Another Reason to Avoid Biblical Counseling: Confidentiality Is Not Guaranteed When Sin™ Is Involved

“Be wise about whom you confide In.” ― Lindy Tsang

Finally, back to biblical™ counseling. Here are my previous posts in case you missed them.

The above articles outline what I believe are serious deficiencies in the Biblical Counseling movement. These range from ill-educated counselors, questionable leadership, insufficient education, and dubious resources. I now have another problem to add to this list after I re-introduce you to the leader of this movement.

Who is Heath Lambert?

According to the website for ACBC (Association for Certified Biblical Counselors):

Dr. Heath Lambert is the Executive Director at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.  ACBC is the largest biblical counseling organization in the world with counseling training centers and certified counselors in 29 countries.

Dr. Lambert is a faculty member at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and their undergraduate institution, Boyce College, where he has taught since 2006.

Dr. Lambert is a founding council board member of The Biblical Counseling Coalition.  He serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Family Ministry, and The Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

According to First Baptist Church, Jacksonville:

Dr. Heath Lambert came to FBC JAX in 2015 as associate pastor. In May of 2018, he assumed the role of senior pastor. A faithful teacher of God’s Word, Pastor Lambert is also a leader and advocate of biblical counseling, serving as Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

…Pastor Lambert earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Biblical and Theological Studies and Political Science from Gordon College in 2002; The Master of Divinity of Degree (M.Div.) in Christian Ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005; and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in biblical counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009.

Make sure you understand his allegiances beyond the biblical counseling world.

  • Faculty member at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Founding member of The Gospel Coalition
  • Editorial board of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Given his background, what might you expect about his view on the church?

  • He is Reformed and believes in a strict authority structure within the church.
  • He believes in strict gender roles.
  • He believes in church discipline.
  • Church authority over a believer’s life trumps confidentiality.

What does he think about confidentiality in biblical counseling?

In a series called “Truth in Love” he speaks on Counseling and Confidentiality which you can listen to here. The following are some comments that jumped out at me.

  • Since Lambert became the director of ACBC, confidentiality is one of the most frequently asked questions. (Ask yourself, why might that be?)
  • He believes that secular counseling places a premium on confidentiality. He does not mention that even secular counselors must report child abuse and seem to do a better job of that than the church but why muddy the waters?
  • He does believe that abuse is required to be reported in *most* states. It is curious that he does not say that abuse must always be reported even if the counselor is not required to report it.
  • In Biblical counseling, confidentiality is *often* valuable but it is not the most important. (Ask yourself, what is more important?…)
  • Matthew 18 as your answer.  Of course it is. I knew he would get around to this since Matthew 18’s verses appear to be the most important part of the Bible after the Cross and Resurrection.

Matthew 18:15-19 NIV:

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

  • Lambert believes that if the counselor is aware of sin, there is a requirement to disclose that sin if the person continues to sin. Think about that for a moment and ask the most overlooked question, “What sin must be disclosed?” You will not get a definitive answer.
  • If the counselee does not stop *sinning* then Lambert says the counselor must get 2-3 witnesses ala Matthew 18:16 in order to confront them.
  • If the counselee still does not stop doing the undefined sin, he/she must be reported to the entire church. Remember when Matt Chandler reported Karen Hinkley’s supposed sins to all 6,000 members????
  • Then, if the undefined sin is still presenting the life of the counselee, that sinner should be kicked out of the church and shunned!

Lambert appears to claim that making sure that sin in the life of the believer should be prosecuted. Therefore, the counselor must work with the leadership of the church to make sure that discipline happens. Seriously?

Reportable sin is ill-defined and this is a dangerous suggestion to ill educated counselors.

In 2015, TWW wrote Jonathan Leeman and 9 Marks: Abusive Church Discipline and the Problem With Matthew 18. In this post, we questioned 9 Marks church discipline theories that Heath Lambert and others follow.  o on over to the 9 Marks website and see how often they quote Heath Lambert and ask him to speak.

What is the real problem. Groups like 9 Marks and their followers adamantly refuse to define which sins need to be disciplined. This should be a red flag for many who seek counseling.

What should a church discipline? This is the real *key.*

This is the fatal flaw in the system of church discipline. All systems need checks and balances. Since the sins that need to be disciplined are not spelled out, anything is up for grabs like:

1. Wanting to annul one’s marriage to a child porn loving husband
2. Conscientious objection to supporting a ministry which has been accused of mishandling systemic child abuse.

Here is one *complete list of sins from the New Testament.* I have only copied through the *D’s.* There are 124 sins in that list.

1. Abusers of Self: Self polluters, having unnatural lusts
2. Adultery (Note: Only for those who have been married)
3. Anger
4. Backbiters: Those who speak evil of those who are absent
5. Banqueting: A drinking party
6. Becoming a Stumbling Block to a Weak Brother Through Our Liberty: Taking liberty to do things without thinking of the effect on a weaker brother’s conscience.
7. Being Angry With One’s Brother: Expressing unkind thought or action toward others
8. Bitterness
9. Blasphemy
10. Boasting
11. Brawling
12. Brother Going to Law Against Brother: No definition given, so I’ll wing it. Bringing legal action against another. If someone has a better definition, please let me know.
13. Burying our Talents: Not making wise use of what God gave us
14. Calling One’s Brother A Fool: Ridiculing another
15. Chambering: Unmarried people living and sleeping together
16. Clamor: Loud, continued noises
17. Complaining
18. Contentious:Quarrelsome
19. Corrupt Communications:Unprofitable or impure language
20. Covenant Breakers: Lightly breaking a solemn or legal pact.
21. Covetousness
22. Craftiness: Cunningness
23. Debate
24. Deceit
25. Defiling the Body
26. Defraud
27. Denying Christ
28. Desiring the Praise of Men: Doing things to gain praise.
29. Despiteful
30. Dishonesty

Never, ever sign a release to allow your Biblical counselor to discuss your *sin* with anyone else.

This speaks for itself. Do not sign anything that claims it is a *release,* a *counseling covenant* or a counseling contract.

What to do if you have signed such a release.

You may revoke your assent at anytime, no matter what the counselor tells you. You may be forced to finish an agreed upon payment. However, you need to warn the counselor, in writing, that you do not give him/her permission to discuss your counseling sessions with anyone else from the moment that your letter is received. (Send it certified mail.) You may consider bringing your contract to an attorney for further advice before proceeding with any steps to dissolve your contract.

Do not discuss your counseling woes with the pastor (or any other staff member) of the church which is sponsoring this sort of counseling after sending the letter. That could be perceived as revoking your instructions not to discuss your case with anyone else.

In fact, given this group’s love of church discipline for sins not defined a priori, do not discuss your concerns with church leadership. That discussion could be used as proof of the sins of divisiveness and lack of submission. That’s enough to get you into real trouble. Ask Todd Wilhelm what happened to him.

What to do if you have a biblical counselor and have not signed a release that mentions confidentiality.

Look over the papers they gave you when you signed up for biblical counseling. if confidentiality is not mentioned, there is a possibility that it has not been mentioned for a reason. At this point, ask the counselor for their position on confidentiality in writing. If they do not have it in writing, you have a problem. It is highly likely that they will not adhere to a confidentiality clause.

You now have a decision to make. If you want confidentiality, you should immediately seek out another counselor who will give you reassurances, in writing, of their standards of privacy. As my husband regularly says, “The church often has lower standards than secular society.”

Final thoughts:

Run, don’t walk, from biblical™ counseling if you believe, as I do, that your counseling should be a private matter. Remember, we are all sinners. Your counseling should not be used a prelude to church discipline. You can be sure, after listening to Lambert’s recording, that you are highly likely be subjected to church discipline when working with such a counselor. Remember, they can divulge any sin that want to. Do not let anyone have that power over you, especially poorly educated biblical counselors!

I am really looking forward to a discussion on this post. Have any of you ever had confidentiality betrayed by a biblical counselor?


Comments

Another Reason to Avoid Biblical Counseling: Confidentiality Is Not Guaranteed When Sin™ Is Involved — 179 Comments

  1. Allow me to weigh in with the 1st Serious comment…..

    Yes, I have had confidentiality exposed to a whole church by a totally untaught woman who had convinced our gullible pastor that she had “the gift” of discernment and counseling.

    He allowed her unfettered access to his knowledge of the sins and difficulties in the lives of church members.

    My own “sin” was exposed when the Pastor told this woman something that I had shared in a small group Bible Study some weeks earlier.

    My “Sin” was that many years ago, on the advice of my trusted pastor and trusted secular counselors, I broke off relationships with my physically & sexually abusive parents. I did this as a mature adult, not in my teens.

    Totally without my knowledge or consent, our pastor told this woman how concerned he was that I had not “Forgiven” properly, had not acted as Christ would have, and he was concerned that I might be ‘infecting” the church with this lack of forgiveness.

    Considering that he knew nothing about the type of scope of abuse, much less any of my attempts to continue a relationship with my parents, his actions were insulting & presumptuous in the extreme.

    He even gave me his opinion that I should refrain from taking Communion until “My heart was right” in this matter.

    You will not be surprised to learn that less than 6 months later, this pastor & this woman were discovered to have been having an affair…

    The church fired the pastor & voted to close in the same week. The church had been a ‘daughter’ plant from a large established church in the area.

    The pastor is now divorced, works at Computer USA and many of the members are now “Done”.

    Sad in so many ways but certainly speaks to the arrogance, presumptuousness & irresponsibility of many in the movement.

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  2. Molly245,

    It sounds to me like that pastor was drinking judgment on himself.

    I’ve taken classes at CCEF (on site back in the ’90s and early ’00s and auditing via their internet portal more recently), up through their first “certificate” level, and IIRC church discipline was never in view in what was taught in the classroom setting. My most recent exposure was Ed Welch’s “Helping Relationships” about 4 years ago.

    This isn’t to disagree with the concerns raised in the OP. BC has become a large movement and I can readily believe that people use these methods in hurtful ways. I suspect that the character of the counselor is more important than the counseling method employed. And we have seen that character does not seem to be at a premium in present-day church and ministry leadership.

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  3. Samuel Conner:
    Molly245,

    It sounds to me like that pastor was drinking judgment on himself.

    BC has become a large movement and I can readily believe that people use these methods in hurtful ways. I suspect that the character of the counselor is more important than the counseling method employed. And we have seen that character does not seem to be at a premium in present-day church and ministry leadership.

    Very insightful! I totally agree….and isn’t it a terrible thing to have to say about church & ministry present day?

    Just so sad…

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  4. Molly245,

    Allow me to weigh in with the first serious Scottish comment…

    OK, well, frivolity aside, I’m sorry to read your story. Whether the pastor concerned was really convinced that this woman had a spiritual gift, or whether this was just a peg on which to hang an undisciplined romantic infatuation, is debatable, isn’t it? I’d guess you’ve already got a well-informed view on that.

    There are people in church offices I’d trust, but only because I know them as people. I trust them despite, not because of, their church role.

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  5. Nick Bulbeck:
    There are people in church offices I’d trust, but only because I know them as people. I trust them despite, not because of, their church role.

