Biblical Counseling and the Sufficiency of Scripture

I recently completed the ACBC Counselor exam as a requirement for my master’s in biblical counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as a requirement for certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Below I’ve shared two of (28) questions that I answered to complete this exam. These questions address the sufficiency of God’s Word for counseling. You can read more about biblical counseling and the role that ALL of God’s people are to play in ministering God’s Word to others here.

Are the Scriptures sufficient for biblical counseling? Explain your position. The Scriptures are, indeed, sufficient for biblical counseling. Therefore, they are the primary source from which the biblical counselor’s presuppositions and principles must be derived. The Bible must be the authoritative standard for biblical counseling. In his letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16, emphasis mine). Of this Scripture, Jay Adam’s notes the following: “Paul says then that there is no counseling situation for which the man of God is not adequately equipped by the Scriptures. . . This passage very plainly says that all that we need as the basic foundation and framework for helping others and helping ourselves has been given to us. . . The God of all resources graciously has given them to us fully in His Word” (Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 97). The solutions to the problems of this broken world are not found in the counselor, the counselee, or any other outside source. The solutions are found in God and His Word. Furthermore, the explanation for why this problem-saturated world is broken in the first place is also found in the Scriptures. God, in His Word, gives humanity the framework from which to understand and live all of life. There is no human problem that the Scriptures have not addressed, namely because there are no truly “unique” human problems (temptations and tests). First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man . . .” (emphasis mine). While problems may exhibit numerous and seemingly unique secondary features, the basic root of these features is virtually the same. Adams says, “Just as the Christian counselor knows there is no unique problem that has not been mentioned plainly in the Scriptures, so also he knows that there is a biblical solution to every problem” (The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 23). Hebrews 4:15 states: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Because Jesus faced and conquered every basic human problem without sin, the biblical counselor knows that solutions to all of life’s problems are found in Christ and His Gospel, which have been revealed to us by the divinely inspired Scriptures. God has given us divine truth and instruction in written form, so that we, as His children, may be sufficiently equipped to respond and live rightly in every situation and circumstance that we face in this life. What provision and grace! (Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 23).

Write a paragraph or two on the problem of eclecticism in counseling and your position in reference to it. Eclecticism in counseling seeks to combine the methods and principles of modern, secular psychology with biblical methods and principles. In eclectic counseling, the Bible is not foundational. It is not the starting point—the lens through which data may be processed and the guide by which counsel may be given. Thus, it’s principles must be combined with and balanced by the principles of modern, secular psychology. Adams describes it well: “The eclectic pragmatically attempts to take the best of everything and glue it together in a patchwork” (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, 92-93). There are number of problems with eclecticism for the Christian counselor. First and foremost, eclectic counseling denies that the Word of God is sufficient, able to provide the believer with all that is necessary for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” Through God’s divine power, which accomplishes salvation, the believer has everything necessary for life and godly living. This power for salvation is made possible through the “knowledge of Him” which comes from the Living and written Word. Adams writes, “So then, the Scriptures have the power to transform both our standing with God (justification) and our state (sanctification). . . To the extent that counseling is biblically based, it has the power to produce godliness; to the extent that the Scriptures are ignored (or diluted through eclectic admixture) it loses this power” (Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, 37). Eclecticism in counseling not only denies the sufficiency of Scripture for the counselee, but also prevents the counselee from experiencing that sufficiency through a changed state. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that the inspired Word of God is profitable and able to adequately equip the man of God for every good work. The Christian counselor (counselor who is a Christian) who insists that eclecticism is necessary is denying both the truthfulness of these Scriptures as well as the sufficiency of God’s Word for godly living (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, 93-94).

Secondly, “Christian counseling” that insists on eclecticism is a problem in that it doesn’t set forth a genuine, viable alternative to non-Christian counseling and, thus, hinders the evangelism that should characterize true Christian counseling. If so-called Christian counseling is no different than non-Christian counseling, then there is no place for evangelism. Of this, Adam’s writes: “Only when God’s counsel and God’s way is set off sharply from Satan’s counsel and Satan’s way can there be a valid comparison of clear alternatives that allow for the demonstration of the Spirit’s power. In other words, exclusivism in counseling theory and technique is not intended to isolate the Christian from the world (or from other Christians), but rather to prove an effective means of breaking in on the world with something different” ( Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, 22). .

Finally, eclecticism is a problem because Scripture is often “bent” and misrepresented by attempted integration of facts that are just incompatible. Also, because of this, integrationists end up with major inconsistencies in their methods and practices (Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, 96). Because of these problems, I feel strongly that the counselee is done a serious disservice through eclectic counseling, which ultimately distorts truth. Broken, sinful people living in a broken world-gone-wrong need hope that is consistent. They need hope that is truthful. Eternity depends on it, as every counselee (and human being) stands accountable before God. For these reasons, I cannot and will not counsel from an eclectic framework.

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