Sufficiency or No Sufficiency?

NickOfTime

During my years of teaching at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (1978-1985), I was asked to teach several courses in the area of counseling. I had never had a counseling course in college or seminary. Where would I begin? What resources were available to help construct meaningful courses in various aspects of counseling?

I had come out of seminary convinced of the doctrine of the sole authority of Scripture. I knew that without such an authority, nothing was worth preaching. I spent the first ten years of my ministry anchored to this important truth. There was no doubt in my mind but that the Bible had all the answers for life and living.

Nevertheless, as I planned my courses I began to question the degree to which the Bible actually spoke to this issue. Distracted by the cacophony of voices coming from the psychological world, I found myself being drawn toward some of the more popular psychological systems—especially that of Maslow. It seemed to me that there was at least some validity to what he and other secular psychologists were saying.

Given my earlier commitments, why was I so easily convinced that another resource would give better answers than the Bible? Why have so many other pastors and theologians been so easily persuaded that the perspectives of psychology actually give true answers to the difficult questions of the soul of man?

Part of what motivated me was a striving to become knowledgeable in my field of study and experience. The academic world pushes intellectual mastery, and to stay “alive,” one has to excel. I saw what happened to those who did not excel intellectually, and I was not interested in that!

Also, my personal experience seemed to confirm Maslow’s observations. His perspective seemed valid. It was not difficult to find examples in the Bible that seemed to fit his system. That was the beginning of my journey into the combination of biblical teaching with psychology. This combination is known as “integrationism.”

I will forever be grateful for Dr. Bill Goode, the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana, who visited our campus and stopped in one of my classes. That day in class, I lectured about how the Bible supported Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Following that class, Dr. Goode commended me for the counseling emphasis that Pillsbury had developed. Then he asked why I was using Maslow. He suggested that if the Bible did actually support some of what Maslow was saying, then I could teach it as well from the Bible as from Maslow. That was the beginning of my journey into actually using the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice.

A second experience at Pillsbury College was also pivotal. I was the dean of students, a job which brought me into contact with troubled lives and wounded spirits. Students came from all over the United States and from all kinds of backgrounds. Some had recently come to Christ and were struggling with the residue of their past sins. Others came from sound Christian homes and churches but struggled with growing and changing inwardly to become more like Christ.

At the completion of a fall semester, students were preparing to leave for Christmas vacation and time with family and friends. One young woman ended up in my office due to some chaotic behaviors that centered on compulsivity. I wanted to help! I wanted to believe that the Bible had answers for her deep and frightening questions. The truth is, however, that I did not know how to help her.

Shortly before this episode, I had become aware of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Pennsylvania. This girl’s home was in the Philadelphia area, so I connected her with the CCEF. Dr. Wayne Mack was gracious in meeting several times with this girl. She came back changed following the Christmas break.

I was impressed, but I was also convicted. I contacted Dr. Mack and asked if he would share with me how he helped my student, which he was happy to do. What he did made good biblical sense. He helped to reaffirm my conviction that the Bible really is sufficient. This episode also pushed me to seek further training in biblical counseling—and yes, it was at Westminster and CCEF.

Let me go back to my original question. Why was I so easily moved away from a doctrine (i.e., the sufficiency of Scripture) in which I so strongly believed? The answer lies in my own life experiences. The doctrine did not seem to work its way down to the day-by-day issues of life.

In my observation, many fundamental pastors face the same difficulty. Thus, they find some other voice for their people when they are challenged with complicated issues like the one that my student faced. This equivocation is tragic at the least and destructive at the most. If the sufficiency of Scripture is only a lofty doctrine to which we give lip service, but then easily set aside when difficult issues present themselves, then we do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture at all. The Bible becomes just another book alongside of psychology. We actually have become practicing integrationists.

I have come to believe that the Bible really is sufficient. It brings us real answers even for the most complicated problems of life. I will always be grateful for key people in my life who challenged me with regard to what I said I believed versus what I actually was willing to teach and practice. They helped to keep me from destroying people’s lives.

Their help was timely. It is not too late for you to practice what you say you believe regarding the Bible as your sole authority for faith and practice. God, in all His wisdom, has given us a phenomenal book—it is the sufficient Word of God.

Penitentiall Hymns. I.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

Lord, I have sinn’d, & the black number swells
To such a dismal sum,
That should my stony heart and eyes,
And this whole sinful trunk, a flood become,
And run to tears, their drops could not suffice
To count my score,
Much less to pay:
But thou, my God, hast blood in store,
And art the Patron of the poore.
Yet since the Balsam of thy Blood,
Although it can, will do no good,
Unless the wounds be cleans’d with tears before;
Thou in whose sweet but pensive face
Laughter could never steal a place,
Teach but my heart and eyes
To melt away,
And then one drop of Balsam will suffice. Amen.


Dr. Thomas Zempel served as a youth pastor for the first ten years of his full-time ministry before moving to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College to teach in the Bible department and serve as the dean of students. Following his six years at Pillsbury and his resident training at Westminster, he became the senior pastor in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. During his years as senior pastor, he had many opportunities to counsel people with a wide variety of needs. This experience helped to establish practical biblical skills which came out of the theological training he received in the area of counseling. It was this training that has allowed Dr. Zempel to head up the counseling department at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, hold seminars in several states, and teach and counsel in three foreign countries. Dr. Zempel is a member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, and has been a NANC Fellow since January 1, 2008. Dr. Zempel and his wife, Jane, enjoy three children and six grandchildren. Jane joins Dr. Zempel in speaking at family conferences and ministering in the local church. He also enjoys music, travel, sports, gardening, fishing, hunting, and woodworking. Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that this article expresses.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I appreciate the article and its emphasis. I struggle with the matter of sufficiency of Scripture, especially in this particular area--not because I doubt the doctrine of sufficiency in the least. I passionately believe that the Bible is 100% for 100% of what it claims to be sufficient for.
My struggle lies in the area of determining exactly what it claims to be sufficient for, or, more precisely, where the line is between "all things necessary for life and godliness" and "other things that are still helpful for life and godliness."
We also know that Scripture does not claim to be sufficient for, say, dentistry or brain surgery... and I keep getting stuck on the fact that we do not really know from Scripture how matters of the inner man interconnect with matters of brain and body biology.

It's easy to say something along the lines of "Scripture is sufficient to solve all counseling-type issues that are not due to physical disease," but in practical terms, I don't know how that works out because we do not know all of what is and is not caused by physical disease.

So, in short, my desire is uphold as strong a position as possible on the sufficiency of Scripture but it seems that those of us who believe in this have work to do to a) develop an internally consistent model for relating Scriptural information to non-Scriptural (as in, "outside of Scripture") information--a viable alternative to "integrationism," that goes beyond simply rejecting it; and b) how sufficiency works in practical terms when we are facing problems of attitude and behavior that may have physical (or as Adams likes to say, "organic") components.

In the mean time, one consolation is that so far, my counseling opportunities as a pastor have just about always been clear cut cases of needing to think and act biblically--and brain issues have not been a factor. So this is mainly a matter of theory for me (but for me, a "matter of theory" is not a matter that is less important).

N.F. Tyler's picture

The historic Protestant principle of the sufficency of Scripture (contra the Roman Catholic Church) is that Scripture is sufficient for salvation. As Article VI of the English Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1563) reads, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." Roman Catholicism, of course, erroneously taught and teaches doctrines which are not found in Scripture (which she admits; they are developments of the infallible 'Sacred Tradition', on par with Scripture, being equally the Word of God) and holds that assenting to these are necessary to salvation.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not sure I'm qualified to comment on what the writer(s) of the 39 articles meant by "salvation," but it's certainly evident in Scripture that "salvation" includes sanctification. That is, there are a buch of things that happen immediately, but the gradual transformation of a life is part of the package (in fact, I'd argue it's the whole point), and doesn't end until the "Day."

