Dedicated to ACBC and SBTS: Some people say I’m unique, that there aren’t other people with schizophrenia like me. Well, there are people like me out there, but the stigma is so great that they don’t come forward. Elyn Saks
TWW posts on ACBC’
- Part 1: The Biblical Counseling Movement and Timberlake Baptist Church and Counseling Center
- What is the Difference Between Nouthetic and Biblical Counseling? Just the Spelling.
- Biblical Counseling Training: Inadequate Education, Problematic Resources and Questionably Educated Leaders
- Heath Lambert Channels Martin Luther (As If) and Writes the 95 Theses of Biblical Counseling
- Heath Lambert’s 95 Theses of Biblical Counseling Reminds Me of Bob’s Advice in Stranger Things 2: It’s All Easy Peasy.
- John Piper and Heath Lambert of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Views of the Mind Demonstrate Why We Have a Problem With the Biblical Counseling Movement
- Biblical Counseling: Anyone Can Do It, Sin Is the Focus, Confidentiality Is Not Guaranteed and Women Should Beware
- Another Reason to Avoid Biblical Counseling: Confidentiality Is Not Guaranteed When Sin™ Is Involved
- Julie’s Story, Part 1: Of Domestic Abuse, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and Cross Walk Church, Appleton, WI
- Julie’s Story Part 2: Shame on ACBC and Cross Walk Pastors. They Failed Julie and Then Blamed Her For Not Reporting Child Abuse Sooner
Trigger warning for those who suffer mental illness or for those who love them.
Over the past week, Julie’s story has been getting much attention and will get even more next week. The part of her story that concerned me was the obvious lack of training inherent in the ACBC system. I have been discussing this for several years now but nothing, and I mean nothing, has demonstrated it any better than Julie’s experience. Today, I want to delve into ACBC a bit more. I will finish off this post with a look at how they view schizophrenia. Let me warn those of you who have struggled with this disorder/disease or any of the other similar infirmities, this post will most likely trigger you. Not because of what I believe but because of what ACBC (Association of *Certified* Biblical Counselors) or what is taught during the counseling degree process at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Yes, this stuff is floating around the Southern Baptist crowd and it is disturbing, to say the least. I’ll show you.
Before we begin, let me reassure those of you who struggle. You will find acceptance and understanding at TWW. Yes, there will be a few *certified* biblical counselors who may try to explain their nonsense. Their views are outside the mainstream and are founded on a bunch of presuppositions of what the Bible says. I believe that they are wrong, unbiblical, and in many instances, they can be dangerous.
The history and current-day affiliations between ACBC and SBTS
If you were to consider receiving a Masters of Arts in *Biblical Counseling* (as it is called by SBTS,) you would find that the ACBC teachings are recommended during your course of study.
What you would no be told, at this point, is that the so-called *certification* by ACBC is not recognized by any professional organization outside of a particular church that may allow one to counsel or some *biblical counseling* groups that will allow you to practice without a license. But beware. Read Julie’s story listed above.
Heath Lambert is arguably the most important person in bringing ACBC to the fore and, especially, in tying it to SBTS. If one were to look at Lambert’s training, one would find that he has only received training in theological studies. He has NO medical/psychological training whatsoever.
Heath earned a bachelor of arts (B.A.) in biblical and theological studies and political science from Gordon College in 2002, a master of divinity (M.Div.) in Christian Ministry from Southern Seminary in 2005, and a doctorate (Ph.D.) in biblical counseling and systematic theology from Southern Seminary in 2009.
In 2016 he ditched his gig at ACBC, as well as his professorship at SBTS, to become a senior pastor of the rather infamous FBC Jacksonville.
ACBC rejects psychology in any form.
I have written rather extensively on ACBC’s training of counselors (*see list at top of the post.) Today I took a look at their membership covenant which clearly expresses the disdain of this group for the study of psychology. What is particularly disturbing about this statement is that they appear to lump in all of their Christian brothers and sisters, who study and practice psychology, in with unbelievers!! There appears to be no case for Christians in this field if ACBC is to be believed.
In order to be a *certified*counselor with this group, one must affirm this entire covenant to be true.
We deny that the findings of secular psychology make any essential contribution to biblical counseling.
God’s goodness allows that secular psychology may provide accurate research and make observations that are helpful in understanding counseling issues. Because unbelievers suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness the efforts of secular psychology at interpreting these observations lead to misunderstanding. Because their observations are distorted by a secular apprehension of life their efforts at counseling ministry will be in competition with biblical counseling. They cannot be integrated with the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
In order to be a *certified*counselor with this group, one must affirm this to be true.
