Ted Engstrom

General Teachings/Activities

-  Ted Engstrom is currently president emeritus of the socialist-leaning World Vision International (WVI); he is WVI's former president and chief executive officer. During the 1960s he was president of Youth for Christ (YFC). Both WVI and YFC are highly ecumenical organizations with man-centered, humanistic ("religious" humanism) gospels. Engstrom has written over forty best-selling books on Christian leadership and management, and is an active board member of many "Christian" organizations (including Focus on the Family.) Engstrom is considered one of the top four "Christian" leadership "experts," the others being L.E. Schaller (author of The Senior Minister), John Maxwell (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader), and Kenneth Gangel (Competent to Lead). [World Vision (established in 1950) is an international relief and development organization "working to promote the well being of all people -- especially children. In 2002, World Vision offered material, emotional, social and spiritual support to 85 million people in 96 countries."]

Neo-evangelical Engstrom's two most popular books are The Making of a Christian Leader and Motivation To Last a Lifetime. Engstrom has written these two highly psychologically-oriented books on leadership under the guise that this is what the Bible has been teaching us all along. Both books are loaded with psychobabble being passed-off as Christian. In the latter book, Engstrom even favorably quotes Denis Waitley, who encourages the use of "positive self-talk" and "positive imagery" -- both occultic techniques (pp. 50-51)! (Details on The Making of a Christian Leader are at the end of this report.) It is our opinion that a Christian man in a leadership position would be infinitely better off reading the books of non-Christian management expert Peter Drucker -- at least with Drucker, there is not the pretext of a "Christian" model overlayed to sanctify the humanistic concepts being taught..

-  Engstrom endorsed Bill Hybels' book Honest to God: "I can think of no one more sensitively and culturally involved in the struggles with those who seek to live life meaningfully and authentically today than Bill Hybels. This is a book for those who want to make a difference in the decade of the '90s." (Hybels is a psychologizer [e.g., he extols the virtues of Jungian personality theory in Honest to God] and one of the leaders in the unbiblical "church growth" movement.)

-  Engstrom also endorsed Gary Collins' 1992 psychobabble book, You Can Make a Difference: "What a comforting, timely, and immensely challenging concept psychologist Gary Collins shares with us in this book. The message herein is really exciting -- and most of all biblical."

-  Engstrom is on Renovaré's "Board of Reference" -- Renovaré is an international, New Age, ecumenical organization that emanates from the religious traditions of Quakerism, whose message is that today's Church is missing out on some wonderful spiritual experiences that can only be found by studying and practicing the "meditative" and "contemplative" lifestyle "of early Christianity." In actuality, Renovaré espouses the use of the early pagan traditions of guided imagery and visualization, astral projection, "Zen" prayer techniques for meditation (i.e., Buddhism), and Jungian psychology (i.e., a blend of Eastern mysticism and Roman Catholic mystical spiritual tradition, which nicely fits the New Age model), all as means of obtaining "personal spiritual renewal" in the lives of believers. (For a more detailed description of Renovaré and its co-directors, psychologist Richard Foster and William Vaswig, see Media Spotlight's Special Report of March, 1992: "Renovaré: Taking Leave of One's Senses.")

-  Engstrom was once a Steering Committee member of COR (Coalition on Revival), a Reconstructionist/Dominionist organization dedicated to a social gospel/activism agenda that proposes to impose Biblical standards (e.g., Old Testament law) on unbelieving peoples and institutions. Though Engstrom is no longer a Steering Committee member of COR, he did sign its Manifesto. As an indication of what the people affiliated with COR believe, the following is from a brochure announcing the 12th Annual Northwest Conference for Christian Reconstruction. Does this not sound like a different gospel? (All emphases added):  

"The Christian Reconstruction movement believes that the Bible contains not only a message of personal salvation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross, but also a comprehensive law structure which is alone able to provide a just basis for society. It is committed to the view that sovereignty and thus government belong to God, and that all delegated government, whether to family, church or state (civil government), is to be exercised in obedience to the law of God's covenant. Furthermore, salvation involves every aspect of man's life and thus also the relationships he sustains to the world around him. The exercise of dominion in accordance with the terms of God's covenant is therefore basic and vital to the Christian faith. To neglect this is to deprecate the extent of Christ’s victory at Calvary."

That Engstrom has no problem identifying with this movement is a bit disconcerting to say the least. (For details of COR's unbiblical strategy for "taking the world for Christ," see COR' documents titled A Manifesto for the Christian Church, Forty-two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian World View, and Twenty-five Articles of Affirmation and Denial on the Kingdom of God. These three documents, along with COR's 17 Sphere/World View Documents, make up what COR calls its "20 COR World View Documents.")

