Book Review -- By: Anonymous
CTSJ 3:2 (Winter 1997) p. 10
Against Biblical Counseling: For The Bible, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 1994). Reviewed by Clifford Rapp Jr., Professor of Hermeneutics and Systematic Theology.
This book modifies the Bobgans’ position expressed in How To Counsel From Scripture (which was reviewed in the Spring/Summer edition of the CTS Journal). It asks the question, “Is biblical counseling biblical?” The answer that the book gives is expressed in its title.
In the opening chapter, the Bobgans articulate a number of concerns about the type of biblical counseling that requires some training in counseling techniques and that takes place as a specialized ministry involving a counselor/counselee relationship. The concerns expressed include such things as undermining the ministry of the church. Pastors who have not had counseling training can be disempowered. Lay people who have not had counseling training can he robbed of the exercise of the priesthood of the believers in ministry to their fellow believers, because they don’t feel qualified to help. Specialized biblical counselors result in a caste system.
The counseling method is wrong in most cases because it gives the counselee center stage to focus on himself. Additionally, this kind of counseling concentrates on problem solving rather than the greater concern of spiritual sanctification. Too often the results are superficial, legalistic or pat formulas that do not produce Christ-likeness. The church got along for nineteen centuries without a need for contemporary biblical counseling. “Any person who can be used by the Holy Spirit to lead another to salvation or along the way of sanctification is competent to be used by God to give wise counsel without needing specialized biblical counseling training” (p. 11).
Chapter two traces out a history of the cure of souls in the church. The blame for the modern biblical counseling movement seems to begin with the Puritans, who were concerned about “idolatry of the heart.” Because of this concern, Puritan pastors analyzed motives, feelings and intentions of their people and sought to direct inner consent. This led to a general interest in understanding the inner person, why do people do what they do, and how do they change. These developments led to more man-centered theologies,
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departures from the pure doctrines of scripture. and conformity to the world. The evangelical churches have embraced “biblical counseling that looks like psychological counseling at least in structure and often in content” (p. 54).
Chapter three examines the biblical words for counsel, counsels, and ...
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