One of the assignments that I have for my current Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) home class asks for reflections about my time on campus at Southeastern (SEBTS) last week. Thinking this would make for a few excellent blogs, let me share with you the thoughts that will become my paper.
Anyone who has read about the Biblical Counseling Movement will know that its origins come as a direct response to the secular psychological approach to counseling. Even so, it also came as a reaction towards the integrationist approach to counseling inside Christian circles. This approach tried to tie together psychological data with the biblical data claiming that each one came from an equally truthful footing.
Biblical or Nouthetic counselors rejected this approach due to the uncritical way psychological conclusions found acceptance without considering how they challenged foundational biblical assumptions. For this reason, upon hearing the topic of this DMIN class reported as “Biblical Counseling of Problematic Emotions and Addictions” and glancing over the textbooks on the syllabus, suspicion quickly crept into my mind.
Even so, I realize that Jay Adams, the founder of the Biblical Counseling Movement said in Competent to Counsel,
I do not wish to disregard science, but rather I welcome it as a useful adjunct for the purposes of illustrating, filling in generalizations with specifics, and challenging wrong human interpretations of Scripture, thereby forcing the student to restudy the Scriptures. However, in the area of psychiatry, science largely has given way to humanistic philosophy and gross speculation.
Here one finds a balanced and helpful approach to the stated goal of the class I recently took. Dr. Adams seems to make clear that the observations of psychology should find use inside of Biblical Counseling. The conclusions and thus treatments of psychologists which we know as psychiatry deserve only the strident, fair-minded critique of Biblical Counselors. That said, let me quickly make note that while Adams’ position seems clear, far too many Biblical Counselors practically ignore or degrade psychology and psychiatry all together.
To that, I must scream guilty as charged. The greatest benefit of this class occurred as it helped me to chart a way out of the choppy waters of intellectual assent to psychology’s worth, but practical aversion to interaction with psychological knowledge. In essence the class helped me to develop an Apologetic for Biblical Counseling. In my next post, I hope to detail what that apologetic looks like.