    Infatuation can ruin some of the finest people. Seen formerly rational and godly people crash badly when infatuated with someone, particularly when that person doesn’t return their affections and they get increasingly desperate to gain those affections. Been in a couple stable and thriving ministries that were brought down because of somebody’s wayward crush.

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  6. I’ve read there is a movement to replace biblical counseling with spiritual direction, but the definitions seems to overlap depending on the church tradition or denomination. Not sure what the differences are, or how this would impact believers.

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  7. Lily Rose,

    There’s a ton of movements out there, great and small…

     Biblical Counselling that has been written about extensively in Wartburg;
     Deliverance-style methods and movements that aim to cast all the demons out of you;
     Manifestation-of-the-Spirit-style movements that involve praying for prophecy, knowledge etc;
     Inner-healing-style movements that delve into what childhood hurts have caused all your problems;
     etc
     etc
     etc

    and finally:

     etc.

    I apologise in advance for what’s probably going to be a useless, content-free paragraph of motherhood and apple pie.

    Most of the healing movements I’ve come across centre around one single idea of what people need. Maybe you need to experience the Father’s love. Maybe you need to forgive someone for something. Maybe your inner baby needs to be reassured that mummy loves you and it’s not your fault. Maybe you’re infested with thousands of little demons. They’re usually based on at least some fragment(s) of scripture, and they usually have at least some value in them. All of them have their supporters, who feel (subjectively or otherwise) that they’ve really benefited from them. At the same time, nearly all of them have some kind of franchising system or other business model, whereby believers pay to go on the courses and get certified as XYZ healers, counsellors, etc, etc, etc. (I struggle to see how the involvement of money doesn’t at least partly compromise what the movements are about.)

    This is becoming a long comment, so I’ll split it into two.

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  8. As a licensed psychotherapist – licensed in the state where I live and work – my license is under authority and review of my state. Thus, if I break confidentiality or fail to adhere to national ethical standards, I can be reported to the state, investigated, and disciplined.

    Please know that “Biblical Counselors” regulate themselves and as such, the client has no recourse if they find their counselor problematic.

    There are many licensed therapists who, whether or not they represent a client’s exact theological beliefs, are supportive of a client’s spirituality.

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  9. Comment 2 of 2

    Years ago, I head a talk by a lassie telling the story of how the UK charity Samaritans was founded. I think it has some presence in the US too, but I don’t know how prominent it is over there. So, for Wartburgers who aren’t familiar, Samaritans is staffed by trained volunteers who, in essence, simply listen. They have a free telephone helpline that is staffed around the clock and is available to anyone. They aim to offer support to anyone who is in emotional distress, or any variation on that theme. Incidentally, they have strict rules on confidentiality which they will only break under extreme and clearly-defined circumstances in which people present a clear and immediate danger to themselves and/or others.

    The charity was founded some 60 years ago by an Anglican vicar. Long story short, he stumbled more or less by accident on the discovery that many people – including some who were despairing and suicidal – benefitted enormously from nothing more than a kind, listening ear. So that’s what Samaritans do: listen with kindness. Nobody knows how many lives they have saved over the years. But it’s many.

    I think that, by the same token, many people will derive some benefit from an encounter with one or other Christian_Healing_Thingy simply by getting positive attention where, perhaps, they’ve previously had none. If they:
     are kind…
     don’t charge money…
     don’t tell you, or imply to you, that you need them…

    then they’ll probably do more good than harm.

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  10. From long and repeated (I re-audited a number of the classes multiple times; was accompanying fellow layman from my then church) exposure to CCEF classes taught at Westminster East, I can confidently affirm that one of the goals of the BC movement as it then existed (’90s through ’00s; things may have changed in the last decade) was to restore to the churches a measure of competency in what used to be known as “cure of souls” and in helping people with functional life problems. The aim as I understood it was to serve God by serving people. A secondary goal, I think, was to “adorn the Gospel” through the good work of helping people with problems.

    At the time (and perhaps still), it was thought preferable that this kind of ministry be part of church ministry as opposed to being provided by independent (secular service-provision model) BC-trained therapists.

    I would say that whatever else one may think of BC (I like what I have seen of it, but I clearly have not seen much), it clearly does not mix well with 9Marks-style rule in the churches. Counselors should principally (and perhaps exclusively) serve their counselees, not churches or institutional employers. Weaponizing counseling as a adjunct to aggressive church discipline is IMO pastorally criminal.

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  11. If you are a sinner, you have sin. Your Biblical counselor will report you.

    And get a dog biscuit and a pat-pat-pat on the head from Pastor.
    “Hero of the Party” and all that.

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  12. Nick Bulbeck,

    Well said.

    A “pet theory” that I find appealing and that may be supportable from Scripture is that the Holy Spirit inhabits the relational spaces between believers — provided that those relational spaces do not have a character that is grievous to the Spirit (Eph 4) — as well as “indwelling” individual believers as traditionally conceived. Kindness and patience are of paramount importance; people will generally not be helped without them.

    Pick your preferred methodology and add patient kindness (“love”, per 1 Cor 13), and it may please the Spirit to work.

    The churches that are using counseling as an arm of coercive discipline are defeating the purpose of counseling (or perhaps are reconceptualizing its purpose around control agendas). I’ve previously expressed the view that groups of this kind may have relational environments that are repellent to the Holy Spirit.

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  13. This lack of confidentiality in ‘counseling’ is one of the things that most surprised and horrified me to learn about.

    How you have counseling at all without an expectation of privacy???? That’s insane!

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  14. Samuel Conner:
    BC…clearly does not mix well with 9Marks-style rule in the churches. Counselors should principally (and perhaps exclusively) serve their counselees, not churches or institutional employers. Weaponizing counseling as a adjunct to aggressive church discipline is IMO pastorally criminal.

    Notice anything odd about the roster of ‘Biblical Counselors’ at 9Mark Dever’s church?:

    https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/ministries/care-counseling/

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  15. Samuel Conner,

    I’m no expert, but even without being mischievously bound to authoritarian abusers, BC in and of itself can be spiritually abusive.

    I agree with Nick’s insightful comments above; in many cases, people are just looking for a listening ear, and when BC is simply that, it can be beneficial. The problem is that these counselors have been taught that all problems are a result of sin, and can be resolved by applying the appropriate scripture. Every problem can be diagnosed and ‘cured’ by applying the right biblical principle.

    I would even say that I do believe that all problems are a result of sin – but that does not mean that they have simplistic answers. A man’ s sinful choice to indulge too freely in alcohol, drugs or pornography can lead to a dangerous addiction that requires more than a few well-applied scriptures. In other situations, problems may arise from another person’s sin, over which a counselee has little control. Simply instructing an abuse victim on biblical forgiveness is not going to provide the protection they, and perhaps others, need from a dangerous predator. I am no fan of drugs (big understatement), but even I would not suggest that there is never a place for them. Neurological damage, from whatever cause, is a real issue and sometimes requires more than the power of positive thinking to manage.

    Well-meaning people with a few BC classes and a bible in their hands often believe they can resolve every problem, when they are often ill equipped to do so.

    My mother-in-law, God rest her soul, was viewed as being very ‘nervous’, which was, no doubt, true. What this did not take into account, however, was the real effects that her husband’s irrational, pie-in-the-sky, just trust God approach to living had on her and her sense of security. Biblical counseling would, almost without fail, view her problem as illegitimate ‘worry’ and prescribe a few verses to study and live by.

    I’ll tell ya what, if your husband had a hard time keeping a job that paid the bills, and you had to seek the aid of your children to keep him from finding and spending the little cushion of inherited money you had hidden, you would ‘worry’ too! Sure, he was giving it away – which made him feel super righteous. But she was the one who made the budget and paid the bills, and he didn’t know or care if there was enough money to give away or if it was needed to buy groceries or pay medical bills. Her ‘worry’ was justified, and what she needed was protection, not prooftexts.

    The problems people struggle with can be extremely complex. It took years for me to realize that I was suffering from symptoms of PTSD from the spiritual abuse I had suffered, along with my spouse’s decision to side with my abuser.

    The insecurity, panic, grief and other very real results of trauma do not go away simply by reading one’s bible. That does not mean I did and do not look to God for comfort, strength and healing; it does mean that I no longer beat myself up for not ‘trusting’ him enough. Grief and the very real wounds of trauma require time to heal; there is no set timetable for this. The last thing a victim needs is more guilt and shame heaped upon them by simplistic counselors who instruct them to ‘forgive’ their often unrepentant abuser and to ‘have more faith’.

    Such things often take time, and rarely happen as the naive counselor thinks they should. Forgiveness may only be possible from the safety of time and distance, and wounded faith may need to be nurtured by understanding, love and patience, which God has in abundance.

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  16. Nick Bulbeck: I think that, by the same token, many people will derive some benefit from an encounter with one or other Christian_Healing_Thingy simply by getting positive attention where, perhaps, they’ve previously had none.

    This reminds me a bit of the hawthorne effect, if you’ve heard of that old study. Paying attention to people, being kind, etc, probably will help with a great deal of everyday issues for people. Beating them over the head about their supposed ‘sin’ in the fact of serious issues will not.

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  17. Samuel Conner: A “pet theory” that I find appealing and that may be supportable from Scripture…

    … liking it so far…

    …is that the Holy Spirit inhabits the relational spaces between believers — provided that those relational spaces do not have a character that is grievous to the Spirit (Eph 4) — as well as “indwelling” individual believers as traditionally conceived. Kindness and patience are of paramount importance; people will generally not be helped without them.

    Still liking it!

    Insofar as I know what I hope God is, I’d extend this even further, to any space that he’s welcome. I admit that this is contradicted by a couple of scripture fragments:

     The earth is the LORD’s, and everyone in it who’s prayed the sinner’s prayer;
     All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, as long as you’re saved (though TBH my Father and I are still working on a watertight definition of “saved”, and we probably need a Final Incarnation, probably in the form of some more scripture);
     The holy spirit saying to Paul that “I’ll have many people in this city if you can win them for me – otherwise I’m gubbed”

    But hey; the whole reason people reject christianity is so we believe any old sheep of height.

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  18. A.Stacy:
    It is and always will be about power. Period.

    “There is no Right, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”
    — Lord Voldemort

    “Power flows out of the barrel of a gun.”
    — Mao Zedong, founder of the current Hong Dynasty

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  19. Samuel Conner: Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

    Make sure you read Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer” before you say that.

    I survived the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Christians for Nuclear War (with the Tribulation and Last Judgment in lip-smacking detail), and that was one of their favorite buzzword phrases.

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  20. Samuel Conner,

    “Kindness and patience are of paramount importance; people will generally not be helped without them.”
    +++++++++++++

    i like your pet theory.

    kindness and patience are like basic building blocks to physical/mental/emotional/relational health and healing.

    and also like infusions of vitamins or medicine which can impact a depleted person in a big way.

    from observation, they are powerful no matter which religion’s hat / or non-religion’s hat is being worn. whether a faith hat is worn, a non-faith hat, or simply no hat at all.

    my observations have been so striking to me that my conclusion is that things like kindness and patience are the stuff of God/Holy Spirit, regardless of the person’s label.

    …that God/Holy Spirit are active in and activated by such things, regardless of the faith or no faith of the persons being kind, being patient.

