“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” CS Lewis link
Christmas Schedule: We will post E Church and a repeat of my Christmas Eve spent in an old mountain bar. We will not post again until Wednesday. Merry Christmas!
TWW series on biblical counseling is getting noticed.
I have been getting feedback from professors and professional counselors who are encouraging us in this series. They particularly like our direct quotes from the actual sources. I plan to continue this series, once a week, until I feel like I have significantly covered what is available out there.
Here is a list of the articles in the series thus far. (Click on title to read the post.)
Phase 2: The Exam
After the students have listened to the 30 hours of lectures and read their choice of 1,000 pages of books as outlined in our post last week, Biblical Counseling Training: Inadequate Education, Problematic Resources and Questionably Educated Leaders, they are now tested on their knowledge. Please remember this is the ACBC certification process. We will look at the other groups and compare them at a later date. We will look at Phase 3 next week.
The exam consists of two parts: theology and counseling.
The *easy peasy* format: Plenty of help is available.
These open book, essay exams are completed at home and sent in for evaluation. There appears to be an expectation that each answer will be 1 1/2 pages in length on a 12 font, 1.5 spaced Word document which puts it about 375-560 words (If my math is correct!) per answer.
If the students don’t pass, they need not panic. Usually they will be assigned to do rewrites and they can even talk to the grader about what was done wrong so they can redo it!
Your exams are graded on a pass, rewrite, or fatal error basis. If you are required to submit a rewrite, your grader will give input to help you deepen your understanding of the topic. He will be available for further discussion, when necessary. You will have three months to submit your rewrites from the date your graded exams are emailed to you.
Students can even study and figure it out with a friend!
You can study for your exams with someone else. However, each person must do his/her own individual study on the topic, and you must write your answers individually.
The purpose for working together is accountability, encouragement and sharpening. It is not to cut the work load in half.
The theology part of the exam: Do you believe what ACBC believes?
Please download the PDF in order to see all of the questions. ACBC lists a total of 24 questions for this part of the exam.
If I am reading this correctly, the students simply take their time and, working with or without a friend, answer the questions. However, they must write their own answer. I would expect that this section would focus on questions dealing directly with the theological impact on counseling. However, I am not sure that this is the focus. It seems to me to be a rather simplistic query into basic biblical beliefs. My guess is that the students” answers would need to be predicated on the theological bias of this particular group. I will list some of the questions that I found most interesting. (Numbers correspond to my responses in the next section.)
Describe the biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood from both an egalitarian and complementarian perspective. Explain which view you embrace and outline why you believe it to be the most biblical.(1)
Explain the doctrine of common grace relating the doctrine to the ability of secular psychologists to understand true information about the human condition.(2)
Explain the doctrine of the noetic effects of sin relating the doctrine to the ability of secular psychologists to understand true information about the human condition (2)
Describe your position on the nature of continuing revelation (i.e., prophecy, tongues, words of knowledge). In particular explain whether you believe prophecy is a present gift in today’s church. Explain the relationship between your understanding of the gift of prophecy and the sufficiency of Scripture.(3)
Describe the sufficiency of Scripture. Relate the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture to the practice of biblical counseling. Research and respond to the arguments of at least one integrationist or Christian Psychologist regarding the insufficiency of Scripture for counseling.(4)
What role should the church play in the counseling process? (5)
Question/concerns about the theology exam questions and assumptions.
(1) Since ACBC has a statement that they believe in complementarianism, I wonder what would happen if someone professed a belief in egalitarianism. Here is a direct quote from ACBC which we documented in a post.
…God made mankind in two complementary genders of male and female who are equal in dignity and worth. Men are called to roles of spiritual leadership particularly in the home and in the church. Women are called to respond to and affirm godly servant leadership particularly in the church and home.
(2)These questions discussing secular psychologist is particular fascinating since ACBC adamantly stands against any sort of secular psychology. I am not even sure what the define as *secular.*
Because the central elements of counseling include God, the nature of the human problem, and God’s solution in Christ, the counseling methods of secular people are ultimately at odds with a uniquely biblical approach to counseling.
In fact, the head of ACBC, Heath Lambert, appears to believe that even a Christian who practices psychology is unbiblical as demonstrated by his rather arrogant attack on a fellow colleague. One must question how ACBC defines *secular.* It seems to me that they may define secular as anything that does not agree with their beliefs.
(3) This interesting question on charismatic gifts brings back memories that I am sure Al Mohler and SBTS (where Heath Lambert is a professor) would rather us forget. Al Mohler is a BFF of CJ Mahaney who leads a ministry which has been all in, in the past, with prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc. CJ also used to call himself the Head Apostle. I wonder how they reconcile this with their intimate relationship? We will be discussing Sovereign Grace Ministries and their tie in with the biblical counseling movement in a future post. I could not find a statement on charismatic gifting so I am going to make a guess. ACBC is not excited about charismatic belief.
(4) Note the assumption in this question. Scripture is sufficient for counseling. Who needs research? Who needs medication?
