understanding people

(1987) by Larry Crabb (also wrote inside out)


wrence J. Crabb, Jr. is a Christian counselor, author, Bible teacher and seminar speaker. Crabb has written best-selling books and is the founder and director of NewWay Ministries and co-founder of his legacy ministry, Larger Story. He served as a Spiritual Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors and since 1996 has been the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence of Colorado Christian University.

..was a student of psychology until he began studying abnormal psychology and personality theory. During graduate school he experienced a period of deep scepticism before being guided back to the faith by Francis Schaeffer and CS Lewis. His renewed spiritual passion convinced him that Christianity had a role to play in clinical psychology.

cs lewis



part 1 – a sufficient bible – finding answers in scripture

1 – how do we know what to believe


to depend so strongly on intuition is unnecessary.. if the subject about which we desire knowledge is something that follows no discernible pattern and is therefore completely unpredictable, then waiting for hunches to occur to us intuitively is the best we can do.. the subject matter for counselors, however, is a person.. while there is much that is unknowable and therefore unpredictable about people, *there are processes and principles that describe how people live..

yeah.. *i think that’s based on data from whales in sea world..

i don’t think we can predict people who are legit free (like god intended.. otherwise why the garden)

which is good news.. all the observing and predicting and inspecting is getting in the way of legit living.. there is a simpler way to deal with disorder/unpredictability/aliveness


the only arbiter available to settle the matter is reason. but both of us claim that reason is on our side. eventually, to prove my point, the best i can do is claim that my mind works better than yours and then hope that someday you will get smart enough to recognize the reasonableness of my ideas

that’s where we got teaching/preaching/school/work et al.. thinking we need to be telling other people what to do


empiricsm is aphlosphy of knowing which suggest that the hard data of observalbe and measurable exprience provides the needed authority

but there is no observable/measurable data of alive/free people.. just of whales in sea world (ie: once you observe/measure.. no longer alive/free.. process puts us all in sea world/chains)


empiricism has limits, however, first, the most an empiricist can do is report data and generalize about patterns. he can only say what is, never what out to be. empiricism can never serve as the route to moral truth.. description is the legit provence of the empiricist; prescription is out of his territory

reporting data, generalizing patterns, prescription.. all for non free people.. all killers of legit free\dom

but no one has observed all data or all possible data

we haven’t even seen any legit data (of free people).. ie: black science of people/whales law

many important realities are not easily reduced to what can be seen : love, meaning, joy, grief, justice, to name a few. when an empiricist decides to study this sort of reality he must define them in terms of their observable evidence. but in so doing, he finds that the very reality he describes slips thru his fingers..

doesn’t just slip thru fingers.. kills us

let go


we need a means of knowing answers to important question other than intuition, rationalism and empiricism if we are to arrive at a position in which we can have confidence.

maybe that’s the bigger issue.. thinking we can know answers.. and have confidence in positions

tree of knowledge et al in the garden

and there is one more possibility revelation.. in the next ch we discuss revelation as the basis of knowledge and consider some of the problems that come when we seek to depend on revelation for answers to question about counseling

yeah.. i think the problem is thinking we need knowledge..

2 – the bible warrants our confidence


the diff between ‘guided by’ and ‘consistent with’ is enormous..


and because all our conclusions, ,even when they enjoy the support of both theology and psychology, must still remain tentative, our decision to act must be governed less by what we think is true (since we simply do not really know) and more by what we think will produce immediate, tangible results (at least those we can measure).. that’s empirical pragmatism

if we don’t know truth.. how do we know what we want to measure? (not to mention that the measuring would kill it anyway)

his moral purpose in giving the scriptures is to gracioulsy point out our plight, inform us of his solution to the problem and instruct us how to accept that solution

yeah.. i don’t think so.. written on each heart.. more about non hierarchical listening.. everyday anew..

i think we (whales et al) made up the whole ‘inform/instruct us of his solution’


nature was not designed to be a textbook on life. the bible was.. the problems people bring to a counselor always involve a malfunction in life..

