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The Misuse of a Biblical Doctrine

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The History of Christian Counseling and General Revelation

Samuel Stephens
Feb 23, 2018
Source: Biblical Counseling

Introduction

A movement cannot be rightly understood unless it is placed in the context in which it began and how it progressed – what we call history. History allows us to trace threads of ideas and themes through time. Within the movement and practice of Christian Counseling, a line of division surfaces as we look at sources of authority upon which counselors have depended through the years. This division occurs between biblical conviction and counseling practice. In this essay, I suggest that the integrative model of counseling, namely Christian Counseling, misses the mark concerning the search and identification of truth by abusing the biblical doctrine of general revelation. The field of Christian Counseling has consistently demonstrated a historical misrepresentation and biblical misapplication of this doctrine in an effort to provide a justification for the utilization of secular psychology.

What is Christian Counseling?

It is important to note that as a label Christian Counseling can refer to a wide spectrum of counseling approaches.1 A unifying drive of this counseling approach, however, is the effort “to integrate psychology and Christian theology.”2Everett Worthington defined Christian Counseling as:

[An] explicit or implicit agreement between a counselor who is a Christian and a client for the provision of help for the client, in which the counselor not only has at heart the client’s psychological welfare but also the Christian spiritual welfare.3

As a formative influence in the Christian Counseling movement, Clyde Narramore noted that “wise counseling requires that evangelical faith be carefully integrated with the theories, therapeutic methods and professional roles of the modern psychologies [emphasis added].”4 In his book Psychology and Theology, Gary Collins added, “The Christian who wants to understand and help change human behavior must have a good understanding of psychological techniques and knowledge in areas such as biological, cognitive, affective, social, and individual bases of behavior [emphasis added].”5 A theme found throughout Christian Counseling literature is an emphasis on the importance of professional credentials, the reliance upon social science, and a focus on assisting clients in overcoming spiritual maladjustments on their own.6

Integration: An Idea and Process

Christian Counseling cannot be fully understood without highlighting the concept and method of integration. According to John Carter and Bruce Narramore, Christian social scientists who study human behavior through the scientific method use the term integration to show a correlation between professional and scientific fields with Christian theology. They stated, “Most of these efforts are based on one essential philosophical underpinning—the belief that all truth is God’s truth, wherever it is found. This proposition is frequently referred to as ‘the unity of truth.’”7

Collins defined truth as “an abstract idea, a universal reality that exists and can be grasped by analysis or experimentation.”8 In the inaugural edition of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, Bruce Narramore argued that “the minister and psychologist are not the only ones caught up in this conflict. The theologian, the physician and the student of psychology and scripture all share concerns for the whole man. They know they cannot minister effectively if they neglect the contributions of related disciplines.”9 Within Christian Counseling, integration provided a clear path to discovering truth in which psychological science, in conjunction with Scripture, could present a “cohesive approach to the problems that confront us.”10

The Doctrine of General Revelation

Within the context of the broader Christian Counseling movement, general revelation has been used in such a way as to make available “pieces of truth that cannot be found in the Bible.”11 According to Bruce Demarest, general revelation had traditionally been “mediated through nature, conscience, and the providential ordering of history” for the sole purpose of providing “a universal witness to God’s existence and character.”12 Demarest continued, “Through the modalities of general revelation, man at large knows both that there is a God and in broad outline what He is like” (14). In the first volume of his Systematic Theology, James Leo Garett clarified, “‘General’ revelation is that disclosure of God that is available to all human beings through the created universe (nature) and in the inner nature of human beings (conscience).”13

Christianity has been recognized as a revelatory religion and some have gone as far as to say that Christian faith necessitates revelation. The doctrine of revelation distinguishes Christianity from pseudo-religions which have more in common with pagan philosophies.14The very concept of revelation also assumes the sinfulness of man and the fact that man is in spiritual bondage apart from God’s activity and self-disclosure. In Revelation and Reason, his landmark treatment on this subject, Emil Brunner noted that biblical revelation, both general and special, did not disclose “facts” or “something” but it unveiled and disclosed God himself.15

A Brief Biblical Witness

Psalm 19 and Romans 1 demonstrate the doctrinal significance of general revelation.16 In Psalm 19, King David exclaimed, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).17In his commentary on this psalm, John Calvin noted:

Scripture, indeed makes known to us the time and manner of the creation; but the heavens themselves, although God should say nothing on the subject, proclaim loudly and distinctly enough that they have been fashioned by his hands: and this of itself abundantly suffices to bear testimony to men of his glory.18

Not only did the heavens and sun address the glory of God, but each also revealed truth (Psalm 19:3). Peter Craigie noted that “as mankind reflects upon the vast expanse of heaven, with its light by day and its intimation of a greater universe by night, that reflection may open up an awareness and knowledge of God, the Creator, who by his hands created by glory beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”19

The New Testament contains a biblical witness to the doctrine of general revelation as well. Thomas Oden stated that a majority of theologians in the early years of Christianity agreed with the concept of general revelation as seen from the perspective of Paul in Romans 1­­–3 as the “universal revelation in the cosmos and human nature—along with a corresponding affirmation of human suppression of this revelation.”20 Romans 1:20 states that God’s divine characteristics “have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made . . . .”21See W. E. Vine and F. F. Bruce, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1971), 168. According to Vine, the Greek word translated understood (νοέω noeō) meant “to perceive with the mind, as distinct from perception by feeling.” The emphasis on understanding with the mind seems to demonstrate the clarity and purposefulness of God within the revelation of himself vis-à-vis creation.In his explanation of this verse, Dunn expounded upon the potential influences on Paul’s observations regarding revelation and truth:

[Paul] draws principally on influential Stoic ideas: that there is an innate rapport between the divine and the human because the divine logos immanent throughout the world is immanent also in man as the power of reason . . . however, it is Paul’s more Jewish perception of this divine relation which remains primary: what is known is an act of revelation personally willed by God (v.19b) in relation to a created order (v.20); and man is recognized as a responsible agent in face of this revelation . . . .22

Another New Testament scholar, Douglas Moo, generally agrees with Dunn’s assessment that general revelation was directed by God, revealed by God, and purposed to convey the glory and power of God. However, he viewed Paul’s presentation of truth in this passage, while derived from general revelation and accessible to both Jews and Gentiles alike, was still limited in scope. In itself, general revelation cannot provide salvation to sinners.23

Historical Perspective of General Revelation

The doctrine of general revelation has undergone scrutiny, served as the topic of debate, and has been used as a foundation for other church teachings.24Originating with Thomas Aquinas, theology came to be known as the queen of the sciences. Millard Erickson noted, “Until the thirteenth century, the term science was not applied to theology. Augustine preferred the term sapientia (wisdom) to scientia (knowledge).”25 As a scholastic theologian, Aquinas focused much of his philosophical musings on the idea of truth and knowledge, which included its definition, source, and purpose. He categorized truth in two realms one lower (nature) and one higher (grace). During the medieval period the church was in a unique dilemma where paganism and secularism, threatened the status of Christianity in the eyes of the common man. Instead of relying on Scripture as the authority of what is necessary for faith and practice, Aquinas chose instead to appeal to reason for an adequate defense of Christianity.26

