'New Life Live' Radio Host's Unsound Statement

'New Life Live' Radio Hosts Compromise to the Philosophies of Psychology

By Greg Cooper

Family and Marriage Therapist Dr. Sherri Keffer uttered a very unexpected message to caller Dottie from North Beach, Maryland, who dialed in to the nationally syndicated show, New Life Live, on May 22, 2017 needing some advice regarding her friend's behavior: "I'm the mom you never had", she told the caller - twice!

Odd messages such as these are coming from therapists and those who can be described as "Christian Psychologists", in the long standing #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show New Life Live , whose goal is it to help people with a variety of personal issues.  Its reach spans over 150 named Christian Radio markets.  Off-the-wall statements such as this warrant continued concern over how psychology conflicts with sound, biblical truths, and how it may be leading people away from sound doctrine.

While the case can be made that therapy-based tactics are often effective in resolving temporal problems, psychoanalysts such as the hosts of the show - whom likely have the best of intentions - go to battle against issues such as addictions, stress, relationship problems, depression and other dysfunction with methods that are often worldly and extra-biblical. Yet, they also stake a claim on the authority of Scripture, occasionally referencing verses and alluding to Christian concepts, which oftentimes exist only as side-notes in addressing a particular situation.

The attempt at mixing these two can become problematic.  On the radio program, one will rarely hear the hosts ask a troubled caller if they are a believer in Christ, or if there is a belief in the authority of the Bible, or if they are even seeking Christ or making efforts to walk in the light and turn from sin on behalf of the Lord.  The absence of such questions is troublesome.

Interestingly, there are at least some practicing Christian psychologists who at least understand the preeminence the gospel takes over human wisdom.  Sara Rainer, Doctor of Psychology, explained the relationship between psychology and Christianity:  "For Christian psychologists, our worldview must be determined by Scripture", she writes (link).

However, Christ-following believers who are called to be in leadership (and this can include psychologists, especially if they are practicing as a declared Christian) are instructed to use the Word of God for reproof and instruction (as well as many other requirements as listed in 1 Timothy 3), and are instructed to gain converts to the faith within the bounds of the gospel, something not practiced often by self-identifying Christian psychologists and therapists, and as in the case of New Life Live. This is unfortunate, since the opportunities that have presented themselves to share the gospel has vast potential to gain converts to the faith.

Much to the dismay of caller Dottie, her friends were seeking signs from their dead relatives, an open and shut case, biblically-speaking.  But instead of going to Scripture to address the issue (which strongly and affirmatively condemns communication with and signs from the dead, i.e. Leviticus 19:31), the show's co-host immediately focused in on the unrelated topic of Dottie's past: "I am going to probably start out with a question about you", said Dr. Keffer straight out of the gates, and perhaps unknowingly creating a completely fabricated challenge: " I wonder if when you were growing up, when you were little, if you felt like you mattered.  Or if you felt like you were more invisible...you weren't really seen, were you?"

In a near-psychic fashion, host Keffer had an immediate and starkingly accurate introspective on Dottie's childhood, with little to no information given, to which the caller reacted, "I am amazed that you picked up on that with very little I said about myself!" 

The question, which flipped everything on its head by focusing on the caller's hurt-filled past, does in fact sound similar to an approach a non-Christian therapist would take, such as the "No Nonsense" relationship radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger,who often authoritively turns tables on callers and often makes direct, blunt judgments on their character and current situation.

It seemed as though Dr. Keffer were setting caller Dottie up for something else.

New Life Live Founder Steve Arterburn
Founder Steve Arterburn, who has been introduced as "a leading authority on human relationships" (link), was also at the helm, and laughing off Kerri's insightful abilities in a light-hearted manner.

Dr. Keffer inappropriately placed caller Dottie in an awkward position in identifying a deep mother wound, and then claiming she herself was the 'mother Dottie never had' - all within minutes of her engaging her in conversation. Apparently, Keffer believed she was the only one who deeply understood and heard her pain, as a mother who listened well would.

But why a therapist would say such a thing to a caller after two minutes into conversation - one dealing with this kind of situation - is borderline demonic, if not just strange.  For Dottie, she only wanted advice as to how to deal with her friends' behavior, to which no biblical answer was given.  Instead, she was faced with an unfair and unrelated challenge of what Keffer described as her desiring "accolades" in wanting to be "seen and admired, remembered and acknowledged in legacy..." because of her concern over her friends.

With the doctor clearly on a tangent, this left the caller in an awkward position in defense of her own well-being: "I don't know about all that", she said,"but I have a husband that's..he's wonderful, and he practically cherishes me - is that different?"  Dr. Keffer responded by explaining it in from her own spiritual perspective:  "I would call that God's love for you, and God's redemption in giving you a man that sees you." 

The problem in this response this is that God's redemption to mankind is the sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ, who appeared to take away the sins of the world to those who would believe, which has absolutely nothing to do with a supportive husband.  The bible makes it clear:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

In this example, Dr. Kerri failed to properly address the problem biblically, created confusion and diversion regarding the concern at hand, assumed an authoritative motherly role in the caller's life, and followed it by offering an unbiblical truth claim.  All the while, Mr. Arterburn remained silent on the matter, except for offering up the idea that a sign from the dead could be chalked up to "coincidence", and not once alluding to the possibility of any demonic or spiritual influences, or that it could be answered biblically.

A third co-host, clinical psychologist Alice Benton, agreeing with Dr. Keffer, also pressed in on the caller: "When we hold back a truth about how we are feeling...it tends to deteriorate the relationship at some level" she told her caller.  " I think you have a truth here with your emotional reaction here with your friend", she said. Aside from sidestepping the real issue of Dottie's friends' behavior, her comments also bring up a greater concern about what she means by "a" truth, when Christians should be primarily concerned about "The" Truth.

Mr. Arterburn, seemingly having no problems with what had been said, finished up the conversation with Dottie by offering her a hand-out from one of his book collections, "Toxic Faith", which can only be assumed as the kind of faith he had diagnosed her as having.

With numerous psychologists also presented as an authority on the show, and with New Life founder Steve Aterburn preaching on pulpits as a guest speaker in churches all around the country, having co-written over 100 books accepted under a Christian genre, and being that it is broadcast on Christian radio and claiming to be Christian-based, the biblical bar for the show should be set much higher than it is.  New Life Live, with their arguably compromised hosts (Dr. Keffer and Dr. Benton's website both do not specify whether or not they identify as Christian or not), can be opening themselves up to spirits other than that of the Holy Spirit in influencing the hearts and minds of both callers and those listening in on their local Christian radio station, which it seems to be doing on a regular basis.

In avoiding this kind of bizarre advice stemming from human insights and wrong theology, New Life Live, rather than continuing to remedy broken human relationships with human wisdom, would be much better served ministering to the needs of their callers by speaking directly to their sinful condition and need of repentance in faith unto salvation, as well as encouraging and leading people to the cross of Jesus Christ by implanting biblical truths, and pointing hurting souls to churches and grounded Christian fellowship.  Instead, New Life seems to be offering people an overwhelming amount of worldly wisdom through a psychological, man-centered approach to healing, and hence missing the mark on sound doctrine, which, as we have seen in this case, can be quite detrimental to the cause of Christianity, the truth, and a right living before a Holy God.

Hear the full New Life Live show here:


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