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  21. Jerome,

    “Notice anything odd about the roster of ‘Biblical Counselors’ at 9Mark Dever’s church?:”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    1 out of 9 counselors is a woman, specificially for counseling women and only women

    only 1 counselor (a man) is available to counsel men, but he can apparently counsel anyone, male or female, as well as couples.

    they all report to a male pastor who is the President for the board of directors of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, having an MDiv and PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    conclusions:
    they expect a small need from men for christian counseling

    couples will only get the perspective from a man

    (what else?… it wouldn’t be the first time i miss the obvious)

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  22. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    “I survived the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Christians for Nuclear War (with the Tribulation and Last Judgment in lip-smacking detail), and that was one of their favorite buzzword phrases.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    don’t forget about lack of financial planning.

    (others end up having to solve and provide for the shortfall)

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  23. elastigirl: couples will only get the perspective from a man

    I had seen the numbers before so I knew what Jerome was getting at, but this is a nice point. Tired of the male centric nonsense. Especially when you see the responses from too many men towards women, as far as believing what they say is concerned (not trying to get political but seeing people’s ‘hot takes’ all over the place can be infuriating and illuminating).

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  24. elastigirl: my observations have been so striking to me that my conclusion is that things like kindness and patience are the stuff of God/Holy Spirit, regardless of the person’s label.

    …that God/Holy Spirit are active in and activated by such things, regardless of the faith or no faith of the persons being kind, being patient.

    C.S. Lewis said pretty much the same.
    And many of us, regardless of label as you say, have arrived at the same conclusions independent of Lewis.

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  25. Lea,

    “This reminds me a bit of the hawthorne effect, if you’ve heard of that old study. Paying attention to people, being kind, etc, probably will help with a great deal of everyday issues for people. Beating them over the head about their supposed ‘sin’ in the fact of serious issues will not.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    haven’t heard of the hawthorne effect, but i did watch the documentary “This Emotional Life”. totally interesting. Harvard researchers tracked ‘happiness’ – found that the benefit of positive exchanges between people (kindness, gratitude, appreciation, etc) has 3 or 4 generations.

    –one person expresses kindness, let’s say, to someone.

    –that someone is impacted (buyoed up, encouraged, strengthened) by it in such a way that they in turn show kindness to someone else.

    –that someone else is impacted by that, too, and in turn show kindness to a 4th person.

    talk about practical! i sure love practical.

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  26. Muff Potter,

    “C.S. Lewis said pretty much the same.”
    ++++++++++

    well, it’s nice knowing someone with his pedigree is in my corner.

    (what i experience as a very lonely philosophical corner.)

    i don’t fit in to any bible study at all.

    i love my mom’s prayer group (which i started), but i sure have to keep my mouth shut on a number of things, or not get too specific. no more awesome prayer group if i didn’t.

    shouldn’t be like this.

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  27. Having no guarantee of confidentiality is a huge problem and opens the door wide for all kinds of abuses. But it’s far from the only problem with biblical counseling. Remember that this is a manufactured specialty. It didn’t exist before the 1970s and not in any broader practice until until much later than that. And it was created and propagated by a very insular and marginally qualified segment of conservative evangelicalism. Those things alone should raise red flags for anyone. Add to that the complete lack of independent oversight or regulation and you have a total wild card.

    No one in their right mind would seek medical care from a doctor who came from an small, insular and alternative group of supposed practitioners who adhere to a particular version of a religion and who oversee and regulate themselves (and none of whom have the standard and recognized medical education and degrees normally required). Yet somehow these quacks in biblical counseling have convinced people to seek mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual care from just such a group of practitioners. It’s a form of spiritual/church abuse for them to do this, and I am so sorry for those who have fallen victim to this.

    It’s insane and they should be shut down. And I speak as someone who has a family member in this movement.

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  28. Lily Rose,

    Lily, if you could provide more details or send me to a website that discusses this, I would be really thankful. As someone who is currently in training to become a spiritual director, I find even the possibility of this movement very disturbing. If biblical counselors start calling themselves spiritual directors, it will only serve to confuse those who genuinely desire a deeper relationship with God, and could set them up for a world of hurt and disappointment.

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  29. elastigirl: my observations have been so striking to me that my conclusion is that things like kindness and patience are the stuff of God/Holy Spirit, regardless of the person’s label.

    …that God/Holy Spirit are active in and activated by such things, regardless of the faith or no faith of the persons being kind, being patient.

    I would go further. I would suggest that this sort of kindness, patience, etc. comes from a faith in goodness, decency, love and justice; that is, God.

    An experience with a false, toxic institution that sours obe on a particular definition of ‘God’ and ‘faith’ cannot destroy the real faith that God is concerned with: faith that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. I believe that when we love others we demonstrate that we believe in the existence of He who is goodness, justice, kindness, patience and so forth.

    Of course, such thoughts are far too liberal for the conservative resurgence. They know that all God is interested in is correct doctrine and saying the magic words ‘I believe in Jesus’. I really don’t think we know the same God.

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  30. elastigirl:

    “C.S. Lewis said pretty much the same.”
    ++++++++++

    well, it’s nice knowing someone with his pedigree is in my corner.

    (what i experience as a very lonely philosophical corner.)

    i don’t fit in to any bible study at all.

    i love my mom’s prayer group (which i started), but i sure have to keep my mouth shut on a number of things, or not get too specific. no more awesome prayer group if i didn’t.

    shouldn’t be like this.

    I think you and I would really get along; or have a lot of fun fights! Here’s to those with the (essential) skill of keeping their mouth shut – it just shows you’re not afraid to think outside the orthodox box.

    Nick Bulbeck: BTW, somebody say something quick. There are too many comments from me on this thread.

    How am I doing, making you feel better yet?

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  31. TS00,

    I completely agree…
    After I got out of my fundy, sheltered, bubble, and getting “emersed” in the secular humanist, atheistic, pagan (you add your own word) world, i.e. a dorm at UC Berkeley, and now almost forty years later as a faculty at in that same “your word” world, I am convinced of the point being made here….. havein a correct “docturine” has almost no bearing on whether on exhibits Christ like/G$Dly behavior…. TWW further proves this point..

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  32. elastigirl,

    I’m tending in similar directions. One of the things about traditional Reformed system that really held my attention (sort of the way “evanescent grace” fixes the horrified attention of many) was the strong distinction that Reformed like to make between “common” and “particular” grace. I once embraced that distinction but in recent years have become much less confident of it.

    Jerome,

    “Notice anything odd about the roster of ‘Biblical Counselors’ at 9Mark Dever’s church?:”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The thing that drew my attention was the “we counsel members only” statement. The explanation is that the counselors are busy and have to prioritize their efforts. That doesn’t hold water IMO; that issue could be addressed with a waiting list for non-members.

    This being a 9Marks church, members are presumably under a membership contract.
    It appears that they counsel only people that are under a contractual obligation to submit to the elders. If the counselors report to the elders …

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  33. elastigirl: shouldn’t be like this.

    No, it should have to be this way, but it is.
    This is one of the drawbacks of Western (Christianized) Bible study.
    By and large it’s a teacher and teachee type of thing with the teacher’s absolute linearization reigning supreme.

    I prefer the Jewish model, in which civil dissent is welcomed and encouraged.

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  34. I’m going to try, I don’t know if it will go through. I went to Biblical Counseling at FBC Jax and my counselor was an older lady and she had worked there and at the church for years. I am not sure if she was fully certified when she counseled me but she was close to it. I went for about 3 or 4 months off and on total. She is certified now. I didn’t know that the counseling was based in calvinism, which is my problem with it now. I was counselled out of the Bible but was also given books. The first one was on the sovereignity of God, and we hit a section, (I can’t give you the name of the book because I couldn’t get into it and forgot it.) We hit a section where I felt that it was being implied that God was sovereignly responsible for the evil things as well as the good things that happened to me. (this is how I interpreted the conversation). I remember protesting that assertion. I still don’t believe that. She moved on to giving me a book by Ed Welch..(who I see is also a calvinist) When People are Big and God is Small. I didn’t stay long enough for that book. I have since seen it referred to on here that somehow this man blamed a 4 yr old girl for a molestation or something. I guess let’s put the blame on God or the victim but never where it actually belongs? I feel that the counselor was extremely well -intentioned and extremely nice to me and polite. She wasn’t accusatory about things that had happened to me, but maybe I wasn’t there long enough. I left the counseling due to the fact that I don’t agree with the fact that Eric Johnson was fired and that no secular counseling is looked on as in any way Godly or helpful to a person. I don’t agree with that. I’m on medication and things. I don’t think it was a good fit for me. Then later, we had a change of pastors in the churchwhich I don’t feel was honestly handled, so I wrote and told my counselor that I no longer trusted her or the pastor in the church due to the dishonesty in the way the pastors leaving was handled. I was THERE to figure out how to get back in church due to lies told about myself and my family in a church. Then I felt like I was watching the same situation transpire against the pastor at FBC. I was hurt. So, during that time, I did some reading, and found out this counseling was all based in calvinism. I didn’t really believe in that, either. So I have left the whole situation. Yes, I signed papers stating that my situations could be discussed. I asked for my records and received no response. I asked if anything had ever been recorded and she said no. I rescinded my membership in the church. Good thing I did. Cause I don’t agree with calvinism and I don’t agree with leading a person who is in counseling into calvinism without their explicit knowledge, and I don’t think that being punished as a sinner for that would have been in any way beneficial for me. So church and counseling have been ruined, and I’m pretty hurt by that.

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  35. Jerome,

    That link gives 10 names; 2 men and 8 women. The gender disparity seems a bit puzzling. If they are “staffing” for demanded services, it suggests more counseling need among female members than among male (though it may be that females are more willing to see a counselor/therapist than males). It’s also conceivable that there is an underlying disparity in the gender ratio of people among their membership who have done enough classwork to be considered qualified to function in that role.

    I would like to see more older people among the staff counselors. The humility and patience that can come from having lived long can be useful.

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  36. TS00: Well-meaning people with a few BC classes and a bible in their hands often believe they can resolve every problem, when they are often ill equipped to do so.

    I agree. I’ll note that this problem is not limited to counseling ministry. If you think you understand the Scriptures well and therefore you “understand God”, that can make you quite dangerous and hurtful. If you think you have a God-assigned mission, even more so.

    We need more humility, patience, kindness, etc, etc. Basically, “fruit of the Spirit.”

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  37. Samuel Conner: I would like to see more older people among the staff counselors.

    I would like to see no list at all and counseling referred to legitimate licensed therapists. These people are not qualified counselors and do more harm good.

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  38. TS00: You are beginning to sound a bit narcissistic. I suggest a biblical counselor.

    Narcissists do well under a biblical counselor. They are chameleons who figure out the rules of the game quickly and can portray themselves as whatever the counselor is looking for. As our ex-SIL told our daughter, “I know how to play this game and I’ll come out ahead.” And he did.

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  39. Muff Potter,

    “…in which civil dissent is welcomed and encouraged.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    now, doesn’t that sound like fun!