From this effort, Aquinas formulated the concept of natural theology, which he later refined in his Summa Theologica. As defined, natural theology “is the attempt to attain an understanding of God and his relationship with the universe by means of rational reflection, without appealing to special revelation such as the self-revelation of God in Christ and in Scripture.”27Aquinas’ conclusion concerning natural theology was essentially a misguided attempt to create an apologetic from general revelation. This effect led the Catholic Church to place “Scripture and tradition next to each other” instead of recognizing the different natures, yet identical purposes, of special and general revelation.28Aquinas’ emphasis on the capability of man’s reason led theologians to view revelation as only necessary to explain “what is above reason.”29Therefore, Aquinas’ re-tooling of general revelation rested on two assumptions: first, that nature was wholly intact and yet only partially marred by the Fall of man (Genesis 3), and secondly that people had retained an integrity of reason and perception untouched by sin.

The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century brought more developments to the doctrine of general revelation. However, instead of the parameters of this doctrine being expanded, it was narrowed. There was general consensus among Protestant theologians that man’s reasoning abilities were tainted and skewed by sin and thus were susceptible to error.30As early at 1524 A.D., Balthasar Hubmaier, a German Anabaptist theologian, published Eighteen Dissertations in which he included a section refuting a widely accepted view of general revelation. He wrote, “All teachings that are not from God are in vain and shall be rooted up. Here perish the disciples of Aristotle, as well as the Thomists, the Scotists, Bonaventure, and Occam, and all teaching that does not proceed from God’s word.”31This bold representation of general revelation was echoed by another well-known reformer, John Calvin. Calvin’s doctrine of sin, like that of Hubmaier, was sophisticated and took “into account that sinful men corrupt the gifts of understanding and scholarship God gives.”32The rationalism of natural theology committed error in that it denied man’s “dependence in our present state of sin upon God’s past revelations of himself.”33

While the Protestant Reformation brought about many positive changes, the adverse impact of natural theology continued on through the nineteenth century. In 1870 the Catholic Church “announced that God could be known with certainty from that which had been created through the natural light of reason.”34 The modern era of theological deliberation, from the late eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, was characterized as having combined the man-centered philosophies of the previous century with a broad interpretation of general revelation.

Theological Implications of General Revelation

The first theological implication regarding general revelation is in the categorization of theology as a “spiritual science” as opposed to a man-centered social science. By the late nineteenth century, the definition of science began to shift from an orderly, systematic study of a particular topic to becoming almost synonymous with the discovery of truth. Writing prolifically on the topic of science and spirituality, Abraham Kuyper noted that due to man’s sinful nature, the scientific method imposed upon the study of theology would invariably lead to error. In his Principles of Sacred Theology, he wrote:

Science is entirely different from truth. If you imagine our human development without  sin, the impulse to know and understand the cosmos, and by knowledge to govern it, would have been the same; but there would have been no search after truth, simply because there could have been no danger of relying upon falsehood as a result of investigation.35

Kuyper defended an idea of truth that inherently pointed to non-truth, while modern science depicted a “thirst after knowledge” which attempted to know everything that existed.36 Commenting nearly a century later on this topic, Carl F.H. Henry noted that it is hypocritical for modern science to demand that religion fall in line when the hard and social sciences constantly re-evaluate and re-assess the veracity of previous conclusions. A consistent characteristic of modern science is that it was always “subject to ongoing revision of its judgments.”37 Erickson agreed with Henry that sciences not based on biblical revelation could indeed err. As such, general revelation can only be accurately understood when held in distinction from man-centered disciplines. Millard Erickson stated, “In an attempt to be regarded as scientific, disciplines dealing with humanity [e.g. psychology] have tended to become behavioristic, basing their method, objects, and conclusions upon what is observable, measurable, and testable, rather than on what can be known introspectively.”38

A second theological implication behind general revelation is that it is distinct from the process and idea of scientific discovery. The Greek word ἀποκάλυψις (apokalypsis) is used throughout Scripture and is most often translated as revelation, which denotes “an ‘unveiling’ and hence a disclosure.”39 Despite this connection, general revelation has been consistently subsumed under the pursuits of modern scientific exploration. Regarding the use of general revelation by the Christian counselor and psychologist, Gary Collins stated, “He [God] has revealed this truth through the Bible, God’s written Word to human beings, but he also has permitted us to discover truth [emphasis added] through experience, through research investigation, and through the insights that come through reflection, observation, and the words of books and sermons.”40 David Penley disagrees with Collins’ conclusions citing that this is an inaccurate view of general revelation. Christians cannot justify utilizing the social sciences by claiming they fall under the category of general revelation. He noted, “General revelation is not God revealing new things to us. He is revealing things about Himself that He also has revealed through special revelation in the Scriptures.”41 A correct understanding of general revelation precludes that God is infinite and man is not. To know God, He must make himself known.42

Christian Counseling: Context and Ideology

In one of the most comprehensive texts in the field of Christian Counseling, Gary Collins mentioned that man’s discoveries of “truth” in general revelation must be consistent with the Bible as revealed truth; however, he did not concede that psychological theory and methodology were based on anti-biblical presuppositions. He further concluded that counseling becomes ineffective and limited when counselors “pretend that the discoveries of psychology, neuropsychology, psychobiology, human genetics, and related fields have nothing to contribute to the understanding and solutions of problems.”43In this final section of the essay, it will be demonstrated that Christian Counseling has adopted an unbiblical concept of general revelation in order to justify attempts at integrating secular psychological models with Christian theological approaches to soul care.