So I--and many others--would assert that the Scriptures are sufficient for the whole salvation phenomenon, including growing in Christlikeness/holiness. So the "sufficiency of Scripture in counseling" perspective is that counseling has to do with leading believers forward in their discipleship and that Scripture must be sufficient for that work.

On the other hand, can a physical condition hinder a person's progress in discipleship? Seems to me that it can (or can certainly appear to), and that's where I personally have difficulty w/the sufficiency-for-counseling models I'm aware of (to the degree I understand them).

Bob T.'s picture

From what I have read, the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture is a foundation principle of so called "Nouthetic Counseling." The scriptures do indeed present themselves as inspired by God, inerrant, and fully sufficient to accomplish the purposes for which they were given to men. The distortion of this doctrine has often led to cults or cultic thinking. Those who have refused medical treatment for illness have believed it was a violation of scripture to receive such treatment. Others have sought to use this doctrine for purposes beyond original intent.

Thomas Zempel is head of the Counseling dept. at Central Baptist seminary and a counseling ministry that they have. From my understanding he has an excellent reputation as a person and a counselor. The counseling ministry is based on Biblical counseling. They put Nouthetic in parenthesis behind biblical and apparently equate the two. Also, Central Seminary has used the book "Biblical Counseling," edited by John Macarthur which equates mental illness as being the class of mythology. It was at one time one of texts to be purchased for a counseling class. However, that may not now be the case.

In 1979 John Carter and Bruce Narramore, wrote the book "The Integration of Psychology and Theology" and introduced what they called "The Integrates Model" for the integration of the two disciplines. They affirmed that the Christian must accept all the clear and basic doctrines set forth in scripture including the doctrine of anthropology. They also affirmed that since God is the creator of all things it affirms that there is a unity of all truth. However, they set forth the thesis that all truth apart from scripture is fallen truth. That is it comes from fallen sources and may have wrong conclusions. We see this in the life sciences. The established facts are true and a basis for medical practice. The fallen conclusions occur when the facts are sought to be used to construct the theory of evolution. In the fields of Psychology and Psychiatry truthful facts amy be gathered and of use in understanding some of behavior. However, such facts should not be used to construct conclusions or theories contrary to the clear doctrines of scripture.
I personally do not agree with all that the book sets forth. but some of there fundamental principles are not contrary to scripture and provide a truly biblical approach to epistemology.

Psychiatry and Psychology have had a foundation that was not biblical and many conclusions and theories that have been contrary to scripture and some blatantly against God and the Bible. However, there has been a great deal of change and increased objective knowledge that the Christian must be aware of. Jay Adams was so against Psychiatry that he recommended a medical examination by a Physician but would defame Psychiatry. Since the 1970s much has changed. There have been the extensive study and gathering of medical facts. Genetic studies, double blind social studies, brain scans, and the accumulation of treatment data has made Psychiatry abandon a great deal of Psychotherapy for medical treatment. The brain is still a mystery. But we know much more than thirty years ago. Schizophrenia and Psychotic Bipolar have been established as genuine Psychiatric disorders which can be called mental illness. This is not "Mind" illness which is the aspect of the soul spoken of in scripture which is immaterial, but mental having to do with the process of the mind working through and with the physical organ of the Brain. Mental illness is organic disease. Childhood Schizophrenia is now fully classified separately and is now Autism. Schizophrenia and Psychotic Bipolar occur in the late teens or early twenties (and as late as the thirties in females) when the last development of the Brain frontal lobe occurs. Some of the literature put out by NANCE and CCEF gives some validity to such but still speak of such Psychiatric disorders in a doubtful way and still do not understand present day Psychiatry. Psychiatry today is far removed from Freud, many old Psychotherapy models, and other conclusions that were contrary to God and scripture. Yes, some privater practice Psychiatrists are kooks and many Psychologists, especially some Christian are also kooks not a technical word. That is where discerning epistemology not dumping all must occur.

We have now founded and started a group called "CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS." The purpose is to have a foundation of peer group meetings for the caretakers and family and friends of the Mentally Ill.

Some of us do not equate Nouthetic Counseling with biblical counseling. We do not equate their anecdotal stories or help and cure as any more valid than that kind of evidence from Psychology which they have rejected in the past. Biblical counseling both informal and formal existed in the churches for decades prior to 1970 when Jay Adams invented a Nouthetic Counseling and its foundation principles out of thin air. True Biblical counseling rejects the limitations and foundation assumptions of the Nouthetic model. The word nouthos is never used in scripture with an intent of being part of a principle or foundation for counseling. It is part of the normal informal process of interaction among all Christians. Peer counseling by Christians and Elders is the most effective. Especially when occurring by those of similar problems and experience. This has actually been the finding of Psychology social studies and why we taught a class on counseling from time to time in our church. We covered values, specific common problems, process, and common sense application of scripture. No professionalism.

I will not go into the limitations of Nouthetic Counseling. That requires an extensive discussion. However, there are many who do give testimony of the lack of sympathy, mis placement of responsibility, and harm that has occurred from the counsel of a formally trained Nouthetic counselor. Also, the establishing of a certification by NANCE, and degree programs majoring in Nouthetic counseling has established a new professionalism based upon an incomplete and sometimes contrived curriculum. It has produced prejudices that have prevented the proper second premise application of scripture.
The sufficiency of scripture is not violated by the discerning use and acceptance of that truth which may come from Psychiatry and Psychology. All mental illness must be treated as a Psychiatric disorder which requires Psychiatric care. There should be no hesitance in acknowledging this and declaring the wonderful advancements of medicine and Psychological social studies that has produced much helpful objective truth which has advanced treatment. Such does not violate the sufficiency of scripture.

In the last three weeks I have had conversation with the Pastors and the assistant Pastors of two churches. One of 900 and the other of 1700 in attendance. One Pastor is a graduate of Masters College and one assistant Pastor is a graduate of Masters Seminary. All brought up the subject of Nouthetic Counseling. All now have problems with Nouthetic counseling because of their members being counseled wrongly and/ or seminars in their church taking an approach they viewed as wrong and potentially harmful. I was engaging them regarding seeking to establish a peer group as part of "Christian Alliance on Mental Illness."

We need to hold to a proper application of the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think a good course on the "Nouthetic vs. other" front is to avoid generalizing too much about either one, though we might disagree about what constitutes "too much" for one or the other.
Certainly there are wise, sensitive, godly "Nouthetic" counselors out there (I know a few personally) and certainly there are those who are handling Scripture poorly and/or handling people poorly. The same can be said for all of the alternatives. But it's pretty much impossible for people who believe the Bible and are even half trying to use it to help people to not "out score" those who are not attempting to do either one!

Among "Christian" approaches that pursue integration with psychology in one way or another, the lack of a thought-through relationship between Scripture and "other" that I've alluded to also exists--often to a far greater degree and with far more damaging results.
But yes, I've met some whom others would class as "integrationist" who, as far as I can tell, are doing a fine job.

I don't want my criticisms of the "sufficiency of Scripture for counseling" models I'm aware of to be taken as an expression of preference for some alternative, because I have not yet found anything I believe is better. Rather, I hope to see biblical counseling become stronger by working out something better than "integrationism." (I put this term in quotes because many I've read seem to mean something by it that I would never use the term for myself... and that I'm not sure many who are labeled that way would own either).

"Nouthetic" is a term that counselors use with different intents as well. Jay Adams, for example, means something very specific and detailed by it and doesn't appreciate how many others use it. But the term derives from NT Greek word for warn/admonish/instruct, so people with differing ideas on the details can't be prevented from legitimately claiming the term according to their own understanding of it. (But I also think Jay's well within his rights to be annoyed by some of the way off stuff out there that is claiming the term!)

