whole culture would change within a decade and everything in it. (Journals, pp. 166-68.) (Emphasis mine)
Maslow recognized the power of peer pressure demonstrated in these groups. The “preferred direction” he envisioned moving society toward was a society less moral, less puritanical, and less dogmatic about absolute right and wrong. It is critical to understand the beliefs and doctrines of these men, for their motives, like most famed psychologists, were to radically revolutionize American culture by dissolving its puritanical values. Rogers once asserted, “Neither the Bible nor the prophets—neither Freud nor research—neither revelations of God nor man—can take precedence over my own direct experience.” Writing in the Journal of Psychology in 1949, Maslow said confidently that, “I can report empirically the healthiest persons in our culture … are most (not least) pagan, most (not least) instinctive, most (not least) accepting of their animal nature.” These are obvious humanistic worldviews, exalting the sin nature over Christ’s righteousness, and are totally at odds with the Bible and sound Christian doctrine.
In 1966, Rogers said of his then professional obscurity, “I don’t have very much standing in the psychology itself, and I couldn’t care less. But in education and industry and group dynamics and social work and the philosophy of science and pastoral psychology and theology and other fields my ideas have penetrated and influenced in ways I never would have imagined (3).” However, in 1982, less than 16 years later, Carl Rogers had been ranked the most influential psychotherapist in history by American Psychologist, followed by Albert Ellis and Sigmund Freud.
Now, let’s look at what all of this has to do with the Body of Christ and sound Bible doctrine. My wife recently replied to one of America’s ever-frequent social-media-micro-dramas on Facebook. By my judgment, her reply was biblical and accurate. One of her Christian friends was offended by the post and quickly replied, “You can’t go around telling people they’re wrong.” (I believe the ironic hypocrisy of this statement was lost on the lady making the post.) She argued, “You have to love people. If you tell them where they’re wrong you’ll push them away from Jesus.” This non-judgmental attitude sounds sweet and Bible-riffic, but sadly, this dear Christian lady doesn’t realize she is more a disciple of Carl Rogers than Jesus Christ. We must consider what the Bible actually teaches the New Testament believer concerning judgment, rebuke, correction, and admonishment. This brief study will not cover the Greek word krino or its family of cognates such as krima, diakrino, katakrino, krisis, and anakrino (alas, this article is already way too long for the average Facebook or American reader). These words are abundantly used in the Greek New Testament to define the responsibilities and obligations of Christians. The definitions of the krino family of cognates range from inspection, interrogation, criticize, and judge to censure, approve, determine, condemn, and damn. This family of words is used well over 150 times in the Greek New Testament, thoroughly establishing the Christian’s obligation to Jesus Christ by judging everything around them.
Understand that sound doctrine is never built on one verse. Every doctrine of Christ is like a beautiful diamond—there are many facets to it. Any doctrine built on one verse will be a shallow, one-dimensional facet (a mere shard of glass) and not the entire gem it could be. So to begin, let’s deal with the sin-guilty Christian’s favorite shard of glass:
- Do not judge so that you will not be judged. Matthew 7:1 NASB
Is this verse really commanding us to never judge anything? Carl Rogers and the dirty Christian would have you to believe so. Is Jesus commanding us to use zero judgment the rest of our lives? Does this verse mean He doesn’t want us to judge the best use of our money, the best school for our kids, the best clothing for the weather; or perhaps, never judge the job we take or the friends we are to keep? Are we to never judge the fruit of a potential spouse? Can we just marry anybody? Of course not. There are too many other Bible verses commanding diligence, discretion, and righteous judgment. This passage about judgment is five verses long; yet, every pagan and backslidden Christian only quotes the first verse. That’s called taking a verse out of context. Jesus starts in verse 1 by saying, “Judge not,” but concludes four verses later by teaching us how to accurately judge.
- Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 NASB
Jesus begins this passage by forbidding judgment. Verse two also reveals that receiving judgment is unavoidable; all we can do is regulate the way and the standard by which we will receive our own judgment. Over the course of the five verses he clarifies the type of judgment He is referring to. Verse 5 of this passage reveals that the subject of this oft misused verse is actually “hypocritical judgment.”
- You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5 NASB
Verse 5 makes it apparent he’s talking to hypocrites about hypocritical judgment. Hypocritical judgment is any judgment that doesn’t first involve self-judgment (see also 1 Corinthians 11:28,31 and Galatians 6:1). Jesus never condemned His audience for noticing the speck in their brother’s eye. Nor did He condemn them for their desire to see that same speck removed. What infuriated Jesus was the hypocrisy of their wanting to see the speck removed from the brother while they ignored or sat ignorant of their own log. Jesus does want us to be able to see the speck in our brother’s eye and He does want us to help remove that speck, but we will not be accurate in those two acts of judgment (speck-spotting and speck-removing) if we have a timber in our own eye. Furthermore, our ability to first recognize the timber in our own eye will help us to extend mercy towards our brother’s speck, and mercy rejoices against judgment (James 2:13).
Now, with this famous and oft quoted passage explained and out of the way, let us briefly look at 29 other passages illustrating the New Testament doctrine of judgment.