A Modern Approach to Soul Care

The endeavors of philosophy and psychology have, in many ways, intersected with theology and the Christian church regarding the dealings, purposes, nature, and solution to the “basic problems of human nature.”44The early integration of philosophy with theology culminated in pastoral counseling becoming dominated by a scientific and psychological model. Modern trends in pastoral counseling have set it apart from its foundation as the biblical care of souls. In 1956, William Hulme stated, “In former days, the pastor’s counseling was oriented in pastoral theology [anchored in Scripture]; today it centers on pastoral psychology. The impetus for this new movement has come more from the laboratories of the psychological sciences than from the scholarship of theologians.”45

Among Protestants, practical theology no longer covered matters related to soul care and counseling but focused only on topics including preaching, missions, evangelism, and church government. When faced with issues that practical theology did not answer, pastors referred their congregants to the “secular experts” for help and counsel.46Carter and Narramore noted that while liberal pastors functionally abandoned theology for psychology in this area of ministry, conservative pastoral counselors, who were in the minority, were unaware of “the contributions of psychology to the understanding of personality” and therefore lagged behind their counterparts.47 Soon a small number of Christian psychologists began calling all evangelical pastors and counselors to embrace one another’s methods, both biblical and psychological, in an effort to construct a holistic integrative approach to soul care that would be acceptable to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, efficacious to patients who were emotionally, mentally, and spiritually ill, while still remaining unapologetically Christian.48 Eric Johnson considered the 1960s and 1970s the “golden age of integration” where many Christian psychologists, mental health workers, and counselors largely favored the integration of faith and psychology. The key figures at the forefront of the Christian counseling movement held to a strong conceptual view of integration. Johnson noted that the task of what he labeled as interdisciplinary integration “ostensibly involves reflection of the propositions of modern psychology and the propositions of theology (and the Bible) in order for Christians to end up with discourse that includes both theological and psychological propositions and that is logically consistent with Christian faith.”49In an attempt to integrate, those who held to this approach divided the “revelations” of the Christian faith into two distinct categories. Special revelation involved theology as disclosed in Scripture while general revelation allowed for the study of sociology and psychology by humans in order to “discover” truth.50. Others affirmed that psychology, as a “scientific discipline,” not only had more impact on the church than any other theory, except perhaps Darwinian evolution, but that as a human-centered field of study similar to theology, psychology could “offer a great deal toward an understanding of the human race.”51 In identifying the objective of Christian counseling, Collins stated, “As a counselor, you are a change specialist. Your job is to help people deal with the changes that come into their lives and make changes that will improve their lives.”52However, this change is inconsistent to the concept of “change” as presented within the Bible.

The Search for Truth

The question of the nature of truth serves as the impetus behind the psychologically-informed Christian Counseling movement. The goals and methods of Christian Counseling are concerned with both psychological and spiritual matters. Christian counselors and psychologists hold that the Bible, however useful for spiritual matters, never claims “to be a textbook on counseling” and “never was meant to be God’s sole revelation about people-healing.”53The logical conclusion of this claim on the nature and source of truth was expressed by Stanton Jones when he suggested that Christian counselors had a duty to their clients to share any knowledge of psychological theory they had in their possession. He also seemed to suggest that to withhold such knowledge would make the counselor not only irresponsible, but even negligent.54

Two related assumptions are shared by those who engage the integrationist approach to Christian Counseling. The first assumption is that God is the source of all truth. Carter and Narramore defend this assertion by stating that all disciplines share a basic unity of truth and this unity serves as the legitimate basis for all attempts at integrating the Christian faith with professional, clinical, and theoretical psychology. The view that Christian theology shares subject matter and philosophic jurisdiction with secular psychology leads them to conclude that God is the source of the truth found in these two often opposing sources. They claimed, “If we believe that God is the source of all truth, we assume that there is no inherent conflict between the facts of psychology and the data of Scripture [emphasis mine].”55

The second assumption generally held within Christian Counseling is that man is able to know/discover all truth. According to Collins, science serves as the vehicle for studying and making sense of the natural world (via general revelation). In essence scientific methodology provides an illumination into the teachings and truths of Scripture in a way that man can grasp. A Christian psychologist must be a solid student of both general and special revelation and “continually test his scientifically derived facts against the revealed truth of the Bible.”56 Larry Crabb conceded this point by stating, “The Two-Book View (which is the implicit view behind much current thinking on integration) elevates the conclusions of empirical research to the same level of decisiveness as the conclusions of biblical study.”57

Historical Misrepresentation

Christian Counseling perpetuates the historical misrepresentation of general revelation by equating scientific studies and empirical data with God-given revelation. Concerning the use of general revelation in related literature, Deinhardt noted:

The importance and theological soundness of the stance taken on it is virtually ignored in the Christian counselling [sic] literature, in spite of the fact that it has a key role in determining what materials are to be included in theories of counselling [sic] and what methodologies will be employed in counselling [sic]. Moreover, to the extent it is mentioned, it is typically done so in a manner not representative of traditional evangelical theology. Instead, “all truth is God’s truth” is often used as a theological catch clause so-to-speak whereby one can uphold biblical authority, while in good conscience adding in whatever other “truths” one might deem worthy from other sources.58

In agreement with this assessment, Jim Owen stated, “Although ‘Christian’ psychology claims to integrate Scriptural truth with ‘discovered’ (i.e., scientific) truth, integration is not occurring; Integration is virtually impossible. ‘Christian’ psychology sets aside the historical-grammatical method of interpreting Scripture and replaces it with a hermeneutic centered on pathology.”59Jones views special revelation as an exalted gift; however, it is insufficient in providing what counselors need to fully understand human beings. Modern psychology, provided to man through general revelation, offers “legitimate and strategic” aid in helping the Christian therapist better understand human nature.60

Admitting that not all Christian Counselors and integrationists have adequately represented general revelation, Mark McMinn and Clark Campbell stated that this doctrine was “more authoritative on issues left unaddressed in the Bible” including examples given such as “constructing microprocessors or treating bacterial pneumonia.”61However, general revelation, as previously mentioned, is never referred to as an ambiguous truth that was to be discovered by “reasonable” men.62 General revelation was provided to man by God for the purpose of revealing man’s inherent sin, guilt, and need for reconciliation to His Creator. Scripture, as special revelation, brings explicit clarity to this relationship.63Henry, Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought, 19. See also, Packer, Ferguson, and Wright, New Dictionary of Theology. Pinnock stated, “The two species of revelation stand together in a complementary relationship. We should not forget that God is the source of revelation in both cases, and that two types of revelation work together to the same goal” (585).

Theological Misapplication

Collins reimagines not only the historical but the biblical definition of revelation. His model “begins with the assumption that God exists and is the source of all truth. This truth is revealed through the Bible (disclosed truth) and nature (discovered truth).”64The biblical definition of truth is re-framed by Collins and Crabb in the form of expanded empiricism. Collins noted, “I would agree with Crabb that the Bible is our primary source . . . But the Bible does not claim to be a textbook on psychology. We can and must draw from nonbiblical sources if we want to intervene to bring about maximum change through counseling.”65

In his book, Psychological Seduction, sociologist William Kirk Kilpatrick argues that the good intentions of Christian integrationists often leads to the secular overtaking the sacred. He stated, “True Christianity does not mix well with psychology. When you try to mix them, you often end up with a watered-down Christianity instead of a Christianized psychology.”66 In differentiating Christian counseling from biblical counselors, Ed Bulkley noted that the “controversy centers on the issues of authority and the source of truth.”67 As has been shown, the misapplication of general revelation in order to affirm extra-biblical sources of truth is not a new concept when the Christian counseling movement was first conceived; regardless, as a movement, this approach was widely applied.68 Years earlier, Abraham Kuyper noted that truth that is scientifically established has come to be known as universally valid. However, Scripture never presents truth as a force that depends upon corporate agreement in order to retain its validity.69

Conclusion

While it is a vitally important biblical doctrine, general revelation has been at the center of theological debate throughout church history. Unfortunately, this doctrine has been often misrepresented leading to error regarding the nature, source, and application of truth itself. Through this essay, I have argued that those adhering to an integrationist approach to Christian Counseling have perpetuated an incorrect understanding of general revelation in an effort to utilize both secular psychology and Christian Scripture. Ultimately, integrative counseling functionally identifies and utilizes two different types of wisdom: one found in the Bible and one found in secular psychology.70 At the same time, modern soul care practices pay lip-service to the sufficiency of Scripture while simultaneously denigrating the inherent authority of the Word of God. A proper historical and theological understanding of general revelation recognizes not only its place as subservient to special revelation, but also that revelation is not synonymous with empirical inquiry, incidental discovery, or truth-making but instead demonstrates an active and purposeful unveiling of God’s nature and plan to those who are made in His image.

