For the Christian, the person-centered psychotherapy of Carl Rogers has both its pros and its cons. On the one hand, one can appreciate the refusal of the Rogerian to reduce the human person to a set of behavioral responses or atoms in the void. Instead, the human is viewed holistically as a subjective agent filled with hopes, dreams, wishes and fears. Unfortunately, apart from this, Rogerian psychotherapy poses more problems than anything else for the Christian worldview.
For Rogers, the human person is the sole author of his destiny. This is quite contrary to the Christian worldview, in which an external source of values, centered in a transcendent, external creator God, becomes the only legitimate guide to behavior. This furnishes us with a value system that is completely opposed to the Rogerian view, according to which it is precisely in attempting to live according to the dictates of an external source that we come to experience health problems. Rogers’ problematic philosophy is overly idealistic, romanticist, individualistic, experientialistic, subjectivistic and relativistic. On the other hand, the Christian worldview emphasizes devotion to others rather than oneself, and conformity to an external set of values regardless of whether or not it conflicts with one’s internal, spontaneous desires (and it certainly will often do so). Indeed, this ethical objectivism is quite problematic for the notion of unconditional positive regard. An individual may be suffering mentally because they are disobeying God, and such behavior will have to change in order to live consistently as a Christian. This is certainly an expression of unconditional love towards the other person, but our regard of the other person may nonetheless be critical if their behavior contradicts that of the scriptures.
The Rogerian view is epistemologically problematic as well. As Stanton L. Jones notes:
“Person-centered therapy boldly states that when one’s self-actualizing tendency is “in-tune” with the organismic valuing process, trustworthy self-knowledge is fully obtained and should take precedence over all else. But to boldly assert the complete trustworthiness of self-knowledge is certainly not within the mainstream of the Christian tradition…The organismic valuing process is not an inerrant guide! No aspect of human nature is untouched by sin and hence inerrant.”
Indeed, the Bible teaches that the heart of man is deceitful above all else and wicked (Jer. 17:9). We are highly prone to self-deception and desperately in need of an external code for our epistemology and our ethics. This code is the Bible. The Christian is totally dedicated to serving and glorifying God and others rather than oneself, which is in complete contradiction to the moral imperative of the Rogerian therapist, who wants his client to be true to himself, to actualize himself, and to removing one’s own barriers for personal growth. Thus, the epistemological relativism of Rogerian therapy is too relavistic and subjectivistic for the Christian worldview from both an ethical and epistemological perspective.