A BEREAN'S REVIEW (1992)
BUILDING YOUR MATE'S SELF-ESTEEM
by Dennis and Barbara Rainey - 1986, Here's Life Publishers, Campus Crusade for Christ
Forward by Howard and Jeanne Hendricks
SELF-ESTEEM IS UNBIBLICAL
The entire thesis of Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem is unbiblical and corrupt. Self-esteem is based on Self-Image Psychology which derives from that branch of modern psychology called Humanistic Psychology. Self-Esteem, Self-Image, Self-Worth, Self-Love are not from God's Word, the Bible, and are not found in the writings of historical Christianity. (See The False Gospel of Self Esteem)
These concepts and their associated terms are not found within the Evangelical Church until the 20th century with the rise of Humanistic Psychology and its concepts of Self-Actualization and the emphasis on "needs". Humanistic Psychology has played a major role in obsessing this generation with "Self" and was developed by such men as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. (See Humanistic & Transpersonal Psychology 1 of 2)
LOVERS OF THEMSELVES
God's Word, in fact, warns of these very trends: "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves..." (2Timothy 3) and this chapter goes on to list the inevitable results of a self-absorbed society.
Superficially, the Rainey's book appears to be Christian. It looks close, but it is a counterfeit. It is sprinkled with Bible verses and even contains portions that express the Biblical gospel. It is, however, a dangerous syncretism between Biblical truth and the Wisdom of Man.
The worldly sources of their philosophy of Self is represented by various references to such advocates of unbiblical views as Dorothy Corkille Briggs, Dr. Joyce Brothers, William James, Mark Twain, Denis Waitley, Tom Peters, and Dr. W. Hugh Missildine.
We are not questioning Dennis and Barbara Rainey's sincerity in desiring to follow Jesus. We are simply evaluating their message, as Bereans (Acts 17), and declaring the message to be false by the authority of God's Word, the Bible.
Dennis Rainey is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and serves as the national director of the Family Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
From the description on the back cover the Raineys claim:
1. "You can strengthen your mate's self-esteem."
2. "Self-esteem is either the crippler or the completer of the marriage relationship."
3. "From their experience in counseling hundreds of couples, Dennis and Barbara Rainey have found that one of the most vital and missing ingredients in marriage today is the diligent effort on the part of each spouse to build the other's self-esteem."
4. "Creative ideas for immediate results!"
Affirmations are central to "building your mate's self-esteem" according to the Raineys. In chapter 7, "Words are Seeds", they claim that as God created with words, "...we share in God's creative handiwork when we use words that give life to our mate's self-esteem." (p. 105)
"Your mate will become the person you tell him he is." ( p. 111)
The idea that there is creative power in our words is straight from the heresies of the Positive Confession movement which in turn is derived from the New Thought movement at the end of the 19th century. The New Thought movement simply advocated the mystical powers of incantations and mind power found in ancient paganism. The Positive Confession preachers such as Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland often refer to the same claim that since God created when he spoke words, that we, too, can create when we speak words.
However, when God created the universe by his word, the significance was not that God SAID it, but that GOD said it. God is the Creator. We are to simply be instruments in his hands. We are not the Holy Spirit in our spouse's life. For our spouse to bear the fruit of the Spirit they must abide in the Vine (Gal. 5:22,23 and John 15:5). We can only be an encouragement for them to do so.
The Praise of Men
On page 107, they say that one must praise their spouse. " Everyone loves to be praised; your mate is no exception. William James wrote, 'The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.' Mark Twain said, 'I can live for two months on a good compliment.'" It is true, as the Rainey's say, that "Everyone loves to be praised."
It is true, as William James is quoted, that "craving to be appreciated" is a "principle in human nature". But this is sin to be repented of, not a "need" to be accommodated! The Pharisee's loved the praise of men! (Matthew 6:1-4)
"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)
It is a tenant of Humanistic Psychology that humans have "needs" for "esteem" or "appreciation" or "belonging". Abraham Maslow said that individuals develop according to a hierarchy of needs: First the physiological needs must be satisfied (nourishment, safety, and comfort), then the psychological needs (affection and esteem), and then the need for Self-Actualization. A Self-Actualized person, according to Maslow, will exhibit spontaneity, independence, social involvement, self-acceptance, sense of humor, and a lack of hostility. He will have had what Maslow called "peak experiences", including "mystical" experiences that he calls "transient moments of Self-Actualization".