<a href="https://biblicalcounseling.com/multi_author/samuel-stephens/">Samuel Stephens</a>
Samuel Stephens

Samuel Stephens serves as the Director of Training Center Certification at ACBC.

How does one achieve true healing? How is “medicine” / drugs apart of healing? Or are drugs apart of addiction cultivation?

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7 of the Most Outrageous Medical Treatments in History

UPDATED:APR 1, 2019
ORIGINAL:SEP 5, 2017

Why were parents giving their children heroin in the 1880s?
BRYNN HOLLAND
Source: History
Photos Source: History

It’s hard to keep up with the treatment recommendations coming out of the medical community. One day something is good for you, and the next day it’s deadly and should be avoided. Addictive drugs like heroin were given to kids to cure coughs, electric shock therapy has been a long used treatment for impotence, and “miracle” diet pills were handed out like candy. Below are seven of the most shocking treatments recommended by doctors.

1. Snake Oil—Salesmen and Doctors

Collection of elixirs. (Credit: Efrain Padro/Alamy Stock Photo)
Collection of elixirs. (Credit: Efrain Padro/Alamy Stock Photo)

While today a “snake oil salesman” is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods, the use of snake oil has real, medicinal routes. Extracted from the oil of Chinese water snakes, it likely arrived in the United States in the 1800s, with the influx of Chinese workers toiling on the Transcontinental Railroad. Rich in omega-3 acids, it was used to reduce inflammation and treat arthritis and bursitis, and was rubbed on the workers’ joints after a long day of working on the railroad.Enter Clark Stanley, “The Rattlesnake King.” Originally a cowboy, Stanley claimed to have studied with a Hopi medicine man who turned him on to the healing powers of snake oil. He took this new found “knowledge” on the road, performing a show-stopping act at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where he reached into a bag, grabbed a rattlesnake, cut it open, and squeezed it. He labeled the extract snake oil, even though the FDA later confirmed that his products didn’t contain any kind of snake oil, rattlesnake or otherwise. That didn’t stop other unscrupulous doctors and fraudulent salesmen, who also started traveling the American West, peddling bottles of fake snake oil, giving the truly beneficial medical treatment a bad name.

2. Cocaine—The Wonder Drug

Advertisement for Cocaine Toothache Drops,1890. Courtesy National Library of Medicine. (Credit: Smith Collection/Getty Images).
Advertisement for Cocaine Toothache Drops,1890. Courtesy National Library of Medicine. (Credit: Smith Collection/Getty Images).

Around the mid 1880s, scientists were able to isolate the active ingredient of the coca leaf, Erthroxlyn coca (later known as cocaine). Pharmaceutical companies loved this new, fast-acting and relatively-inexpensive stimulant.

In 1884, an Australian ophthalmologist, Carol Koller, discovered that a few drops of cocaine solution put on a patient’s cornea acted as a topical anesthetic. It made the eye immobile and de-sensitized to pain, and caused less bleeding at the site of incision—making eye surgery much less risky. News of this discovery spread, and soon cocaine was being used in both eye and sinus surgeries. Marketed as a treatment for toothaches, depression, sinusitis, lethargy, alcoholism, and impotence, cocaine was soon being sold as a tonic, lozenge, powder and even used in cigarettes. It even appeared in Sears Roebuck catalogues. Popular home remedies, such as Allen’s Cocaine Tablets, could be purchased for just 50 cents a box and offered relief for everything from hay fever, catarrh, throat troubles, nervousness, headaches, and sleeplessness. In reality, the side effects of cocaine actually caused many of the ailments it claimed to cure—causing lack of sleep, eating problems, depression, and even hallucinations.

You didn’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase it. Some states sold cocaine at bars, and it was, famously, one of the key ingredients in the soon-to-be ubiquitous Coca-Cola soft drink. By 1902, there were an estimated 200,000 cocaine addicts in the U.S. alone. In 1914, the Harrison Narcotic Act outlawed the production, importation, and distribution of cocaine.

3. Vibrators—Cure Your Hysteria

Handheld electric vibrator, 1909. (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)
Handheld electric vibrator, 1909. (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)

We have 19th-century doctors to thank for the introduction of the vibrator, which was first advertised as a cure for a catch-all, female “disease” known as hysteria. Hysteria was believed to cause any number of maladies, including anxiety, irritability, sexual desire, insomnia, faintness, and a bloated stomach—so almost every woman showed some symptoms. The condition traced its roots back to ancient medical theories about “wandering wombs,” where a displaced (and discontented) uterus caused female ill health.

The treatment? A “pelvic massage” that would induce “hysterical paroxysm”—commonly known as an orgasm. This job lay with Victorian doctors who manually massaged women. In an effort to spare the doctors this work, one ingenious practitioner named Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville created a steam-powered, “electromechanical medical instrument.” Nicknamed the “Manipulator,” the device allowed women to give themselves home massages, allowing them to cure their “wandering wombs.”

4. Fen-Phen—A Miracle Pill for Weight Loss

Bottles of Phentermine and Fenfluramine, commonly known as Phen-Fen.  (Credit: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
Bottles of Phentermine and Fenfluramine, commonly known as Phen-Fen. (Credit: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)

Today’s weight-loss industry is an estimated $60 billion business, a large portion of which is spent on diet pills. And while the first fat-busting pills went on the market in the late 1880s, no other pills have had quite the speedy rise and fall as Fen-Phen did in the 1990s.Originally released into the market as two separate drugs—the appetite suppressant Fenfluramine and the amphetamine Phentermine—they were marketed as short-term diet aids, but proved largely ineffective on their own. In the late 1970s, however, the two products were combined by Dr. Michael Weintraub to create what became known as Fen-Phen. Weintraub conducted a single study with 121 patients over the course of four years. The patients, two-thirds of which were women, lost an average of 30 pounds with seemingly no side effects—but Weintraub’s study didn’t monitor the patients’ hearts. The new miracle drug was first introduced into the market in 1992, and people could not get enough of it. Some doctors, looking for a quick way to make cash, operated “fen-phen mills,” where desperate patients looking to shed excess weight would pay anything for the pills. Soon, some 6 million Americans were using it.