    (I remember in the film Yentl, scenes of such arguing… they were having a great time. socially, as well as the satisfaction of working out & refining one’s thought a little bit more)

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  40. Cindy Treadway: Cause I don’t agree with calvinism and I don’t agree with leading a person who is in counseling into calvinism without their explicit knowledge, and I don’t think that being punished as a sinner for that would have been in any way beneficial for me. So church and counseling have been ruined, and I’m pretty hurt by that.

    I feel bad every time I hear of another person who has been wounded by those they looked to for help. So sad.

    The person I see as the “father” of the biblical counseling movement is Jay Adams and he is definitely a Calvinist. All his books and the advice he gives to counselors and counselees is from that perspective. Years ago I took the BC courses and was required to read many of his books and write book reports. I have many disagreements with him recorded in my book reports. He says some bizarre things and I also felt he had a “superiority complex”. Oh well. All that material is part of my “done” pile now.

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  41. TS00,

    “I think you and I would really get along; or have a lot of fun fights! Here’s to those with the (essential) skill of keeping their mouth shut – it just shows you’re not afraid to think outside the orthodox box.”
    +++++++++++++

    it would be fun.

    would a TWW summit somewhere ever be feasible?

    it would mean masks off, of course.

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  42. Samuel Conner,

    “If you think you understand the Scriptures well and therefore you “understand God”, that can make you quite dangerous and hurtful. If you think you have a God-assigned mission, even more so.

    We need more humility, patience, kindness, etc, etc. Basically, “fruit of the Spirit.””
    +++++++++++++++++

    well, if christians stopped taking themselves so seriously, that would be a huge start.

    (actually, i think it’s an American thing. at least, that’s what my relatives in a foreign country & culture tell me, & not without chuckles. silly Americans…)

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  43. Samuel Conner: That link gives 10 names; 2 men and 8 women. The gender disparity seems a bit puzzling. If they are “staffing” for demanded services, it suggests more counseling need among female members than among male (though it may be that females are more willing to see a counselor/therapist than males).

    It could also be that men are paid staff and able to counsel full time/more hours (Leeman is) and women are just extra people who happen to be trained so they need more.

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  44. Lea: This reminds me a bit of the hawthorne effect, if you’ve heard of that old study. Paying attention to people, being kind, etc, probably will help with a great deal of everyday issues for people. Beating them over the head about their supposed ‘sin’ in the fact of serious issues will not.

    But then how can *I* Count Coup on the Unrighteous?
    “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOORD, THAT *I* AM NOTHING LIKE THAT FILTHY SINNER I’M BIBLICALLY COUNSELING…”

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  45. elastigirl,

    I grew up, and through part of College with religious leaders that arrogantly think they have it all figured out….. my favorite wipping boy, YEC are typically like that….. they say, since Gensis is literal, and G$D said he did in 7days, x thousands of years ago, all of your physics arguements have to be wrong, even though they know nothing about physics….. when one knows some physics, those type of comments are just jaw dropping….. and plain stunning…

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  46. Jeffrey J Chalmers,

    “even though they know nothing about physics….. when one knows some physics, those type of comments are just jaw dropping….. and plain stunning”
    ++++++++++

    so many things one hears in christian culture fit that category.

    “God made men with a need for respect and women with a need to be loved”, immediately comes to mind.

    one gets tired of making involuntary ‘you can’t be serious’ facial expressions.

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  47. Years ago, while fine-tuning our church’s doctrinal statement with some godly people, we discussed inserting the statement, “we believe that the Bible is authoritative…”. An older member of the committee wisely said that we should rather state, “we believe that the Bible is authorative when correctly interpreted.” Following that time, I have embraced and subsequently rejected the movement. The cause of my rejection is the Reformed / Calvinistic influence and their consistent failure to “correctly interpret”. Calvinism desperately is in search of proof texts -frequently misinterpreted – to bolster their errant theology. Adams and his colleagues have navigated this same practice into the arena of counseling. An interdisciplinary approach – which may very well include interaction with the scriptures – has the best outcomes.

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  48. Cindy Treadway: She moved on to giving me a book by Ed Welch..(who I see is also a calvinist) When People are Big and God is Small. I didn’t stay long enough for that book.

    I have since seen it referred to on here that somehow this man blamed a 4 yr old girl for a molestation or something.

    That may have been me, or one of my older posts you are thinking of.

    I read that book about three, four years ago, still have it somewhere around the house, and I have discussed it a time or two on this blog in years past.

    The Welch book “When People Are Big and God Is Small” was rather victim-blaming in places, even in a chapter where Welch talked about counseling a 30-something women who had been raped (by a family member I think) when she was eight years old.

    I used to have several Social Anxiety Disorder (compounded by codependency), and a part of that is being afraid of people, and I bought and read this book to see if it could help me.

    No, it did not help me.

    Welch’s book was not only victim-blaming but ultimately unhelpful. He ends up telling the reader something like to just remember that God is bigger than any one person.

    Well no kidding, Sherlock, tell me something I didn’t already know!

    The books and material that ended up helping me were the ones (by either Christians or Non-Christians) that told me yes, my feelings matter, yes, it is acceptable for me to have boundaries and defend myself if someone is saying or doing something to anger or hurt me.

    Welch’s book, from what I remember, did not get into that sort of content.

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  49. LeRoy: An older member of the committee wisely said that we should rather state, “we believe that the Bible is authorative when correctly interpreted.”

    Now that is a wise man. And one who would not be welcome in the literal and inerrancy crowd, which likes to pretend that scripture can simply be read and understood, easy peasy. They assert that anyone who disagrees with them just ‘doesn’t like what scripture teaches’. That’s one of the throwaway phrases taught to Calvinists as a reason to dismiss, without listening to, any other interpretation of scripture than their own. I cringe in shame to think that I bought into that for so long.

    I believe that if people are ever going to think well, that is grapple with scripture honestly, they are going to have to be willing to confront the unpopular reality that there are many who are out there working very hard to deceive them.

    Seriously, if there is a deceiver, and his main target is believers, where do you think the largest contingent of deceivers is going to be? This isn’t rocket science; but the concept of ‘Conspiracy’ has been deliberately deployed and manipulated – like so many others – to throw people off.

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  50. I’m just going to point out that “biblical counseling” can do NOTHING for people who have an organic brain disease. “Biblical counseling” is not going to help a woman with schizophrenia who hears voices and sees hallucinations. “Biblical counseling” does nothing for a person diagnosed with major depression. “Biblical counselors” are not competent or licensed to dispense the medication that can help people who have these diseases. Instead, I could see these “biblical counselors” misdiagnosing major depression as “sin in your life” and making it worse by putting the person into anxiety. I don’t even know what they’d do with a person who was hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. For the record, I’ve known for decades my mother is schizophrenic, but it wasn’t until I heard her tell her doctor that she was no longer having hallucinations of teddy bears but she was still hallucinating animal eyes that I realized how serious it was. I don’t even know how a “biblical counselor” would handle that at all. An exorcism??? (Seriously, I was badly shaken. I knew about the voices, but not the hallucinations.)

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  51. Another thing I don’t like about Heath Lambert is that he believes mental illness is spiritual in nature and not biological. Therefore, counselors should not encourage medication because the patient should depend solely on Jesus to heal. This is so wrong and dangerous. To deny someone medication when it could help them is cruel. This would never happen with a physical illness (i.e. don’t take your hypertension meds or insulin and just pray to be healed). Please run from any counselor who believes this.

    My friend’s son had major anger issues before he was diagnosed with bipolar. Her pastor labeled it as sin. She went to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him and put him on medication. He is now peaceful, content and rarely has angry outbursts. It was biological!!

    You can read more about Lambert here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/the-gospel-and-mental-illness/

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  52. Geminale,

    You might want to look up a guy named Larry Crabb, a psychologist, who thinks that spiritual direction should replace therapy altogether. I believe he is also a neo Calvinist.

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  53. Lea: It could also be that men are paid staff and able to counsel full time/more hours (Leeman is) and women are just extra people who happen to be trained so they need more.

    I thought of one other possibility (probability?): their church teachings are damaging women emotionally and psychologically, so more women counselors are needed,

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  54. I had a friend, who I now realize had Calvinist leanings, who told me I had not truly “forgiven” someone, who had wronged me. Because the wrong that the person did, still affected me. I told him, to drop it, because forgiveness does not always look the same to every person or situation. And, my forgiveness was just that mine, and it was between God, myself, and the person I was forgiving, neither he nor anyone else had a role in it. He was a friend, and I didn’t let him tell me how to forgive, so there is no way I would let one of these “Biblical” Counselors do it.

    Also, I find it so hypocritical, how these “pastors” who are so big on bringing other people’s sins to the church, hide and cover-up their own or those of their staff.

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  55. Rosie: Another thing I don’t like about Heath Lambert is that he believes mental illness is spiritual in nature and not biological. Therefore, counselors should not encourage medication because the patient should depend solely on Jesus to heal.

    Well – and all joking aside here – if he has a track record of laying hands on the sick and healing them, that’s great. If he can say “rise up and walk”, maybe he can say, “your sins are forgiven”.

    But – and this is just a working hypothesis, you understand – I’m guessing he can’t.

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  56. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): I thought of one other possibility (probability?): their church teachings are damaging women emotionally and psychologically, so more women counselors are needed,

    I was thinking that some of the women in that church are probably frustrated with the limited roles they’re allowed to play, pushing against their shackles and chains, and the many women counselors are there to help keep them in bondage.

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  57. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I’m just going to point out that “biblical counseling” can do NOTHING for people who have an organic brain disease. “Biblical counseling” is not going to help a woman with schizophrenia who hears voices and sees hallucinations. “Biblical counseling” does nothing for a person diagnosed with major depression.

    I agree.

    I just wanted to add that even if something biological is not going on, if Biblical Counseling cannot or does not redress flawed thinking, flawed understanding, or unhealthy ways of dealing with others or how one thinks about one’s self, it won’t help anyone.

    Depression, suicide, and anxiety run in both sides of my family, so there is probably something biological going on, but… when I simply just read in books that it’s okay for me to be assertive and have boundaries, etc, (I changed the way I thought about myself and acted towards others) that alone was freeing.

    But I don’t see Biblical Counseling promoting any of that.

    Rather than tell me that yes, it’s OK for me to be assertive, to have boundaries, etc, it looks to me as though a Biblical Counselor would just want to tell me that my personal sins are to blame – and that approach would not eliminate my issues or help me, but keep me stuck.

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  58. elastigirl (quoting a well-worn trope): “God made men with a need for respect and women with a need to be loved”

    Slightly off-topic, but I have story to tell on that one.

    I first came across the phrase about 10 years ago. The setting was a christian leaders’ gathering in Glasgow, hosted by Gordon and Gail McDonald (Wartburgers may know of them) and at this point in the day there were about a dozen of us in a small group, and the gender split was 50/50, or near enough. It was actually Gail who made the above observation.

    As soon as she’d said that, ALL of the men in the room (myself included) seized on that statement like it was a long-lost brother. I realised only later that, no matter what our own needs we were, that was inconsiderate. I think if she’d said, men need to be respected, but women don’t, we might have spotted the hole in the plot. It wasn’t that (if I may tentatively speak for the group here) we didn’t want women to get any respect; it’s just that we were starving for it.