Medicine, the mind and ACBC
For those of you who like to read really confusing, poorly explained, and medically insufficient material when it comes to counseling problems, I have no better example than the one on the ACBC website titled Mental Illness and Medicine. Do you know why the specialty of psychiatry exists? Psychiatrists have completed and passed the boards for an MD. Then, they do one year in internal medicine or family practice residency to understand how disease manifests itself in clinical settings. Then they proceed to their 3-4 years of psychiatry residency training, sometimes adding on more years to subspecialize. Psychiatrists are trained to understand the physical, chemical, and biological. They also understand what is clearly a psychological process without any biological components. Do you see any similar rigorous training by the leaders of ACBC or SBTS seminary?
So, given this, how in the world does a person who is poorly trained in counseling (see above post on the training process for ACBC counselors) make the following decisions found under the above linked Mental Illness and Medicine?
Biblical counselors shall encourage the use of physical examinations and testing by physicians for diagnosis of medical problems, the treatment of these problems, and the relief of symptoms, which might cause, contribute to, or complicate counseling issues.
Biblical counselors shall be committed to counseling those with medical problems, but should not attempt to practice medicine without the formal qualifications and licensing to do so. When they have questions or concerns of a medical nature they should refer their counselee to a competent medical professional for diagnosis and treatment.
How do they know what is and is not a medical problem? How do they even know how to ask the question? Even more difficult, how do they know if the physician is practicing *biblical counseling malpractice* by diagnosing something that is a *no-no* in ACBC’s rather bizarre spiritual world? I don’t think they can and I think these counselors can be quite dangerous when confronted by difficult situations. For example, how do they know the difference between real postpartum depression which has a physiological component, postpartum psychosis which is an emergency, and simple * baby blues?* Then, let’s say the consulted (if they had enough knowledge to do so which they don’t) OB/GYN has concerns, refers the patient to psychiatry to figure out what meds might work for a rapidly developing psychosis and the patient returns with meds and followup with a trained psychiatrist? Does the ill-trained counselor tell the patient to stop the meds, ignore psychiatry and just *buck up?*
The best example comes from ACBC’s view of Biblical intervention for schizophrenia
This posting on the ACBC website on 1/19/21 was a gift to all of us. Biblical Answers for Schizophrenia: Is schizophrenia a biological or a spiritual issue?
Whenever you read a paper or posting always check to see the background of the person who is being held up as an expert.
John is a professor of biblical counseling at The Master’s University and Seminary, and he serves as the chairman of the Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling program. Prior to coming to this program, he taught at Cedarville and Cornerstone Universities. John also served as a pastor for 22 years, and as a church-planter in Ohio. He completed seminary at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and earned his doctoral degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Currently, he is an elder at Grace Church and serves as co-pastor of the Joint Heirs fellowship group.
He has NO medical background. Remember that.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he graduated with a Master of Divinity in 2005. For seven years after seminary, he served as Associate Pastor of Family Life at Raiford Road Church in his hometown of Macclenny, FL. After a call from God to pursue post-graduate work, he completed the Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Seminary in 2014, while serving in the Biblical Counseling Department of the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries until coming to Midwestern Seminary in January 2019.
Johnson also serves as the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors,
Again, NO medical background whatsoever.
Folks, we are dealing with people who are ignorant of the medical field, making judgments on who is or who is not in need of medical attention. And that should worry you. So, should you go to these folks when you are experiencing schizophrenic symptons? Even worse, should you go to one of their *certified* counselors in your local church who has gone through what I believe to be a substandard training program?
Take a look at what they say in this article on schizophrenia.
We’ve got to take seriously what happens in the body, and we’ve got to make sure that there are no physiological problems masquerading as a kind of spiritual problem. That’s going to be critical for a good biblical counselor to do and to check out.
Later in the segment:
The first one is we have to make sure that we are ruling out organic issues that are there. That is consistent with biblical counseling in our history.
I disagree. There is no way that a biblical counselor in the community trained by ACBC as a weekend warrior counselor is in any position to consistently spot or realize that someone has a physiological problem requiring the need of MD intervention. The problem is that they are not trained to be able to know when someone is ill. As a trained nurse I was involved in home health nursing. I was often called into situations in the home that I found confusing. It is only through the training that I received that I was able to spot the subtleties. These *certified* counselors don’t have what is needed.
Let’s look at what these biblical experts have to say about schizophrenia and compare it to medical experts. Are the Biblical experts telling us the truth?
Do psychiatrists/psychologists claim that schizophrenia is only a physical disease?
I think we have to be very careful about professionals who want to label this only as a physical disease.
Look what the NIH/NIMH has to say on the subject of Schizophrenia. The people in these institutions have far more training than Johnson and Street. Not only do they understand the potential physical causes, the need for medication but they also recognize the need for psychosocial and family intervention.
Is there a problem with the disease diagnosis?
When you label it a disease, then you begin to believe that change is possible only through some kind of drug regimen.
Take alcohol use disorder (aka alcoholism.) According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a person most likely needs medication while going through withdrawal in order to prevent seizures and other issues. There are a couple of medications that are helpful in reducing the urge to drink. However, it is well known that long term counseling and psychosocial support groups are needed in the aftermath of withdrawal.