Jamie Hart's picture

There is a concerted effort by Randy Patten and other nouthetic leaders to repair some of the damage, and to combat some of the misconceptions of the movement. At the past several conferences I've attended, grace and love have been a big emphasis. Brad Bigney said it simply...and well..."LOVE is a key element often missing in biblical counseling." Also, the presence of CCEF, BBC, and other organizations speaks to a desire to learn from one another...and I think it's a wonderful change. All that say, the "Nouthetic" label is changing...at least it seems to be the desire of the leadership to change it.

Jamie Hart's picture

Aaron...just gathering a little data here Smile
How much biblical counseling training have you had?
Where did you receive it?
How often have you / do you counsel?
How often have "organic" issues impacted the way you've counseled?

Jamie Hart's picture

I take a "softer" stance than many of the NANC counselors of the past concerning organic issues. By way of example, just a few months back I counseled a gentleman who was diagnosed Bi-polar, and told he an illness called "Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome" (he couldn't stand the sound of people eating, clicking pens, etc). His psychiatrist basically said he could do nothing for him and that needed to seek counseling some place else. I didn't question whether or not these were simply labels or legitimate illnesses...they were certainly legitimate to him! So really, I didn't even touch it. I asked him to please let me know if any of the noises I made in the counseling room bothered him, as I wanted to avoid them. Other than that, I simply treated it as I would have a stomach problem, or cancer. Let's learn how to live in such a way that God is honored through this difficulty. His "illnesses" didn't abdicate his responsibility to love and obey God and to love others above himself. So we carefully looked at his life, his thoughts and heart motives, and worked at living life in way that God was honored. It went well (not all of cases like this do).

My point is these "organic" issues don't change the sufficiency of Scripture, IMO. God's word still teaches us how to live for His desires above our own even if we are "sick." Most of the secular models deny a spiritual element to man...and therefore they fall far short. If I'm bi-polar, my heart is still wicked and I need to learn to guard it. If I'm diagnosed with seasonal depression, then I need to learn to love and honor God through that difficulty.

RPittman's picture

Bob T. wrote:
In 1979 John Carter and Bruce Narramore, wrote the book "The Integration of Psychology and Theology" and introduced what they called "The Integrates Model" for the integration of the two disciplines. They affirmed that the Christian must accept all the clear and basic doctrines set forth in scripture including the doctrine of anthropology. They also affirmed that since God is the creator of all things it affirms that there is a unity of all truth. However, they set forth the thesis that all truth apart from scripture is fallen truth. That is it comes from fallen sources and may have wrong conclusions. We see this in the life sciences. The established facts are true and a basis for medical practice. The fallen conclusions occur when the facts are sought to be used to construct the theory of evolution. In the fields of Psychology and Psychiatry truthful facts amy be gathered and of use in understanding some of behavior. However, such facts should not be used to construct conclusions or theories contrary to the clear doctrines of scripture.
I personally do not agree with all that the book sets forth. but some of there fundamental principles are not contrary to scripture and provide a truly biblical approach to epistemology.
The whole weakness of this approach is an inadequate understanding of truth and what is workable. Or, we may say understanding the difference between truth (what works) and Truth (what is eternal, universal, etc.) I would say that its precise weakness is epistemology and it does not exemplify a Biblical approach to epistemology. Furthermore, I question the use of "facts' so-called. Actually, these are better called observations. Even so, there is no brute factuality.

The parallel is drawn between science and medicine to psychology and psychiatry. The parallel doesn't actually track very well. Medicine is much closer to a science because it can be measured, replicated and tested. Psychology and psychiatry are more akin to the humanities, philosophy in particular, because of the lack of quantification and a multitude of uncontrolled variables. My field is psychometrics and our best methods in the affective domain and pathologies are no more accurate than the trained and experienced observer.

The idea of integrating psychology and theology was around for a long time before Carter and Narramore. The Liberals tried this schema for decades before evangelicals got around to it. It didn't work for them and it hasn't worked for Carter and Narramore either. They all came up lacking in the end. Now, the Fundamentalists have to have a go at it, I suppose.

RPittman's picture

Bob T. wrote:
Psychiatry and Psychology have had a foundation that was not biblical and many conclusions and theories that have been contrary to scripture and some blatantly against God and the Bible. However, there has been a great deal of change and increased objective knowledge that the Christian must be aware of. Jay Adams was so against Psychiatry that he recommended a medical examination by a Physician but would defame Psychiatry. Since the 1970s much has changed. There have been the extensive study and gathering of medical facts. Genetic studies, double blind social studies, brain scans, and the accumulation of treatment data has made Psychiatry abandon a great deal of Psychotherapy for medical treatment. The brain is still a mystery. But we know much more than thirty years ago. Schizophrenia and Psychotic Bipolar have been established as genuine Psychiatric disorders which can be called mental illness. This is not "Mind" illness which is the aspect of the soul spoken of in scripture which is immaterial, but mental having to do with the process of the mind working through and with the physical organ of the Brain. Mental illness is organic disease. Childhood Schizophrenia is now fully classified separately and is now Autism. Schizophrenia and Psychotic Bipolar occur in the late teens or early twenties (and as late as the thirties in females) when the last development of the Brain frontal lobe occurs. Some of the literature put out by NANCE and CCEF gives some validity to such but still speak of such Psychiatric disorders in a doubtful way and still do not understand present day Psychiatry. Psychiatry today is far removed from Freud, many old Psychotherapy models, and other conclusions that were contrary to God and scripture. Yes, some privater practice Psychiatrists are kooks and many Psychologists, especially some Christian are also kooks not a technical word. That is where discerning epistemology not dumping all must occur.
I disagree with the general tenor and tone here. The impression of Jay Adams is unfair and inaccurate. To say the he "would defame Psychiatry" is to misrepresent his views on the subject. To critique a subject is not necessarily to defame it. The word choice is highly prejudicial.

I have three distinct perspectives on the ideas discussed in this paragraph--biochemistry, psychology, and Biblical (Nouthetic) counseling. From all three perspectives, I questioned this material as presented. It is an over-confident and over-simplified presentation. There appears to be a denigrating attitude toward NANCE and CCEF in that they "still do not understand present day Psychiatry." Yet, I can find no persuasive evidence of an astute understanding of brain biochemistry and the disorders mentioned by the poster. The state of the art is a black box with some knowledge of input and output. It is a complexity of competing theories and models with some temporal results. At best, we are treating symptoms. The goal of Biblical (Nouthetic) counseling, on the other hand, is to identify the cause and remediate it.

The prevalent belief in psychology and psychiatry today is that all is physical. Thought is chemical. Behavior is hardwired and genetic. There is nothing beyond the physical-chemical-programmed brain. All their methods are based on this model. Now, what do Christians, who believe in a spiritual nature of man inexplicably intertwined with emotional, mental, physical man, have in common with those who deny the spiritual, eternal soul of man? How can their methods, developed for different ends, serve our purposes?

Finally, many unsupported generalizations are made. For example, the poster wrote: "Mental illness is organic disease." Now, how does he know this? If so, how does talk therapy help? Studies indicate that talk therapy and drug therapy are approximately equal in success. Do we understand the etiology of the condition? Did the thought/behavior produce the chemical state or did the chemical state generate the thought/behavior? If sexual thoughts can stimulate premature breast development in young girls, then it is not unreasonable to posit that thoughts can create chemical scenarios in the brain. At the most basic level, it is evident that we have a long way to go.

