NANC is the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. APA is the American Psychological Association. You might ask “What does NANC have to do with the APA?” To find out, we start with NANC, which is having its annual meeting October 5-7 in Little Rock, Arkansas. NANC claims to be “on the leading edge of holding up the Word of God as not only inerrant but also sufficient.” Underneath this statement are a number of serious issues and questions that we predict will never be discussed at NANC. All have biblical implications but none will be considered. We name seven issues as examples of what NANC is unwilling to discuss publicly .
- Charging for biblical counseling.
- 2. Separated-from-the-Church biblical counseling centers.
- The use of words such as counselor, counselee, and counseling, which are borrowed from secular counseling and are not found in Scripture as they are generally used and practiced by biblical counselors.
- Women counseling men.
- Men counseling women.
- Participation in insurance reimbursement plans by those biblical counselors who qualify, which necessitates using practices within their license, mental health designations for reimbursement, and psychological write ups for continued counseling.
- A biblical counselor counseling a husband or wife in the absence of the other spouse.
A case can easily be made by some that the above practices are not biblically supported. Others would say just the opposite. These are issues that should be confronted and discussed by any organization that claims to be “on the leading edge of holding up the Word of God as not only inerrant but also sufficient.” All of the above are prolifically practiced throughout the biblical counseling movement, but have not been addressed at NANC conferences.
We predict that NANC will not permit workshops that would criticize these practices. There will be no iron sharpening iron in this group (Prov. 27:17). This is one of many reasons why we departed from the biblical counseling movement (BCM). BCM does not have leadership strong enough to permit disagreements that may arise if subjects such as the above are openly challenged and discussed.
The APA is different from NANC. Differing views are expressed. For years we have read the American Psychologist, which is the journal of the APA. One sees in the journal all sorts of controversial issues discussed. Some of the most critical views of psychotherapy we have read have been in the APA journal.
It is readily transparent that no such internal disagreement is permitted in the BCM, which includes NANC. The APA has the integrity and courage to discuss controversial issues and to print divergent views; BCM does not.
If a survey were taken of NANC members there would be differing opinions about the seven examples given above. However, those who differ with the status quo will not be given a chance in NANC’s leadership; neither will they be permitted to conduct workshops on these issues. We wonder if such individuals dare even suggest such workshops. It is our impression that NANC functions on the basis of cronyism. Those who rise to leadership are those who will keep an unwritten commitment to supporting current leadership and not rocking the boat. Not rocking the boat includes a willingness to avoid controversial issues, never challenge what leadership says, and just follow the good ole boy practices of secular organizations.
We challenge NANC to set up workshops on all of the above issues at their next annual conference (1999). Recognizing that this would be too large a step of biblical maturity we challenge NANC, as we did a year ago, to have at least one workshop on charging for biblical counseling.
One NANC counselor and workshop leader has a web site with a position on the topic of “Money & The Counsel of God.” This NANC counselor asks “Is charging fees for counseling a reflection of Christ’s ministry, or is it more a mirror image of the world’s business systems?” (Italics in original).
Will NANC permit one of their own, who already does workshops for them, to conduct such a workshop? It is doubtful that even this little iron sharpening iron will ever occur even though Jay Adams says in Competent to Counsel:
In Colossians 3:16 Paul urged, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and (for the moment we shall simply transliterate the next word) confronting one another nouthetically.”
According to Paul, all Christians must teach and confront one another in a nouthetic fashion. In support of this proposition Paul also wrote (Romans 15:14):
“Concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to confront one another nouthetically.”
In both Colossians and Romans, then, Paul pictured Christians meeting in nouthetic confrontation as normal every-day activity (41,42).
While NANC counselors admonish and warn (noutheteo) their clients, they do not function in this manner in their organization. Also, they are closed to warnings and admonishment from those outside their clique.
In the prior issue of PAL we ran the article “Stuart Scott and Grace Community Church.” Scott is a plenary speaker at the NANC conference in October. Scott admonished us for our response to his letter which critiqued our book Against “Biblical Counseling”: For the Bible. The letter appeared to have been written by Scott, because it was signed by him and contained references to himself through the first person pronoun “I.” He later confessed he did not actually write the letter or do the critique. However, when we wrote to him admonishing him for being “downright dishonest,” as well as other matters, there was no reply.
This is not unusual for those in the biblical counseling movement. They can admonish and warn others, but cannot receive, or in the case of Scott, even respond to admonishment. It is extremely doubtful that anyone at the NANC conference in October will confront Scott about this matter, but someone should. It seems hypocritical to have Scott speak at the national conference of an organization that purports to emphasize “nouthetic confrontation,” when, as a matter of fact, Scott is apparently incapable of being involved in that very process.
One wonders: Can the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and individuals in leadership, who are to exemplify the best in nouthetic counseling, function nouthetically or is their organizational title just a sham?
(From PAL, V6N5)