But what Humanistic Psychology calls "needs", the Bible often calls sinful desires (e.g., 1 Peter 1:14; 2:11; 4:2,3; 2 Peter 2:10, 18; 3:3). Self-centeredness and the desire to be praised is sin.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content that." (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Maslow's idea of human development through the Hierarchy of Needs is the exact opposite of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Jesus acknowledges that it is the pagans who chase after their "felt needs": "what to eat" and "what to wear". But Jesus says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33).
WILLIAM JAMES AND MARK TWAIN
The fact that the Raineys quote William James and Mark Twain is very telling as to the worldly sources of such philosophies. William James (1842-1910) was an American philosopher who, with John Dewey, were leaders of a philosophical movement called Pragmatism. James wrote Principles of Psychology in 1890. His philosophy was, basically, that everyone must decide for himself the answers to the fundamental questions of life.
Mark Twain was a Freemason who wrote blasphemous attacks on Christianity.
Chapter 1 is called, "Giving Your Mate a New Image". In the section, "Give Your Mate the Gift of Value", the Raineys quote Denis Waitley (a human potential advocate) from his book Seeds of Greatness.
"Denis Waitley underscores the poisonous effect of fear and the releasing power of love. He writes in his first chapter, 'The Seed of Self-esteem': 'So then, the gift of value is the absence of fear..... people who live with optimism will grow up thinking they were born to fly!.... If our people are reminded of all the bad we see in them, they'll become exactly what we hoped they'd never be!' That's it - love casting out fear! Perfect love (God's love) is more powerful than the fear of rejection."
On page 37, the Raineys answer the question, "What is a Self-Image?"
In chapter 2, "Slaying the Phantom", is the section, "The Centrality of Self-Image". On page 38: "Your mate's self-image is central to all he is and does daily. In Seeds of Greatness, Denis Waitley calls our self-esteem 'the beginning and first seed to all success. It is the basis for our ability to love others and to try to accomplish a worthy goal, without fear.'" [But is that what the Bible says?]
Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem emphasizes the "centrality" of self-image in determining who we are and what we do. In Humanistic Psychology, the power of the self-image is based on the mechanism of the "subconscious". The subconscious is said to be an impersonal, amoral part of our personality that controls everything we are and will become. This subconscious is said to have been programmed with negative programming since our childhood and this is what limits us from achieving our unlimited potential. The purpose in life is to reprogram the subconscious with positive programming. This, of course, denies the role of our conscious selves where our moral will is operative and certainly ignores the sovereignty of God.
Humanistic Psychology promotes "affirmation", "self-talk", and "building self-esteem". The Bible tells us to encourage one another. There is a great deal of difference between Biblical encouragement and reprogramming the subconscious, or stroking each other, or affirming each other, or pumping up each other's self-image.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." (2Tim 4:2)
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)
Rather than trying to give each other a new "self-image", we are to encourage each other to trust and obey Jesus; to abide in the Vine; to love the Truth; to put our hope in Him.
We are to be motivated by Jesus' love for us and by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, not by the stroking of other human beings.
"We love because He first loved us" (1John 4:19)
RIGHT BRAIN - LEFT BRAIN
Barbara Rainey promotes the New Age popular mythology of Right Brain - Left Brain in chapter 16, "Securing Your Man" on pages 224-225. (See The Popular Mythology of "Right Brain-Left Brain")
In order to support these views that are both unbiblical and unscientific, she refers to a pop-psychologist who makes a living on game shows and talk shows.
"My understanding quotient took a giant stride forward when I read Dr. Joyce Brother's book, What Every Woman Should Know About Men ... Simply put, a man's brain operates specifically, while a woman's operates wholistically. The right hemisphere of a man's brain can and does operate without the left being involved, and vice versa. A woman's brain uses and integrates both hemispheres simultaneously. "
A discussion with any neurological scientist will reveal that these notions have no basis in fact. More importantly, these concepts are not derived from scripture. They are popular New Age myths that attempt to turn the human brain into a Yin-Yang symbol.
NEW AGE AUTHOR
How did the Rainey's come to believe the unbiblical philosophies and techniques of Self-Image Psychology? One indication is their reference to a book by author Dorothy Corkille Briggs, Your Child's Self-Esteem, published in 1975.The Raineys call this book a "classic work" on page 36 of their book. Brigg's book is quoted: "Children rarely question [their parents'] expectations; instead, they question their personal adequacy." This quote is in a section of the Rainey's book describing the consequences of a faulty self-image.
