Over the years we have been in touch with many biblical counselors, some of whom have devoted much of their ministry to this personal work. The responses to Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible have been mixed, as you will see from “Letters from Our Readers.” However, we want to highlight the responses from three couples who have ministered as biblical counselors for a number of years.
1st The first example is from a couple who had a biblical counseling ministry outside a church. As you can see in the following excerpt from their newsletter, they were coming to the same conclusions we were about biblical counseling:
“Approximately eighteen months ago we began to sense that [ministry name] would not be separate from a local church body indefinitely. Supporting, strengthening and being a vital part of the local church has always been our hearts’ desire. It has been our conviction that biblical counseling needs to be integrated as one of the many important functions of the local church and that it should hold no greater or lesser importance than any other ministry. Due to the popularity of counseling in recent years, many people in the church have placed it in an elite position. We must remember that God has given different gifts to His people for the work of service, and that is why we have the diverse ministries in the body of Christ. . . .”
2nd The next example is from a husband and wife who worked as counselors both in churches and at a denominational headquarters:
“We would like to thank you so much for sending us a copy of Against biblical Counseling: For the Bible. We have read it and enjoyed it very much.
“Over the past ten years as we have pursued our ministry in Biblical counseling, we struggled with many of the issues you raised in the book. Thank you for bringing into focus some of the key issues in the ‘practice’ of Biblical counseling.
“Over the past two years, we have been in the process of setting a new direction for our lives and ministries. We have sensed God leading us away from the concept of ‘counseling’ and into the area of ‘discipling’ people in all areas of life through the Word of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your book has helped us in that process.”
3rd The third example is a couple who have been counseling, teaching, and directing a biblical counseling ministry in their local church. All of this was done without pay, since they are not on staff and did not charge for counseling. Here is an excerpt from a memo to their pastor and board of elders:
“For some time, we have been concerned about the lay counseling ministry—the raising up and equipping of counselors, the effectiveness of BCF [Biblical Counseling Foundation] instruction, and the work of the ministry within the church.
“Bobgans’ latest book, Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible, has helped us clarify our thinking. In part these things have become apparent:
“1. The term ‘biblical counseling’ is no longer reliable. While typical biblical counseling will in some way involve Scripture and prayer, it is likely only flavoring to a mix of secular ideas and techniques. . . .
“2. The need for counseling and the terminology used is so ingrained in our sensibilities, that counseling within the church is seen as little more than the Christian ‘alternative.’ However, while all people deal with difficulties ‘common to man,’ for the believer the focus (God – ‘your Word is truth’); the process (discipleship – ‘teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’); and the objective (sanctification – ‘Christ is formed . . .’) are innately, essentially different from the feel good and feel good about yourself goals of worldly counseling.
“3. The increasing resistance to Christian influence in society at large may lead to further governmental restrictions (licensing, etc.) being placed on the church regarding what we now call counseling.
“We try to keep in mind that neither Jesus nor Paul ever inclined their message to appeal to the natural affections or attitudes of the people. Rather, they stood distinct from the style and expectations of the day. Paul said ‘imitate me,’ and ‘be imitators of God.’ Yet, in many ways, in many places, the church is imitating the world in form and function, if not always in substance. Worldly concepts are masqueraded as legitimate ‘weapons of our warfare.’ Christian alternatives are pressed forward to satisfy those who ‘want to have their ears tickled.’ Can it be any other than a form of apostasy?
“On any scale, these things paint a troubling picture. Narrowing these thoughts to the topic above, we have the following recommendations:
“1. Change the ministry name Biblical Counseling to Personal Care. Much less clinical and more closely related to ‘love your neighbor’ and ‘bear one another’s burdens.’
“2. Eliminate the formal terminology of ‘counselor’ and ‘counseling’ from our vocabulary and written descriptions. Terms such as consultation, instruction, visit, interview, conference, session, meeting, etc. can appropriately be used. For instance, pre-marriage consultation.
“3. Any instruction that has focused in the past on biblical counseling should be discipleship oriented instead.
“It may be said that we are fussing over details, semantics and not substance. But Paul says, ‘Test everything, hold on to the good.’ Regarding details, ‘a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’
“. . . Our goal is to encourage those we meet in the knowledge of God and in the truth that John declared: ‘As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.’ In this matter, our growing conviction is – Let no one be called counselor, save the Wonderful Counselor; and let no one do the counseling, save the Spirit of Truth.”
(From PAL V3N1)