RPittman's picture

Bob T. wrote:
Some of us do not equate Nouthetic Counseling with biblical counseling. We do not equate their anecdotal stories or help and cure as any more valid than that kind of evidence from Psychology which they have rejected in the past. Biblical counseling both informal and formal existed in the churches for decades prior to 1970 when Jay Adams invented a Nouthetic Counseling and its foundation principles out of thin air. True Biblical counseling rejects the limitations and foundation assumptions of the Nouthetic model. The word nouthos is never used in scripture with an intent of being part of a principle or foundation for counseling. It is part of the normal informal process of interaction among all Christians. Peer counseling by Christians and Elders is the most effective. Especially when occurring by those of similar problems and experience. This has actually been the finding of Psychology social studies and why we taught a class on counseling from time to time in our church. We covered values, specific common problems, process, and common sense application of scripture. No professionalism.
I protest that this is an inaccurate and unfair treatment of Jay Adams and Nouthetic counseling. One does not have to agree with something but fairness demands that one accurately represent the thing being critiqued. I suggest that the poster read Jay Adams and learn how he came to his conclusions. One may say, "I think Jay Adams is wrong," but he cannot honestly and truthfully say, "Jay Adams invented a Nouthetic Counseling and its foundation principles out of thin air." BTW, it appears that the poster is horribly ignorant of what Jay Adams really teaches. Jay is a strong proponent of peer-to-peer counseling, especially within the context of the church with the involvement of Elders. The views expressed are very skewed and misrepresent Nouthetic counseling in general and Jay Adams in particular.

RPittman's picture

N.F. Tyler wrote:
The historic Protestant principle of the sufficency of Scripture (contra the Roman Catholic Church) is that Scripture is sufficient for salvation. As Article VI of the English Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1563) reads, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." Roman Catholicism, of course, erroneously taught and teaches doctrines which are not found in Scripture (which she admits; they are developments of the infallible 'Sacred Tradition', on par with Scripture, being equally the Word of God) and holds that assenting to these are necessary to salvation.
But, if we're using II Peter 1:3 as a proof text, it specifically states "all things that pertain unto life and godliness."

Jamie Hart's picture

I thought this quote was worthy of posting. David Powlison shares the following quote from Bonhoeffer in the introduction to http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-New-Eyes-Counseling-Condition/dp/087552608X ]"Seeing with New Eyes."

Quote:
The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature know infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The great psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet ne never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother know when I come to him: here is sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God's forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ (emphasis mine)

How can a methodology of dissecting and correcting human behavior whose foundational principles ignore the basics of Christianity (there is a God, He is holy, and we are sinners) play any part of BIBLICAL life change?

Bob T.'s picture

To RPittman and other Nouthetism defenders:

1. My accuracy on Jay Adams is well documented by the books of Jay Adams such as "The big Umbrella." The present NANC website posts anti Psychiatric statements. Oh yes, the word choice is definitely highly prejudicial. I am arguing against him and his ideas.

2. There was a recent Sharper Iron thread that involved an interview with Jay Adams done by Aaron. I would suggest one read that thread instead of raising the same defense issues here.

2.The post #13 citing David Powlison of CCEF is a post defaming Psychiatrists. So we do not have to go far to get that type of information from Nouthetic sources do we.

3. If Jay Adams did not originate Nouthetic counseling from thin air perhaps one can direct us to a pre Jay Adams Nouthetic counselor advocate or sources. By his own admission he was seeking to call people back to what he called Biblical counseling. I was trained in Biblical counseling in seminary before Jay Adams was really heard of. The training used the Bible as the text and simply applied it to commonly encountered problems encountered in Pastoral ministry. There were a couple texts used also. One was "Counseling from the Bible. Can't remember the author and it is no longer in my library.

4. So far as integration of Psychology is concerned, some have set forth three main theories: 1. The against model where all is bad and must be avoided. This is the Fundamentalist model which accepts Nouthetic Counseling because they do not know how to handle second premise truth of Biblical application; 2. The absorption model which accepts all as equal and complimentary to biblical truth. The liberal theology believers practice this; 3. The parallels model which places such truth along side each other and makes little attempt to integrate; 4.The integrates model which places scripture at full inerrancy on all to which it speaks and truth discovered outside scripture as from fallen sources which must be subservient to scripture. However, it recognizes that something really true is always God's truth as He created all things apart from Himself. As I gave testimony on the prior thread, I was an "against model" and Nouthetic supporter converted when confronted with mental illness involving our son. Since that time I have had constant contact with the mentally ill and all that they go through and what must be done for treatment. Medical diagnosis, treatment with drugs, and constant monitoring is the only successful treatment for Psychotic Brain disease. These are the real people who have real problems. All non Psychotic and non organic are best handled by biblical counseling by people not exposed to Nouthetic counseling theories and approaches. Nouthetic counselors are neither totally biblical and often lack the necessary life experience or Pastoral experience to help significantly.

5. The quote given in a prior post that is by David Powlison illustrates why those involved with the really mentally ill consider Nouthetic counseling dangerous. My son has had four different Psychiatrists from the county mental health who he has seen. Non have been Christians. It makes little difference. They make the diagnosis and have tried different medication and monitored results. He does better on the Rispidal, an older anti Psychotic drug. Some of the newer drugs such as Abilify have worked wonders on some patients but were not suitable to him. When going to a physician, it is always nice to have a Christian. But most want and accept the best at his practice and rarely ask for only a God believer or a Christian. It is so with treatment of Mental illness (Brain Disease). The statement by Powlison about understanding sin and not believing in God is of little value in these cases. Psychiatry, as actually practiced today, is not as presented by Nouthetic writers. The Psychiatrist prescribes not talks. The Psychologist talks (Psychotherapy). The Talking Psychologist can be replaced by a Loving Biblical counselor but preferably not a Nouthy as they have a poor reputation with Psychiatric cooperation. Powlison should give that tirade the Cardiologist, Oncologist, or heart surgeon if he ever needs one and let them read it. But if he is taken into ER he should probably wait until they have treated him.

6. Biblical counseling yes. Nouthetic counseling no.

7. Jamie Hart reflects the Nouthetic viewpoint that just never gets it. I have been talking about Mental illness which is organic Brain disease effecting 6% of the general population. He is talking about biblical life change, which by the way falls under the authority of scripture, and is delegated to the church, and then to elders not counselors. According to the Barna group only 5% of the adult population are born again Christians of minimal biblical understanding. Do we have too many Nouthetic counselors and not enough evangelists of the personal evangelism type?

8. One Nouthetic counselor is one too many. Spiritual problems the responsibility of Elders and church members not counselors waving a piece of paper that declares them "certified." Let us get back to real Biblical counseling and recognize that the Bible gives us authority to allow other truth and treatment to help those with other than just spiritual problems to receive the medical help available by Psychiatry.

Again, every one needs to see the movie "The Soloist." Now on DVD and a true story that reasonably represents what many Mentally ill and those who care for them go through. Until you have dealt with those who are going through a Psychotic episode and stand looking at you and don't know you or attack you, you haven't begun to learn the basics of mental illness.

Joel Shaffer's picture

I must agree with Bob on this one. Many years ago, I ran a transitional shelter for homeless men and some of our residents were mentally ill. I saw first hand the positive impact that psychcotropic meds had on those who were truly mentally ill. The problem that we had were not the Nouthetic counselors, but rather the Charismatics/Pentecostals whom they had contact with would try to convince them to throw away their medications and trust God and His word. When they dropped their meds, at first they were doing well, but then they hit bottom and became suicidal making things even worse. I am not stating that Nouthetics would be as insensitive and careless as the Charismatics, but I often wondered whether those who do not really believe in true mental illnesses if they really embrace the scope and depth of the fall.....That it really affects everything, even where some people have brain diseases!

