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Law Bob Esq.

Remember all that stuff I said in the "Reflections on Faith" Discussion about using the Bible for subjects to which it was not designed? Please just assume I repeated it here.

matt

Yeah, they have just lost it this time. As if pastoral care in SBC life needed to suffer more, here comes this move to further destroy any hopes. I am really concerned because I see this as indicative of a larger problem. You can read what I had to say here.

http://residentalienmdp.blogspot.com/2005/02/to-prove-my-point.html

But I would also add that Southern's emphasis on depravity outstrips even what I am being taught here at PTS by a bunch of Calvin scholars and life-long Presbyterians. Yikes.

Nicole

All I can say is that I'm thankful that I finally came to my senses and pursued my master's degree and now my doctorate at an evangelical school that is not SBC. At one time I entertained the idea of attending a counseling program at an SBC seminary.

As a Christian in the field of psychology, I can say that we get it from both sides. First the secular academia assumes our academic rigor and intellectual contemplation are subpar. Then the "Biblical counseling" proponents accuse us of being 'liberal' and pagan.

Biblical counseling is an absurd idea that actually blames individuals for being in a state of sin and ignores the gravity of being fallen. There is no theology of suffering in the SBC (the tradition in which I was raised) other than to say that "If you are suffering, you must not be a good enough Christian."

I have actually written a paper or two on this while in grad school. If you're interested, I might post some on my blog. But I have discussed a *little* how sin impacts the practice of psychology over on my blog.

Scott Jones

From what you quoted, this sounds like it stems from Mohler's Calvinism. Further proof of why I am such an avowed anti-Calvinist.

Jason

As a pastoral counselor, I am appalled at the article in general. More specifically, Wayne Oates, a pioneer in the pastoral care field was at Southern before the hijacking of the institution by the SBC. The program that he ran turned out a number of prominent and healthy pastoral caregivers and counselors (my supervisor was one).

What upsets me is that the program is going backwards and turning out pastors who are ill equipped to deal with the unhealthy people in their congregations and peopel like me are left to pick up the pieces of the life these "pastors" destroy...

whew... venting complete.. for now.

grace and peace

rose

You gotta love those Baptists.

Jake

Pathetic knee-jerk responses by people who don't take the time to understand what is going on.

BTW, to respond specifically to Nicole above: what a novel idea...people being held accountable for sin.

I hope your counseling is better than your theology.

Adam

Jake,
Glad you took the time to come by here and be callous and rude to people you don't know. I'm assuming that you have it all figured, judging by how you know so much about theology so as to pronounce error on someone. So could you please enlighten us. Although I'm guessing your not even going to hang around long enough to explain your "pathetic knee-jerk reaction".

Adam

Just tried to email Jake. Doesn't surprise me that someone in support of these pricks isn't willing to take responsibility enought to write down valid contact info. Glad to have my point proven.

Nicole,
I think your more theologically astute than most people I have talked to. Its a wonder why educated thought can be confused as bad theology.

Josh

It seems that each of the postings on this blog come from Christians, yet my soul hurts after just reading through them. It seems that both sides have posted some very UN-Christlike things. Statements ranging from "Biblical counseling is an absurd idea" to "Pathetic knee-jerk responses" seem to forget the bond we should have as Christians. Maybe someone's theology is a little off, but Christ's love for us is not based on our good theology. yes, I do take theology quite seriously and think we should have a proper view of God and man, but it should not be an excuse for name-calling. May I suggest that we be a little more tempered when we post things that the entire world has access to. Christ's use of such sharp words was reserved for those who "tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness" (Matt 23:23)

cheek

For the record, to say the biblical counseling is an absurd idea is not name calling, its an attempt at accurate description. To be fair, the same could be said about "pathetic knee-jerk responses" if it were supported with anything beyond a sound bite, but that rarely happens with people who are uninterested in discussion. As far as what Jesus would do, it seems that the people here are attempting to address what they feel to be a willful ignorance of the redemptive and merciful aspects of the Gospel by people who claim authority in the "Christian Community." I think that most people here would be perfectly willing to let Al Mohler have whatever theology he wanted so long as he didn't use that theology to hurt people. The counseling ideas they are talking about are not things that they see as benign, but instead as actively causing serious harm to people's minds. Under those circumstances, the world probably needs to see that some Christians have harsh words to say about what these men are doing.

