Christian Psychology and Guilt

QUESTION: Christian Psychology – Is Guilt Psychological or Real

ANSWER:

Both Humanists and Marxists speak only of “psychological guilt” because for them only society is evil—people do nothing individually that would incur actual guilt. For the Christian, however, each time someone rebels against God, he or she is committing a sin and the feeling of guilt that results from this rebellion is entirely justified. “Psychological guilt is actual and cruel,” writes Schaeffer. “But Christians know that there is also real guilt, moral guilt before a holy God. It is not a matter only of psychological guilt; that is the distinction.”1

Christian Psychology – Real Guilt is a Result of Real Sin
Because Christian psychology acknowledges the existence of real, objective guilt, it alone can speak to a person who is experiencing such guilt. As Schaeffer says, “When a man is broken in these [moral and psychological] areas, he is confused, because he has the feelings of real guilt within himself, and yet he is told by modern thinkers that these are only guilt-‘feelings.’ But he can never resolve these feelings, because…[he] has true moral awareness and the feeling of true guilt. You can tell him a million times that there is no true guilt, but he still knows there is true guilt.”2

Christianity understands our nature, including why this guilt arises and how to deal with it. While other schools of psychology must invent fancy terms (for example, social maladjustment) to explain away the existence of real guilt as a result of real sin, Christian psychology deals with the problem at its roots—the human heart, mind, and soul.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Francis Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, 5 vols. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 3:322.
2 Ibid.

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