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Jamie Hart wrote:
...By way of example, just a few months back I counseled a gentleman who was diagnosed Bi-polar, and told he an illness called "Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome" (he couldn't stand the sound of people eating, clicking pens, etc). His psychiatrist basically said he could do nothing for him and that needed to seek counseling some place else. I didn't question whether or not these were simply labels or legitimate illnesses...they were certainly legitimate to him! So really, I didn't even touch it. I asked him to please let me know if any of the noises I made in the counseling room bothered him, as I wanted to avoid them. Other than that, I simply treated it as I would have a stomach problem, or cancer. Let's learn how to live in such a way that God is honored through this difficulty. His "illnesses" didn't abdicate his responsibility to love and obey God and to love others above himself. So we carefully looked at his life, his thoughts and heart motives, and worked at living life in way that God was honored. It went well (not all of cases like this do).

This is one area that I think psychopathology has gone insane- pun intended. Not every single issue in a person's life is a syndrome or a disorder. My husband can hear someone chewing gum and clipping their fingernails three blocks away, but he doesn't have a Syndrome. He's just like everyone else who finds certain repetitive noises distracting and annoying. But we are so afraid to say "Get over yourself" (not in those exact words) because we don't want to appear to be lacking in compassion. We patronize what is sometimes plainly ludicrous until a person really IS disabled by something like clicking pens and rustling clothing. There is now a generation of people [URL=http://www.neuropsychiatryreviews.com/may04/npr_may04_excessiveTV.html raised on television[/URL ] that have the attention span of a gnat- they can't sit still or focus without flashing lights and a commercial break. Should this be treated with drug therapy, or a change in behavior, in their spiritual discernment?

It's perfectly sensible to direct someone having problems to their physician or psychiatrist to test for any physiological issues- but we also must address those issues that are a sinful obsession with self and a lack of self-control. There IS a healthy balance.

I agree with Bob T. here-

Quote:
Spiritual problems the responsibility of Elders and church members not counselors waving a piece of paper that declares them "certified." Let us get back to real Biblical counseling and recognize that the Bible gives us authority to allow other truth and treatment to help those with other than just spiritual problems to receive the medical help available by Psychiatry.
We do not have to be afraid of science, but we do have to measure what science claims by the Word of God. A healthy skepticism of the conclusions the world draws from their research and studies is a good thing because we understand that all truth comes from God, and if science denies God, their grasp of truth is going to be limited to a certain degree.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jamie Hart wrote:
Aaron...just gathering a little data here Smile
How much biblical counseling training have you had?
Where did you receive it?
How often have you / do you counsel?
How often have "organic" issues impacted the way you've counseled?

Training: a few classes, including one as recently as 2008 (I think... maybe 2007)... and reading since early college days.
Where: BJU, Central Seminary, a Biblical counseling organization here in Wisconsin
How often: couldn't really put a number on it, but it has not been a huge part of what I do
How often organic: I'm not sure it's ever been an issue, though there have been a couple of times when I wondered

My struggles with it have mainly to do with a larger struggle, which is the relationship between Scripture and science, or to put it another way, the relationship between general revelation and special revelation. During BJU days, the emphasis in all subjects was integration of general and special--that is, Scripture is supreme and all other subjects (I was in the school of education as well as the school of religion) must be brought under its reign. But this involved working out to a fair degree how they actually interconnect. What happened was that what I heard and read encouraged me to believe in the unity of truth and to seek to integrate the study of math, history, biology and--yes--psychology with what Scripture reveals.
But then, toward the end of college days, I began to encounter a different view that rejected integration--in a few classes and in some required reading, including Competent to Counsel. In seminary, that trend continued in a class or two on that subject and reading of one volume in particular from Master's Seminary neck of the woods. Dogmatically anti integration. What was unanswered then, and remains unanswered now as far as I know, is what do we do with unity of truth if we assert that psychology (the study of human behavior and thought) should not be integrated with Scripture?

I really think that none of the anti-integrationists would deny the unity of truth (all truth that really is truth is God's truth), so the real problem is probably one of expression. Whatever we say in criticism of science in general or psychology/psychiatry in particular (and there is a whole lot to criticize!), I do not believe we ought to deny the idea of General Revelation and "two books" in the process or say/imply that there is any field of study that cannot or should not be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and conducted in a way that honors the superiority of Scripture while simultaneously granting it's full value for exploring God's general revelation.

Another part of the problem is that many of those who have given "integration" a bad name, claimed to be attempting that very thing. But if that's the case, many critics of integrationism have confused poor implementation with faulty principle. In many cases the principle has been sound, the execution has been botched. So it seems to me. So there are "Christian" psychologies that absorbed enormous amounts of data and dogma from godless studies and then tacked on a few credit hours of Bible and called it integration. I'm not for that. But this is not integration at all. So I believe that we are off track going against "integrationism" as a principle, when we ought to be going after inadequate practice.

RPittman's picture

Bob T. wrote:
To RPittman and other Nouthetism defenders:

1. My accuracy on Jay Adams is well documented by the books of Jay Adams such as "The big Umbrella." The present NANC website posts anti Psychiatric statements. Oh yes, the word choice is definitely highly prejudicial. I am arguing against him and his ideas.

2. There was a recent Sharper Iron thread that involved an interview with Jay Adams done by Aaron. I would suggest one read that thread instead of raising the same defense issues here.

Bob, I must challenge you on several points. I went back and read your post on the Adams interview. Whereas you accuse Dr. Adams of woeful ignorance, you exhibit a profound lack of understanding as well as fairness. You quote Dr. Adams from a 1972 work (almost 40 years old) and proceed to try to refute it with so-called modern knowledge. This is grossly unfair. What Adams wrote was perfectly in sync with the thinking about psychiatry in the 1970's. Remember Psychiatrist Thomas Saaz? He and many psychiatrists were also voicing their critiques.

One is not justified in misrepresenting, misconstruing, and using prejudicial word choices because he or she is "arguing against him and his ideas." One must treat his opponent fairly by accurately representing his view in context without prejudice. One cannot make another say what he wants him to say and then refute him. Also, prejudicial word choice does not advance a rational argument. It only appeals to the emotions. Bob, I intentionally curb my instincts and choose my words carefully when I challenge your assertions.

Furthermore, you have plastered the thread with accusations and generalizations without support. It basically amounts to "I don't like Jay Adams and Nouthetic Counseling." As one knowledgeable in biochemistry and psychology, I can confidently say that your generalizations are ill-founded and in-accurate to a fault. You have articulated what is a layman's view of the subject without apparent understanding of the more complex and technical issues. You can provide anecdotal accounts of amazing symptomatic improvement without realizing the longer range ramifications. The psychotropic medication has a known history of losing its effectiveness and must be constantly changed. Furthermore, one cannot suppose that a cure has been effected unless he presupposes the cause to be chemical. We don't know that the cause is chemical. It's a black box experiment. Do you understand what I mean?

As our chemical-drug treatment of problems increases, we are finding a proliferation of cases and an increasing range of maladies. IMHO, as long as we presuppose that it is a chemical or genetic problem, we are blinded to the real causes. We're talking about etiology. This is where Nouthetic Counseling has the advantage and insight. Nouthetic Counseling seeks to find causes and address the problems rather than the symptoms. Drug therapy is a band-aid at best. BTW, please don't try to paint Nouthetic proponents as ignoramuses who don't understand psychiatry and psychology. For some of us, it is our field of study and expertise. A number of psychologists (Paul Vitz, William Kirk Kilpatrick, et. al.) and psychiatrists (R.D. Laing, Thomas Saaz, et. al.) have written works critical of their disciplines within the past forty years. Jay Adams studied under Dr. Hobart Mowrer, who served as President of the APA. Richard Ganz is a Ph.D. psychologist who was director of psychological training at a large medical center. Bob, you profess to be knowledgeable of psychology. Have you done graduate work in psychology? Without trying to be offensive, much of what you are saying sounds like what comes out of sophomore General Psych.

