Yesterday, Dr. Albert Mohler had Dr. Lance Quinn of the National Association of Nouthetic Counseling in which they discussed the role of counseling within the Christian community. At Dr. Quinn’s introduction, they engaged in the following discussion:
Mohler: I think the best term I know to use is “Biblical Counseling” because that’s really the essence of what we are talking about here. Is guiding persons, not by our wisdom and not by our intuition and certainly not by a secular therapeutic worldview or construct, but rather by the scriptures. Because the underlying affirmation in all of this is that the scriptures—and the scriptures alone—are sufficient to guide persons in the faithfulness in Christ. Growth in Grace through correcting real human problems; to address real human needs. That’s your conviction as well.
Quinn: That’s right, I would say [name], along with just a few others, tragically, are just a few that are affirming the total sufficiency of Scripture for counseling in the life of the Church and the Life of the Christian. So much of the other brands of forms of so-called “Christian Counseling” are really integrated in that they take psychological concepts and they try to integrate them with Christianity and often that’s a failed project
Which raised an interesting question to me—in what areas does the Bible constitute “total sufficiency”?
If I told you I thought the Bible was “totally sufficient” to teach mathematics; you would laugh. The Bible does not contain the quadratic equation, nor the concept of functions from calculus. Nothing within about the sum of the sides squared equals the hypotenuse squared in a right triangle.
Not a single book of the Bible, nor the compilation ever proposed contemplated this would be a sufficient book to teach or learn mathematics. No author had any intention of it containing this information.
The Bible is not sufficient to provide us the ability to construct a skyscraper. Nor to build a computer. Not even enough information to develop the telephone or the light bulb. The Bible would be inadequate when discussing “World History” or “Forms of Government” or even “Social Studies.” Certainly portions of the Bible may touch upon such topics, but to be “totally sufficient”? Nonsense.
Even as a moral guide, most American Christians have a heightened view of morals from a U.S. Constitutional standpoint rather than the Bible. (The Bible is quite silent when it comes to “rights” ya know—those come from the Constitution. Things like slavery and polygamy are now prohibited by our laws, while accepted by the Bible.) The Bible is not sufficient to explain our laws.
So why does counseling get a pass? Why are all the years, study and requirements to become a licensed psychiatrist or licensed psychologist or licensed counselor pooh-poohed as hogwash an unnecessary? How did the Bible become “totally sufficient” to provide complete insight into counseling?
When I was growing up, if a couple had an issue in their marriage; they used one and only one source for counseling—the Pastor. Issue with a rebellious teenage? Go to the pastor. Problem with pornography, gambling, alcohol, adultery, anorexia, depression, insomnia? Go to the Pastor.
I look back in terror at the thought of people going to a person who may have the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree in theology, for direction in a field the rest of the world requires licensure, academic specialization and continuing education.
As these two gentlemen discussed the problem further, Dr. Quinn mentioned counseling a man who was in prison on a sex charge of some sort. The “problem” they compared to the secular society as to Christianity was that a person with a sex issue has an illness in the secular world, whereas it is sin in the Christian world.
I was aghast at the comparison. Somehow they equated “illness” to the concept it could therefore be cured. I am of the personal opinion (and this is solely my opinion) that pedophilia is incurable. No amount of counseling or psychiatric intervention of any sort will cure this problem. Sure, I treat it as an “illness”—an incurable, convictable, always present illness. It doesn’t “go away.”
See, but as a sin it can go away. All it takes is a little willpower and poof—no more sin. Yet I noticed Dr. Mohler and Dr. Quinn were careful to note one would still have to monitor, watch and restrict a sex offender—even if they claimed to be free of the sin. Sounds like good advice to me—just like what the world would do!
I also found it funny Dr. Quinn said upon a person entering their counseling program they would go to a licensed, Christian physician for “a physical.” And, if intervention was need on a physical basis, the Christian doctor would intervene.
Did you follow that? In other words, if a person needed prescription medicine for their situation, they would go around the “total sufficiency of the Bible” by declaring this a “physical” need, which the Bible has no qualms about treating. Neat, eh? You can go to a Christian counselor who proclaims the Bible is totally sufficient to resolve your depression, while treating with your Christian doctor who is prescribing Zoloft.
What do you think? Is secular counseling all just a bunch of flotsam and jetsam and completely unnecessary? Is the Bible totally sufficient for counseling? Would the Bible be totally sufficient for counseling for a non-believer—or is it another one of those “Christians ONLY” clubs?
I know the Protestant crowd is completely infatuated with sola scriptura but this seems to carry it a bit far, don’t ya think?