    This may be a broad/average difference between the UK and US church cultures. For all the controversy over women priests in the sacramental denominations (the Church of England in particular), hard-line complementarianism – the need for women are helpless infants – hasn’t taken hold to the degree that it seems to have done left of the Pond. The reason I say that is that christian culture here treats everyone as a helpless infant. The UK christian is not an heir of God nor a co-heir with Christ, whatever those phrases do or don’t mean. Instead, (s)he is a “child of God”, and in general, “of God” is not the operative part of that phrase. Both they, and we in the world, are hurting and broken, and need daddy God’s love. Or mummy God’s breast-milk. Of course there are honourable exceptions, but those aside, it’s all a bit s**t really.

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  59. Nick Bulbeck: … the need for women are helpless infants…

    This was an edit fail. I started with “the belief that women are helpless infants” and set about changing it to “the need for women to be helpless infants”. Sadly, I only got half way through the change.

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  60. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I was thinking that some of the women in that church are probably frustrated with the limited roles they’re allowed to play, pushing against their shackles and chains, and the many women counselors are there to help keep them in bondage.

    Maybe this is also one of the few things women are allowed to do…but they also need ‘patients’.

    Nick Bulbeck: I think if she’d said, men need to be respected, but women don’t, we might have spotted the hole in the plot.

    I think love without respect would not feel very loving to me. I’m interested in your second part but I need to think about it. Do you think the women seized similarly on the love piece? Do you think women are similarly without respect? I’m wondering how much of this is perception I guess.

    I think it might be easier for someone to ask for respect than love, though. To call someone unloving might feel disrespectful, too, so is it kind of a catch?

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  61. Nick Bulbeck:The reason I say that is that christian culture here treats everyone as a helpless infant. The UK christian is not an heir of God nor a co-heir with Christ, whatever those phrases do or don’t mean. Instead, (s)he is a “child of God”, and in general, “of God” is not the operative part of that phrase.

    It is an interesting cultural difference.

    My experience with evangelical and fundamentalist churches in the US is that women are treated like children, and men are allowed to believe they on a level of God to everyone else (sometimes each other). I don’t think either love or true respect happens in that type of culture, because the relationships end up being fear-driven. Either you are afraid of your spouse, you are afraid of offending God, or you are the one causing fear.

    I think both men and women need love and respect, but those only really happen when you trust the other person both with your heart and to do what they believe is right whether it costs you or not.

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  62. Lea: I think love without respect would not feel very loving to me. I’m interested in your second part but I need to think about it. Do you think the women seized similarly on the love piece? Do you think women are similarly without respect?

    I agree; love without respect is infantilising and, indeed, toxic.

    This is at best an educated guess, as I didn’t know any of the other people there, but I think the reason the women didn’t seize on it was because they too were starving for respect and weren’t being offered any. Everyone craves respect; children included. I’ve raised two of them.

    In this context, and I’m speaking about the general milieu in the UK church here, [generic] you can get very tired of being “loved” to no purpose. Jesus is quoted as saying something apparently very controversial: My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work. I used the word “starving” above deliberately!

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  63. Nick Bulbeck,

    “(s)he is a “child of God”, and in general, “of God” is not the operative part of that phrase. Both they, and we in the world, are hurting and broken, and need daddy God’s love.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    well, sure, we all need to be loved and respected (a matter of dignity), and we all probably have same ancient gaping holes where that’s concerned.

    but really, i don’t feel hurting and broken. i feel like WONDER WOMAN! christian culture, stop coddling me and let me pound concrete and swing my sword.

    so to speak.

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  64. So, on a completely different topic, I have a small problem in the garden. In the bit where I’m currently working (building a retaining wall, and therefore doing a lot of digging and moving stuff around) there’s a strong smell of evilcat-poo. I know it’s there somewhere. But I can’t for the life of me find it…

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  65. Nick Bulbeck:
    So, on a completely different topic, I have a small problem in the garden. In the bit where I’m currently working (building a retaining wall, and therefore doing a lot of digging and moving stuff around) there’s a strong smell of evilcat-poo. I know it’s there somewhere. But I can’t for the life of me find it…

    Because it’s not there.
    You’re haunted by the ghost of Evil Cat Poo.
    Contact the Psychical Research Society for some ghost cat poo hunting.

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  66. ishy: My experience with evangelical and fundamentalist churches in the US is that women are treated like children, and men are allowed to believe they on a level of God to everyone else (sometimes each other).

    i.e. Women are Perpetual Children (with Benefits, nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean) and Men are Gods come in the flesh (including the flesh between their legs).

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  67. TS00: They assert that anyone who disagrees with them just ‘doesn’t like what scripture teaches’. That’s one of the throwaway phrases taught to Calvinists as a reason to dismiss, without listening to, any other interpretation of scripture than their own. I cringe in shame to think that I bought into that for so long.

    It’s not just Calvinists. What you’ve described is taught in the Calvary Chapel cult too. They (calvary chapel) are not reformed but will also insist that their particular exegesis of the Bible is the only valid one.

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  68. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I was thinking that some of the women in that church are probably frustrated with the limited roles they’re allowed to play, pushing against their shackles and chains, and the many women counselors are there to help keep them in bondage.

    Aunts to the Handmaids.
    (Do they carry cattle prods?)

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  69. Jarrett Edwards: Also, I find it so hypocritical, how these “pastors” who are so big on bringing other people’s sins to the church, hide and cover-up their own or those of their staff.

    RANK HATH ITS PRIVILEGES.
    ESPECIALLY RANK BESTOWED BY DIVINE RIGHT/ELECTION.

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  70. elastigirl: i feel like WONDER WOMAN! christian culture, stop coddling me and let me pound concrete and swing my sword.

    But wouldn’t you be out of your ‘Biblical’ role if you did that?

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  71. Reminder that Tom Chantry was vetted by one of these counselors after abusing children:

    http://arbca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ARBCA-GA-Chantry-announcement.txt

    “By the spring of 2002, the matter was closed. A sister church and an independent, certified (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) Christian counselor judged Mr. Chantry fit to return to normalcy. Their reports included pursuing pastoral ministry, should Mr. Chantry believe this was God’s will.”

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  72. elastigirl: let me pound concrete and swing my sword.

    A better use of your superpowers would be to swing your sword at the evil_cat that left paw-prints in my newly-poured concrete last night. And quite possibly left poo somewhere in the garden, although as I believe I’ve mentioned, I can’t locate it.

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  73. Jerome: Reminder that Tom Chantry was vetted by one of these counselors after abusing children:
    http://arbca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ARBCA-GA-Chantry-announcement.txt
    “By the spring of 2002, the matter was closed. A sister church and an independent, certified (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) Christian counselor judged Mr. Chantry fit to return to normalcy.

    A ‘sister church’ who didn’t have anybody whose kids were actually affected. Who didn’t have anything to forgive. Etc.

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  74. Nick Bulbeck: A better use of your superpowers would be to swing your sword at the evil_cat that left paw-prints in my newly-poured concrete last night. And quite possibly left poo somewhere in the garden, although as I believe I’ve mentioned, I can’t locate it.

    Maybe it is invisible.:-)

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  75. Jerome: “By the spring of 2002, the matter was closed. A sister church and an independent, certified (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) Christian counselor judged Mr. Chantry fit to return to normalcy. Their reports included pursuing pastoral ministry, should Mr. Chantry believe this was God’s will.”

    Additional proof that Christian/Biblical counselors are not qualified to do what they claim they can do. They are simply providing proof of their danger to society.

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  76. Lily Rose:
    I’ve read there is a movement to replace biblical counseling with spiritual direction, but the definitions seems to overlap depending on the church tradition or denomination. Not sure what the differences are, or how this would impact believers.

    Interesting word choice. Spiritual direction reminds me of what I’ve heard about the discredited shepherding movement, and has echoes of displacing the work of the Holy Spirit and the still small voice in people’s lives.

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  77. elastigirl:
    Jerome,

    “Notice anything odd about the roster of ‘Biblical Counselors’ at 9Mark Dever’s church?:”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    1 out of 9 counselors is a woman, specificially for counseling women and only women

    only 1 counselor (a man) is available to counsel men, but he can apparently counsel anyone, male or female, as well as couples.

    they all report to a male pastor who is the President for the board of directors of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, having an MDiv and PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    conclusions:
    they expect a small need from men for christian counseling

    couples will only get the perspective from a man

    (what else?… it wouldn’t be the first time i miss the obvious)

    In other words, men are generally fine. Women are messed up. If only the women would get their act together, everything would be fine.

    This is all very familiar to me.

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  78. Muff Potter,

    no, i’d be out of my prayer group if i invited a mom who is in a same sex marriage. and is lonely and longing to connect spiritually with others.

    (i can think of a number of things. being a super hero who says ‘God help me’ [instead of ‘Hera help me’] as she pounds what is evil and wrong would bring cheers. we’re all women, see. no ego’s threatened)

    …but i don’t like hearing myself in that first paragraph. shows me that my group and what i get out of it is more important to me than an excluded human being left on the outside.

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  79. Samuel Conner:
    Jerome,

    That link gives 10 names; 2 men and 8 women. The gender disparity seems a bit puzzling. If they are “staffing” for demanded services, it suggests more counseling need among female members than among male (though it may be that females are more willing to see a counselor/therapist than males). It’s also conceivable that there is an underlying disparity in the gender ratio of people among their membership who have done enough classwork to be considered qualified to function in that role.

    I would like to see more older people among the staff counselors. The humility and patience that can come from having lived long can be useful.

    As I mentioned, the attitude I’ve run into is that most men are “fine” (and even if they’re not, they are discouraged from admitting any kind of “weakness”. Women as the weaker vessel are expected to have problems.

    Add to this the natural inclination to push back against comp teachings that basically imply a woman is a second-class citizen (“separate but equal”, anyone), that women are more easily deceived (how is it possible for a gifted, intelligent woman to live with such cognitive dissonance when she comes up against a biblical fool? I still don’t understand it, but I lived it for decades), that a harsh, cruel, ignorant, bigoted man will still be a better choice for a teacher/preacher than a loving, learned, sensible woman because of a difference in body parts…

    Yeah. Women in those churches need counseling to keep them in line, to keep the cognitive dissonance at bay so that they will stay on the path to destruction (burying their talents, which apparently isn’t a sin if it involves an ability to teach of administrate better than a man, believing that God made women to be eternally inferior “joint” heirs of Christ…

    It’s enough to drive one to despair. Or even crazy.

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  80. refugee: Women as the weaker vessel are expected to have problems.

    If anything, recent events have proven the opposite. Women *have* to be strong. And many men have deep and abiding problems, and are excused by others.

    Jesus wept. Truly.

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  81. Muff Potter: It’s not just Calvinists. What you’ve described is taught in the Calvary Chapel cult too. They (calvary chapel) are not reformed but will also insist that their particular exegesis of the Bible is the only valid one.

    It’s more than that.
    Muff and I both live near Ground Zero of Calvary Chapel, and I’m sure he can confirm a lot of what I say about it
    .
    During my time in-country in the late Seventies/Early Eighties Calvary Chapel DOMINATED Christianese AM Radio in SoCal. Fully half the airtime on a station was CC Costa Mesa, CC West Covina, CC Whatever. THEIR ATTITUDE WAS THERE CAN BE NO SALVATION OUTSIDE OF CALVARY CHAPEL AND PAPA CHUCK.