RPittman's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:
I must agree with Bob on this one. Many years ago, I ran a transitional shelter for homeless men and some of our residents were mentally ill. I saw first hand the positive impact that psychcotropic meds had on those who were truly mentally ill. The problem that we had were not the Nouthetic counselors, but rather the Charismatics/Pentecostals whom they had contact with would try to convince them to throw away their medications and trust God and His word. When they dropped their meds, at first they were doing well, but then they hit bottom and became suicidal making things even worse. I am not stating that Nouthetics would be as insensitive and careless as the Charismatics, but I often wondered whether those who do not really believe in true mental illnesses if they really embrace the scope and depth of the fall.....That it really affects everything, even where some people have brain diseases!
How long-term was the effectiveness of the medication? Was the relief symptomatic or a regression of the illness? BTW, what is mental illness? There is an explanation for your obervations, you know. The drugs mask the problem much in the same way that analgesics mask pain. The original problem still exists but it has been temporarily made livable. Of course, the meds lose their effectiveness with time and new ones must be found. The problem continues to exist. I am not saying that drugs are not an alternative when there is a crisis situation but we tend to overuse them much like antibiotics. Drugs possibly could stabilize the situation until we can deal with the cause but this is not usually the case. Drugs are seen as a cure when they only temporarily relieve the symptoms.

RPittman's picture

Bob T. wrote:
To RPittman and other Nouthetism defenders:
3. If Jay Adams did not originate Nouthetic counseling from thin air perhaps one can direct us to a pre Jay Adams Nouthetic counselor advocate or sources. By his own admission he was seeking to call people back to what he called Biblical counseling. I was trained in Biblical counseling in seminary before Jay Adams was really heard of. The training used the Bible as the text and simply applied it to commonly encountered problems encountered in Pastoral ministry. There were a couple texts used also. One was "Counseling from the Bible. Can't remember the author and it is no longer in my library.
Well, if you knew Jay Adams and how he came to develop Nouthetic Counseling, you would not make such assertions. To say the Dr. Adams "originate[d ] Nouthetic counseling from thin air" is to imply that it came from nowhere. Dr. Adams was asked to teach a pastoral counseling course at Westminster Seminary. When he consulted the standard textbooks, he found they were simply teaching the same stuff as the secular counterparts. There was no Scriptural basis. Jay arranged to study under Hobart Mowrer, a leading psychologist and counselor, and began an intense study of Scripture to find Biblical answers to human problems. From his studies of Scriptures, Jay formulated what he believed the Scriptures taught. Whether one agrees with him or not, one must admit that he has based his teaching and belief upon what he understands the Scriptures to teach. He has invested much time and study in the exegesis and exposition of the Scriptures. Dr. Adams constantly admonishes, "You gotta get in there and dig." One cannot honestly accuse him of pulling "Nouthetic counseling from thin air."

Jamie Hart's picture

Bob T. wrote:
7. Jamie Hart reflects the Nouthetic viewpoint that just never gets it. I have been talking about Mental illness which is organic Brain disease effecting 6% of the general population. He is talking about biblical life change, which by the way falls under the authority of scripture, and is delegated to the church, and then to elders not counselors. According to the Barna group only 5% of the adult population are born again Christians of minimal biblical understanding. Do we have too many Nouthetic counselors and not enough evangelists of the personal evangelism type?

I want to start out by saying it's evident that there has been some real hurt in your life from someone who had a Nouthetic approach (probably several someones) and that's really unfortunate. I am sorry that you and/or your son have been treated in an unloving way. There are many in biblical counseling to who lack love and understanding.
Bob, I am on SI to learn and grow. I believe you have something to teach me. You have been through experiences that I may never go through and you have come to conclusions that you feel strongly about. I want to learn from them...I will freely admit that my position can change if God reveals it needs to.
With that said, accusations naturally bring up defences...and the accusatory tone of the above quote is bringing up my defenses! I'm working through it...but it would help to avoid that in future.

Do you believe you know enough about my ministry to make that accusation? If I could encourage you in any way, it would be to hold accusations in check. Teach me...ask me questions that make me think about my position...discover what I really believe. I'm looking forward to learning and growing with your help.

wbarkema's picture

I have no dog in this fight (yet), and am just seeking clarification.

I guess I am trying to further understand the Nouthetic approach. with my first two questions.

1. Is it ever allowable that behaviour is caused by a medical condition?
2. Is the brain and brain function considered a biological system similar to the heart, lungs, etc...?

For Both sides:

3. Back to the sufficiency question; What exactly does either side believe the sufficiency of scripture mean? And, what is the logical conclusion of that belief?

Not sure I have time to respond, but interested in hearing what is thought and reading where this thread goes.

Jamie Hart's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Another part of the problem is that many of those who have given "integration" a bad name, claimed to be attempting that very thing. But if that's the case, many critics of integrationism have confused poor implementation with faulty principle. In many cases the principle has been sound, the execution has been botched. So it seems to me. So there are "Christian" psychologies that absorbed enormous amounts of data and dogma from godless studies and then tacked on a few credit hours of Bible and called it integration. I'm not for that. But this is not integration at all. So I believe that we are off track going against "integrationism" as a principle, when we ought to be going after inadequate practice.

Thanks, Aaron.
Honest question(s) for you and/or Bob...
Can you paint a picture of what a proper integration view looks like? How would it change / impact counseling? Would we integrate psychology/psychiatry or would we refer them to others? Would we work in tandem or just alongside...who would take the lead? How would the word of God be used?

I guess there are several questions in that...and I have more...but I'm honestly not understanding the position...and I would like to.

Jamie Hart's picture

Hey wbarkema...been hanging out with Bobby lately? Smile
I'll take a stab at your questions. Please remember I'm not NANC certified and I would consider my approach somewhat different from other NANC counselors I know. My training has been solely from NANC organizations.

wbarkema wrote:
1. Is it ever allowable that behaviour is caused by a medical condition?

I believe that behavior IS impacted greatly by organic causes. For example, I believe that a lack of sleep can have a huge impact on a counselee...as well as postpartum depression, seasonal depression...and the list could go on. However, these organic causes do not abdicate the counselee's responsibility to live pleasing to God though it may make it harder...and that should be taken into consideration. I also believe that the biblical process of growth and change still apply. It should cause the counselor to be MORE loving, understanding, and compassionate to his/her counselee's situation....but he is to still teach truth and help his counselee to live in truth.
Quote:
2. Is the brain and brain function considered a biological system similar to the heart, lungs, etc...?

Sure...and there may be some chemical issues that impact the way we feel and behave. But again, it doesn't change our responsibility to live pleasing to God.
Quote:
3. Back to the sufficiency question; What exactly does either side believe the sufficiency of scripture mean? And, what is the logical conclusion of that belief?

IMO, sufficiency of Scripture means the Bible reveals all we need to know in order to live in a manner pleasing to God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). It teaches me why I do what I do (heart desires - Luke 6:43-45; Jer. 10:5-10; James 4:1-10), and how to change (realize a loving God has died in my place and with a heart of love, change the way I think in my heart which will impact my behavior - 2 Cor. 5:14; Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4 ). Please understand this is a quick generalization of the process and I'm sure it could be stated more accurately...but that's my view, in a nut shell.

N.F. Tyler's picture

RPittman wrote:
N.F. Tyler wrote:
The historic Protestant principle of the sufficency of Scripture (contra the Roman Catholic Church) is that Scripture is sufficient for salvation. As Article VI of the English Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1563) reads, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." Roman Catholicism, of course, erroneously taught and teaches doctrines which are not found in Scripture (which she admits; they are developments of the infallible 'Sacred Tradition', on par with Scripture, being equally the Word of God) and holds that assenting to these are necessary to salvation.
But, if we're using II Peter 1:3 as a proof text, it specifically states "all things that pertain unto life and godliness."

