The previous article examined how a biblical counselor uses techniques to assist a counselee in the counseling process. The question was explored as to how a biblical counselor can discern what type of techniques to use with a counselee. It was observed that the two things that direct the counselor to use a particular technique in counseling were worldview and the source of authority. These two things govern the motive behind the technique and the purpose for why it is used in counseling. A person who counsels from a secular humanist perspective, their source of authority is mankind (since secular humanism has its source of authority man at the center). By contrast, a person who counsels from a biblical worldview, their source of authority is God (or specifically God’s word).
When it comes to biblical counseling there are two distinct approaches a Biblical counselor may use, which the author will refer to as the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model and the Authoritative Foundational Model. The Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model can be explained using the following definition:
The Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model attempts to infuse the biblical worldview and theories from different sources of authority, and/or worldviews, for the purpose of addressing counselee’s spiritual, psychological, social, and cognitive problems.
There are three risks when a biblical counselor uses the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model when assisting their counselees. these risks are described below:
- The Authoritative source may be the theories in counseling rather than Biblical authority: A theory is defined as, “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com). In terms of counseling, theories are given in an attempt to explain human behavior and the rationale for why the behavior is displayed. These rationales for how to address human behavior are always explained from the theorist’s perspective or source of authority. Consequently, these theories often have an authoritative source that may not compatible with the authoritative source of Scripture.
- The Scriptures may be taken out of context for the sake of “unifying” counseling theory with the biblical truth: A biblical counselor, working with Cognitive-Behavioral theory, a theory that asserts that how an individual thinks determines how they behave, may use Rom. 12:2 as proof that Scripture teaches this particular theoretical model, as the author writes below:
…I was lead to a scripture that I felt answered my question. It was a writing of Paul found in 2 Corinthians 10:5: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Paul also writes in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and again in Ephesians 4 we are reminded to be made new in the attitude of our minds. I could go on—it’s all over the place…This is the very essence of cognitive-behavioral therapy!
Rachel Dewitt (2010). Christian Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from http://heritagecounselingcenter.blogspot.com/2010/08/christian-cognitive-behavioral-therapy.html
In the context of 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul does write about the arguments and pretensions that the culture, or the spirit of the age, philosophically made (the cultural background Paul was addressing were saints who were surrounded by people that were speculating about mankind, life, and what the false gods they worshipped required of men in the culture they lived in). In addition, in this text, Paul mentions nothing about destroying one’s arguments and pretensions in effect to change a person’s behavior. Romans 12:2 does discuss the transformation of the mind. However, the purpose of this verse that Paul wrote was not to change one’s thinking in their brain to change one’s behavior, but so that one may know the will of God. Furthermore, the phrase “be transformed” found in verse 2 is not active, but passive. In short, the counselee is not doing the transforming, it is God’s mercies (i.e., the word of God), in conjunction with the Holy Spirit that does the transforming of one’s mind.
- May lead a counselor to practice counseling from the “empty philosophy” rather than biblical authority (c.f., Col. 2:8): This risk is an extension from the previous point. A biblical counselor who counsels from this model may only see the Scripture as either a means to address salvation, and nothing further, or may use it as a book for personal improvement and/or behavior modification. Sara Rainer comments:
For Christian psychologists, our worldview must be determined by Scripture. Not only should we see our clients as individuals in need of Jesus Christ, but our understanding of mental illness and disorder should also be based upon a Gospel-oriented worldview. As a result, our therapeutic practice will utilize Scripture to heal our clients and glorify Jesus.
Sara Rainer (2014). The Integration of Christianity and Psychology. Retrived from https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/september/concerning-psychology-and-christianity-guest-post-by-sarah-.html
The gospel of Christ Jesus is important, and as I mentioned in my previous article Dr. Ranier does acknowledge the authority of Scripture and the reality and consequences of the sin nature in mankind. However, Sara Rainer mentions the Bible in counseling only in the salvific context. This may cause a biblical counselor to believe that the way to deal with mankind’s behavior is to choose a theoretical model over Scripture, which could more than likely be from the philosophy that is contrary to Christ (i.e., God’s word).
In contrast to the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model, the biblical counselor can also use what the author calls the Authoritative Foundational Model, which is discussed below:
- Observes a consistent normal-grammatical historical method of Scripture: The biblical counselor employing this model observes God, and His revealed word, as the ultimate source of authority. As a result, the biblical counselor will strive to be a good biblicist looking to discover the author’s original intended meaning of Scripture, taking into account the meanings of words, grammar, history, and even culture. By this method, one builds and establishes a proper biblical worldview (this also decreases the chances one may take Scripture out of context and applying it improperly).
- Works with a proper biblical systematic theology that governs counseling method and process: A biblical counselor, using a consistent normal grammatical-historical method of Scripture can establish a proper biblical systematic theology, which can be used to evaluate a particular theoretical model.
- Observes the authoritative sources within the theories of counseling. Subjecting them to the Biblical worldview (c.f., 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 2:8): All theories in counseling work from a particular philosophy. The biblical counselor, before they employ a theory examines the creator of the theory, the philosophical worldview of the theory, the main points of the theory, and where the main points of the theory agree/disagree with the Biblical worldview, holding to the points of the theory that agree with the biblical worldview, and discarding the points of the theory that are incompatible with the biblical worldview.
- Practices proper biblical application in counseling: Once the theory, and its corresponding main points have been examined and subjected to the biblical worldview, one can use the instruction of the Scriptures, and the points of the theory that is compatible with the Bible, to advise counselees properly.
Diagram created by Dr. Luther Smith
A biblical counselor may use two methods in biblical counseling. The first model is the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model and has three particular risks: Authoritative sources may be the theories rather than the Scriptures. The Scriptures may be misquoted from their general context for the sake of making them compatible with the counseling theory. Lastly, this may lead a person to counsel with an empty philosophy rather than the Scriptures. This may lead to improper integrative conclusions and how to serve people in their problems in biblical counseling.
The second method would be the Authoritative Foundational Model which addresses the limitations of the previous model by observing the Scriptures from a consistent normal grammatical-historical method building a proper systematic theology. From there one examines the authoritative source(s) of the theory subjecting it to the biblical worldview. After this approach, a biblical counselor is able to properly give primary and secondary application to their counselee.
Let us as biblical counselors with a consistent method of explanation of the Scriptures, seek to subject every theory and teaching under the biblical worldview. In effect, we protect ourselves, and our counselees, from the empty philosophy that can be found in counseling, and advise our counselees properly from the Scriptures.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!
For more biblical resources from Dr. Luther Smith they can be found on his website: www.drluthersmith.com.