Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. C. S. Lewis link
Luther pic/Wikipedia. Lambert pic from ACBC
Amy Smith and I will be joint posting an important #metoo #churchtoo story on Friday. I plan to have it up by noon. After it is posted, I will be calling the churches and pastors involved in the story for comment. Please pray for the victim involved. She is one brave woman.
Heath Lambert’s 95 Theses of Biblical Counseling.
I decided that you all may be getting a bit bored with discussing the training (or lack thereof) for biblical counselors, so I decided to call attention to the following section of the ACBC Biblical Counseling website titled: 95 Theses for an Authentically Christian Commitment to Counseling. When I first saw the title, I thought “No, he wouldn’t be attempting to compare his thinking on biblical counseling to Martin Luther, would he?” Yep…
Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in October 1517. He was concerned that the Roman Catholic practice of indulgences undermined Scripture and its teaching on grace and genuine repentance. His act would spark a Reformation that witnessed a recovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
Sadly, he actually thinks that he is going to spark a revolution to debate about *grace in regards to counseling.*
Luther intended his Theses to spark a debate that the faithful needed to have about how the good news of Jesus Christ related to a critical area of church practice. My intent is similar in offering these 95 Theses.
My prayer is that the spirit of the Reformers to recover the emphasis on divine grace in their day would be the commitment that Christians would have today regarding counseling.
After I picked myself off the floor, stunned with Lambert’s audacity to compare his work to Luther’s remarkable accomplishment, I realized that anyone interested in the ACBC biblical counseling crowd needs to take a close look at both Luther’s 95 Theses and Lambert’s 95 ramblings.
A quick look at Luther
- Martin Luther’s 95 theses thew the Christianity of the time on its head.
- Luther pretty much stated, ” You don’t need to buy your way into Heaven.”
- This got others into questioning the purchase and use of indulgences. “Do I, or do I not have to pay someone else to secure my way in to Heaven?”
- Eventually, with the help of the printing press and Luther, people began to read the Bible for themselves instead of allowing the clergy in the Catholic Church to do it it for them.
- When people began to think for themselves they started realizing that the only relationship between God is the one between God and the individual. They realized they could live without the Church telling them what to think.
- We would probably all be Catholics today without Martin Luther.
- We would not have Protestantism without the Reformation of the way people viewed religion that Martin Luther sparked.
- We might still be under Papal Rule because the Reformation got people interested in the separating Church and State.
- America would not have been settled by the Puritan Pilgrims without Protestantism and ideas about freedom of religion.
- Luther revolutionized how people saw and interacted with God.
- Monks, nuns, and priests left the Church and got married.
- People made welfare systems for the poor, and public schools.
- People realized they had a direct line to God and they didn’t need anyone to pray for them.
- People saw that they could ask for forgiveness themselves and that Baptism and Holy Communion were the only two Sacraments they needed.
In 2000, I listened to NPR as they did their countdown on the most important people of the last 1000 years. Martin Luther came in at #2. #1 was actually not a person but The Gutenberg Press. However, both Luther and the Gutenberg Press had a synergistic relationship. Much of what the press printed in those early days were the works of Luther.
Basically, Martin Luther created an earthquake that changed the world. I have written a number of posts on Luther (long before I was a Lutheran.) My favorite blog post title was Martin Luther Did Not Follow Matthew 18. In that post I called him *the original blogger.*
Back to Heath Lambert and his 95 theses.
You can read my previous counseling posst for corroboration of all that I list here. So far, I have learned that Heath Lambert:
- Does not believe women can be on the board of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
- Does not believe that women should supervise biblical counselors
- Believes that complementarianism is the only mentally healthy construct for living.
- Believes that education from accredited schools of higher learning is not important.
- Believes that secular counselors also include Christian psychiatrists and psychologists who believe that research and education in proper counseling methods. He redefines “secular.”
- Views medical diagnosis and medication intervention to be suspect on many levels.
- Verbally attacked a colleague at SBTS who was actually an educated Christian psychologist.
This is the man who wishes to compare his thoughts on biblical counseling to Martin Luther’s world changing accomplishments. This is hubris and should be embarrassing on many levels.
Let’s take a look at some of his *world changing ideas.* I would ask that you read all of his 95 theses™ if you have the time. I am going to call out a few of them.
- 1. Christians in the twenty-first century live at a time when the counseling practice of many evangelical churches is marked by chaos and confusion regarding the nature of counseling.
I agree with him on this one. However, much of the chaos is being caused by biblical counselors with poor education. Since he did not prove what he said, I don’t have to either.