In April 1996, after a contentious debate, the FDA agreed to approve the drug, pending a one-year trial. Almost immediately, reports of grave side effects started pouring in. That July, the Mayo Clinic said that 24 women taking fen-phen had developed serious heart valve abnormalities. Hundreds of more cases were reported, and by September 1997 the FDA had officially pulled fen-phen. In 1999, the American Home Products Corporation (the producers of fen-phen) agreed to pay a $3.75 billion settlement to those injured by taking the drug. More than 50,000 liability lawsuits were filed in the years following its withdrawal from the market, and patients are still able to file injury claims.

5. Heroin—The Cure for a Cough

Pharmaceutical advertisement from a 1900 magazine, promoting the use of heroin for a cough. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)
Pharmaceutical advertisement from a 1900 magazine, promoting the use of heroin for a cough. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

How do you cure one drug epidemic? Create a new drug. That’s what happened in the late 1880s, when heroin was introduced as a safe and non-addictive substitute for morphine. Known as diamorphine, it was created by an English chemical researcher named C.R. Alder Wright in the 1870s, but it wasn’t until a chemist working for Bayer pharmaceuticals discovered Wright’s paper in 1895 that the drug came to market.

Finding it to be five times more effective—and supposedly less addictive—than morphine, Bayer began advertising a heroin-laced aspirin in 1898, which they marketed towards children suffering from sore throats, coughs, and cold. Some bottles depicted children eagerly reaching for the medicine, with moms giving their sick kids heroin on a spoon. Doctors started to have an inkling that heroin may not be as non-addictive as it seemed when patients began coming back for bottle after bottle. Despite the pushback from physicians and negative stories about heroin’s side effects pilling up, Bayer continued to market and produce their product until 1913. Eleven years later, the FDA banned heroin altogether.

6. Lobotomies—Hacking Away Troubled Brains

Dr. Walter Freeman performing a lobotomy. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)
Dr. Walter Freeman performing a lobotomy. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

Walter Freeman thought he’d found a way to alleviate the pain and distress of the mentally and emotionally ill. Instead, he created one of history’s most horrific medical treatments. Freeman developed his procedure, which became known as a prefrontal lobotomy, based on earlier research by a Portuguese neurologist. Early versions of Freeman’s “cure” involved drilling holes in the top of his patients’ skulls, and later evolved into hammering an ice pick-like instrument through their eye sockets, to sever the connections between the frontal lobes and the thalamus, which he believed to be the part of the brain that dealt with human emotion.Freeman soon teamed up with James Watts, and after practicing on cadavers, they performed their first procedure on a live patient in 1936, a woman who suffered from agitated depression and sleeplessness. It was deemed a success. But subsequent surgeries were not. Patients were often left in a vegetative state, experienced relapses, and regressed physically and emotionally. As many as 15 percent died. One of the most infamous victims was Rosemary Kennedy, the sister of future President John F. Kennedy, who was left incapacitated and spent the rest of her life needing full-time care.

Freeman was as much a showman as he was a doctor, traveling to 23 states to demonstrate his miracle cure. In all, he performed some 3,439 lobotomies—some on patients not yet in their teens. And despite the obvious risks and lack of concrete success rates, hospitals willingly let Freeman continue, perhaps because lobotomized patients were considered “easier” to deal with. Everything changed in 1967, when Freeman performed a lobotomy on one of his original patients, a housewife living in Berkeley, California. This time, he severed a blood vessel and Mortenson died of a brain hemorrhage—finally putting an end to Freeman’s haphazard brain hacking.

7. Shock Treatments—The Cure for Impotence

Electric belts featured in a Sears catalog, 1900.
Electric belts featured in a Sears catalog, 1900.

The medical profession has had varying opinions on the causes, and possible cures, for impotence. The repressive Victorians honed in on a man’s “moral weakness” as the cause for genital dysfunction, and by the 19th century impotence was thought to be caused by either an excess of sex or masturbation, or too little of it. As surgeon Samuel W. Gross noted in his book, Practical Treatise on Impotence, Sterility, and Allied Disorders of the Male Sexual Organs, “masturbation, gonorrhea, sexual excesses, and constant excitement of the genital organs without gratification,” would lead to impotence.

Some doctors introduced “galvanic baths,” or bathtubs filled with electrodes, which were supposed to restore sexual desire in just six sessions. Others took an even more localized approach, where rods with currents running through them were placed inside the man’s urethra. The treatment would last for five to eight minutes and would be repeated once or twice a week. This was thought to be particularly helpful for those with significant atrophy to the genital area.

Where a buck can be made off an insecure customer, then quack doctors and unsavory businessmen are sure to follow. By the late 1800s ads were running for “electropathic belts” or “electric belts” aimed at “weak men.” They claimed to help cure kidney pains, sciatic nerve issues, backaches, headaches, and nervous exhaustion—but the underlying message was they could cure men’s sexual problems.

While today, impotence is seen as a blend of physical and mental issues, the belief that electric shock therapy is a useful cure for impotence still persists. Studies coming out of Haifa, Israel (2009) and San Francisco, California (2016) both claim there are merits to low-energy shock wave therapy to cure erectile dysfunction.

A man once made a comment after a baseless hospital visit made without permission following an auto accident, “that’s why they call it practicing medicine”. Highlighting the many factless and baseless activities in the medical industry resulting in poor health outcomes and sometimes death. Infact, little has changed from the times of the medical treatments History highlights for us. The major difference is that marketing firms promote these products as appose to a traveling sells-man. What medicines do you take? Why? How effective are they really? Has your health improved or declined? Where did the assumption come from that in order to heal or cure oneself that a drug is needed. “medicines” are DRUGS. When is the next drug epidemic coming from and from what doctors offices>

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Looking at the Past and Present of Counseling

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Article 02.25.2010
Source: 9 Marks
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Rachel Strong

The following is an interview with David Powlison

LOOKING AT THE HISTORY OF BIBLICAL COUNSELING

9Marks: Are there significant points of commonality between biblical counseling in the past, such as the Puritan approach, and proper biblical counseling today?

David Powlison: The church forgets things. The church rediscovers things. But when it rediscovers something, it’s different because it’s always in a different socio-cultural-historical moment, and different forces are at work.

Caring for the soul, which we try to do in biblical counseling, is not new. Two of the great pioneers in church history would be Augustine and Gregory the Great. Even secular people will credit Augustine’s Confessions as pioneering the idea that there is an inner life. Augustine did an unsurpassed job of tearing apart the various ways in which people’s desires become disordered.

