Could the Bible be the first psychology textbook ever?!
This article is not just written for Christians, but also for anyone who is not religious. On one hand, the bible is a collection of the story between God and his people. On the other hand, it is also a collection of many wisdom. I personally know people who aren’t Christians but studies and reads the bible just for the knowledge.
The bible provides a conceptually comprehensive analysis of the human condition, complete with important concepts about personhood, problems of living, and procedures or mechanisms of change or transformation. The topics and wisdom that the bible reveals are vast and complicated, and to understand everything takes years of studying. That’s why we are only going to touch on the psychology parts of it briefly in this article.
Today, more than ever, people are fascinated in psychology and interested in what it has to say about human. Psychology in general deals with the mind, its senses and perceptions, as well as human behaviour. Within the field of psychology, there are a number of theoretical frameworks that are commonly embraced by psychologists and utilise for providing therapeutic treatment to clients.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
One of the gold standard therapy these days is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It is one of the therapeutic approaches with the most comprehensive research. It has been found to be effective in treating a range of mental health issues such including but not limited to stress, depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sexual disorders.
CBT believes that as humans, our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are all inter-related. As such, more awareness and control in either one of the aspects allow us to live a happier life. For example, one might think that something happened, which made us sad or angry, which then made us cry or lash out. However, CBT propose that before we feel sad or angry, we first think about something, those thoughts are what affects our emotions, causing us to feel sad or angry. Therefore, negative thoughts promotes unwanted emotions, vice versa, positive thoughts promotes positive emotions.
What Does the Bible Say?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
Renew your mind, do not be conformed to this world. The world could be a negative place, therefore it is easy to fall into the pattern of thinking negatively.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
Think about things are positive and true. Don’t ruminate on the negatives, focus on the positives.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
When you notice your negative thoughts, challenge it. Are they true? You might think that no one loves you, is that true? Is there really not a single person out there who cares about you?
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7
We are intelligent beings, we could control our thoughts. As we monitor and control our thoughts, we choose what could get into our heart.
The bible has a lot more concepts that strikes resemblance with modern psychology for example, mindfulness and value-driven actions. However, we will leave that for another time. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see that a book written thousands of years ago mentions concepts that are now regularly practiced promoted by modern psychologists and scientists.
You may or may not believe in God. However, one thing that the bible as well as modern science taught us is that our thoughts plays an integral part in our well-being. It might be hard in the beginning, but it’s like working out. As you monitor and challenge your thoughts more, the stronger your mental muscle becomes, the easier it is to do it automatically.
Author: Christopher Lee, B Psych Science (Hons); Masters of Psych (Clinical); MAPS
Christopher Lee is a Brisbane psychologist with a keen interest in helping teenagers and young adults with trauma, behavioural and relational issues. In addition to speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, Christopher uses evidence-based therapy techniques such as CBT, ACT, EFT, and DBT.
To make an appointment with Christopher Lee try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.
Wilding, C., & Milne, A. (2010). Cognitive behavioural therapy (2nd ed.). Hodder Education.
Siang-Yang Tan. (2007). Use of Prayer and Scripture in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. The Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 26(2), 101–.
Tan, S.-Y. (2011). Mindfulness and acceptance-based cognitive behavioral therapies: empirical evidence and clinical applications from a Christian perspective. The Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 30(3), 243–.