Nicole

I'm just now coming back to this post, so who knows if anyone will ever read my comment, but to weigh back in...

1.) Adam, I appreciate your kind words.

2.) Criticisms of my accused "bad theology" are quite humorous, because depending to whom you may speak, then theology can be either "good" or "bad". Actually some pretty "bad" theology is to ask what Jesus would do. Because Jesus is God, thinking that we can act as he would in the same circumstances is another absurd idea.

3.) If knee-jerk reactions come from spending the past two years at an Evangelical (conservative) Christian school studying both psychology and theology at the graduate level day in and day out (our program is only 2 classes or so away from also being a MA in theology) and considering how the two can be integrated, then I'm guilty as charged.

Jason

Just came across this blog/topic....interesting.

I think that many people on eher misunderstand the issue and the reason for Southern's change in curriculum.

First, I know the well is a little poisoned here, but I will enter in this discussion anyways. From the responses I gather that some of you are anti-SBC, anti-Southern, anti-Biblical counseling, and even anti-conservative Biblical views.

Second, I would like to avoid blatant misunderstandings such as:
"In an effort to climb to the peak of the bible-idolizing majority the counseling classes have decided that the bible is the only text that is needed to adequately care for their parishioner's counseling issues."
Not only is that a misrepresentation of the point, it actually confuses the issue.

Third, no one is discounting psychological insights, they are simply saying that the Bible and psychology are not twin truths to be integrated. The Bible is superior to psychology, which is ever-changing. B.C. seeks to view counseling in that light. Psychological insights are valuable, to a degree, but because of the faulty foundation they are built on (a wrong view of the problem, sin, and a wrong view of the solution) psychology is insufficient to correctly interpret the data they observe. I think psychology's observations are of help.

Fourth, this is not a "take 2 Bible verses and call me in the morning" approach. BC does not say that no illnesses require medication, but it is an attempt to rescue counseling from a therapeutic approach that seeks to medicate every illness without dealing with the real issue...sin.
BC is highly in favor of treating illnesses that require medicine with medicine. But does depression need medicine in every instance?

That's all I can think of right now, but I will be very willing to discuss this issue if anyone sees fit to e-mail me or respond on here.

-Jason

Nicole

To be honest, I engage in this dialogue every day at school and to be discussing it here just tires me out. The thing is that we're all human, so even our interpretation of the Bible is faulty, changing, and flawed.

The founders of Biblical counseling shift themselves around just as much as psychological theory. Reading Jay Adams who basically says that the Bible is the complete enough to counsel to people who are having a schizophrenic break, are psychotic, etc. relays to me that the basis of Biblical counseling is something that is flawed, just as psychology is flawed. Christians can't agree on much of anything either, including the interpretation of the Bible.

On another note, yet have I, or anyone else on this blog to proclaim that the Bible and psychology are "twin truths." Rather, integration looks at psychology through the lens of Christianity and the Bible. Although I consider myself both a psychologist and a Christian, I do say that at center of all our problems is sin! But just telling my clients to read the Bible and stop sinning, isn't ministering to their pain. I happen to sit across from Christian and non Christian clients every day and what I have to offer from psychology integrated with Christianity is most effective.

Yeah, Freud was off, but he said some great things. Same with Rogers and so forth. But if you go back even farther, early psychology is based on pastoral care written by Origen, Augustine, Justin Martyr. My professors make us read the Bible, those writers, and psychologists. I believe a training program that does any less is sorely lacking.

As far as hating southerners, baptists, or conservatives, or even Southern Baptists..I don't. I am a born and bred Eastern Tennessean who is only taking a sabbatical up here in Chicago for grad school. My mother and uncle are in ministerial positions at SBC churches. I grew up in the SBC, and while I do not agree with them much these days on some important issues, they did lead me to Christianity and disciple me as a child. I am politically liberal, theologically conservative, and believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. I am an envangelical Christian who attends classes in the "Billy Graham Center" every day, so I know of the things of which I speak. To say that, I guess I am asking, Jason, that you not make assumptions about others' salvation or beliefs because we do not believe as you do.