    Name all the ways a splinter church can go sour, and Calvary Chapel distills it all down into themselves. From thoughtstopper barrages of Bible Bullets to Pin the Tail on The Antichrist to the impossible-to-exaggerate anti-Catholicism of Raul Rees.

    And worse, CC was the model for other, unaffiliated “non-denominational” Christian Fellowships(TM). Remember the old saw about “Non-Denominational — you know, Southern Baptist with the labels painted over?” Well, in SoCal of the time, “Non-Denominational Bible-Believing” meant “Calvary Chapel Clone”, whether a five-man House Church or a Mega wanna-be.

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  82. Rosie:
    Another thing I don’t like about Heath Lambert is that he believes mental illness is spiritual in nature and not biological.

    I had a high school student who was (still is) schizophrenic, diagnosed at age 10. Her and her family’s devout faith help her cope with a challenging life. Her doctors, licensed therapists, and medication help with her symptoms.

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  83. westerner: Her and her family’s devout faith help her cope with a challenging life. Her doctors, licensed therapists, and medication help with her symptoms.

    It’s really good to hear that she has both.

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  84. elastigirl: …but i don’t like hearing myself in that first paragraph. shows me that my group and what i get out of it is more important to me than an excluded human being left on the outside.

    No, in a much larger sense, that’s on them.

    They are the ones who would exclude another human being based solely on her sexual orientation.

    One of the deepest desires in the human heart is to be wanted and needed.

    When that is denied, it leaves the denied with little more than icy wind for comfort.

    So which is the greater sin, cruelty to another human being, based on a few proof texts or just cutting her some slack and letting the proof texts slide?

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  85. Muff Potter: So which is the greater sin, cruelty to another human being, based on a few proof texts or just cutting her some slack and letting the proof texts slide?

    I don’t see Jesus snubbing people in need.

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  86. Nick Bulbeck: A better use of your superpowers would be to swing your sword at the evil_cat that left paw-prints in my newly-poured concrete last night. And quite possibly left poo somewhere in the garden, although as I believe I’ve mentioned, I can’t locate it.

    Of course you can’t find the cat poo. The dogs are eating it.

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  87. refugee:
    It’s enough to drive one to despair. Or even crazy.

    A thought that I find hopeful, and that might even be true, is that self-defeating forms of church are not likely to persist over very long periods of time.

    That’s doesn’t undo the harms that are inflicted on people while the self-defeating conceptions of ministry self-defeat, but it may offer some hope that the future might be better than, or at least different from, the present.

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  88. readingalong: I don’t see Jesus snubbing people in need.

    Which is why I would cut her some slack and let the proof texts slide.
    Not only that, but also for the fact that the dictates of my conscience demand it under the rubric of how I would want to be treated.

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  89. Luckyforward,

    The only problem is that you probably don’t believe sin is at the root of the matter and therefore, the Gospel is not the answer in your mind. That is the heart of Biblical counseling. It’s not to simply expose and embarrass people but to help people work through sin and issues from a Biblical perspective; something no psychiatrist will ever do.

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  90. Christ Is The Answer: The only problem is that you probably don’t believe sin is at the root of the matter and therefore, the Gospel is not the answer in your mind.

    Are suggesting it is an either/or issue, where one has to choose between the two approaches in a purely binary manner?

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  91. Christ Is The Answer: That is the heart of Biblical counseling. It’s not to simply expose and embarrass people but to help people work through sin and issues from a Biblical perspective; something no psychiatrist will ever do.

    Sadly, you are an example of why I tell people to avoid biblical™ counseling. Let me go through your assumptions.

    1. Psychiatrists can be Christians. I know. I consulted one. I think you know that so called biblical counseling does not believe that anyone can counsel unless they do it through your paradigm. That paradigm allows for embarrassingly untrained individuals. Before you start read my posts. I have proven that quite clearly. In fact, only untrained, poorly read individuals could do biblical counseling because highly educated Christians can spot the problems a mile away.

    2. You make an assumption that nonChristians would obviously overlook issues like adultery, etc. and say that it is just fine. Well trained counselors would address the issues surrounding adultery and how it causes pain in the context of the family. All truth is God’s truth and one does not have to be a Christian to care for struggling people.

    3. You make the assumption that only people who do it your way *have the Gospel.* This leads back to my concerns that people are misusing the word *Gospel* in order to claim they are the ones with the answers.

    4. You make assumptions that people who disagree with you do not believe that sin is the root of all problems. let’s get something straight. My daughter had a brain tumor. That brain tumor happened because of the fall of man- you know, sin! However, I did not go to a *biblical* surgeon to operate on her. I went to the best neurosurgeon I could find. I made a good choice. He wasn’t a Christian but he was an expert. My daughter survived as serious situation.

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  92. Christ Is The Answer,

    I do want to thank you for your comments. They have proven my point. Folks-stay away from Biblical counselors. They are untrained people who do not question the paradigm. You will be outed to a pastor when all you wanted to do is to work through your issues. They are no counselors. They are a reporting mechanism so that the discipline people can go to work. Good night!

    These poor people have no idea what they are saying.

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  93. Christ Is The Answer:
    The only problem is that you probably don’t believe sin is at the root of the matter and therefore, the Gospel is not the answer in your mind. That is the heart of Biblical counseling.

    Everyone has sin. The gospel is Jesus saving us despite our sin. There’s a lot of issues that are the result of sin that people need counseling for that are not because of their own sin. Sickness is one. Abuse is another.

    If the only thing biblical counseling claims to do is deal with personal sin, then it will fall way short every time. Jesus can help us through a lot more than just our own sin. Can a biblical counselor, heal the sick every time you need to do so? Then you are unqualified to deal with every problem.

    It looks to me like you are the one who doesn’t know the “Gospel”.

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  94. Rosie,

    heath Lambert may have been able to get a PhD in Biblical™ Counseling at SBTS but he sure couldn’t have gotten an MD. It takes time and a decent IQ along with thoughtfulness to study biology and understand how systems work together.

    In your example of bipolar disease, it has been shown the this is a chemical imbalance and the meds essentially control it. If the patient goes off their meds-Bam! Back to manic episodes, deep depression, etc. Then, put them back on the meds-things get better.

    That pastor, along with Heath Lambert, exhibit ignorance on the matter.

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  95. Luckyforward: y license is under authority and review of my state. Thus, if I break confidentiality or fail to adhere to national ethical standards, I can be reported to the state, investigated, and disciplined.
    Please know that “Biblical Counselors” regulate themselves and as such, the client has no recourse if they find their counselor problematic.

    Great comment.

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  96. Christ Is The Answer: The only problem is that you probably don’t believe sin is at the root of the matter and therefore, the Gospel is not the answer in your mind.

    This shows you inability to understand why you are not competent to counsel. You are making an assumption about another person who you do not know. Do you do this in your counseling sessions? Good night!

    Also, the Gospel is our salvation. It did not bring pain and suffering in this world to an end. That means that mental illness will be with us until Jesus returns.

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  97. Ken F (aka Tweed): Are suggesting it is an either/or issue, where one has to choose between the two approaches in a purely binary manner?

    This individual is under the delusion that you must see it his/her way since it is the *biblical* way. She/he knows this because they are a counselor and went through the ridiculous curriculum that *certifies* that she/he can counsel.

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  98. Jerome:
    Reminder that Tom Chantry was vetted by one of these counselors after abusing children:
    http://arbca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ARBCA-GA-Chantry-announcement.txt
    “By the spring of 2002, the matter was closed. A sister church and an independent, certified (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) Christian counselor judged Mr. Chantry fit to return to normalcy. Their reports included pursuing pastoral ministry, should Mr. Chantry believe this was God’s will.”

    Jerome-you are amazing. I am getting this to Todd Wilhelm as we speak.

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  99. I believe strongly that churches need to rely on professionals in order to properly address psychological and mental health matters. That being said, Matthew 18 and many other passages clearly teach that confrontation about/of sin is often required at the relational level, sometimes necessary at the leadership level, and even other times necessary at the church wide level. Our obsession with individual privacy is an American/western obsession often in conflict with Christ’s own words and teachings.

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  100. Christ Is The Answer,

    “That is the heart of Biblical counseling. It’s not to simply expose and embarrass people but to help people work through sin and issues from a Biblical perspective; something no psychiatrist will ever do.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so, then, the heart of biblical counseling is to expose and embarrass people in order to help them work through sin and issues from a biblical perspective.

    i’m sure you right, no psychiatrist would ever do this.

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  101. Lily Rose,

    I’m familiar with Larry Crabb, and although he does promote and teach programs in biblical counseling and spiritual direction, he seemed to hold them in separate realms. As someone training to become a spiritual director, I see biblical counseling as a completely different helping ministry with very different methods and I would even argue different goals from direction. I would certainly not be alone in this view. One glaring issue brought up with this article is confidentiality. Both SDI and ESDA require anyone seeking membership as a director to agree with their guidelines, among which is confidentiality.

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  102. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    elastigirl,

    My first time posting so apologies if comment formats incorrectly.

    I agree with much of what is said here. However, I’m seeing that many counselors are struggling with severe mental illness not just “Biblical” counselors. Much of my counseling and life experience has been in dealing with the more severe disorders. This is a severe problem as I’ve seen counselors twice freak in situations that are pretty much normal for the disorder a friend is going through. So much as I’ve seen harm from BC, often the Christian, or non Christian non BC is no more trained than the BC. That is concerning. We can’t have people trained only to help those with “run of the mill” type problems. Life isn’t Pollyanna.

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  103. elastigirl,

    I’m dismayed by what seems to be happening “in the trenches”. I don’t recognize in the descriptions of BC here what I was taught at CCEF/WTS East. The goal was counselee self-understanding (specifically of heart worship, on the biblical principle that behavior proceeds from the heart), leading to — where needed — repentance from false worship and bad motives, and changed behavior as a consequence of the heart change. The method was (I’m simplifying) “intentional listening” for the purpose of eliciting self-understanding in the counselee. The purposes of the heart are deep waters, but a person of understanding can attempt to draw them out.

    Confidentiality was assumed as part of the trust relationship between counselor and counselee, with the exception of reportable offenses or evidence of imminent commission of a reportable offense.

    The harsh treatment of counselees that has been described is incompatible with what I heard in these classes. In an earlier version of the intro methodology class, “Methods of Biblical Change”, Paul Tripp appealed to the students to be kind and gentle. One of his metaphors was that the counselee is “entrusting you with the fine china of their life; handle it gently”. The current intro methodology class, “Helping Relationships,” has the same ethos.

    I think that the CCEF principals are better than what is being described here. But they are also a lot older, a lot more mature and have seen a lot more suffering (their own and others’) than the typical young graduate with a degree or a certificate.

    One thing with which I 100% concur is that the certification standards of groups like ACBC are laughably inadequate. As so often, short cuts lead to bad outcomes.

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  104. elastigirl:
    Christ Is The Answer,

    “That is the heart of Biblical counseling. It’s not to simply expose and embarrass people but to help people work through sin and issues from a Biblical perspective; something no psychiatrist will ever do.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so, then, the heart of biblical counseling is to expose and embarrass people in order to help them work through sin and issues from a biblical perspective.

    i’m sure you right, no psychiatrist would ever do this.

