What does the Bible say about Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP) and is it compatible with the Christian faith?

Hi Alycia,

Thank you for taking your time to answer questions on RZIM Community.

My question is about the Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP) what the Bible says about it and if it’s compatible with the Christian faith?

I first heard about the practice at my church in Sweden by a guest speaker from England in November last year. Ever since then I have been concerned about this issue, why the church of Christ should look elsewhere for remedies beside the promises of God in His Word and His Spirit to edify His church.

Thank you/ Jeremiah

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Jeremiah,

Thank you for introducing me to NLP! I have never heard of it before! I can understand your confusion as I am surprised that this kind of teaching was brought into your church. I am not sure what the speaker said, especially in regards to specific remedies they mentioned, but in looking at NLP itself, it seems to me, from what I’ve read, that there are reasons to stay clear of its teaching.

This is what their website says
http://www.nlpu.com/NLPU_WhatIsNLP.html:

NLP is a pragmatic school of thought - an ‘epistemology’ - that addresses the many levels involved in being human. NLP is a multi-dimensional process that involves the development of behavioral competence and flexibility, but also involves strategic thinking and an understanding of the mental and cognitive processes behind behavior. NLP provides tools and skills for the development of states of individual excellence, but it also establishes a system of empowering beliefs and presuppositions about what human beings are, what communication is and what the process of change is all about. At another level, NLP is about self-discovery, exploring identity and mission. It also provides a framework for understanding and relating to the ‘spiritual’ part of human experience that reaches beyond us as individuals to our family, community and global systems. NLP is not only about competence and excellence, it is about wisdom and vision

Based off of this description, NLP to me seems like a way of helping people be further in touch with their consciousness, behavior and human essence. This understanding will help someone to better understand themselves as a human but also as a spiritual being. Their way of helping people get to that point of knowledge seems questionable to me because you would have to show me that that I am unable to be in tune with these things like I believe I am now.

But as I kept reading the site, I also noticed that they said, “As human beings, we can never know reality. We can only know our perceptions of reality” and later on it said, “In the belief system of NLP it is not possible for human beings to know objective reality”. It is these two statements which I think give further clarity to how NLP is problematic to Christianity. If we are going to say that we cannot know reality or objective reality, but merely our perceptions of what we think it is, then that goes for everything. Not just how you perceive someone else’s emotions, or how you know yourself, but how you understand God. See, if we can’t know reality, then we would have to concede that we truly can’t know God either because He is reality! That is extremely problematic! Who you are perceiving God to be, in their view, is actually not the reality. Who you think you are serving, is actually only your perceptions. Since they do not believe in an objective reality, then that makes the Christian start to question everything including whether or not there is a God or if truth even exists! Furthermore, how do the followers of NLP know that there is a reality that exists that we can’t perceive? You would have to prove that there is a reality out there that you saw or experienced and because of that know that you can’t perceive it correctly!

But that’s not what Christianity teaches. Christianity does acknowledge that we don’t fully understand God now, but that is different than saying that we can’t experience His reality of existence. 1 Corinthians 13 talks about the fact that now we see things in part, but then we shall see things fully! But that is a very different statement than what the founders of NLP claim. Paul is saying that we are only able to grasp part of who God fully is now, but when we are with God, we will see the full picture! But Paul saying we can only experience some of the reality of God is very different than saying that we can’t know it at all!

In fact, it is the truth and reality we know that helps us know God, the world around us and ourselves. The famous C. S. Lewis statement says this well, 'I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

I would also encourage you to read Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary argument against Naturalism. It basically says that we would have no reason to think that we have the ability to know truth if it wasn’t for the existence of God. The reason being is that there’s no reason to think that our brains would have evolved to know truth, rather they would evolve to know how to survive. It’s a helpful argument against NLP because it implies that without God, there’s no reason for us to think we could perceive truth, and in regards to NLP, reality.

But, if there really is a God, then we can know truth. We can know reality because we were created to discover those things. And since Jesus is the truth, every Christian can say that they have found truth. We perceive reality in Christianity, but we also encounter reality. We engage with Jesus, and Jesus shows us what reality is. The light has comes into the world to show us the truth, so that reality doesn’t remain in darkness.

I hope that helps you apply the errors of NLP to your own particular situation in regards to what the speaker said.
Alycia

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