“When I’m at the bottom looking up, the main question may not be ‘how do I get out of this hole?’ In reality, the main question might be ‘how do I get rid of the shovel that I used to dig it?” ― A View From the Front Porch: Encounters With Life and Jesus
When I saw the Christian counseling group removes Grace Community Church pastor from approved counselors list at The Christian Post, I started laughing out loud, scaring the pugs before I realized that the sort of counseling, as offered by Shannon, has wounded so many people, including my good friend, Julie Anne Smith. First, let me explain why I laughed.
ACBC is a counseling group I have read about and written about at length. It is an organization that, in my opinion, thinks it trains average folks in the pew “to be counselors.” Here are some posts regarding this counseling group, which “certifies” anyone.
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!
Let me summarize some of my findings, which you can read above.
- It is sin-focused.In other words, efforts might be made to constantly blame sin for causing one’s problems. In other words, it’s your fault.
- There is no guarantee of confidentiality, which means they might tattle about your sin to your pator.
- The training is seriously inadequate, in my opinion. This means the counselor may not know what they are doing.
- If a new counselor makes a mistake due to inadequate training, the leaders may “disavow any knowledge of their actions.”
- People who have delusions may be faking it according to some of their material.
- A person may not be a Christian if they are diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
- The beliefs of this supposedly new and improved group appear to be similar to those of nouthetic counseling. (Cue dark and eery music.)
- Women better beware of their “place” since there appears to be a solid patriarchal bent.
- Counselors are not licensed. ACBC claims they are certified, but it is certification from within this organization- in other words, fake.(Dee hides out with the pugs under the kitchen table.)
Due to my reading, I do not recommend that anyone should seek the counsel of an approved ACBC counselor. Instead, I suggest that one seeks those who have an MSW, MS, or PhD in psychology or an MD who is boarded in psychiatry. I have sought help from some of those I mentioned.
I believe much of the training offered and accepted through ACBC is worth very little and could possibly dangerous to the counselee
Why I laughed?
Since I have a low opinion of ACBC, I thought, “Shannon sure hit the skids. How low can you go?” He lost an accreditation by this unrecognized “biblical” group? I’m sure the boys at GCC are laughing into their soup.
What’s the back story?
According to the Christian Post:
Grace Community Church (GCC) garnered controversy in February when a former elder named Hohn Cho shared concerns about GCC siding with abusers against their victims.
The letter, which was authored by Cho and written in September, explains that the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors recently removed Pastor Bill Shannon, who oversees Grace’s biblical counseling ministry, from their list of approved counselors and as an ACBC fellow.
Readers: beware of this phrase “Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC.)”
I cannot stress this enough. This group is not a recognized licensing group like those who confer MSWs, PhDs, etc. It is, in my opinion, deceptive to say they removed Shannon from their list of approved counselors. Remember, this is one of those Christian made-up groups conferring their rinky-dink title on some poor person who thinks they are now counselors after taking a few weekend courses and reading some suspect books. Read my posts above. If your counselor has this ACBC title, you are most likely not getting a professional counselor. Beware. They may be spilling your private talks to your pastor.
Grace Church is still an ACBC-approved training center, but they are investigating concerns.
The Christian Post states:
Although ACBC continues to recognize GCC as an approved training center for counseling, the counseling organization is also investigating complaints against the megachurch regarding its counseling practices.
One situation that is undoubtedly being investigated is The Roys Report’s EXCLUSIVE: John MacArthur Shamed, Excommunicated Mother for Refusing to Take Back Child Abuser. If you haven’t read this post, you must do so to understand what appears to be the depravity of the counseling at GCC. It appears to be so bad that ACBC is nervous and it takes a lot to get their attention.
From The Christian Post:
MacArthur shamed and excommunicated a mother in 2002 for filing for separation from her husband, David Gray, a former music and Bible teacher at GCC, who was later convicted of child molestation.