    Here is pat B on confidentiality from the “Standards of Conduct of Biblical Counselors”. You might want to read the rest because it is quite nauseating especially the part of adhering to those in authority:

    “B. Biblical counselors must maintain and communicate the biblical standards for confidentiality. Trust grows in relationships where all parties have clear expectations regarding the confidential nature of private information. Biblical counselors seek to maintain trust and integrity by keeping personal information as private as possible. Biblical counselors protect the reputation of their counselees by avoiding reckless and unnecessary disclosures of personal information. Biblical counselors must also make clear to their counselees that a commitment to biblical authority requires the disclosure of certain kinds of information to certain parties. A biblical commitment to protect counselees from harm as well as commitments to the authority of the home, church, and or state may require disclosure of information that counselees would otherwise prefer to remain private.”
    https://biblicalcounseling.com/certification/standards-of-conduct/

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  105. elastigirl:
    Christ Is The Answer,

    … to expose and embarrass people …

    i’m sure you right, no psychiatrist would ever do this.

    In Martha Stout’s book “The Sociopath Next Door”, one of the case studies is of something very like this. I think that the character of the counselor may be more important that the details of the counseling methodology.

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  106. Sarah: So much as I’ve seen harm from BC, often the Christian, or non Christian non BC is no more trained than the BC.

    You can look up the education and training required for licensed counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists and compare them to BC. You will find that statement, that licensed therapists are ‘no more trained’ is going to be demonstrably false.

    Now, there is a bit of ‘physician heal thyself’ sometimes in the mental health profession, but it is by no means universal or even in most cases a detriment to helping others.

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  107. Lily Rose: A biblical commitment to protect counselees from harm as well as commitments to the authority of the home, church, and or state may require disclosure of information that counselees would otherwise prefer to remain private.”

    Is this code for ‘anything you share about your abusive husband/parent will be reported to him’ because he is ‘in authority’?

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  108. Lea,

    Sure looks like it! And to the pastor and anyone else the church deems in authority over you. Avoid biblical counseling if adhere to these standards!

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  109. Lily Rose,

    IX. The Commitment to Authority
    The Bible is clear that God’s world is one where structures of authority must be recognized and respected. The Bible teaches that authority exists between the Trinitarian relationships of the Godhead and affects each of our human relationships as well. Biblical counselors work to honor all biblically-instituted authorities and assist their counselees to do the same.

    B. Biblical counselors must help their counselees submit to legitimate authority in the context of the home. God has called husbands and fathers to exercise spiritual authority in the home, seeking the welfare of those in his care. God has also called wives to be submissive to their husbands and children to be submissive to the authority of their parents. These authority structures are an incredible blessing when discharged faithfully. Biblical counselors will help family members honor these sources of authority appropriately throughout the various stages of life.
    https://biblicalcounseling.com/certification/standards-of-conduct/

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  110. dee:
    Christ Is The Answer,

    I do want to thank you for your comments. They have proven my point. Folks-stay away from Biblical counselors. They are untrained people who do not question the paradigm. You will be outed to a pastor when all you wanted to do is to work through your issues. They are no counselors. They are a reporting mechanism so that the discipline people can go to work. Good night!

    These poor people have no idea what they are saying.

    There are CCEF-trained counselors who work as independent therapists and who are also state-certified in one of the recognized forms of therapy. These people are held to strict professional standards and can lose their licenses and their livelihoods if they violate professional conduct standards, including confidentiality standards.

    I would think that it would be safe to be counseled by someone like this. I agree that one is asking for trouble to seek church-based counseling from someone who does not have extensive case experience and who is employed in a church with 9Marks-style conceptions of pastoral authority and lay obligation.

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  111. Lily Rose: IX. The Commitment to Authority
    The Bible is clear that God’s world is one where structures of authority must be recognized and respected. The Bible teaches that authority exists between the Trinitarian relationships of the Godhead and affects each of our human relationships as well.

    I’m curious.
    Can the writers of title IX point us to the Scriptures which teach an authoritarian hierarchy in the persons of the Trinity?

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  112. Samuel Conner: The goal was counselee self-understanding (specifically of heart worship, on the biblical principle that behavior proceeds from the heart), leading to — where needed — repentance from false worship and bad motives, and changed behavior as a consequence of the heart change.

    With all due respect, this is a dangerous philosophy when dealing with any and all kinds of abuse, especially when dealing with children, and with issues that have been long hidden and suppressed. Having been exposed to a CCEF trained counselor who was a friend and tried to “help” someone close to me, the approach was completely wrong and uninformed, it left this young person more traumatized and shut down for many more years. Granted, this friend did not know of the abuse, so they just assumed “issues of the heart.” A trained therapist would not approach a patient this way. But this CCEF trained counselor was not capable to help this young person. The approach was one of “sin” issues of the heart in a young child. It was so wrong, guilt inducing, and anxiety building that it did much more harm than good.

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  113. Bridget,

    I hear you. I think that CCEF’s classroom training (what I have seen of it, which is about a decade out of date), was targeted at “garden variety” problems. IMO these methods can be very helpful in that context — and always subject to the caveat that they be employed in a spirit of kindness. In the intro-level classes I am most familiar with, there was not a focus on looking for signs of abuse in the “intentional listening” process.

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  114. Muff Potter,

    You would have to look at the website where I pulled the information from which is https://biblicalcounseling.com/certification/standards-of-conduct/ . I do not subscribe to these beliefs as I am only pointing them out to show what the biblical counselor’s standards of conduct are supposed to be as far as confidentiality/ authority are concerned. How they relate this to the trinity, I do not know, but you could probably make an educated guess there is some belief about the eternal subordination of the Son or something like that. There usually is with this kind of stuff.

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  115. Bridget,

    I also think that, at least as of my acquaintance from a decade and more ago, CCEF has been “behind the curve” in terms of the implications of “biological embodiment” for counseling and for ministry generally. I think that might be in part a residue of the legacy of the old Jay Adams heritage of suspicion of psychiatry, but more fundamentally a deficiency or inadequacy or careless assumptions above the implications of the dualistic anthropology that has characterized the church since the early centuries.

    “Trauma-informed care” is still in a relatively early stage of development in secular therapy. The churches are, I suspect, largely out of their depth in this area. Terrifyingly, they seem to often be agents of trauma.

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  116. Lily Rose: How they relate this to the trinity, I do not know, but you could probably make an educated guess there is some belief about the eternal subordination of the Son or something like that. There usually is with this kind of stuff.

    I’m sure you’re right. If we alter the question slightly to why they relate this to the trinity, it perhaps becomes clearer. This group in particular are less about setting captives free than about peddling an ideological agenda.

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  117. Attributed to Abraham Kaplan, though almost certainly not original to him:

    Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.

    Attributed to Saul of Tarsus when writing to the first-century believers in Colossi, and theoretically original to God:

    … in Christ all the fulness of deity lives in bodily form.

    Anyone who is tempted to fancy themselves as a “healer” will also be tempted to settle on one therapeutic tool that they’re comfortable and familiar with, and apply it everywhere. Like the broken clock that’s correct twice a day, they’ll occasionally do some good if only by dumb luck. Now, by contrast, the Jesus of the gospels was equal to every need he ever encountered; including death itself. If indeed he was, and is, God, then it would be true that “Jesus is the answer”.

    My concern with the “biblical” biblicalists referenced in this thread is that they imagine their limited ideas of “sin” and “the gospel” and “biblical biblical” are on a par with “Jesus”, when in fact they have little if any “Jesus” to dispense.

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  118. Christ Is The Answer: The only problem is that you probably don’t believe sin is at the root of the matter and therefore, the Gospel is not the answer in your mind. That is the heart of Biblical counseling.

    It’s not to simply expose and embarrass people but to help people work through sin and issues from a Biblical perspective; something no psychiatrist will ever do.

    Jesus Christ is not the answer to everything in life. I’ve learned that way through hard-earned experience.
    I had clinical depression and anxiety for many years, and Jesus did not heal me of any of that. Being told that personal sin may be at the root of it did not help me – by the way, I trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior at a very young age, and “being saved” and “knowing the Gospel” did not make me immune from being depressed or having anxiety.

    Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, living a clean life and so on and so forth, did not lift my mental health issues.

    Having depression or anxiety are not “sin issues.”
    If you mis-diagnose causes, you cannot help the person or effectively treat what is ailing them.

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  119. Nick Bulbeck,

    I’ve been pondering writing a post on my Daisy blog for some time now about Empathy 101, because it seems a lot of Christians (and a smaller number of Non-Christians) don’t grasp the concept.

    If someone comes to you hurting or upset about something, giving that person unsolicited advice, shaming them, offering theological musings for why you think they are in pain, telling them to examine their personal sin, and/or victim-blaming them are not empathy and will only make the person feel worse.

    But all those are pretty common reactions from people if you get vulnerable with them about your personal dirty laundry.

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  120. Daisy:

    “Having depression or anxiety are not “sin issues.””

    That’s right. In my case, depression and anxiety were the results of years of childhood bullying/ dysfunctional family issues. No sin I committed caused me to be depressed and anxious.

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  121. dee: Also, the Gospel is our salvation. It did not bring pain and suffering in this world to an end. That means that mental illness will be with us until Jesus returns.

    I’m betting that the pro-biblical counseling “Christ is the Answer” person probably would take insulin if he/she was diabetic, would take aspirin if he had a headache, and would visit an eye doctor and get a prescription and eye glasses if he was near-sighted.

    Yet, people with P.T.S.D., depression, etc, would be expected by this person to simply pray their mental health issue away, trust Jesus, and wallow in feeling guilty about some sin they have committed that is assumed to have brought about their mental health issue.

    Every time “Christ Is the Answer” considers popping a Tylenol for a headache, does he stop to ask himself things like, “Do I really know the Gospel? What sin did I do to bring about this headache?”
    – Probably not.

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  122. P.S.

    dee: Also, the Gospel is our salvation. It did not bring pain and suffering in this world to an end. That means that mental illness will be with us until Jesus returns.

    I talked with a Christian church friend of my father’s earlier this year.

    I was talking to this Church Lady about several things, including about still dealing with anxiety, and she asked me right then, “Who is Jesus to you?”

    How that question came across to me, right after discussing my anxiety issue with her:
    It was as if she were suggesting that if I had ever “truly” accepted Jesus, and if I had really, really understood and accepted the Gospel, I could not, and would not, deal with anxiety, ever.

    Because all “real” Christians have the Holy Spirit in their hearts, who gives them nothing but happy-happy, peaceful, jolly feelings, and He will never allow them to experience anxiety.

    So there is definitely this suspicion by some types of Christians that if you report having anxiety (or whatever type of psychological / emotional problem) to them, if you confide in them about these things, that they will assume that you never believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, that you’ve never heard or understood the Gospel.

    It’s a very hurtful and offensive assumption they make.

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  123. TS00: I would even say that I do believe that all problems are a result of sin – but that does not mean that they have simplistic answers.