yeah.. am thinking that the problems people bring/get are from not listening deep enough to self/others/nature.. because we’re distracted by words/language et al

the plainness of the bible is reason to turn to its pages w confidence. although there is much that is hard to understand in scripture, it still is revelation in propositional form; that is.. it consists or ordinary words spoken by real people to other real people about rationally expressible matters..

language as control/enclosure.. ordinary words to who?

nature is not propositional revelation.. it illustrates rather than speaks; it presents us w unspoken observations that require translation in to verbal symbols in order to be understood..

this doesn’t even make sense.. the bible has to be translated..

not to mention its limits by use of words/language.. accepted/assumed/understood/taught definitions.. and by us thinking communication/understanding/translation has happened.. (shaw communication law et al)

a picture may be worth a thousand words, but when precision of meaning is what you’re after, sentences do a better job

precision of meaning is what we’re after? or well being? fittingness.. equity..

..the superior clarity of proposition revelation over any other form is argument for depending more on the bible *than on ..

clarity..? to who..? not across the board.. which is how got made/intended us.. so possible worse to depend on *than on whatever..

talking here of words in a book vs what’s already written on each heart.. huge diff.. and we’re missing it.. by thinking some way/people are superior and need to enlighten the rest

whatever the bible says can be trusted, because the effects of sin have been supernaturally blocked from staining its teaching.


again.. i don’t think god would pick something that isn’t freely/directly accessible to all .. no prep/train..

but nature has not been so protected.. what we learn from nature may reflect the results of sin..

isn’t that clear in the bible? that it reflects the results of sin?


whatever the bible tells us to do we may do w confidence that we are on the right path because the bible is perfectly moral in its teaching. nature is not.. conclusions reached from biblical study, therefore, deserve more of our confidence than ideas we learn from natural study


see big/ungodlike issues with *study and *confidence.. not to mention their enclosure/conditionality

both our power of reasoning and our intuition must be permitted a role in our efforts to build a counseling model.. but in all we do, the bible must provide the framework w/in which we work and the premises from which we draw our conclusions

so spanking? from your earlier comments.. a given?

i think god provided the overall framework to be love.. and the framework for the details of day to day ness .. are what’s already on each heart.. that everyone can access right now.. (not words in a book that only some can read directly)

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people


it is one thing to assert that the bible should be our authority in all that it addresses.. quite another to hold that the bible does in fact deal w all the questions that counselors ask.. in next chapter we move from considering the authority of the bible in developing a counseling model to discussing its comprehensive sufficiency for that task.. and that discussion requires that we take a look at the difficult subject of biblical interpretation: if the bible is sufficient, how do we find answers in the text to the questions counselors ask?

have all this backwards.. it’s sufficent love.. not authoritateive antyghing

so much human (whale) error in language/rules/B et al

3 – does the bible speak meaningfully to every human problem

more important.. does it speak meaningfully to every human.. answer is no.. need translations.. et al.. need people telling other people what to do.. which is a huge red flag we’re doing it/life wrong

we need to go deeper so everyone has direct line.. ie: bn – on each heart ness


as we think thru each of these positions, keen in mind that i am assuming the bible’s inspiration, inerrancy and authority.. whatever the bible says, it says correctly. its teaching are binding. the point now is to examine the matter of sufficiency: does the bible say enough to meaningfully guide a christian counselor in all that he does



preachers remain safely distant from troubling realities of their people’s lives, shielded by their commitment to exegesis. ‘husbands, love your wives’ the pastor begins. and for the next 30 min his congregation listens to the results of careful and sincere study of the text..