Jason

Nicole,
I did say "some of you" and that was based on comments made previously...if that doesn't fit you then it doesn't fit you, but if you read the comments above, some people do feel that way, and it is to those "some" that I wrote.
I wasn't generalizing...I was merely pointing out was is obivous about "some" because of the posts by "some."

I hope this clears that up.

BTW, Jay Adams is NOT Biblical Counseling...he is Nouthetic, which is further on the continuum. Do his views change? I'm sure they do. That is why our counseling practices must not be based on the theories of some man, be he Freud orAdams, but on the unchanging Word of God.
Does Southern's program teach secular psychological theories? Absolutely it does.
That is why the statement regarding the Bible being the only textbook is severely uninformed.
The difference is the weight that those theories carry. They are useful to see what theories are out there. they are useful in their observation of human ailments and issues...but they are not always helpful in the correct interpretation of the data. Why? Because they don't take into account "sin" nor the cure for sin.
If you feel that you are able to take a Christian worldview and interpret psychology and humanity through that lens and counsel well, then "great." But there is no need to bash a program that no one on here has taken the time to examine what is really going on.
You say Biblical Counseling is "absurd" but have you taken the time to understand it, and why it exists?

Does it make you feel better that Southern is teaching what the secular psychology books are teaching?
Does it make you feel better that the Bible isn't the only textbook?

Adam

Jason,
I will respond to you further later but for now I would appreciate it if you would please tell everyone here how you know so much about Southern's counceling program. You sure chastise me and others (on shaking grounds that I plan on addressing later) but you have yet to tell us how you know so much about them and their program. Did you go there? Do you go there? Do you know a guy who knows a guy? Also, please be careful of your potentially condescending tone. The people here are not dumb and it would be good for you to not treat us like we've never picked a book up.

Other than that I would like to thank you for taking us up on this issue. The dialogue is welcomed, as are you.

Nicole

It does make me feel better that the Bible isn't the only text book. Yes, I have taken into account Biblical counseling, and had to quite heavily when choosing my master's program (yay, graduation in three days!) and my upcoming doctoral program. I'm just curious what you claim the "cure" for sin is. Because, while accepting Christ absolves me of my sins, it in no way cures me of them here on Earth. It won't cure my clients either. I also wonder how you purpose that you work with clients that are not Christian, because to go in with the intent to convert them rather than serve and love them is unethical, considering the differential of power.

I also want to say that in some of the press releases, reps from Southern made quite a swipe at integrationists, but they know not from whence they speak, either. Have you read the material on integration? Jones and Butman's Modern Psychotherapies is a great look at how I am being trained. So is their Modern Psychopathologies (comes out June 2).

For example, look at my young adult client whose parents never loved him the way a good enough parent does. They rejected him, cut him off, and didn't teach him how to love.And so he struggles with feeling abandoned when friends put up healthy boundaries. He can't quite seem to let himself be loved, or believe that Christ loves him the way he is. He's a Christian. But he manipulates his friends and feels utterly alone, despite his faith.

I guess although I see that his parents' sin and his sin is all wrapped up in that mess, how telling him that sin is the problem will be helpful. He knows that, but telling him to stop isn't going to help. Having him read the Bible over and over again isn't enough. But using psychological theory to introduce the idea of boundaries to him, incorporate his split off parts, etc. etc. Is helpful to help him heal in order to live a more godly life. But the Bible is not a treatment planner. While it provides the philosophical or religious framework for why my client is the way he is, it doesn't help him, me, or anyone else get out of his stuck pattern. That's hard work that he has to do with the help of me or another professional.

But then again, if the church did its job, with true authentic relationships, then my client wouldn't need me to do it. But people at his SBC church tell him to just pray and he'll be delivered. I never remember Jesus promising that.

Jason

Adam,

Thanks for the welcome.

