The Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) conference May 14-16, 2009, revealed just how unbiblical the biblical counseling movement (BCM) has become. In addition to ABC, the following counseling organizations were featured and represented by speakers at the conference: American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), and National Association of Nouthetic counselors (NANC). Other counseling organizations were represented as well.
We have indicated in past writings why these organizations are unbiblical and why Christians should not seek counsel from counselors belonging to these organizations. The evidence for this conclusion on our part is found in articles and books available free at our ministry web site.1 Our book Person to Person Ministry would be the best single source discrediting the BCM.
Keep in mind that the number one problem with those who claim to be biblical counselors is that they are problem-centered. This preoccupation with problem-centeredness was adopted from the psychological counseling movement that preceded it. We often say and demonstrate that “Problem-centered counseling inevitably leads to sinful counseling.” We give examples of this in our writing. While problem-centeredness is the number one problem, there are many other problems about which we have written. We choose only one of them for this particular article.
While there is much we have criticized in these organizations, here we will limit ourselves to one grossly unbiblical practice of which all of these organizations are either directly or indirectly guilty. That practice is charging money for biblical counseling.
Hand Holding Among the Counseling Organizations
The announcement for the ABC conference indicates that their symposium was a “First Time Ever,” “Groundbreaking” event. The ABC ad says:
4 Different Associations
4 Different Counselors
4 Different Views
1 Common Bond
1 Common Quest
We always knew that these various counseling organizations were holding hands with one another, either publicly or behind the scenes. Now for the “First Time Ever” all these organizations were holding hands together publicly at the ABC conference.
Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC)
We will now reveal that these BCM organizations are actively or passively supporting the practice of charging. We begin with the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) that sponsored the conference. The president of the ABC is Jeremy Lelek. The ABC web site says:
Jeremy Lelek is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas. He has earned a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Amberton University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Liberty University. He is also a Ph.D. Candidate at Regent University where he is earning advanced doctoral degree in Counseling, Education, and Supervision.2
We are tempted to talk about his psychological background, but we won’t go there this time. We will talk about the charging issue.
We called Lelek’s office and were told that Lelek’s fee for biblical counseling (and that’s all he does) is $135 per hour. We were told, “If your insurance company covers services from an LPC [Licensed Professional Counselor], we will give you receipts for the counseling which you can then file with your insurance company.” We were also told that another counselor in Lelek’s office is available for $115 per hour. In addition we were told that there are counseling interns available who are trained but not yet licensed. (We assume they are putting in hours under supervision.) The charge for an intern is $100 per hour. We asked if Lelek’s office had a woman intern who could counsel a couple and we were told “yes.”3 Hmm. Lelek claims the sufficiency of Scripture in his Bio,4 but contrary to the Bible he charges for his biblical counseling and his hourly rate is at the top of those counseling ministries we have examined. The vice president of ABC is Scott Lowery, who has “a Master’s of Education in Marriage and Family Therapy,” so we assume along the way he too has charged for counseling.
American Association of Christian
AACC is the largest of the Christian counseling groups. Their web site says: “Nearly 50,000 members and growing stronger every day.” Thousands enroll for their annual World Conference. We have written a number of articles about the AACC indicating that they are the most integrationist (the Bible plus psychology) of all the evangelical counseling organizations. AACC has a façade of Christianity and often refers to the Bible but is a prime example of psychoheresy at its worst. It goes without saying that AACC not only has no objection to charging, but believes that its Christian counselor members have a right to charge. They even hype the amount of money that one can earn after completing some of their programs.
The fact that AACC was included in a conference for biblical counselors should be a red flag for those who know the unbiblical nature of integrating psychological counseling theories and therapies with the Bible. By including and even featuring AACC, the BCM is showing its true colors. They have already embraced enough integration to join hands with AACC to the degree that there are fewer and fewer differences between professional psychological practitioners who are Christians and those who claim to be biblical counselors. Their similarities range from one end of the continuum to the other, but they all seem to agree on two things: being problem-centered and charging money for their services.
Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF)
CCEF charges for biblical counseling. CCEF’s current rates are on their web site: “Our basic counseling rate is $85.00 per hour. The initial hour costs $90.00 for set-up fees. All counseling charges are due before each appointment“(emphasis theirs).5
While the following is dated (2006), nonetheless CCEF’s total annual revenues reported then amount to $2,708,763. This includes all activities of CCEF. However, most of this amount is probably directly or indirectly related to their problem-centered counseling. In 2006 CCEF reported “counseling fees” of $375,697 and the “biblical counseling” amount at $399,811, making a total of $775,508. This one serious violation of Scripture and its pharisaical justification should be enough for all to turn away from the “cash, check or credit card” mentality of CCEF.
The principal speaker for the five ABC conference plenary sessions was Paul Tripp. He is listed as “President, Paul Tripp Ministries” and “adjunct faculty” at CCEF. We assume that he charges for biblical counseling since he counsels at CCEF where they charge.
National Association of Nouthetic counselors (NANC)
NANC has no policy prohibiting NANC certified counselors from charging for counseling.6 In addition, two of their current board members charge for biblical counseling.
The “Endorsements” list for ABC contains over thirty individuals. A variety of churches, schools, and ministries are represented. We select only two from this list: John MacArthur (The Master’s College and Seminary) and Stuart Scott (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). These two schools represented by MacArthur and Scott obviously either see no biblical problem (serious or otherwise) with charging or regard it as benign.
We regard charging for biblical counseling as a serious biblical violation. We see no verse in Scripture and no practice in the Bible that would lead one to endorse the practice. When Jesus sent His disciples forth He said, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). We have dealt in detail with the erroneous biblical rationalizations that biblical counselors use to justify their fees. Throughout the BCM those involved are either actively charging as indicated above or passively supporting this unbiblical practice. We can name many outside the BCM who are biblically opposed to the practice, but almost none in the movement who publicly oppose it.
Probably most of those in the BCM would agree with our stand against psychotherapy and many have used our books debunking it, but no leaders from the BCM have surfaced publicly condemning their unbiblical practice of charging. Many biblical counselors do not charge and some have expressed to us personally that charging is unbiblical, but, as far as we know, none have surfaced publicly opposing it.
The apostle Peter exhorts the elders to “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (1 Peter 5:2). The charges for biblical counseling can rightly be categorized as “filthy lucre.” We do not wish to digress to prove the unbiblical nature of those charges as we have extensively done so elsewhere. Our articles and books have covered the subject of charging for biblical counseling, yet there has been no response from the leaders in the BCM. They have ignored the subject almost totally. Apparently those in the BCM can give counsel and even justify charging, but they cannot take free biblically documented correction.
3 Phone call to Lelek’s office on February 24, 2009.
6 Phone call to NANC on May 3, 2009.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2009, Vol. 17, No. 4)