What Freud’s Pastor Got Wrong—and Why that Matters for Us

Gregory Thornbury | April 4, 2017

Event: 2017 TGC National Conference (Workshops)


We’ll talk about the Rev. Oscar Pfister, an evangelical Protestant pastor who was a close associate and friend of Sigmund Freud. Although Freud respected Pfister as both a cleric and also a scholar, Pfister focused on points of his agreement with Freud’s research and psychoanalysis rather than making much of the faulty presuppositions in Freud’s worldview. Most disturbingly, it seems this “man of God” whom Freud and his whole family clearly loved, never insisted on the gospel’s demands on Freud’s life. Not only was Freud never converted, he was lulled into think- ing there were powerful areas of overlap between his worldview and Pfister’s. The story is a cautionary tale for those who mistake “relational evangelism” and “cultural engagement” for gospel-oriented worldview apologetics predicated on incommensurable presuppositions.