the issue that troubles me is that referrals sometimes reflect a pastor’s belief that the bible is really not sufficient to provide the help needed


the thought seems to be that the sort of problems mentioned will quietly disappear if people are caught up in the great truths of scripture.. pastors therefore don’t need to be concerned w the confusing and sometimes ugly details of people’s lives


on looking away (from details) for onw protection.. no diea what to do w tough questions.. maybe own lives are plagued w difficulties that reamin unresolve.d.. rather than runnint ot he scripture w the urgent questions raised by real life, perhaps they retreat frompeople and their question behind the acceptable barrier of scholarship.. real life reamins unexameind and relife question unansweree.. while preacher sprocalim a lifeless version of teh living word

but somehow the work of exegesis and interpretation as usually practiced has removed us too far from the realities of people’s lives.. something is wrong when the message from a loving god to the people he created becomes more an academic treatise to be studies rather than wonderful truth to be grasped and breathed

already on each heart ness


i wonder if emphasis on schalrship in many of our seminaries represents in part a concern not to discern the real meaning of th etext, bu trather to avoid humblin contact w the confusion of people’s lives

tree of knowledge ness.. lit & num as colonialism/enclosure ness


we are strongly cautioned to say neither more/less than the original writers intended to say .. when someone abandons this principle in an effort to find ‘deeper’ meaning.. his understanding of god’s message is controlled, not by the inspired words of the text, but rather by his own imagination

on each heart – if we truly believed we were made in image of god.. we would/could trust that

we are therefore permitted to find in the text a relevance that goes beyond what the human authors could have possibly anticipated.. somehow the applications to contemp situations should be tied to the plain meaning of the text if they are to enjoy the weight of divine authority



many christians insist that the ext, understood according to its plain, literal meaning, is comprehensively relevant to ever legit question that life presents.. the effect of this viewpoint is to disregard important questions by calling them illegit..


(according to this position) cure is to teach people how to live, reprove them for living wrongly, correct them when they go astray, and train them in godly patterns of living.. and the bible (in 2 tim) claims to be profitable for exactly those tasks

so many red flags


when the range of permissible question si narrowed our understanding of complicated problems tends to become simplistic. a commitment to biblical sufficiency has sometimes result sin shallow explanations of complex disorders. and shallow explanations promote the unchallenged acceptance of superficial solutions



when we limit questions allowed to ask .. result will often be a nonthinking/simplistic understanding of life and its problems that fails to drive us to increased dependency in the lord

4 – the bible is a sufficient guide for relational living

love is a sufficient guide for relational living



therapy deals w deeper issues than counseling because it looks beneath current complaints to the internal dynamics that really constitute the disorder needing correction.. that is the usual distinction: therapy deals w internal dynamics, counseling does not


counseling that tries merely to alter symptoms (ie: helping someone decide which vocation to pursue) is sometimes helpful, but always superficial..

counselors may effect some helpful change in the surface problems.. but therapists trained in the science of psychodynamics are necessary if deep change is to occur

yeah.. i think if we have to have people telling other people what to do.. that’s a huge red flag.. we’re doing it/life wrong

the point to notice is this: it is generally believed that a professional therapist is necessary to deal adequately w people ear a deep psychological level.. in a culture which accepts that premise counselors are permitted a very limited role, parallel perhaps to function of the pastor in a hospital.. must wait outside door while therapists and surgeons enter to cut skillfully and deeply into the roots of the patients’ problem.. counselors support and pastors pray, but only therapist and surgeons heal

yeah.. i don’t know


i think a case can be made for asserting that their fundamental error is a refusal to study and accept a biblical view of man.. because they have not accepted the guidelines of biblical data, their theorizing led them into an incomplete, unbalanced, and in some areas utterly immoral understanding of who man is and how he functions

the irony (get the problem but doing it yourself ness).. same whales in sea world.. as data

i don’t think we’ll get what we’re like (if we even need to) from study.. guidelines.. et al

i think we’ll continue to have an incomplete, unbalanced, utterly immoral understanding of people .. if we don’t just start with.. what’s already inside each person (made in the image of god.. already on each heart et al)

otherwise.. we’re compromising each one of us.. we’re compromising and loosing out on the dance.. all of us as one


the viewpoint i hold: bible is sufficient to answer every question.. but not because it directly responds.. rather.. biblical data support doctrinal categories which have implication that comprehensively deal w every relational issue in life

the deeper issue is that we keep having (and focusing on and obsessing with) issues we were never meant to have..