There was no intended condescension...but I may have been slightly reactionary in light of the comments made about Southern, Mohler, the SBC, and Biblical Counseling.
I am not implying that people are dumb...but I am implying that people do not know much about a)Biblical Counseling and b) Southern's changes.
Biblical counseling, thus far, has been misrepresented as being a Bible-only curriculum and was associated with Jay Adams, who is NOT a Biblical Counselor. So, I thought it reasonable since no one has actually represented it fairly, or sought out the merits of it whatsoever, that I respond as I did.
Also, regarding the changes at Southern...ethicsdaily is not the most "SBTS-friendly" publication, and as such they are certainly not going to present anything Southern does in a good light. Same goes for the ABP and the Courier-Journal who have written similar pieces.
I am a student at Southern, so I have been present for this change and have heard first-hand the reasons for it.
I hope I can contribute to the dialogue about this issue.

-Jason

Adam

Jason,
I appreciate your willingness to participate. It will be good to hear from an insider. Now on with it.

Al Mohler is suspect. His participation in the SBC conservative takeover, his appearance on the blasphemous "Justice Sunday", his dis-invitation to Brian McClaren to an evangelism converence and typically every press statement I can remember reading have made me think that this guy cares nothing for academic honesty, Christian charity or compassion, intellectual rigor, or the effects that his decision will hold for his constituents or the actual result that would come if everyone adopted his moralistic/political teachings.

His comments that he made in the Ethics daily article are hard to misconstrue as anything but "bible-idolizing" I grew up southern baptist. My entire family except me are still southern baptist. I went to a SBC college to become an SBC minister. That all fell apart in college when I began to see how politically motivated just about everything the SBC leadership (not necessarily the congregates) were doing. They were trying to manipulate and control everything that happened at my school to the point of strong-arming professors into teaching carriculum that said professors thought were academically dishonest and hurtful.

One of the things that I have seen done very often with numerous pastors I have know (Pastors who, without over-speaking, were puppets of whatever the SBC leadership said. If Paige Patterson or Al Mohler said it then it might as well be Holy Writ. It was disturbing how much this happened) who took it as a matter of pride to see who could have the "highest" view of scripture. This was aided by inflammatory language such as you used "Word of God" without qualification as if just the sound of that phrase would usher in God's presence (I'm not implying this is how you used it but the way I hear it used often). They also often juxtapose "God's Word" with "Fallen human understanding" (notice how the captilization aids in making one sound divine and righteous and the other sounds less than trust-worthy at best). A trend that I've found rampant in many places, but especially in the SBC convention whereby one sets up a false dichotomy and only one of the options hasn't been demonized. This is dishonest and hurtful.

I'm sure that I have lower view of scripture than you do. I hold this view for important reason but my point is that you are coming from a certain presuppostion about scripture, as am I, and so we must be careful to explain, argue and qualify our notions of "sin", "cure", "salvation", etc. Like Nicole said, they things that have been heavily debated and which no consensus has been agreed upon by the Christian whole.

"The Bible is superior to Psychology"
I agree, but only if you mean it hold more authority and importance to Christianity than Psychology does. But this does not mean that it is more important in the care of peoples emotional, psychological issues. To say that the bible adequately addresses all aspects of modern human life, is to pervert the bible and wrestle it into places where I believe that God would have us be creative and think for ourselves. Why stop at Psychology? Why not apply this same thinking to Medicine? Physics? Chemistry? Economics? Fire protection and EMS services? This is not to say that the bible cannot and should not inform our worldviews, but it has little to say on how to adequtely treat a diabetic emergency.

I'm starting to ramble now, and I have to say that I don't know much about Psychology except for my basic class I took in college. So all Psychology specific questions I will leave to the Psychologist. But I would love to hear any response you have to the issues that I have raised.

Jason

I understand your disagreement with Mohler theologically, and thus that causes your dislike and distrust of his positions and statements.
I understand...I disagree...but I understand.
I am grateful for the fact that the power in the SBC has gone back over to conservatives, as that makes up the majority of the theological perspective in the SBC and thus should be reflected in the leadership. (But, I guess we could argue that some other time.)
I don't see how justice Sunday is "blasphemous". Is it more or less blasphemous than John Kerry preaching at a church (or Clinton or...you get the point)? The mix of religion and politics is inevitable, and to limit the inclusion of religion into the political sphere only to the theologically liberal is really unfair.
Again, I understand your position...I disagree with you...but I understand. (Again, this is something we could argue another time.)
Mohler was not involved with the McLaren thing...that was a decision by the KBC, of which Mohler is not involved in leadership nor does he have any influence in the Convention.
But he does disagree with McLaren on issues...and McLaren's views are in conflict with that of the KBC, thus he was canceled. I see nothing wrong with that. Should they have handled it differently? Yes, they should have done enough research to know they did not want him in the first place and avoid embarassing McLaren or themselves. But, the point reamins, Mohler was uninvolved. (I don't know if they read his blog on McLaren or not, but he was not directly involved with that event.)