Gregory wrote the earliest textbook on pastoral care. He pioneered diverse ways of dealing with a fearful person, a brash and impulsive person, an angry person, an overly passive person. He broke out these different struggles and sought to apply explicitly biblical, Christ-centered medicine—full of Christ, full of grace, full of gospel, and full of the hard call of God’s Word to the challenges of life.

The Puritans represent a second era of great riches in the area of pastoral care, and the question is often asked about CCEF’s relationship to the Puritans. People are more familiar with them because we still read them. You think about people like Richard Baxter, whose Christian Directory offers a treatise on everything from melancholy to domestic violence to addictions. Now, the Puritans use a different language set. There are certain ways that their studies are not as nuanced and sophisticated as ours, but there is a tremendous correlation of current wisdom for pastoral care in the cure of souls.

I would say that we have commonalities and discontinuities with the Puritans. In terms of commonalities, we share a way to understand people and their problems as well as a way to address their problems candidly and thoroughly in a God-centered manner. The living God sees our problem, weighs it, and has something to say about it. That commonality is what makes us Christians.

Discontinuities, I think, come in large part because of cultural context. What’s interesting about the current rediscovery of biblical counseling is that it’s the first time the church has had to grapple with doing counseling when there’s a very powerful competitor in the wider culture. Historically, no one did counseling except the church. People were too busy making crops grow and making babies and making war. But the modern world does have time to do it.

The modern psychologies present a tremendously stimulating, informative, and threatening challenge. These psychologies are stimulating because they push us to ask questions that we may not have already considered. They’re informational because they are very observant. They’re threatening because they are a self-conscious alternative to the church and would love to take over the care of souls. They’re willing to do our job for us, letting us be a religious club that does good works while they deal with the deep stuff and the long stuff.

That being said, the church is the place where we should think about what makes people tick and how the human heart can be renewed.

Maybe a brief way to illustrate it would be to point to Jonathan Edwards’ A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. It’s a master work of empirical, thoughtful study on how people respond to God and how their emotions, affections, loves, and experiences can be distorted or greatly ordered. If you look at the courses CCEF has produced in the last couple of decades, you could say that we have been working in this direction. But we have to engage the problems in case studies in a much more fine-grained way. I think that is because of the provocative stimulus that living in a psychologized culture offers to us.

The psychologies are the great challenge to us. And the church can respond to these challenges either by syncretism—a kind of reverse conversion where we let the psychologies call the shots—or by doing something better than the culture. It’s that “doing it better” that’s actually our mission.

LOOKING AT COUNSELING IN CHURCHES TODAY

9M: What most discourages you about the way churches are approaching the field of counseling and discipleship?

DP: Counseling is about what? The cure of souls. How can we understand people and their life circumstances? We do so through the eyes of God as revealed in Scripture. We need to redefine the word “counseling” from the start, because when churches think about counseling these days, their first impulse is not the right impulse. They either mimic what the world does inside itself or they refer people out to the world.

The word “discipleship” is essentially a synonym for counseling. Maybe we could nuance it and say that counseling biblically is a more problem-centered form of discipleship. But that is just playing with words because discipleship means helping people change into the image of Jesus Christ. And that’s what counseling is. That’s what transformation is. That’s what sanctification is.

In our evangelical culture, the word discipleship tends to mean some kind of structured program—learning how to have a quiet time, learning what your gifts are, learning certain facts about the church. All of those are great and certainly a part of discipleship. But the essence of discipleship is that the disciple is becoming like the master, and the master is someone who trusts God and loves people. If we are people who trust ourselves and use people, there is a gap. Discipleship is actually meant to bridge that gap so that people who trust themselves learn to trust God, and people who use other people learn to love other people.

This personal ministry—or inter-personal ministry—isn’t just from the pulpit or even small group. It’s climbing into one another’s lives. Part of CCEF’s mission is to convince local churches of these things and then to help churches take hold of a counseling and discipleship that is really worthy of the name.

LOOKING AT CCEF

9M: Speaking of CCEF, what is CCEF trying to do that’s unique?

DP: For starters, we’ve got one of the world’s best mission statements: Restoring Christ to Counseling and Counseling to the Church. Let’s think about that first part—restoring Christ to counseling. Christ is not in most of the counseling that’s in our world, because people do not understand the human dilemma. They don’t understand what suffering really means. They don’t understand the forces of enculturation. They don’t understand the nature of sin or the nature of our desires. And they don’t understand that Christ is the one who immediately, intrinsically, relevantly speaks to what people have been dealing with.

Every Bible-believing church on the planet would agree that we ought to preach Christ. But how many people have the idea that we need to counsel Christ? What does that mean? When you preach, you exposit the Scriptures and show how Christ applies. But when you counsel Christ, the process is typically going to be bottom up, not top down. You start by getting to know a person. You love the person. You get to know their world. They know you care. They have reasons to trust you. Once you’ve done this, you have a better idea of how to make the gospel of the one true living God immediately relevant to their lives.

The second part of our mission is restoring counseling to the church. The church ought to be a place where we “go deep” and “hang in long” in one another’s lives. “Deep” and “long” don’t tend to be qualities that are found in the church of Christ. Hence, people are willing to pay money to others who will never lead them to the Savior of the World. But that must change.

CCEF is also unique even within the wider biblical counseling movement in two more ways. One is what I call “R&D”—a research and development purpose. We don’t believe that saying “biblical counseling” means that we have figured it all out. We are a work in progress. We have a core commitment to push, to develop, to build, to tackle a new problem.

Second is an evangelistic purpose. We try to think through how to reach those who disagree with us. How can we reach both the Christian community and a non-Christian community with the relevant counseling oriented message that is christocentric?

CCEF has five full-time faculty members who share a wonderful synergy, in part because you have people who all have a dual expertise—a primary commitment to Bible and theology, coupled with some other expertise. Our director, Dr. Tim Lane, was a pastor for years. He brings a sensitivity to how counseling ministry links to the other aspects of church life.

Dr. Mike Emlet is an M.D. who had a family practice for years. He’s the scientist who brings an awareness of mind-body issues like psychiatric diagnosis and medications.

Dr. Ed Welch has a PhD in neuro-psychology and a burning interest in the nuances of actual counseling moments and how counseling actually happens.

Winston Smith stays very current with the psycho therapeutic world. He has given his life to issues of marriage and family and group dynamics.

My graduate work (besides Bible and theology) was in the history of psychiatry, history of science, and history of medicine.

I am only just speaking of the faculty and not speaking of various members of the much wider counseling staff who have various interests. It’s a very rich environment with a common commitment to biblical counseling.

LOOKING AT POWLISON’S OWN WORK

9M: Can you give us a quick introduction to your two booksSpeaking Truth in Love and Seeing with New Eyes?

DP: The books I’ve written are labors of love. They are very personal.