Delusions: It is in this area we begin to see the breakdown of the lack of medical training.
the biblical view of delusion is that it is a highly desirable false view of reality that people have allowed themselves to believe and if maintained it will eventually end in madness.
From the NIH-Understanding Delusions:
- A delusion is a belief that is clearly false and that indicates an abnormality in the affected person’s content of thought. The false belief is not accounted for by the person’s cultural or religious background or his or her level of intelligence. The key feature of a delusion is the degree to which the person is convinced that the belief is true.
- Delusions can be difficult to distinguish from overvalued ideas, which are unreasonable ideas that a person holds, but the affected person has at least some level of doubt as to its truthfulness. A person with a delusion is absolutely convinced that the delusion is real.
- The last decade has witnessed a particular intensification of research on delusions, with cognitive neuroscience-based approaches providing increasingly useful and testable frameworks from which to construct a better understanding of how cognitive and neural systems are involved.
In fact our understanding has increased to the extent that soon:
Taking this translational approach will enhance our understanding of psychotic symptoms and may move us closer to the consilience between the biology and phenomenology of delusions.
Which of these two make more sense: ACBC or the intensive study ongoing by extensively trained medical experts?
When it gets tough to know what to do, tell the counselees that you know they’re faking their delusions!!!!
Unfortunately, when the going gets tough, biblical pastors/counselors can always appeal to the time that David faked his madness. In fact, biblical counselors take it lots further.
Fearful expectations can cause a person to deceitfully impersonate delusional madness. I mean, we can see this in first Samuel 21 with David. David feigned that he was mad. And why did he do it? Because fear was ruling and dominating his life for a time. Or Scripture tells us that sustained oppression, life crisis situations, and disobedience to the truth will often result in mental impairment.
…The Bible also tells us that a mentally unstable person can be seen in disorganized and sometimes very harmful personal behavior, so we have to take that into account as well.
So, if a weekend warrior biblical counselor can rule out psychosis from neurosyphilis and the like (read the article) then, the counselee is probably faking it!!!! This is dangerous and continues to convince me that ACBC counseling is poorly conceived by people without sufficient training to understand just how much they don’t know.
It gets worse. Did you know that, according to ACBC, most schizophrenics are not even Christians even if they think they are?!!
And isn’t this the perfect excuse for charlatans? They claim that a person isn’t saved so they can blow off the pain and suffering that a counselee is experiencing is due to the fact that they are not Christians.
The other issue is as a biblical counselor you’ve got to begin with the gospel. You really do because that’s the most loving thing that can be done, and it’s the most hopeful thing that can be done. You begin with a gospel, no matter how well you think you know the person that you’re counseling. Because the overwhelming number of schizophrenics may say that they’re Christian, but they are really not believers. God’s Word must determine their view of reality—not their voices or not what they see in their visions.
In fact, this line of reasoning is as despicable as it is unproven. Careful research in this area is sadly lacking and judgementalism is overwhelming. I have a family member who clung to the Gospel during her delusions and diagnosis. Yet, ACBC claims and SBTS supports that, even if she thought she was a Christian, she probably wasn’t. It must be nice being able to ghostwrite for the Book of Life. Here is one person who agrees with me.
- ACBC’s untrained counselors in churches should be able to figure out when something is physiological in origin and consult physicians. I say they can’t. They don’t have the training.
- ACBC, and by extension, SBTS make claims about the beliefs of psychiatrists/psychologists which are easily refuted if one believes that the NIH knows more than ACBC.
- The leaders in ACBC/SBTS have no medical training. They are biblicists.
- According to ACBC/SBTS, delusions and madness are often faked. The Bible tells us so.
- According to ACBC/SBTS, most schizophrenics are not Christians. In my opinion, people with mental illness should never receive counseling from ACBC or anyone who graduated from SBTS in the counseling program.
- Do the leaders in the SBC know what SBTS and ACBC are saying and doing?
- is the SBC prepared to announce that anyone with schizophrenia is probably not a Christian?
Let me leave you with a thought submitted by a clinical psychologist (Ph.D.) who is involved in medication trials.
While our current science quite honesty leaves much for our continued research as to the etiology and most effective treatment for many/most of these disorders, the reduction to “sin” is objectionable on numerous grounds. iIhave often wondered (and occasionally expressed) as to the frequency of medication use by these same pastors for disorders like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, weight loss and the like (valid medical conditions with effective treatments) when “sinful” choices related to eating, exercise, and the like may have in fact caused or contributed to those conditions as well. This kind of hypocrisy is all to rampant in the church, as you have documented for years. Psychiatric disorders are complex, multifactorial, and usually impossible to explain easily.
I laughed so hard, coffee got all over my screen.
On Monday, I will demonstrate how the ACBC leaders will throw their counselors under the bus. I have proof and it ain’t pretty.