You never look good trying to make someone else look bad. Unknown
TWW posts on ACBC: The length of this list shows my devotion to exposing the problems with this movement.
- 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
- Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: People With Delusions May Be Faking It and Christians With Schizophrenia Are Probably Not Christians!
I believe that most people who want to become *biblical counselors* are nice people who want to help others. However, due to the shoddy training that they receive, they are not prepared for the difficult cases that will inevitably come their way. When I decided I wanted to help people by becoming a nurse, I was downright naive. I didn’t know a thing about sterile technique, how to care for wounds, how to assess a patient’s ability to give assent to a procedure, etc. I didn’t know about septic shock, postpartum infections, how to care for a patient on a ventilator, and on and on and on. I attended a BSN program that was certified by the state and by the nursing association. I spent four years taking courses from anatomy and physiology to critical care nursing. I spent long days working on the floors of hospitals under expert supervision. I watched classmates fail and be unable to finish their course of study. This went on for four years. Then, I was required to pass an exam given by the state to make sure I had enough education to be safe to practice. When I entered the profession, I was green and needed supervision. However, on the day I encountered my first child abuse case, I was ready. I also had a supervisor who reviewed my actions and advised me of some steps I hadn’t considered taking. I eventually became an experienced nurse in this area.
My fellow friends who liked social work followed a similar course of study to obtain a Masters of Social Work. Their 5-6 years of training prepared them for the day they first encountered child abuse and domestic violence. Many of them had supervisors to support them and review their case files in the beginning.
It is my opinion that the ACBC counselor who completes the course of training (see links above) is woefully unprepared for the breadth and depth of the counseling issues that may be presented in their churches. In the above links, I wrote about what I believe to be the inadequate education that is offered to people who pursue certification through the ACBC group. It is particularly startling to me that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary encourages its Masters of Counseling students to pursue *certification* through the ACBC program. The certification is meaningless for those who know better. The only ones who think such certification matters are those in churches who are uneducated as to the training (or lack thereof.)
Think about it. ACBC will certify Masters of Counseling students from SBTS as well as Aunt Minnie who hasn’t received any relevant education at all. Does this make any sense? Jay Adams wrote a book called Competent to Counsel. I read that book a long time ago. When I finished, I thought “This man is incompetent to counsel!” Back then I was concerned about the lack of training. I still am. Don’t get me wrong. We all counsel our friends and children in their day to day lives. We are there for their ups and downs and are their stalwart supporters during times of crisis. But, and this is a big but, unless we have specific training we are not prepared to offer advice in difficult situations. We can be supportive but no much more. However, difficult and complex situations need trained experts.
Please read the post in the list above that deals with the embarrassingly sparse training these folks get. Then, they are thrown into incompetent churches with authority-driven pastors who offer inadequate advice, supervision, and expertise. I have a feeling that there are many instances of insufficient and dangerous counseling going on in these churches in which pastors actually believe that people are faking delusions! (See my last post in the above list.)
What do we know about those in charge of ACBC? They are All men with theological degrees and no intensive psychological training.
They don’t have one person on their board or running their organization who have anything more than some sort of theological degree. I decided to check out these MEN (no women allowed) to prevent you, dear reader, from having to check them out, I looked at all of the men who are trustees of this august institution. Not one of them has training outside of seminaries. None of them have any medical training or a Ph.D. in psychology yet they claim to say that people with delusions are faking it and people with schizophrenia are not Christians. (See the previous post, linked above.) This is worrisome, both for the average counselor in the church as well as for the one being counseled.
Do these pastors and instructors support the people who get certified by their program?
Julie’s experience is indicative of the serious problem inherent in this system. It is important to understand that there is no licensure that is recognized by any group outside of the church. This is a standard made up of a bunch of pastors who themselves have no standardized training. Yet they use the word *certified* to make it sound legitimate.
Julie, as a woman, was trained by her church to be directly responsible to the pastors of the church and to her husband. This sort of teaching is supported by ACBC. The following is from a post linked above.
2. Husbands are an authority to which the wives must submit. Think about this in terms of abuse.
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.
3. The counselor must stress submission of the client to spiritual authority.Think about this in terms of abuse.
Biblical counselors must help their counselees to submit to the authority of their church. God has gifted his church with ministers to shepherd the souls of his people. These shepherds have real spiritual authority that must be followed when it is discharged biblically. Biblical counselors see this authority as a blessing from God given for the good of his people, and therefore endeavor to help their counselees embrace it.
4. Confidentiality is definitely not guaranteed. Make sure you understand this. It appears they are claiming that submission to authority potentially means that the counselor could tell a pastor, church leader, or a husband. Abuse should be reported to the state but this clause gives a much broader audience who can receive reports. Caveat Emptor, folks!
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.