You will notice that in the title of Speaking Truth in Love there is no “the” in the title. That’s very intentional because biblical truth is not just the truth with a capital “t.” The Bible also gives us what is true with a lower case “t”—truth about what is happening in our lives. The living God gives us truth that is once for all, unchangeable, incarnate, and written, and that is always true and real and candid and direct. Speaking Truth in Love is both. In counseling it’s both. If you’re speaking to someone who is depressed, and you want to speak truth in love, you don’t just proclaim the glories of God. You talk about the experience of depression. You talk about what he or she is going through. You talk about what may be motivational factors. You talk about the one who is the truth and the God who is true in his Word. So counseling is about bringing “big T Truth” and “little t truth” together into conversational, counseling ministry, implying a give and take. You want to deal with the life that’s on the table.

So the book asks how such a counseling ministry or conversational ministry can proceed. The first half of the book is a series of case studies on counseling methodology. The second presents a series of case studies or perspectives on how the church can organize and think about a counseling ministry.

The burden of my other book, Seeing with New Eyes, is that God has a point of view on human life. I mean, it sounds like the most obvious thing in the world once you say that, but the counseling world has been almost blind to the fact that God has a point of view on counseling issues. It presents an endeavor that is obviously from outside the church. Even counseling inside, the church is often unhinged from God’s point of view. But God has a point of view. He made the world. He judges it. He evaluates it. He redeems it. He invades it. He challenges it. He destroys it. He has a point of view on whatever happens in human life.

Not only that, God has revealed his point of view. He has told us how he sees things. On the one hand, the heart is deceitful and opaque. On the other hand, he has told us how to evaluate it. You can illustrate this point by considering the most profound psycho dynamic theories—the Freuds, the Jungs, the Adlers, and so forth. At some level, they are exactly right in their descriptions. They can observe the sorts of forces at play in the human heart— the “power drives” or “spirituality instincts” or “sexuality instincts” at play. At the same time, they don’t know how to make sense of these forces. Their theories never get to the most profound depth of the human heart because they never see the religious dynamic taking place beneath all these forces and instincts.

What other ways have we departed from God? How do you find your way back? How has capitalism / profit impacted the way we see healing and health?

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Pastoral Counseling

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Physician heal thyself comes from the Bible. Specifically, it can be found in Luke 4:23 where Jesus quotes a common Jewish phrase of the time, saying, “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal thyself’.” (KJV).

Over the centuries pastoral counseling has been one of the main responsibilities of pastors throughout the church. Jesus provided pastoral counseling to his disciples and to the crowds that followed Him. He talked regularly with those who were physically sick and emotionally hurting. The Apostle Paul also gave pastoral counseling to his young students and preachers such as Timothy and Titus. He also gave pastoral counseling through his letter to Philemon to address the issue of Onesimus returning home. He even gave pastoral counsel to Peter as he attempted to correct the issues facing the church in book of Acts.

Throughout all church history, pastoral counselors have been the foundational and focal point of helping people deal with all sorts of issues and problems. Pastors are frequently the first person church members will seek help from when dealing with grief and death issues, crisis situations, marriage struggles, family issues, health problems, job-related problems, etc.The goals…This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Bibliography

  1. American Association Pastoral Counselors. Retrieved September 15, 2008 from http://www.aapc.org/about.cfm
  2. The Holy Bible, New International Version. (1984). International Bible Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.Google Scholar
  3. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 15 September 2008 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/counselor.
  4. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved September 15, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pastoral.
  5. Porter, N. (Ed.) (1998). Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Version published 1913, by the C. & G. Merriam Co., Springfield, MA. 1996, 1998 by MICRA, Inc. of Plainfield, NJ. Last edit February 3, 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

How to cite

Cite this entry as:Allen D. (2010) Pastoral Counseling. In: Leeming D.A., Madden K., Marlan S. (eds) Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-71802-6_825

Are you religious? Do you have a church, temple….etc. you belong to? How do you obtain a healing from those things that ill people in the seasons of their life of you are or are not religious? What is your religious beliefs?

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Beliefs, History & Model of Care

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Source: CCEF
Featured Photo Source: Unsplash, Anna Might

Physician heal thyself comes from the Bible. Specifically, it can be found in Luke 4:23 where Jesus quotes a common Jewish phrase of the time, saying, “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal thyself’.” (KJV).

Understanding the roots of medical branches is key to implementing your own health care properly to secure a healing, a cure. When one goes to the doctor, they do so seeking a solution to their health care concerns. What is important to understand about profit and Western medicine is that in the pursuit of profit medical professionals seek to manage and not cure illness leaving patients in a state of perpetual illness, which typically leads to other disease and chronic disease which insurance companies and patients grapple with from rising health care costs to patient deaths. In fact doctors often prescribe medications with murky clinical trails with no true proof of healing or medical solution. In fact health care cost have gotten so out of control that people such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet have taken notice.

Below CCEF reminds us that historically pastors counseled and that God’s promise to us is a healing not a perpetual state of disease. CCEF looks at the rise of mental health and mental illness secular rise in the 1800s, which was born out of Germany. Prior to this advent of modern medicine pastors counseled people regarding the seasons of the human condition such as dealing with job, home and loss of loved ones (all of which many have experienced during COVID 19). Indeed, the CCEF is calling you back to the healing hands of God … (for those who did not go to the church for such counseling historically family comforted and counseled one another).

Beliefs
Source: CCEF (Christian Counseling Educational Foundation)

We are Protestant. We affirm the unique authority of Scripture, and subscribe to the historic creeds of the early church and Reformation (i.e., Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster Confession of Faith, London Baptist Confession, Heidelberg Catechism). And though we are grounded in the Protestant reformed tradition, we are also ecumenical and seek to minister to and with Christians from a range of theological perspectives.

We seek to apply these core commitments of historic orthodoxy in ways that are humble and winsome.

  • Because God teaches us to see the world the way he sees it, and to see all things as they exist in relationship to him, we are committed to the complete trustworthiness and primacy of the Scriptures.
  • Because the working of God in human life unfolds historically, we are committed to the narrative perspective provided by redemptive-historical theology, the story line that frames our understanding of systematic theology, practical theology, and church history.
  • Because God’s saving work in Christ Jesus creates a people for his own possession, we are committed to serve the visible church.
  • Because there is one Body and one Spirit, we are committed to serve Christians of many different denominational associations.
  • Because God’s ways and words are relevant across time, in all places, and to all peoples, we are committed to cultural sensitivity. Because the church is called to move towards the world redemptively, rather than existing in defensive or hostile isolation, we are committed to cultural engagement.