- Judgment is one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23).
- Judgment and the love of God go hand-in-hand (Luke 11:42, Phil. 1:9).
- Jesus Christ is very judgmental (John 5:22,27,30; John 8:16,26; Rev. 3:19).
- Jesus commands and commends righteous judgment by his disciples (Luke 7:43).
- The Pharisees were commended for their ability to judge what was right (Luke 12:57).
- We are authorized to rebuke a brother if they sin against us (Luke 17:3).
- We are commanded to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24).
- After Lydia’s conversion to Christ, she openly invited the disciples to judge her lifestyle and faithfulness to the Lord (Acts 16:15).
- Any Christian “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge” is able to admonish [warn, reprove, rebuke] others (Romans 15:14).
- To avoid divisions, Christians are to be unified in one mind and one judgment (1 Cor. 1:10).
- He that is spiritual is commanded to judge all things (1 Cor. 2:15).
- Paul declared he didn’t mind to be judged by others (1 Cor. 4:3).
- Paul judged a church member’s sinfulness without even being present (1 Cor. 5:3).
- Paul commanded the church to judge those within the church (1 Cor. 5:12).
- Paul challenged the believers to judge even “the smallest matters” (1 Cor. 6:2).
- Paul invited the Corinthian church to judge what he was saying (1 Cor. 10:15).
- We are commanded to judge ourselves so as to avoid judgment (1 Cor. 11:28,31).
- The supernatural gift of prophecy can convict and judge the unbeliever if they are present in a church service (1 Cor. 14:24).
- Prophecy must be judged (2 Cor. 14:29).
- Troublesome heretics are warned that they will bear their own judgment (Gal. 5:10).
- God wants our love to abound in knowledge and judgment (Phil. 1:9).
- Church leadership is commanded to admonish [warn, reprove, rebuke] the believers (1 Thes. 5:12).
- We are commanded to admonish [warn, reprove, rebuke] the brethren when necessary (2 Thes. 3:15).
- Those that sin openly are to be rebuked publicly (1 Tim. 5:20).
- Church leadership is commanded to reprove, rebuke, and exhort (2 Tim. 4:2, Titus 2:15).
- Church leadership is commanded to rebuke sharply any national, societal, or church culture that doesn’t line up with God’s standard (Titus 1:13).
- The law of liberty judges us (James 2:12).
- Judgment must begin in the house of God. It first begins with believers (1 Pet. 4:17).
- The Lord rebukes and chastens those He loves (Rev. 3:19).
Further confirmation that the Bible does indeed teach Christians to judge is evident by the fact that the New Testament authorizes six reasons for excommunicating a Christian from the local church. This is the ultimate demonstration of biblical judgment. The six reasons are:
- An unrepentant trespass (Matt 18:15-17).
- Sowing discord and division among the church (Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10).
- Refusing to get a job (KJV calls it “being unruly”) (1 Thes. 5:14, 2 Thes. 3:6).
- Disobedient to doctrine (2 Thes. 3:14, 1 Tim. 6:3-5).
- Apostasy/heresy (1 Tim. 1:20, 2 Tim. 2:17,18; Titus 3:10).
- Gross sin (1 Cor. 5:1-11). This judgment even allows for a spiritual death sentence.
If you have ever found yourself saying “Well, I don’t mean to be judgmental,” or “Who am I to judge,” you are, in fact, revealing you have been influenced and even somewhat inadvertently discipled by the Christ-denying, humanistic, existentialistic, adulterating, occultist, known as Carl Rogers (4). If, by chance, someone ever asks you the question, “Just who are you to judge?” you can confidently tell them,, “I am a born-again disciple of Jesus Christ. Authorized by the King of kings to execute righteous judgment, that is judgment in accordance with God’s holy Word.” Study God’s Word and exact accurate biblical judgment. It will keep you, your life, and your loved ones safe. Plus, you’ll get to keep using adjectives (In case you didn’t know, adjectives are descriptive words which are used to describe things that have been judged, e.g. cold water, hot metal, ugly sweater, etc.).
As a final word, executing proper New Testament judgment must be kept righteous through pure motives. We judge to glorify God. We judge to establish the Kingdom. We judge to keep the peace. We judge to deliver from death and danger. We judge to preserve. We judge to exact justice. We judge to keep things safe. We do not judge to damnation. We are not the Righteous Judge given authority to distribute eternal retributions. We must never forget that mercy rejoices against judgment (James 2:13) and blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5:7).
(1) Rogers, Carl R. “Client-centered Approach to Therapy”, in I. L. Kutash and A. Wolf (eds.), Psychotherapist’s Casebook: Theory and Technique in Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
(2) Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control, E. Michael Jones
(3) Carl Rogers, “Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”, Harper and Row, New York, 1970, page 507 cited in Robert Frager and James Fadiman, “Personality and Personal Growth”, 2nd edition, Harper and Row, New York, 1984, page 356.
(4) Carl Rogers, “A Way of Being”, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1980, pages 43, 83, 90, 313-314, and 344.