Julie was put between a rock and a hard place: She was blamed by ACBC for following her pastors (which is supported in their teachings.) Her ACBC pastors, who allegedly told her not to report the abuse, were let off the hook by the pastor-centric ACBC.
Julie functioned as a counselor in her church system which taught her to be in submission to her pastors. The pastors allegedly did not want her to report her concerns to the authorities about Gutenberger’s daughter. Her church’s membership statement said she is to submit to those pastors. Here is a quote from the church’s membership statement that Julie sent to Stuart Scott.
Notice that these verses teach that the godly leaders are placed “over” Christians who are commanded to submit to their leadership with respect. Some might argue that these believers are to submit with respect only when their godly leaders teach them obedience to overt biblical commands. However, a closer look at the text gives us a better view. If the issue were the clear commands of Scripture, then it only stands to reason that the text would have said something like “obey the scripture as your leaders teach it to you”. However, because the text says nothing about submission to the scripture but simply states that Christians are to obey and submit to their leaders who keep watch over their souls, we can accurately deduce that there are things which are\not clearly taught in Scripture which Christians should respectfully submit to
Julie submitted her concerns to ACBC. She received a series of letters from Stuart Scott of ACBC saying she should have reported to the authorities anyway since that is the position of ACBC. However, ACBC plays both ends against the middle. A woman is to obey her pastors but then the woman is to obey ACBC which says her pastor is the head of the church. Confused much?
The pastors said that she should not report the abuse to the authorities. When she reported this to ACBC, Stuart Scott claimed it was not the responsibility of the pastors to report because they did not have first-hand knowledge. Yet, Julie pointed out that the ACBC standards say otherwise.
Something very important to note is this quote from their ACBC standards that Stuart included:
“• If there is a claim of, the observance of, or clear reasonable cause to suspect the emotional, physical or sexual abuse of a child with whom Counselor comes into contact or who is associated with someone to whom Counselor is in contact with, reasonable measures may be taken to ensure the child’s protection and to fulfill the legal mandate to report such harm to the appropriate governmental protection agencies.”
This right here shows that Pastor Pat had a DIRECT responsibility to report the abuse of Gutenberger’s daughter to authorities according to ACBC’s own standards. I was being used as a scapegoat. They are clearly blame shifting his responsibili
Scott spoke with the pastors from Cross Walk. He refused to share with Julie what the pastors told him, claiming the pastors thought it unwise. In other words, Julie had no right to know what the pastors said! ACBC appears to be protecting the good old pastors’ network.
Did Stuart Scott threaten Julie and let the pastors off the hook? Seems so to me.
Julie shared this correspondence with Stuart Scott.
(ed. note:Stuart to Julie) “I think that I should also take the opportunity to be sure you are clear about reporting. You said: “I did not report this to CPS until TEN MONTHS LATER when I left the church in September, 2019.”
The underlined portion of our Standard of Conduct IX indicates that your reasoning for not reporting does go against Scripture and our Standards, which require that if any authority is telling one to go against what God requires, he or she are to “…obey God rather than man.” (Acts 5:29). Since the law requires that a counselor report a concern immediately, you were not in compliance with the laws of the state nor ACBC Standards during your time of not reporting. I thought this would be information you would want to know for discreetness going forward. Hopefully, (and we rather assume) this has since been clearer to you, for your protection and that of others.”
(Ed. note:Julie I immediately felt threatened. To me, that said, “you better be silent or you will be the one in trouble.” Was Stuart really intimidating me into shutting up? Yes, I think so.
I replied one more time. I told him that I was glad he agreed that this was something that should be reported. I said I wasn’t hiding from my responsibility here and that I was looking forward to him answering the rest of my questions. There has been no reply.
This response by Scott was disturbing to me. The pastors were protected. Julie was left hanging in the wind. She was trained to submit her to her pastors and then told she wasn’t supposed to do this.
Julie was an untrained counselor who was put at the mercy of a system that is woefully inadequate and self-contradictory. Women can be counselors but are to be submitted to their pastors. They are also expected her to handle a highly complex case of child abuse without sufficient training. To make matters worse, the church encouraged her to remain in an abusive relationship with her husband for years before she finally stopped listening to the pastors. She left her abusive marriage, reported the abuse to Child Protective Services, and reported her ACBC pastors to ACBC whICH did absolutely nothing except blame her. But then again, the ACBC system is set up by pastors and ruled by pastors. Guess who was protected and guess who’ was thrown under the bus in this system? Guests who is protected in this system and guess who is expendable? And guess what little girl who continued to be abused while the boys were rubbing each others’ backs?
I would highly recommend that people think twice before becoming ACBC counselors unless they like the view of the road from under the bus.
I called both the church and ACBC’s Stuart Scott. I received no answer.
FYI: There are more developments regarding this situation and we will keep readers informed.