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Behaviorism: Slavery and Indignity


Behaviorism teaches the self-referetially absurd notion that we believe what we believe because our environment so conditions us.

In this article, R.C. Sproul Jr. touches on Skinner’s behaviorism and how it has infiltrated modern thought. What is missing from this dialogue is how it has also crept into conservative Christian circles (especially in homeschooling circles) via Michael and Debi Pearl’s book to Train Up a Child. In this book, the Pearl’s rely heavily upon behaviorism and pagan theories of behavior modification. They encourage parents to train up their children as they would a barnyard animal and modify their behavior via an intricate system of rewards and punishments. Why? Because Michael Pearl believes the Pelagian doctrine that the human will is capable of holiness apart from God’s saving intervention. He teaches that through a system of rewards and punishments, the process of sanctification begins well before a child is regenerated. And this behaviorism (not touched on in this article) is ripe in conservative reformed circles. For a brief introduction to behaviorism and the pagan foundation of behaviorism, read Behaviorism: Slavery and Indignity

3 thoughts on “Behaviorism: Slavery and Indignity

  1. Glenda

    What would you propose as an alternative? I’m uneasy about the Pearls too after hearing Voddie Baucham say something about their beliefs. He is a Southern Baptist reformed pastor I listen to a lot. He doesn’t recommend them either. I think he mentioned Shepherding Your Childs Heart whichIi haven’t picked up yet. Just wondering what your thoughts were. I have been using the Pearls for many years and think it works and they are right when it comes to training but am uneasy with their beliefs now and the treating kids like animals when training.


      Hello Glenda. I agree with Jonas. Tripp is a good one. I would start with the book of Proverbs. It addresses this issue as a way of wisdom rather than an instruction booklet. There are some good things in the Pearl book as well. They have some good ideas to help regulate unruly behavior. I just don’t agree with their underlying presuppositions and think it can lead to behaviorism.

  2. Jonas Baier

    I like Ted Tripp’s book. The important thing is that you give your kids a confidence in Christ’s finished work. Give them law to show them they can’t do it then the gospel to show them it has been done for them. This doesn’t produce immediate results like you might get from treating them like animals but it will produce a life long love for Christ. Just my thoughts. Not an official position of this blog đŸ™‚

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