It is important to realize what Dorothy Corkille Briggs stands for since she has influenced the Rainey's by her "classic work". She does not profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Rather, Briggs is clearly a writer of "classic" New Age philosophies. Her other book (not referenced by the Rainey's) Celebrate Your Self - Enhancing Your Own Self-Esteem (1977) is filled with such neo-pagan themes as: "Positive Mental Action. Bathe in the Truth of You. Your Knower lives within. Your Knower is One with Universal Wisdom. "I am" affirmations. Positive Imaging. The Real Self. Inner Child. Within the assemblage making up you is a non-physical Beingness, a Conscious Awareness, an Inner Power centered in Love. Life Force. I am related to all Creation. I am part of the great Whole. Visualize the Inner Perfection created in You. I am one with all Life."
HUMAN IMAGINATION AND DENIS WAITLEY
Recall that the Raineys promote their concept of the "centrality of self-image" by referring to the human potential author, Denis Waitley and his book, Seeds of Greatness. To further expose the unbiblical nature of Waitley's views the following are quotes from two of his books.
In The Winner's Edge, Waitley says, "Perhaps the most important key to the permanent enhancement of self-esteem is the practice of positive self-talk. Every waking moment we must feed our self-images positive thoughts about ourselves and our performances, so relentlessly and vivid that our self-images are in time molded and modified to conform to new, higher standards."
In Seeds of Greatness, he advocates improving "health, self-esteem, and creative growth" by recording and playing back "positive self-talk".
In the same book he says that the "right-brain" can record "images and feelings about yourself". "Who you see in your imagination will always rule your world."
"As you see yourself in the heart of your thought, in your mind's eye, so you do become." (The Winner's Edge)
To rely on the human imagination is dangerous and leads to death. The human imagination is evil. Our only hope is to abide in the Vine, Christ Jesus and let him bear fruit in our lives by the Holy Spirit.
On page 203, the Raineys name drop Tom Peters and "his best selling book", In Search of Excellence and his audio tape series, "The Excellence Challenge", in order to illustrate a point about men's attitudes.
Tom Peters is the guru of worldly wisdom who promotes a worldly view of "success" and corporate "restructuring". The philosophies of men like Tom Peters ought to be exposed, not name-dropped.
"YOUR INNER CHILD"?
Dr. W. Hugh Missildine's book, Your Inner Child of the Past, is quoted on page 48 of Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem.
"Modern psychology documents that most first-borns are perfectionists. So also are many second- and third-born children because, as Dr. W. Hugh Missildine says in Your Inner Child of the Past, perfectionism 'literally runs in families.'"
The "inner child of the past" concept is another unbiblical concept from the occult psychologist, Carl Jung, and is popular with the New Age movement.
Dennis and Barbara Rainey's book, Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, represents the wisdom of man disguised as "Christian" by a sprinkling of superficially applied verses from the Bible. They rely on the subjective experiences of humans and on the pseudo-scientific observations and conclusions of psychology instead of on the objective authority of God's Word, the Bible. (See Questions for Christians about Psychology)
They turn a relationship with Jesus into a set of techniques for success in marriage.
The Raineys attempt to produce the "fruit of the Spirit" in their spouse's life by the techniques of "building self-esteem". But when you use man's techniques you will only produce counterfeit "fruit". Only the Holy Spirit can produce genuine fruit in our lives and only when we surrender and "abide in the Vine", that is, through a personal relationship with Jesus. He produces the fruit, not our techniques.
Far from exalting or esteeming "self", Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 that we should deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him. Jesus says in Matthew 22:34-40 that the two (not three, but two!) greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus wasn't, also, giving us a third commandment to love ourselves. He was acknowledging that even in our sin nature we love ourselves already: we feed ourselves, we clothe ourselves. He is saying, "Now, go and serve other people like you are already serving yourself."
FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS
The whole Christian life is built upon dying to self and serving God and serving people. We are to get our eyes off of self and fix our "eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Husbands and wives must realize that they are helpless and hopeless, but, "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
Through repentance we find forgiveness and then a life of surrender; of trusting and obeying. What we must respond to is, not any sense of our own worth, but the fact that Jesus loves us, and he wants to use us!
Husbands and wives who truly desire to be bond-servants of Jesus Christ will have marriages that are all that God desires them to be.
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves..." (2Timothy 3)
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." (1Timothy 4:1)
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ..." (Titus 2:11-14)