Yes, you read it correctly. In college I majored in psychology with a minor in applied statistics. I originally moved to Nebraska as a graduate student in counseling psychology. Shortly after I was born again, and immediately began seeing the conflicts between the humanism of psychology and the Bible’s testimony about human nature. After a short period of trying to find a way to follow my Biblical convictions and maintain working in my field of training, I decided that as a Christian I had to leave the field entirely.
The place of Christians in the field of psychology is another discussion for another time. I believe that behavioral fields of psychology, while overly complex, do a good job at organizing and describing behavior. Biological fields of psychology, though they reduce man to a sophisticated animal, does a good job of studying the brain and how it works. Really, the main problem with psychology (and a fatal problem at that) is not in describing or even predicting behavior, but in explaining it. Since psychology depends on the basic principle that man is good, all explanations of motive and thought processes must be wrong. Psychology does well with the outside, but fails with the inside because its assumptions about human nature are wrong.
My reason for bringing up my education is this: I have been gaining a much greater understanding lately of how the Bible describes the inner working of the mind. There have been several sources for my increased understanding, such as Jonathan Edwards and my exposure to Puritan thinking. I’ve always seen that while psychological models for behavior are too complex in their human foolishness, the Biblical model is simple.
But what is that model?
In a word (no…three words!): intellect, affections, and will.
Or, as we call them in the Fudge household: the knows-it, the wants-it, and the does-it.
The division of the human mind in this way is implied in Scripture. John MacArthur, in “The Gospel According to the Apostles (Faith Works)” breaks it down beautifully from Hebrews 11. I’ll get back to the subject soon to break it down in greater detail, but in short it goes as follows:
- The intellect is the rational mind that assesses things on the basis of truth. Intellect deals in information. Intellect identifies things we know to be right and wrong and submits its opinion to the will. The intellect can be deceived or over-ridden, but is always a participant.
- The affections are the emotional element of the mind. Affections respond to the information gathered by the intellect as generate desire or repulsion. Affections also place pressure on the will to seek out or to turn away.
- The will is that part of the mind that produces action. The bases its decision on the appeals of the intellect and the affections.
Normally, the intellect informs the affection, and the affections move the will. the intellect tells the Christian that something is sinful, and the affections drive us to avoid that thing.
However, sin short-circuits this process. For example, the intellect may inform the affections that lust is sinful, but the affections sinfully long after that object of lust and motivate the will to pursue the object, and adultery is the result.
This understanding of the mind is invaluable as we seek to mortify sin, especially the MANY ways that sin attempts to interrupt and hijack the process. I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts with you as I seek to understand myself more.