if 8b people were legit free to fittingness.. we’d find most (if not all) of what we need counseling/therapy/b-guidelines for .. as irrelevant s


as a church we have lost touch w the question speople would ask if someone gave them the opp

not just the opp to ask questions (because we’re all still whales in sea world).. we need 8b of us to be legit free first.. we need detox.. we need a global reset.. so that the questions we ask (aka: daily curiosity) are legit coming from the itch-in-the-soul .. (where the writing on each heart exists/lives/breathes)

on church telling people they have problems but need to go to a professional

costello screen\service law et al


all christians have deeply troubling questions that should be asked. many never voice them, however, because to ask them breaks the rules of our community. christians are supposed to have it all together.. many others have coped w life by denying their struggles for so long that they are really unaware they exist

need a mech to undo our hierarchical listening – to get to our legit voice buried w/in

and again.. has to be all of us.. we’ve all been intoxicates w ie: supposed to’s of school/work et al

and once it is.. pretty sure the questions would be way diff..

hari rat park law et al

until that happens, we are doing little more than preaching the gospel an instructing converts in an orthodoxy which require them to pretend that they have been transformed

yeah.. that.. only deeper.. (aka: all people/whales)

if we set all people free first.. won’t need the preaching/teaching


could legit longings for god somehow be perverted into a craving for bizarre forms of sexual relief

yeah.. but take out the words: perverted, bizarre, .. it’s everybody.. seeking to fill holes where their deepest needs have been stolen from.. been covered over..

the authority for our thinking depends on the degree to which it necessarily emerges from clearly taught biblical categories

you’ve just de humanized all of us.. via your own defense.. if god made each of us in own image (ch 6).. trusted us w choice in the garden.. how do we think we’re above that.. how do we think we are then able to judge ie: who needs teaching and what they need to be taught.. why else would he say already on each heart..

and.. how could it work any other way..? meaning ..any other way is a form of people telling other people what to do.. and with that we’ve all just been de humanized to robots/puppets/whales.. (he could have started out that way with us if he wanted us to be such)

part 2 – understanding people – a tarnished image and broken relationships

5 – how can people truly change


if we are to know how to move ourselves and others toward life as it is meant to be live.. we must address 3 vital questions: who are we; why do we have so many problems; what are the solutions

rather.. we need a means to undo our hierarchical listening.. otherwise just spinning our wheels with the surface/symptom/bandaid problems/solutions we’ve been perpetuating ever since we entered sea world

a means to reset us and quit unmooring us: 2 conversations

what makes us similar.. what do we hav ein common that defines us as human beings

great question.. ie: maté basic needs..

let’s org around those 2 as our infra


by what principles do people make decisions?

wrong question.. since 1\ we’re whales – so we only go by those voluntary complianced principles of sea world (aka: our answers to that question will be irrelevant to human being ness) 2\ assuming some finite set of choices – and decision making ness is unmooring us

2nd question: what is the root of our problems

healing (roots of) et al


our failure to articular a model of change is directly related to our confused and shallow understanding of people and their problems

spot on: black science of people/whales law

we’re not going to do a very good job of helping someone overcome depression w/o understanding why the depression exists in the first place.. we must have some clear idea of what is going on inside people before we can develop confidence in the directions we suggest

thinking if we focus on outside (aka: need to have no form of people telling people what to do)

hari present in society law.. hari rat park law.. et al


if a personal creator is behind all of life, then a true understanding of people, problems and solutions must be possible

yeah.. but we have to legit believe in that creation (in image of god) first.. otherwise.. we’re creating problems that are irrelevant to human being.. (because we keep on insisting on telling people what to do.. which compromises that image he made us in) and so then we’ll spend our days spinning our wheels/energy on symptoms/bandaids.. et al..