Brief History of Pastoral Care

The Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) was founded in 1968 and stands in a long tradition of pastoral care that dates back to the 1st century church and the New Testament. Through the centuries there have been high points and low points in the church’s understanding and practice of good pastoral care. High points include the early church fathers, the Reformation, the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards. In principle, for the first 1900 years of the church’s existence, the Scriptures formed the basis for diagnosing both psychological-spiritual maladies and interpersonal problems. And Scripture offered a consistent basis for addressing people’s problems by rooting our lives in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. So, in many ways, CCEF’s ministry is not new, because its theology expresses this heritage of a God-centered understanding of people and a Christ-centered understanding of how God redeems people. But CCEF is doing something new in terms of its application of these time-tested truths to modern problems.

Whether or not the church was doing a good job of pastoral care, for the first 1900 years all Christians agreed that Scripture was the basis for restoring human lives. But a fundamental shift came with the advent of the modern secular psychologies, pioneered by Sigmund Freud in the late 1800’s. In a short amount of time, historic biblical categories of creation, fall and redemption were replaced by secular categories of mental health and mental illness.

The main effect of that shift meant that secular psychological thinking excised the personal God from the world he made. In the new theories and psychotherapeutic practices, there was no mention of sin, of God, of the necessity of a Savior, or the promise of eternal life. The solution to our “personal and interpersonal problems” lay within us and counseling involved drawing it out.

Though these were secular theories, they greatly impacted the church. From the turn of the 20th century, a shift took place in pastoral care instruction in seminaries. While many seminaries continued to make the Scriptures primary in the preaching of God’s word, they no longer made the Scriptures primary in pastoral care and counseling. This vacuum was filled by a host of alternatives that tended to minimize, change or overshadow the redemptive message of the Scriptures.

Responding to this trend, David Powlison writes in his book Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community :

But as we look more closely at life, it becomes clearer and clearer that Scripture is about counseling: diagnostic categories, causal explanations of behavior and emotion, interpretation of external sufferings and influences, definitions of workable solutions, character of the counselor, goals for the counseling process…These are all matters to which God speaks directly, specifically, and frequently. He calls us to listen attentively, to think hard and well, and to develop our practical theology of conversational ministry.

The Advent of CCEF and Biblical Counseling

In response to these trends in the church and pastoral training, a “biblical counseling” movement emerged in the late 1960’s. The initial spokesman for this approach to pastoral care and counseling was Jay Adams. In 1968, Jay Adams and John Bettler started the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation just outside of Philadelphia. For the past four decades, CCEF has been growing and contributing to the biblical counseling movement as that movement has grown in both influence and maturity. For a more detailed history of the biblical counseling movement, see The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context by David Powlison.

CCEF’s early history was largely prophetic and therefore polemic. The church was challenged to rethink its beliefs about why people struggle and how to help them when they do. CCEF called pastors and seminaries back to the primacy of Scripture as the basis for thoughtful and effective pastoral care and counseling. From the beginning, there was always a concern to define what could legitimately be learned from modern psychology, but Scripture provided the orienting “generalizations”: a God-centered view of people and problems and solutions. What was at stake was which source would be primary.

As CCEF entered the 1980’s and 90’s, it was apparent that the second and third generation of leaders benefited from the strengths of their predecessors as well as learned from their weaknesses. They moved CCEF in a direction of increased sensitivity to human suffering, to the dynamics of motivation, to the centrality of the gospel in the daily life of the believer, the importance of the body of Christ and to a more articulate engagement with secular culture.

As CCEF enters the 21st century, it continues this positive trajectory with a commitment to work out the implications of biblical counseling in many areas of counseling methodology. CCEF continues to emphasize the centrality of the body of Christ as the primary context for care and counseling while recognizing the legitimate place of broader resources within the body of Christ. The relationship between biblical counselors and fellow evangelicals involved in professional, clinical counseling continues to be worked out in the pursuit of cordial relationships in which differences can be constructively discussed. Biblical counseling offers a distinctively Christian understanding of people, problems, influences, suffering, motives, and change processes. These beliefs are continuing to be developed and applied at CCEF.

Model of Care

CCEF’s distinctives regarding counseling grow out of our theological convictions. The points listed below express some of the counseling implications of our theological convictions.

  • We are Christ-centered. Therefore, we point people to a person, Christ, and not a program. He is wisdom from God, the inexpressible gift who delivers us from our sins and sufferings. He is the faith-nourishing foundation in whom the call to obedience finds its inner principle and power. People need the Savior, not a system of self-salvation.
  • We believe in God’s common grace to all humanity, and therefore we can learn from those who do not espouse a Christian or even a theistic worldview. For example, while the fundamental worldview of secular psychology runs counter to Christianity, there are descriptive riches to be found in the writings and teachings of those who have gained case wisdom through their research and care. These materials can enrich our care of those in need and can be useful to us as we continue to develop our biblically-based counseling method.
  • We are aware that human behavior is inextricably tied to deeper motivational drives. Therefore, we emphasize the primacy of the heart, because all human acts arise from a worship core, either disordered or rightly ordered.
  • We believe that we best image the triune God as we live and grow in community. Therefore, we embed personal change within God’s community—the church, with all its rich resources of corporate and interpersonal means of grace.
  • We believe the Scriptures are rich in their understanding of who we are as human beings. Therefore, we use Scripture with a full commitment to its authority and sufficiency, convinced that from beginning to end, it reveals Christ and his powerful redeeming grace addressing the needs and struggles of the human condition.
  • We believe that human beings are both spiritual and physical beings. Therefore, we recognize that people are physically-embodied by God’s design. A variety of bodily influences impact moral response. We take the whole person seriously, granting that there are ambiguities at the interface of soul and body. We seek to remain sensitive to physiological factors, as the context within which God calls a person to faith and obedience.
  • We believe that people are socially-embedded by God’s design. Therefore, we recognize that a variety of socio-cultural influences and sufferings influence moral response. We take the person’s whole context seriously, granting that there are ambiguities at the interface between an individual and their environment. We seek to remain sensitive to social factors, as the context within which God calls a person to faith and obedience.
  • We believe that the incarnation of Jesus is not just the basis for care but also the model for how care is to be administered. Therefore, we seek to enter into a person’s story, listening well, expressing thoughtful love. Such incarnational patience recognizes that a particular season of intentional counseling plays one part within a life-long process of Christian growth.
  • We believe that Jesus is our faithful Redeemer who enables us to persevere in the midst of our problems. Therefore, we understand that change is often slow and hard. Jesus promises no instant panacea. He abides in us as we abide in him. He gives grace to walk a long obedience in the same direction, learning wisdom.
  • We believe that we at CCEF have not “arrived.” We have not fully and clearly expressed all that the Bible has to say about counseling ministry. Therefore, because Jesus tarries and we are not yet what we shall be, we humbly admit that we struggle to consistently apply all that we say we believe. We want to learn and grow in wisdom. We who counsel and teach counseling live in process, just like those we counsel and teach.

Were you aware of this history? How do you deal with the seasons of the human condition? How do you reconcile medical profit with your health care outcomes? What would you like to see happen?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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