    A man’ s sinful choice to indulge too freely in alcohol, drugs or pornography can lead to a dangerous addiction that requires more than a few well-applied scriptures.

    In other situations, problems may arise from another person’s sin, over which a counselee has little control.

    The book “Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?” by Dwight D, Carlson answers all this and Christian misconceptions about mental health issues quite well.

    You can read much of that book on line here:
    Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded
    https://books.google.com/books?id=i6F1FhuTissC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false

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  124. TS00: I’ll tell ya what, if your husband had a hard time keeping a job that paid the bills, and you had to seek the aid of your children to keep him from finding and spending the little cushion of inherited money you had hidden, you would ‘worry’ too! Sure, he was giving it away – which made him feel super righteous. But she was the one who made the budget and paid the bills, and he didn’t know or care if there was enough money to give away or if it was needed to buy groceries or pay medical bills. Her ‘worry’ was justified, and what she needed was protection, not prooftexts.

    Oh my goodness, I can relate. I was engaged to a guy who was terribly financially irresponsible.

    He was always wanting me to bail him out, pay his late fees, etc.

    He earned way, way, much more money than I did (I did not earn much). Yet I paid all my bills in full, paid them on time. I tried to help him keep his paper work and stuff organized, so he’d pay stuff on time, etc.

    I could easily write a 65 page rant on this topic but will spare everyone.

    Yes, it creates a lot (A LOT) of anxiety (and resentment, anger, and frustration) when one is in a serious relationship with someone who doesn’t seem to care about paying bills, paying them on time, keeping a roof over everyone’s heads, having enough funds left to buy groceries, etc.

    And telling someone engaged, or married to, someone like that to, “just trust in Jesus and cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you,” and, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and he will take care of you” does not cut the mustard in daily life.

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  125. TS00: The insecurity, panic, grief and other very real results of trauma do not go away simply by reading one’s bible.

    That does not mean I did and do not look to God for comfort, strength and healing; it does mean that I no longer beat myself up for not ‘trusting’ him enough. Grief and the very real wounds of trauma require time to heal; there is no set timetable for this.

    The last thing a victim needs is more guilt and shame heaped upon them by simplistic counselors who instruct them to ‘forgive’ their often unrepentant abuser and to ‘have more faith’.

    Such things often take time, and rarely happen as the naive counselor thinks they should.

    All of that is so very true.

    This especially resonates with me:
    “The insecurity, panic, grief and other very real results of trauma do not go away simply by reading one’s bible.”

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  126. Lea: This reminds me a bit of the hawthorne effect, if you’ve heard of that old study. Paying attention to people, being kind, etc, probably will help with a great deal of everyday issues for people. Beating them over the head about their supposed ‘sin’ in the fact of serious issues will not.

    In one of these books I’ve read, by a Christian author (who is a psychiatrist), he mentions how a Christian patient who came to see him was very depressed and suicidal.

    He said he was deeply depressed one week and I think suicidal too, until an atheist neighbor of his came over to ask to borrow a hammer.

    So, in the midst of that visit, the Christian guy just vented and unloaded to the atheist guy, who simply listened and told him, “Your life sounds rough right now, sorry to hear that.”

    And the patient told the Christian doctor that made him feel so much better.

    None of the Christian friends or family he had gone to just sat and listened and offered empathy.
    They shamed him, blamed him, or gave him a list of Religious Stuff To Do To Get Better.

    Sometimes hurting or upset people just need to be heard and validated.

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  127. elastigirl: conclusions:
    they expect a small need from men for christian counseling
    couples will only get the perspective from a man
    (what else?… it wouldn’t be the first time i miss the obvious)

    I can pretty much guess any problem anyone goes to them for well be pegged on personal sin,

    And in any couples counseling, the woman will most often be held to blame for whatever the problem is, and the Same Solution will likely be given:

    Just submit more to your spouse, never disagree with him or air disagreements with your spouse, pray for your spouse, and always make yourself sexually available to him, and that will take care of any and all problems in your marriage.

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  128. elastigirl: i love my mom’s prayer group (which i started), but i sure have to keep my mouth shut on a number of things, or not get too specific. no more awesome prayer group if i didn’t.

    I’ll skip the minute details of this, but…

    When I was attending a Baptist church a few years ago, I was in their Sunday School class, led by Church Lady.

    I was honestly answering a question Church Lady asked me from the Sunday school work book in front of the others in the class, and I got my head bit off by her (she did not like my answer or feel that it was properly Gospel-y or Jesus-y or outward focused enough, even though the question itself was asking me to discuss MY personal problems).

    And this occurred just a couple of years after my mother died, I was in deep grief and struggling with that (and a verbally abusive sister), all of which this same Church Lady knew because I had told her.

    That was the start of me realizing that Church, Church people / Christians, are not necessarily safe places to go to in order to share, open up, and try to receive emotional support.

    If I want to get yelled at or chewed out, I already have my sister for that, I don’t need the Church Lady for that.

    You learn the hard way that Christians are not safe people to confide in about many things.

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  129. Nick Bulbeck: So, on a completely different topic, I have a small problem in the garden.

    In the bit where I’m currently working (building a retaining wall, and therefore doing a lot of digging and moving stuff around) there’s a strong smell of evilcat-poo.

    I know it’s there somewhere. But I can’t for the life of me find it…

    There’s a house cat making a mess in your yard?

    If so, you need to watch a show called “My Cat From Hell.” The guy on that show teaches people how to humanely keep unwanted animals (including cats) from trespassing.

    He normally advises the use of motion-activated water sprinkler things.

    In other episodes, I think he gave motion-activated canisters that spray air on cats. When the animals get hit with that air or water, they learn not to return to that same spot.

    The host also has tips for keeping cats off counter tops:

    Cat Whisperer Jackson Galaxy’s Advice for Keeping Your Cats off the Counter
    https://www.thekitchn.com/jackson-galaxys-words-of-wisdom-for-keeping-cats-off-the-counter-207331

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  130. Headless Unicorn Guy: i.e. Women are Perpetual Children

    That’s why I have a long post on my blog that explains that Christian Gender Complementarianism is Codependency For Women, with codependent traits being very similar to traits a child might have.

    Complementarians don’t want women to make decisions for themselves, have boundaries, be assertive, and engage in other normal, healthy hall-marks of adulthood.

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  131. refugee: In other words, men are generally fine. Women are messed up. If only the women would get their act together, everything would be fine.

    In American culture, I’ve noticed women are given cultural permission to publicly show emotion (at least sadness) and fall apart, but when or if we do so,
    men (and some women) then negatively stereotype all women as being “too emotional” and not as logical and rational as men.

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  132. Samuel Conner: Of course you can’t find the cat poo. The dogs are eating it.

    My sister’s dogs had this problem.
    It grossed my sister out. She asked her vet how to solve it. He gave her a small can of stuff to spray on the waste because it would, he said, “make the stuff smell and taste bad to the dogs,” and she said to me puzzled, “It’s crap. It already smells and taste bad, how can spraying some chemical on it make it worse than it is.”

    This is like the time my sister had a broken large trash can she was trying to throw away.

    She put it on the curb on trash day for the trash collectors, but they left it on the curb.

    She asked me, “How do you throw away a trash can you don’t want anymore when the trash guys don’t recognize it as trash?”

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  133. Christ Is The Answer,

    I’m just looking at this person’s screen name,
    “Christ Is The Answer.”

    And still wondering, “For what?”

    Nick has a problem with neighbor or feral cats getting into his garden, is Christ the answer for that? Probably not, no.

    Nick certainly can try praying and asking Christ to deter the cats or for insight on what to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick does not receive supernatural insight or guidance on that.

    Christianity would probably not come off as such a turn-off to so many people if Christians would stop applying Jesus / the Gospel towards stuff it’s not meant to apply to.

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  134. Janet: That being said, Matthew 18 and many other passages clearly teach that confrontation about/of sin is often required at the relational level, sometimes necessary at the leadership level, and even other times necessary at the church wide level

    That passage is often misused and abused by churches, especially in the context of child or domestic abuse.

    Also, complementarians often discourage wives from point- blank confronting a husband on what bothers them.

    In Christianity, wives are frequently encouraged to stuff down any complaints, as being honest and upfront with their husband, is viewed as “rocking the boat” and is frowned upon.

    Wives are taught to always cater to the wants and needs of their spouse, that theirs do not matter.

    They are also often taught that marriage is not about happiness, so they should just shut up and put up with being in a miserable marriage.

    Christian Wives are not taught by many churches to pursue the Matt 18, “confront someone and tell them what is bugging you about their behavior”

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  135. Janet: All kinds of Christ’s words are misapplied. It doesn’t give us license to ignore them.

    I didn’t say to ignore them.

    Reading the Bible never did help me with any of my life’s problems, ranging from depression, anxiety, or low self esteem to being bullied as an adult by other adults at jobs I had.

    Christ’s words have become about worthless, as Christians do misapply them often, and on other occasions, and cannot even agree on what his (or the rest of the Bible’s) words mean.

    I wrote about that a little bit here:
    A Critique of Kevin DeYoung’s Critique of Smith’s ‘The Bible Made Impossible,’ A Book About Evangelicals and Biblicism
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2018/05/20/%E2%80%A2-a-critique-of-kevin-deyoungs-critique-of-smiths-the-bible-made-impossible-a-book-about-evangelicals-and-biblicism/

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  136. Daisy: I’m betting that the pro-biblical counseling “Christ is the Answer” person probably would take insulin if he/she was diabetic…

    Ah, well, you see, there’s a qualitative difference between mental illness and diabetes. That is, you can objectively measure blood glucose levels (and, if his/her diabetes were very poorly controlled, urinary glucose levels). So, if they tried to “biblically” get rid of diabetes, they’d be found out.

    Sadly, of course, there is a lunatic fringe that does pretend it can “biblically” cure conditions like diabetes (and cancer, and anything else). They cannot, but they have no conscience about blaming their victims for that.

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  137. Daisy: Nick certainly can try praying and asking Christ to deter the cats or for insight on what to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick does not receive supernatural insight or guidance on that.

    Although I should do, because cats are Evil.

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  138. Lily Rose (quoting the biblicalcounselling.org website):

    These authority structures are an incredible blessing when discharged faithfully.

    The problem with this oft-quacked phrase is twofold, I believe.

     The book from which these people profess to draw their authority quotes Jesus as explicitly forbidding the establishment and defence of authority structures among his followers. It is “the world” that cannot conceive of avoiding chaos other than through power and control.
     I think this second point is closely related to the first: that is, the only groups of people actually capable of faithfully discharging such “authority structures” are composed of people who don’t need them and would not apply them.

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  139. Nick Bulbeck: oft-quacked phrase

    I love this phrasing.

    This whole business about ‘authority is awesome IF it’s done right’ is that problems come, presumably, when it’s not done right then. So…we have a problem and your solution is to wish it were otherwise. Which is not helpful.

    (not that I buy into the authority stuff, but their reasoning is not sound even within their own (il)logical framework).

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  140. Context is everything. Being that I have read some of the biblical counseling material and also Messianic material, a would recommend a few but some have a horrible lack of cultural context. Be aware though be careful of any regular counselor that may want to slap a borderline personality disorder on the abused. PTSD is all that is needed.

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