-  Psychological highlights from Engstrom's 1976 book, The Making of a Christian Leader:

(a) Engstrom admits the source of his leadership insights: "... it is essential to have a clear concept of the nature of leadership, and to acquire this we borrow from secular research and analyze the Scriptures to formulate an adequate Christian philosophy -- and theology, if you will -- of leadership to guide Christian enterprises out of the morass" (p. 14).

(b) And leaders are lost without good self-esteem: "A person with low self-esteem has many difficulties. This is especially so for a leader, because his view of others reflects how he sees himself. If he does not feel good about himself as a human being, he will not be an inner-directed individual, but will constantly have to be bolstered and motivated by people around him [p. 85] ... You will develop a better and more adequate self-image when you begin to feel that other people are more worthy. Practice treating other people as if they had some value -- and surprisingly enough your self-esteem will go up [p. 87] ... What is true of the secular man as regards these traits is equally true of a Christian. His personality and feelings of himself can constitute success or failure" (p. 89).

(c) And Engstrom believes all this is what the Bible teaches!: "The Bible clearly points this out in Hebrews 11. The leaders mentioned there are as varied in characteristics as the situations required. A careful study of each person's personality will disclose the manifold diversity and ability of each and show that each had a high estimate of himself [!!!] to believe that God had uniquely chosen him for a mission" (pp. 89-90). [The Bible says that these were humble and submissive men!]

(d) Engstrom's "shopping mall theology": "The leader's personality is more often than not, then, what sparks the vision and enthusiasm and fuses diversity into unity. He has to kindle desire in others from his inner self, and that is why it is so important that he has a good, healthy ego ... The Christian leader should have the best feeling about himself because Christ has redeemed him and placed him in His forever family ... No Christian should grovel in the dust with weak feeling of self-worth. God thought enough of us to send His Son to die for us -- that makes us pretty important!" (p. 90). [This "shopping mall" theology -- that the value of an object is equal to the price paid for it -- has become quite a popular concept among the psychologizers in today's professing church. This "theology" goes something like this: "The death of Christ on the cross is God's price tag on the human soul; it means we really are somebodies, that we are of great value to God. After all, why would God pay such a great price if we're not worth it?" On the contrary, the Bible teaches that Christ didn't die for somebodies but for sinners. The price He paid on the cross does not establish my personal worth, but instead was required to meet the claims of divine justice. In fact, the greater the price, the costlier my sin, not the greater my worth! That the sinless Son of God had to die upon the cross to redeem me is not anything that should make me feel good about myself, but instead humbled and ashamed, for it was my sins that nailed Him there. How could that fact possibly build up my self-esteem? (Adapted from Beyond Seduction.)] 

(e) Engstrom's Freudian underpinnings: "Anxiety is the key to personality development because it provides a test for the ego … The way a person deals with conflict does denote whether he is a strong, healthy, emotional person, or one who develops neurotic symptoms. The way an individual thinks of himself and others greatly determines how he will face tension. If he has a weak ego, he will continually rely on defense structures that sustain neuroticism and prevent emotional growth" (pp. 86-87).

(f) Engstrom identifies with Freudian/Jungian personality theory: "Can personality be changed or achieved? Most psychologists agree that to a certain extent one's personality can change through emotional growth. Therefore personality cultivation can be achieved through training, therapy ... [another] way to cultivate an enriched personality … take self-improvement courses ... We hear much today about self-actualization from secular sources; the Christian leader must also come to grips with his need to develop his selfhoodNothing, however, can actually take the place of depth therapy that helps give a person insight into his own repressions, regressions, and emotional hang-ups ... It seems to me that the apostle Paul is a shining example of the power of self-realization" (pp. 91-92).

(g) Engstrom is a proponent of psychological/personality testing: "... potential leaders should be screened through the use of intelligence and psychological tests … Today as never before the field of testing is developed to disclose a person's normal and abnormal responses and motives" (pp. 122-123). [To the contrary, personality tests have been proven to have no adequate statistical validity -- see the Bobgan's book Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, pp. 131-172, for an excellent analysis of the worthlessness of personality testing.]

(h) Engstrom promotes the humanistic psychological technique of sensitivity training: "How does one get people to do what has to be done? … Sensitivity training is designed to make one more aware of the feelings of others. This is surely basic to understanding how to motivate, how to inspire, how to infuse a spirit of willingness to perform effectively" (p 131).

(i) Engstrom extols the virtues of Maslow's (humanist psychologist) hierarchy of needs: "… one of his primary tasks is to motivate his subordinates. A good help for a detailed study of this topic is the hierarchy of psychological needs introduced by Abraham Maslow, the father of modern motivation theory. His 'hierarchy' is the starting point for any deep understanding of industrial motivation" (p. 181).

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 1/2004