(5) This question is important to note because ACBC apparently believes that the church should have significant input into counseling. This means that there is a possibility that counseling confidentiality is not considered a biblically important value.
The counseling part of the exam
Once again, download a PDF of the questions. Here are a few questions that jumped out at me.
Describe in biblical categories the operations of the devil. Is there a difference between Believers and unbelievers regarding the activity of the devil? What is a biblical methodology for responding to the demonic in the context of counseling? (1)
Describe the role you believe church discipline should play in biblical counseling.(2)
Describe what you believe to be the role of confidentiality in biblical counseling. What kind of commitment to confidentiality should a biblical counselor make? What biblical and practical considerations limit confidentiality? What is the responsibility of a biblical counselor to report to civil authorities on matters of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other illegal matters? How should biblical counselors cooperate with the authorities about these things? (3)
(1) Wow, demons!!! I cannot, for the life of me, see these poorly educated students making decisions about demons, ever!! Major red flag!!!
(2) And here it is, folks- church discipline and counseling. Counseling should be confidential and that there is no way the counselors should be reporting anything to the church. If there is abuse involved, that should be reported directly to the authorities.
(3) As you can see from this question, there are all sorts of ways to skirt the usually confidentiality on expects from a counselor. This is a major concern of mine. This week I spoke with a woman whose story I shall be presenting whose pastor broke confidentiality and reported intimate details to members of the church. I am also hoping the the answer to reporting abuse is always, always always repot abuse first to the authorities.
An assignment for TWW readers: How would you answer this question on the ACBC exam?
I have some ideas but I decided to keep my lips zipped. I will weigh in the next couple of days. Please pay particular attention to the questions asked at the end. I have noticed something in many of the ACBC questions. They give you the answer they expect in how they ask the question.
Tim and Emily
Tim and Emily come from a church across town, and have asked to meet you because of some help that you offered their friends several months ago. They are coming because of a persistent problem they have had in their marriage. They explain that in their six years of marriage Tim has always had a “short fuse.” He regularly “loses it” when he comes home from work which fills the evenings with tense communication. Their weeks are filled with arguments about everything from dinner being ready on time, to whether they should have kids. Tim thinks Emily is a good wife, admits the problems are his fault, but says he just doesn’t know how to “maintain control.” About a year ago Tim went berserk screaming at Emily, kicking the kitchen table and throwing plates on the floor in response to Emily’s complaint that he came home late without calling. Emily was always uncomfortable with Tim’s previous pattern of outbursts, but this was different. She was truly scared. Tim was too. In tears she told Tim that something had to change.
Tim talked to his pastor who told him that he needed to see a professional therapist. Tim followed the advice and made an appointment with the Christian counselor whom his pastor recommended. Tim met with the therapist for a few sessions, who ultimately recommended he see a psychiatrist for medical care. When Tim met with the psychiatrist he was told that he had bi-polar disorder and began to take the medications prescribed by the physician.
Tim was initially discouraged to learn that he had a disease that would likely last his entire life, but he was thankful to have a plan to deal with problem. Emily was also encouraged that there was now at least something they could do.
Their encouragement quickly gave way, however, when after several months on the medication Tim had still not really changed. While his temperament seemed milder in general the loss of control, and screaming were still present. It was at this point that Emily began to regret ever marrying Tim. All the arguments together with the couple’s lack of children were taking their toll. She realized she was in a marriage that she did not want to be in, but didn’t think she had any options.
Then last week Tim “went completely crazy.” Emily suggested on a Saturday morning that Tim should cut the grass because he had not done it the week before. Tim did more than scream and throw things this time. As he yelled and became more “worked up” he threw the phone at Emily. He missed her, knocking a hole in the wall, but they both knew he had crossed a line.
Emily said she couldn’t take it anymore and wanted out of the marriage. She told him that if something didn’t change very quickly she was going to leave. That is when he reached out to his friend who recommended you.
Tim and Emily both profess faith in Christ, and relate their testimonies of conversion in their teen years. Both are also terribly discouraged. Tim doesn’t know how to treat Emily better since he is “plagued” by this disease. Emily loves Tim and would like their marriage to work, but she is worn out with the lack of change. She feels badly about wanting to leave because she knows he has an illness, but she is increasingly convinced that God is telling her to divorce Tim.
1. How will you decide whether to pursue Tim and Emily as believers or unbelievers? What difference will their status as Christians make in your counseling?
2. Describe, as fully as you are able, your strategy to help Tim and Emily think biblically about his diagnosis and their use of bi-polar and illness language.
3. Emily is “Convinced that God is telling her to divorce Tim.” Write out your word-for-word response to Emily on this matter. In your response, be sure to address the themes of biblical decision-making and permission for divorce and remarriage.
4. What strategy would you employ to see repentance, reconciliation, and restoration happen between Tim and Emily?
5. Describe a detailed plan of restoring marital communication that you would pursue with Tim and Emily.
We wish you a wonderful Christmas celebration with your family. We also know that many of you have a hard time during Christmas due to complicated family situations. Please know that the birth of Jesus made you part of a bigger family- the Body of Christ. May you experience the hope He brings us all.