2 Peter 1:3 is referring to salvation. 'Unto life' as in eternal life, as opposed to (spiritual) death, etc. No?

RPittman's picture

wbarkema wrote:
I have no dog in this fight (yet), and am just seeking clarification.

I guess I am trying to further understand the Nouthetic approach. with my first two questions.

1. Is it ever allowable that behaviour is caused by a medical condition?

Most certainly! There are brain tumors, infections, Alzheimer's Disease, vascular disorders, etc. that cause or affect aberrant behavior. Jay Adams recommends a thorough physical examination before counseling to rule out physical/medical problems.
Quote:

2. Is the brain and brain function considered a biological system similar to the heart, lungs, etc...?
Again, yes, the brain is a physical organ of the human body. And the answer is yes to brain function if you are referring to the physical processes of electrochemical nature. If by brain function you are referring to the memory, emotions, cognition, etc., then that is another story. A computer system is a good analogy with the brain as the hardware and the mind (thinking, emotions, memory, etc.) as the software. The analogy, however, breaks down when we include man's spiritual side and the ability to make autonomous decisions. The present trend in psychology and psychiatry is to treat everything as physical. What I mean is that cognition, emotions, memory, etc. are reduced to mere molecular configurations. Treatment is drug therapy. Really, this is somewhat naive and unrealistic way of understanding the brain-mind concept.
Quote:

For Both sides:

3. Back to the sufficiency question; What exactly does either side believe the sufficiency of scripture mean? And, what is the logical conclusion of that belief?

Not sure I have time to respond, but interested in hearing what is thought and reading where this thread goes.

Sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible is our standard or rule for judging behavior. By looking closely into Scripture, we find how we ought to respond to the situation. God has revealed to man what man is unable or unwilling to see within himself. It identifies the source of man's problems within man and shows the proper response to man's problems. Relief or changing the circumstances is not always the outcome. Many times, one learns how to cope with the matter knowing that God's grace is sufficient. The goal of Nouthetic Counseling is not necessarily to find relief or change things but it is to find and do God's will in the situation. One may have to endure pain and suffering. Scripture is sufficient in giving guidance for dealing with the problem. One reason, I believe, that people are so dead set against Nouthetic Counseling is that it doesn't give them the answer that they want. Many simply want relief rather than finding God's will. God's answer to Paul for his thorn in the flesh was a denial of relief but a promise of sufficient grace.

RPittman's picture

N.F. Tyler wrote:
RPittman wrote:
N.F. Tyler wrote:
The historic Protestant principle of the sufficency of Scripture (contra the Roman Catholic Church) is that Scripture is sufficient for salvation. As Article VI of the English Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1563) reads, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." Roman Catholicism, of course, erroneously taught and teaches doctrines which are not found in Scripture (which she admits; they are developments of the infallible 'Sacred Tradition', on par with Scripture, being equally the Word of God) and holds that assenting to these are necessary to salvation.
But, if we're using II Peter 1:3 as a proof text, it specifically states "all things that pertain unto life and godliness."

2 Peter 1:3 is referring to salvation. 'Unto life' as in eternal life, as opposed to (spiritual) death, etc. No?

No, life (ζωην) refers to physical life although it may imply one of quality and vigor. It is not in the sense of eternal life. Notice that life (ζωην) is connected with godliness
(ευσεβειαν) which denotes a piety toward God. Both of these point toward a present condition upon earth with respect to a new quality of existence. It is speaking of God's empowerment to live triumphant over sin.

Bob T.'s picture

I have cut and pasted the post from Dr. Laura Hendrickson that was posted by her on the thread that was an interview with Jay Adams. It is posted under Dr. Laura. She is a NANCE certified counselor and is positive toward much of it. For this very reason her testimony must be considered seriously when it talks of Brain Disease.

RPittman has posted on here with some knowledge on mental illness. However, what he has stated is essentially what is stated by some Nouthetic counselors and what is in some CCEF literature, or I have heard on the radio from some radio counselors like Ed Blakley, who by the way always puts PHD after his name but it is from a degree mill. That is no reflection on Nouthetic counselors though as he has his own group. These statements about not knowing about the uncertainty of Chemical imbalances, and drugs only masking a problem, are unfortunate and very dangerous to the mentally ill. Most drugs taken for an ongoing problem are taken to control not "mask" the problem and usually not to cure it. I take heart medication that prevents irregular heart beat. It masks or corrects the problem. It will never cure it. The same is for much of medical drug treatment.The over prescription of drugs ( a common Nouthetic complaint) is for mood elevation or other non medical problems and occurs most among general practitioners. It is rare among Psychiatrists, especially those handling SSI Medicaid patients, which many of the mentally ill are involved with. The mentally ill have Brain disease. Some is due to chemical imbalance that can now be diagnosed objectively. One Psychiatrist I know uses brain scans to monitor Brain chemical function and the effects of medication. His clinic is known for that. He is "Dr. Amen" in central California. He has a website. I will possibly post regarding some other evidence later. Below is the quote from Dr. Laura from the other thread.

From Dr. Laura:

"Brain Disease"

