Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 04:2 (Apr 1998)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Connecting: Healing for Ourselves and Our Relationships: A Radical New Vision, by Larry Crabb (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997). Reviewed by Clifford Rapp Jr., professor of Biblical Studies, Chafer Theological Seminary, and pastor of Orange Coast Free Methodist Church, Costa Mesa, California.

The well-known Christian psychotherapist, Dr. Crabb, claims to be taking a bold step and presenting a “radical new vision.” However, what one finds in the book is much more of an expansion or extension of ideas that he has expressed in other works. Even his method of presenting the new ideas is typically “Crabbesque.” He seeks an alternative to two unhappy approaches for dealing with hurting people. On one hand, he presents “the exhortation/accountability model,” which “consist[s] largely of admonishment to do what’s right, with painful consequences for violation and, occasionally, rewards for cooperation.” With the results that, “The power we depend on to influence someone’s life then becomes pressure in all its ugly forms: guilt, shame, threat, fear, manipulation, to name a few’ (p. 33). This view sees the basic cause of people’s problems as a stubborn will and the means of cure is instruction, exhortation, and accountability.

Besides the implied criticisms in the above quote, Dr. Crabb dismisses this method concluding “Much of what we call Christian counseling, especially in more ‘biblical’ circles, is little more than the application of law to life” (p. 34).

On the other hand, there is the treatment/repair model. “In this model hurting people are thought of as psychological beings, a viewpoint that recognizes their ability to choose but highlights the deep, often unconscious, forces within them that influences their choices… In this view, the power to change depends on insight, not pressure; self-awareness, not rules; psychological understanding, not commands” (p. 34). The treatment/repair model sees the cause of people’s problems as psychological damage and the means of cure is increased self-awareness.

Dr. Crabb makes many more criticisms of the psychological (treatment/repair) model, especially the secular type, than he does of the exhortation/accountability model, which he sees operating in more “biblical circles.” He is, after all, writing to a Christian audience and he wants to convince his readers that his is a biblical approach. However, his book is not at all a polemic against psychological counseling. It is much more a vision for the church to provide the sort of community that will make it unnecessary for Christians to employ professional counselors. He writes, “I am now working toward the day when communities of God’s people, ordinary Chris...

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