Service Times ---> Sundays 10:45am; 6:00pm // Wednesdays 7:00pm

Photo by Jessica Ruscello

Welcome back to week 49. We hope the past week has been a blessed one for you. Last week we briefly examined the topics of healing memories, visualization techniques, 12-step and other recovery programs, and self-image. This week we will briefly consider Christian Counselors. Should biblical counselors join and agree with Christian Counselors?

The short answer is, “no.” Biblical counselors should not agree with Christian Counselors. In explaining why we should not agree with Christian counselors it might be helpful to provide some of the differences between the two.[1]

First, the term “Christian Counseling” is just another way of saying “Christianized psychotherapy.” A good example of this kind of counseling can be seen in the organization, Focus on the Family, and with its founder, James Dobson. In 1977 Focus on the Family was founded by James Dobson, PhD. Dobson has been integrating psychology with Scripture from the beginning. 

Its little wonder that this is the case because Dobson’s formal education, as is the case with the vast majority of Christian counselors, was in psychology, not theology.[2] However, Paul warns us in Colossians 2:8 that man’s philosophy, upon which psychology is based, is empty and deceptive. James 4:4 warns us not to love the world or its system, and psychology is a huge part of that system. So huge, in fact, that Americans spent $280.5 billion in 2020 for “treatment,” of mental illness.[3]

Second, we cannot agree with Christian counselors because they do not help effect real change in counselees. This is because the counselors range from scoffers to naïve. In order to be a Christian counselor, one does not need pass any theological evaluation. The state does not mandate that a Christian counselor’s Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, or any other ology must be thoroughly biblical and reformed. However, the state will not license a Christian counselor unless they have a formal education in psychology, a discipline which finds its origins in scoffers such as Freud, Roger, Skinner, and the like. Thus, the Christian counselor’s formal education in psychology is the foundation of their worldview; their belief system and way of thinking about and explaining the world around them, and inside themselves. This would make the Christian counselor, in cases like this, a scoffer.

On the other hand, one could be a Christian counselor, and genuinely desire to help others, but they would still not have the proper (i.e., biblical) tools with which to help. They want to help, they think they can help, but it escapes their notice that they offer no real hope because their counseling is not founded upon Scripture and biblical principals. This would make the counselor, in this case, naïve.

Third, we cannot join or agree with Christian counselors because they have been trained under godless psychological theories. These people may have gone in with good intentions, but they did not exercise discernment. Proverbs 14:15 states, “The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.” Regardless of why they started their formal education they did not consider their steps and the outcome is usually extremely unhelpful and dangerous.

Fourth, we cannot join with Christian counselors because of their allegiance to pragmatism. In their model(s) of counseling they go for whatever works. To be fair we are not saying they go for whatever works regardless of legality. However, there are many things, which are legal, that are not righteous and pleasing to God. Believers ought not be pragmatists. God has told us what He wants us to do and how He wants us to do it, regardless of circumstances. Unfortunately, many counselors have found their own person answers under this kind of pragmatic system and they want to bring others onboard.

Fifth, we cannot join with Christian counselors because many cannot be trusted. Think about it. They have great personal investment in their system. They have invested time and money for education which can be in the six figures. They have professional reputations and personal prestige to consider. Many counselors have formed their identity from their profession. They are actual counselors who happen to possibly be Christian, rather than actual Christians who happen to counsel others. They are steeped within their psychological worldview. They like it. Their lives are shaped, formed, and informed by it. They have derived their own “answers” from it, and this way of life, this systematic worldview, is now habitual and rewarding. It is not so easy to give all that up!

Last, we cannot agree with Christian counselors because they lack knowledge. Most Christian counselors have no formal theological training. If they do, that is even worse! They are either ignorant of proper theology or willfully ignorant of proper theology. In other words, they are either unaware of their theological illiteracy or they know they are ignorant, choose to remain that way, and value their “knowledge” above the truth. 

Christian counselors may use the Bible at some point, but that does not make the counseling biblical. The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholics use the Bible, but they are not biblical. We cannot advise anyone to take instruction on how to live under those conditions.

That is why we cannot agree with Christian counselors, but with who can we agree? Do we have some godly examples with which to agree? Yes, we do. We can agree with biblical, nouthetic, counselors. We can agree with Christians who counsel biblically. We can agree with counselors whose source of authority is Scripture interpreted correctly.

One such trusted person would be Jay Adams. Adams is agreeable and trustworthy because he draws all of his counseling precepts from God’s Word. He refuses to integrate man’s corrupted psychological system into his counseling methods. We do not agree with Jay Adams simply because he uses Scripture, but because he uses Scripture correctly. He uses it to alert men and women about their sin, to counsel them toward repentance which leads to righteousness. 

We also agree with Wayne Mack for the same reasons that we agree with Jay Adams. It is because he uses Scripture accurately and does not pollute God’s Word with man’s ideas. Some other counselors we agree with are Dr. Amy Baker, Dr. Steve Viars, Dr. Mark Dutton, Dr. Bob Smith, Dr. Stuart Scott, and Dr. John Street. 

All of these men and woman are great role models because they are so dedicated to a high view of God and Scripture’s sufficiency in counseling. The one overriding principle that we have seen and heard taught from each of these counselors is that of God’s purpose for mankind. God made man to bring Him glory and that is what they teach (Is. 43:7; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 5:9). They teach counselees how to better live for God’s glory.

 If man functions in any other way than the way God made him to function, he will have massive problems (cf. Prov. 13:15). These men and women faithfully teach the truth, God’s truth. So, we can agree and join with them, but not Christian counselors.

We hope our short time considering Christian Counselors was helpful. We cannot agree with Christian counselors because we have different authoritative foundations. One is based on man’s word while the other is based on God’s Word. Worldly psychology cannot be safely mixed with biblical theology any more than poison can be safely mixed with fruit punch. Lord willing, next week we will briefly examine church discipline. Does your church consistently practice it? Until then may our Lord bless you and keep you.

[1] Accessed 11/27/19.

[2] In 1967, Dobson received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Southern California.

[3] Accessed 10/14/2020.

Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Memories, Visualization, 12-Steps, and Self-Esteem, Oh My! Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Church Discipline