Theophostics: Unbiblical Teaching Wedded to Mystical Experience (Theophostic Ministry)
by Bob DeWaay
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2Peter 1:3)
THEOPHOSTICS AND ITS KEY PREMISE
Theophostics is false teaching dressed in psychological garb: that is the point of this article and the premise I will defend for the rest of this paper.
Dr. Edward M. Smith, the inventor/founder of Theophostics Ministry (formerly TheoPhostics Counseling) claims that through Theophostics, 1. people are delivered from emotional pain, totally and permanently.2 Once free from emotional pain, these individuals can break free from sin habits supposedly caused by their “lie-based thinking,” and live free from emotional pain without effort of maintenance.
These results cannot be obtained through what Smith calls “cognitive truth” (understood by the mind), but can be obtained through “experiential truth” (found in subjective experience) in which a person is brought back to the first memory of a similar emotionally painful experience and receives personal revelation from the Spirit of Christ about that experience.
According to Smith, people who repent and obey God without having this experience are guilty of “performance based spirituality,” and are merely masking their “lie-based pain.” So the former alcoholic who quits drinking, but who still has temptations to drink, is merely “performing” and is guilty of “works salvation” unless he has a mystical experience that heals the true cause of why he or she started drinking (a childhood memory and a lie based on it) and thus never has a desire to drink again, without maintenance. Then the person is truly free. Here is how Smith describes it:
Often victory is falsely equated with the cessation of a particular behavior and its replacement with a more acceptable one. For example, we may stop compulsive eating or not eating by replacing it with daily jogging . . . We might quit drinking and overcompensate with religious behavior. Any attempt to overcome our lie-based pain by adjusting our behavior is works salvation (Smith: 164).
By Smith’s definition, what used to be called “repentance” or “faithful obedience” is now “works salvation.”
A key category in Theophostics is “lie-based thinking.” Smith defines lie-based thinking as thinking based on how one interpreted his or her first memory of an event that caused pain. For example, if a woman was sexually abused in childhood and then began to believe, “I am a shameful person and this is my fault,” that is “lie-based thinking.” Smith supplies dozens of examples like this. The point of Theophostic ministry is to have the Holy Spirit cause the memory to come back in a vivid, emotional way, and then subjectively reveal to the person what the truth is. For, example, the person might hear in his or her mind (not from the counselor), “it was not your fault, you are not shameful.” That revelation cures the person of lie-based thinking and the negative emotions go away instantly and permanently. Though this is supposedly a work of the Holy Spirit, it is evidently dangerous because Smith warns his readers that they need his training before they can be involved with it (Smith: 20).
It is important to understand that “lie-based thinking” as defined by Smith is not addressed in the Bible. This category has nothing to do with what the Bible teaches about “the lie” which is in opposition to the gospel. When Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free,” he was referring to His objective teachings, not a mystical experience that changes one’s response to a childhood memory. There is no record anywhere in the Scriptures of a ministry that brings subjective revelations to a person’s past memory and then changes how they interpret the memory.
Smith gives examples of what such lies are like: “Lies such as, ‘I am bad, no good, not lovable, rejected, abandoned, shameful, evil, and so on’ cause us to feel bad, not what happened to us” (Smith 86). Such “lies” cause the damage, not the event. The truth, however, is that the Bible itself says that we are bad, shameful, rejected and evil, if we are ashamed of the gospel and reject it (Luke 9:26). The person who had these thoughts before meeting Christ did not believe lies, but understood the Biblical truth about all who are unregenerate. We should realize how evil we really are and come to Christ through the gospel for forgiveness and freedom. The Bible never once rebukes a sinner for considering himself “evil.”
When Jesus offered to set people free, the religious leaders became offended and claimed they had never been in bondage. In fact they (like all of us) have been in bondage to sin because of believing “the lie.” The lie, as first taught by the Serpent in the Garden, is the idea that we can be like God through receiving forbidden knowledge. The lie is embraced by all who reject the gospel and will be taught by antichrist at the end of the age (2Thessalonians 2:11 in the Greek references “the lie.”).3 The lie in its simplest form is that we can trust man. The truth of the gospel says we must trust God on His terms. If we believe the lie we are in bondage and headed for hell; if we believe the truth through the gospel we are free and headed for heaven. Smith’s mysticism tells Christians that if they have negative emotions it proves they are not free.
This citation will show how brazen Smith’s claims are: “Once the lies are removed from our experiential knowledge and we find perfect peace, we are in a place where we can appropriate the Word of God in our lives” (Smith: 113). This means that we need Theophostics or the equivalent first then we can understand and live out the teachings of the Bible. If this is right, then it is impossible for one to be a Berean and search the Scriptures to see if Smith’s claims are true. A person would have to first blindly submit to Theophostic counseling, get rid of his or her emotional pain stemming from first memory experiences and the resultant lie-based pain and then when sufficiently free from “lie-based thinking,” one could get something out of the Bible.
Elsewhere Smith bristles at the fact that some people have written warnings about his teachings without first having gone through all the training (of course paying for it) and then watching the results (Smith: 138). He seeks to Teflon coat himself from correction by implying that all who disagree simply have not had Theophostic ministry or asked his permission to disagree (Smith: 137). That is like saying you would have to become a Mormon and experience what the Mormon church prescribes before you could discern if it is wrong or not. The Bible then cannot correct Theophostic teaching because those of us who study the Bible without having had Theophostic ministry are simply stuck in our cognitive “data base of truth” and cannot understand the Bible experientially.
The key premise of Theophostic teaching is repeated over a dozen times in Smith’s book. It is this: “Everything we know, feel, or are mentally aware of has its roots in a first-time experience” (Smith: 31). He further explains, “For emotional healing, we need to identify three basic elements: the present emotional pain, the original memory containers; and the original lie(s)” (Smith: 32). He repeats this later like this:
Once the original experience is recorded, with its emotional response and belief interpretation, it changes very little over time, even with the accumulation of additional data that is contrary. This original experience becomes the grid from which all similar additional life experiences are measured, interpreted, and emotionally experienced (Smith: 70).
For Theophostics to have any validity, this premise must be true. If it cannot be proven, then Theophostics has no point because finding the first memory and invoking a subjective revelation to reinterpret it is what this ministry is all about. At the end of this article we will return to this premise and discuss its validity.
Go to this link to read the rest of the article.
There are many articles through out the internet also rebuking this false teaching.