I understand your disctinction on the Bible. Of course, it is not inflammatory language to refer to the Bible as "the Word of God", as that phraseology has been used for centuries. Does it raise the ire of some? Sure, but by that reasoning we couldn't talk about anything, because someone is offended by everything in the world, you know?
I understand if you have a different view of Scriptue, but it is from this view that Southern (as well as the SBC) comes from, and it is this position that informs our worldview and theology.
The Biblical Counseling position comes from this view of Scripture. So, do I expect people who reject that view of Scripture to accept BC? No way! I am not shocked that you would reject BC. But do you not see how it is perfectly consistent with our theology and view of Scripture?
With regard to "Bible over Psychology", while the Bible does not speak with regard to math, or firefighting, or chemistry, it does speak to the matter of human behavior, sin, and relationships. If it is authoritative in what it talks about, then when it speaks on these issues it is the supreme voice.
Now, no one is saying that the Bible negates the need for medicine (well, I guess some people do, but not anyone I know). No one is saying that we should not use medicine to treat diabetics. That is a straw man.
Many illnesses need to be treated medicinally. No doubt.
BC questions the fact that all problems can be answered by some simple psychological phobia or illness. When a woman is in mourning because her huband died, she doesn't need prozac (or whatever), she needs someone who will let her grieve and then be there for her. What BC does is prepare the people of the churches to minister to each other. The seminary prepares counselors for the churches to oversee that ministry. BC takes seriously the impact of sin (as understood by Scripture).
So, the major presupposition of BC is that the Bible is 100% true and authoritative and that it does have something to say regarding sin, and the ultimate cure for sin...faith in Jesus Christ.
Is psychology taken seriously? Absolutely.
Are there textbooks, including psych texts? Yes.
Is BC built on these presuppositions? Yes.
Is it "effective"? Yes.
Is Psychology more effective? No...how could you ever prove that is true.
So there is really no reason to write off Biblical Counseling as ineffective or "absurd". You may disagree with the presuppostions...but you cannot say it is "absurd".

For information about BC consult:
Journal for Biblical Counseling
Anything by David Powlison, especially his book "Seeing With New Eyes"

Adam

"How could you ever prove that it is true?"

The same goes for scripture. What would it even mean to "prove" that IT is true. Also referring to the bible as an "it" can be misleading as well. Which IT are we referring to? The eastern orthodox IT? The Western Canon IT? How do we decided which one is more IT than the other IT?

I understand that your view of scripture is consistent with your view of theology etc. What I am saying is that I disagree with the position. I think it is founded on bad epistemology and I think it is being used for political agendas.

"Word of God" has been used for a long time. But it is a much different thing to use it to refer to theological discourse as opposed to using it to trump an argument. The idea that the bible is 100% accurate has always struck me as an odd place to start at. I've never heard an adequate respond to, "Why should I believe the bible in first place?". Most responses I've heard to this have ended up being circular, which is even worse reason to believe something.

I have no doubt that biblical councelors truly believe that what they are doing is correct. But my problem with them and many other conservatives is that they don't want to have a conversation. They hide behind the conservative rhetoric of "God's Word" and "Innerancy" and demonize anything else. If this isn't done on an individual level it is definately done on a political level from the figure heads. Which is why I was upset at the Brian McClaren thing. So what if he disagrees. Is it the goal of the KBC or the SBC to only expose people to ideas that they agree with? Isn't this indoctrination? What are they afraid of? Do they think their parishioners aren't wise enough to discern the difference between truth and non-truth? Perhaps Mohler wasn't directly involved but he did issue a statement about McClaren when the whole incident happened.

By the way there is a great discussion going on at the Parish (I link to it on my sidebar) about Salvation. The author is finishing up his masters in theology. You might be interested. We share some of the same ideas of about faith, salvation, etc.

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