- 2. Secular therapy has defined the nature and terms of counseling for more than a hundred years, and Christians responding to its influence have been confounded by it—not knowing whether to consume this secular therapy in an undiluted form, to combine it in some way with resources from the Christian tradition, or to reject it entirely in favor of an approach that relies exclusively on scriptural resources.
Christians are too stupid to figure this out for themselves. They need help…and Lambert is there to help them.
- 4. It is a matter of urgency that Christians coalesce around an understanding of counseling that is authentically Christian (Col 3:14).
Why? Has he even proven the point that there is something wrong with with counseling as a whole yet? Also, what does he mean by *authentically Christian?* Lambert attacked a Christian brother was was an authentic Christian who believes that psychology has something to offer Christians. It seems to me that Lambert means that we need to coalesce around Heath Lambert’s definition of this term.
His Bible verse doesn’t help in the least. “It says And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” NIV. This verse is talking about love, not biblical counseling. I.hate. proof texts and so do many people who care about careful biblical elucidation.
- 5. A commitment to counseling that is authentically Christian requires believers in Christ to understand the nature of counseling, which resources must be used in counseling, and to possess growing skill in caring for people in need of counseling.
I have already shown that people involved n the biblical counseling movement do not seem to have an adequate education. Some of the resources that are recommended are a but sketchy. For example, they recommend a book that discusses spanking an 8 month old baby. As for growing skills, seriously? Wait until you read my post on the *training centers.* Once again, I believe it is Heath Lambert who is the one the gets to sign off on the *correct* resources.
- 10. The subject matter of counseling conversations is the wisdom needed to deal with life’s problems, and so counseling is not a discipline that is fundamentally informed by science, but by the teaching found in God’s Word.
Watch what he did with this one. I wonder if he ever took a course on logic and reasoning? He does not prove this statement at all. He claims the subject matter of counseling deals with wisdom that only comes from the Bible. However, counseling also involves diagnosing conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, etc. Just like the Bible does not tell us how to diagnose cardiac disease, even thought the Bible discusses *heart* issues, the Bible does not explain how to deal with mental illness.
- 11. When the Bible claims to address all the issues concerning life and godliness, it declares itself to be a sufficient and an authoritative resource to address everything essential for counseling conversations (2 Pet 1:3-4).
The Bible does not claim to discuss all issues concerning life. As for godliness, it does not fully discuss issues retaining to godliness in a way that prevents basic disagreement between Christians. For example, look at Matthew 18. This has been used in all sorts of ways, including destructive ways, in order to promote a *godly* Christian environment in a church. Heath Lambert used his power to go after a brother who simply disagreed with him on Christians and psychology.
Let’s look at his proof text from Peter.
” His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.NIV”
How does this verse deal with mental illness? Christians desire to lead a godly life but are also subject to issues such as serious depression. For example, today I spoke to a woman who was sexually molested by a pastor. She had a breakdown and became suicidal a few years later. She was treated in a psychiatric hospital with a combination of medications and counseling.
There is little doubt in my mind that ill- educated Biblical counselors are not adequately trained to deal with situations such as this. In fact, if they attempted to do so, I believe that they would most likely have a tragedy on their hands.
- 12. Christians must not separate the authority of Scripture for counseling from the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling because, if Scripture is to be a relevant authority, then it must be sufficient for the struggles people face as they live life in a fallen world (2 Pet 1:3-21).
The Bible is not sufficient for the struggles that people face as they live life in the fallen world if one is discussing thing beyond the spiritual. The Bible is not sufficient if one needs food and water. If one is starving or dehydrated, the Bible can provide encouragement but it will not solve the physical issues. The same goes for mental illness.The Bible cannot cure schizophrenia. It cannot cure a nervous breakdown. As people get sufficient treatment, the Bible can be a source strength and encouragement in their trial.
Once again, this Bible verse is a proof text.
Wow-I am only through the first 12 of these *change the world as we know it” theses. I think I will need to continue on with the rest of these thoughts next week.
Some good articles written by Christians.
The superiority reflected in these theses are frankly off putting to me. I want to offer a few good articles to read on the subject of Christians and mental illness written by Christians who get the need for excellent psychological input for those struggling with mental illness.
- God of the Schizophrenic: This is my most favorite, all time mental health post written by a young man who is a Christian and a schizophrenic.
- When Your Spouse Is Mentally Ill: A Christian woman’s husband is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
- A New Approach to Mental Illness in the Church: Ed Stetzer throws a zinger at the Biblical counseling movement while pretending not to do so.
- Can a Christian Suffer from Mental Illness? The author suggests many resources.
Parting thought: Isn’t there anyone around these guys to tell them “Don’t try to compare yourself to Martin Luther?” Don’t. go. there.