in response to question about possible links between the depression and life events, the counselee indicates that there is no clear trigger for the depression : no loved ones have recently died; health is good; fam relationships seem intact; no major crises have occurred; job and income are providing reasonable satisfaction

this is a great ie of not knowing what the deeper problems are and focusing instead on the symptoms/poison/cancer (ie: supposed to’s of school/work) as a guide

counselors are going to be guided by 1 of 3 modes: 1\ dynamic (medical – underlying issues); 2\ moral (improvement measured by behavior – hw assignments play a significant role in moral model counseling);

of course supposed to’s of school/work.. bandaided w meds


and 3\ relational (concern w unsatisfying relationships).. not that they are complicated psychologically or irresponsible morally, but rather that they were made to love and be loved.. we were designed for relationship.. we yearn for it.. our deepens parts cry out for intimacy and meaningful involvent w others

fitting w our findings:

1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

which we couldn’t see (that deep yearn for others) until we got to and listened to.. that itch-in-the-soul.. first thing everyday..

otherwise.. that what we thought would be relations/belongingness was actually stripping us of our fittingness.. and rather.. making us fit in (aka: become whales) in order to belong (maté trump law et al)

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown

6 – people bear the image of god


counseling theory always begins w a set of very basic ideas about human nature..

human nature ness

w biblical revelation as my framework.. i make two assumptions:

1\ people are similar to god

bn – on each heart

2\ something terrible has happened which has badly distorted the similarity

black science of people/whales law

my starting point as i try to understand people is this: people are fallen image bearers.. not lost.. just badly marred..

almaas holes law


four ideas on image of god: 1\ dominion over earth 2\ moral virtue (need hs) 3\ amoral capacity (need grace) 4\ similarity (reproductions not original)


the (4) capacities/elements of personhood..

1\ deep longings – the word for ‘pant’ in psalm 42:1 literally means a desire so intense that it is audible.. something w/in mankind is capable of longing for satisfaction in the deepest parts of the personality. both god and man have the capacity to long deeply

2\ evaluative thinking – ‘wickedness was great.. heart on evil continually.. ideas by which to guide life.. conclusions that determine intentions

yeah.. i don’t know.. this sounds too close to knowledge of good and evil.. and where all the red flags seem to initiate

not currently buying this one

3\ active choosing – man capable of setting direction and pursuing it.. ‘willing’ (setting direction) and ‘working’ (pursuing that direction).. man can choose particular goals to pursue.. and choose actions to reach those goals.. person can actively choose

i think this is another man made idea.. (not in image of god).. ie: decision making is unmooring us law et al.. i don’t think he made us to be spending our days on goals and decision making.. if so.. why the garden et al .. and why not the tree of knowledge et al.. ?

intellect ness as red flag

not currently buying this one either

4\ emotional experiencing – pleased, anger, sadness, ..


i suggest that the image of god is to be defined in terms of 4 capabilities: 1\ deeply longing for something personal 2\ rationally evaluating what is happening 3\ willfully pursuing a chose direction 4\ experiencing one’s world emotionally

to use our capacities.. we need outside help (god doesn’t) we are not sufficient for ourselves.. the essence of sin.. is a refusal to admit our dependence, an arrogant and foolish claim to an independence that simply is not there

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman


to sum up.. god is an independent person w capacity to long, think, choose, and feel.. a human being is a dependent person w same 4 capacities..

each of us is a personal being who longs deeply; a rational being who things; a *volitional being who chooses; an emotional being who feels..

*via own will

i still thinking rational ness and choosing ness unmoor us from our fittingness (authentically living out god’s image in the unique shell of us)

so i wouldn’t say they are the image..

and when i’ve said.. ‘god trusted us w choice.. because he didn’t want robots’ .. thinking now it was more that he trusted our wandering.. longing to explore.. curiosity.. listening to our itch.. et al..

the choice/goal ness gets us to robot ness – just as much as no choice/will.. i’m thinking that assuming some finite set of choices for either (choice/goal) is what compromises in-the-image ness.. compromises the longingness.. the fittingness

(next 4 chapters on these 4.. for purpose of developing a comprehensive anthropology that can answer the question ‘who am i’

7 – dependent beings: people are personal




cling to god in dreadful dependence