"I practiced psychiatry until my son was diagnosed with autism 18 years ago. I left my practice to direct his treatment program and never returned, because in the interim I discovered biblical counseling. My current ministry includes psychiatrically informed biblical counseling. I've kept up with the psychiatric field and still subscribe to the journals. I like the term "brain disease" better than "mental illness" because today's psychology/psychiatry has muddied the distinction between painful emotional states and real physical illness of the brain. I counsel people with severe brain diseases like Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism, psychotic bipolar, and traumatic brain injury, I'm supportive of the use of meds in a variety of circumstances, and I consult with pastors and biblical counselors on their difficult cases. I'm not able to engage in a dialog, and I'm not willing to address every issue that's been brought up in this forum, for reasons of time, but I would like to respond to a few of the assertions that have been made here.
Jay Adams is a brilliant man whose books have done much good, but he is, like all of us, a product of his times. When he first began writing in the late 1960s, psychiatrists were exclusively psychoanalytic. They held to an unbiblical model of personality development, and believed that they could cure everything, including schizophrenia, through talking. His books were directed at this worldview, and he initially spoke more approvingly of psychologists because he received some training in psychology by a university research psychologist (O. Hobart Mowrer). But this was before psychologists in large numbers abandoned university research for clinical practice and took over the same psychotherapeutic ground that psychiatrists later abandoned for the current biomedical model. When he taught biblical counselors to send their counselees to their family doctors instead of psychiatrists for medical screening he was attempting to keep Christians away from psychotherapists espousing unbiblical views, not demonizing psychiatrists. He later had the same problem with psychologists. It was primarily an issue of worldview, not medication use.
Adams left open the possibility that proof of organic causation for some problems could be discovered in the future, and spoke about how we would understand such a development biblically if it should happen--which, of course, it has for brain diseases like schizophrenia. On this subject, I think that he was amazingly prescient, and it's to his credit that his biblical theology was inclusive enough to leave room for this possibility. Overzealous followers asserted that he taught that there was no such thing as schizophrenia and therefore serious brain disease did not really exist, but he never actually said that. His argument was with the label "schizophrenia," not with the potential for existence of conditions that could impair the ability to accurately perceive reality, but many biblical counselors have in the past believed that to be biblical they have to take a "no such thing as schizophrenia and no meds ever" approach.
The biblical counseling movement has been swinging away from this view in recent years. I've had a public ministry for some years now on this subject, and have found unfailingly that biblical counselors are quick to correct their misperceptions about brain diseases when they understand the issues involved more clearly. I encourage biblical counselors to refer those with brain diseases to psychiatrists for medicine, and agree that they are the most competent physicians to prescribe these potentially dangerous medicines. But I also encourage biblical counselors that they can counsel even those who have serious impairments with reality, because even those who are seriously ill also have a sin problem. We can't escape this, since every human being ever born except our Savior is a sinner, and all sinners sin (Romans 3:23). I've found that even very seriously impaired people's function improves when they are in an environment where they are encouraged to take their meds, surrounded by a church community that loves them and holds them accountable, and helped to structure their lives to minimize the kinds of things that work against stability (substance abuse, chaotic living situations, wrong friends, not keeping regular hours, etc). In fact, I'd love to see the church take seriously the deep needs of people who are currently in the community mental health system--not to get them out of it, for many need the free care and practical support it provides, but to supplement it with a much-needed biblical worldview, personal, loving Christian charity and real relationship.
But it's essential to see clearly the distinction between real brain disease and what is referred to as "chemical imbalance." There is much functional brain scanning research linking the brain's chemical status to the thoughts and feelings of experimental subjects. Nobody is arguing with the fact that functional scanning demonstrates the brain's activity when a subject is having thoughts and feelings. But there is not, and cannot be, any research proving that the brain's chemical status arises de novo and produces thoughts and feelings on its own. The belief that it does has to be considered to be religious/philosophical in nature, because it's not possible to determine causation where the immaterial mind is involved. It is possible to experiment on the brain, but it's not possible to delineate via experiments the precise relationship between activity in the immaterial mind and corresponding brain activity. This is not a problem for the many secular psychiatrists who are also materialists, denying the existence of an immaterial mind. But for those of us who want to be biblical, we have to go beyond what the brain is doing to seek to understand how the mind (whose existence the Bible clearly teaches) is involved in cases where physical brain disease is not the primary issue. We also have to insist that even those whose relationship with reality is seriously disordered have thoughts and emotions that are tainted by their sinful nature, and can learn to respond biblically to areas of sin in their lives (as well as learn not to listen to their voices!). But as we do this we need to step very tentatively, understanding that there is much we don't know about the relationship between the physical brain and the nonphysical mind.
Biblical counselors look to biblical anthropology and insist that the mind (soul, spirit, heart) is the source of our thoughts, feelings, and choices. This means that bad feelings, by themselves, do not constitute brain diseases, even though the brain's chemical balance is involved in the expression of those feelings. I don't believe that this means that it's wrong to take medicines for overwhelming feelings. But when people do, they should be aware that what they are doing is suppressing those feelings, not curing them. This is somewhat analogous to what morphine does for the pain of appendicitis--it decreases the pain but does not solve the underlying problem. I've been practicing psychiatry or biblical counseling for about 25 years now, and have not found medicines to be curative in any case by themselves, although they can be a useful adjunct for those who are struggling with very overwhelming emotions, and are essential for those who have true brain diseases, since all we can do for manifestations like voices is to suppress them using medicines.
Biblical counseling is a biblically consistent intervention that gets to the heart of the painful emotions. When I counsel those with brain diseases, I work to get them to understand that they will need to continue to take their medicines to remain stable, as well as teach them how to deal with temptations and struggles in their lives that rise from their sin nature. As they walk in increasing stability, they also begin to understand themselves and their problems better and are able to lead a more normal life. As for those who are not suffering from these devastating diseases, but are struggling with painful emotions, many who begin seeing me while already on medicines over time find them to be no longer necessary because they get to the heart of their struggles. I've also had counselees who don't respond to counseling alone, because they're already in a deep emotional hole by the time they come for counseling. I refer such counselees to a psychiatrist for medicine, and usually find that they do well in counseling with this additional physical support, and later are able to stop the medicines. It should go without saying that when a counselee is considering harm to self or others, I always recommend a trip to the emergency room and hospitalization with medicines, to protect a sufferer when he is too vulnerable to do so for himself.
This is not the only way to slice this pie, and I don't think that you have to see it the way I do to be biblical. This is just the way that I do it. I respect very much the passion that Bob T. brings to this discussion. I am passionate about this topic too, as I have a close relationship with a dear one who has had a very severe case of schizophrenia for almost 20 years, as well as a son who was born with severe autism. But I believe that it's possible to be biomedically informed and biblically consistent at the same time.
I've written books, including one that has a chapter on brain diseases. I want to respect this site's position on advertising my own books, but if you are interested in reading more of my work, you can find me at www.drlaurahendrickson.com. I'm not available to dialog on this issue because my ministry schedule is busy, but perhaps you'll find my written work helpful in your quest to find your own understanding of the truth on this difficult subject."

I hope this may be helpful to some. There are still statements by Nouthetic counselors, and in some of their literature, that reflects the older view and brings doubt on mental illness legitimacy, treatment, and Psychiatric medicine. The 1994 book "Biblical Counseling" Edited by John MacArthur has articles by David Powlison, Wayne Mack, and Robert Smith of, or formerly of, CCEF. The book takes the position that mental illness does not really exist and is a myth like "believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny." This illustration is on page 375. One can also go the NANCE website and read some of the latest articles. These doubts and concepts are expressed right on here by by RPittman at post #19 in reply to Joel Shaffer. That reply is almost the same thing I have heard from Ed Welch of CCEF. It is the old yes we will acknowledge however, scenario. The doubts are based on older understandings of Psychiatry and of where Psychiatric medecine diagnosis and treatment is. Medication of the mentally ill is more than masking. It is solving a problem on an ongoing basis. No cure is claimed. However, there are various courses to the illnesses. Some have short term illness that the body self corrects (rare). Some grow out of the full illness with age as the body chemistry changes. For others it is a life long battle. These doubts and misinformation from Nouthetic counselors and their defenders are viewed as dangerous, careless, and cruel by those who are caretakers or involved with as professionals. A graduate of Masters College with a Bachelors and Masters in Nouthetic Counseling upset a pastor and some others due to emphasis and statements made. Some was about the same as made on post #19. I am sure that Jay Adams and most involved in the Nouthetic counseling movement are good men of high spiritual character. This however, does not excuse their viewpoint and its harm. There are now some who have formed recovery groups from Nouthetic Counseling.

Joel Shaffer's picture

RPittman,

Actually the medication did a pretty good job in helping stabilize both of them. The problem was the side affects. So, in the case of both people, they were unwisely advised (on different occasions) to throw away their meds and trust in Jesus and God's word. One of my residents was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and the other was a severe bi-polar. When the person that was diagnosed with Schizophrenia was off his meds, for the first week he was doing great (at that time, I had no idea he'd stop taking them yet). He was in the Bible Study with me, he was working his job, and everything seemed fine. Then suddenly he began to have his hallucinations. He became politically-preoccupied about the government and also paranoid that the CIA was chasing him and wanted to know some information about his bicycle. Then he became suicidal and revealed that he had been off his meds for a week or so.

When the Bi-polar person went off his meds, when he was in his manic stage, he changed all the outside locks to the house (I was gone for the weekend and my assistant was asleep when he changed the locks), and he began to do neighborhood survelliance throughout our neighborhood because he thought he was a police officer (In the more severe manic-depressive episodes, hallucinations sometimes take place). Several hours later in his depressive state, he indicated that he was going to commit suicide and then revealed he had stopped taking his meds three days earlier.

In my experiences working with mentally ill homeless people that were left to their own living under bridges in G.R., I came across a person that washed his hands in own urine because his paranoia believed that the government had contaminated all the water sources. I knew of a person that wore about 20 hats because he believed his brain would fall out if the hats weren't on his head. Thankfully there are Christian organizations such as Servants Center that try to help the mentally ill homeless in our cities and help churches respond with discernment and compassion. http://servantscenter.org/article01.html

I am sure that there are some who are labeled Schizophrenic or Bi-Polar that really aren't. However, I have worked under the bridges where the mentally-ill homeless live (and several have frozen to death in G.R.) because of their extreme paranoia, and can pretty much discern the difference between those who have a real brain disease and those who are, as RPittman states, trying to find relief rather than God's will.

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