When the woman reported Gray’s abusive behavior to GCC, according to the report, GCC leaders allegedly never reported the allegations against Gray to authorities and even harassed the mother to change her mind about the separation.
From The Roys Report:
Eileen testified that she then met with GCC Pastor Bill Shannon and another GCC leader and told them about her husband’s abuse.
Eileen told The Roys Report that in this first meeting, Shannon did not offer to help. Instead, he accused Eileen of sinning by going to the law against a brother, Eileen said. Shannon added that the protective order violated 1 Corinthians 7:10, which instructs women not to separate from their husbands, Eileen testified.
The Roys Report also mentioned the lack of training for some of the counselors.
Shannon met privately with David, and then the church arranged for Eileen to stay with a church family until the protective order went into effect. Eileen testified in court that as a condition of receiving this help from GCC, the church required her and David to attend marriage counseling with Carey Hardy.
Hardy has an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary but no professional counseling credentials.
Here are Hardy’s thoughts on this matter. This is a reason I do not recommend this type of counseling.
However, in an official court declaration in 2002 concerning Eileen’s legal separation from David Gray, Hardy stated: “I am of the opinion that Eileen simply doesn’t like David . . . and is using what she alleges to have happened with the children as leverage to put David out of their lives.”
Hardy accused Eileen in the declaration of having “a tendency to exaggerate” and exercising “faulty logic and irrational thinking.”
In contrast, Hardy said David Gray was “fairly laid back” and that after several monitored visits between David and his children, “our church concluded that monitors were not necessary.”
In another situation, TRR reported:
Another woman shared of how MacArthur and the church covered up a her father’s sexual abuse for decades. Her father, who was then a pastor at the church, confessed his abuse to MacArthur. Yet, her father continued to work at GCC for three more years following his confession to MacArthur. MacArthur later encouraged the woman to forgive her father and drop her “obsession” to hold her father accountable.
Former elder Hohn Cho reported GCC to ACBC.
The Roys Report wrote: Grace Community Church Pastor Removed as Approved Biblical Counselor. I quibble a bit with the title “Approved Biblical Counselor.” ACBC “approved” is meaningless and is not recognized outside of certain evangelical circles.
Cho has previously shared concerns about GCC and its counseling practices. Last February, Cho confirmed with Christianity Today reporting by TRR that GCC and MacArthur side with abusers against their victims. And he accused the influential California megachurch of “awful patterns” of endangering victims.
Cho reportedly discovered multiple cases of GCC’s counseling women to return to their abusers.
GCC doesn’t give two hoots what anyone thinks about what they did in their counseling program!
Here is a link to A Statement from Our Elders
The following is a statement from the Grace Church elders regarding recent headlines about past counseling cases:
Grace Church’s elders do not publicly discuss details arising from counseling and discipline cases—especially on social media. Nor do we litigate disputes about such matters in online forums. Grace Church deals with accusations personally and privately in accordance with biblical principles. We do not respond to attacks, lies, misrepresentations, and anonymous accusations. Our church’s history and congregation are the testimony. Myriads of Grace Church members who have sought counsel at our church will testify that the counsel they receive is biblical, charitable, supportive, and liberating.
TWW and Julie Anne Smith:
Julie Anne and I spoke this afternoon. She reminded me that she called Bill Shannon when her former pastor sued her. She was slowly waking up to problems in evangelical circles when it comes to counseling. She reminded me that Shannon told her he would only speak to her husband since the husband has the authority in the family. At that point, her now former husband was still listening to sermons by the “suing” pastor. Shannon’s counsel deeply hurt her, and she was sad, but not surprised to hear of others who were wounded as well.
Some final thoughts:
- GCC knows this “approved ” list is a nothing burger. They will claim they have GCC-approved counselors, and the game goes on.
- I believe that those hurt by Shannon’s counseling are telling the truth. I think this counseling is not only awful but evil. Telling a woman to stay with the abuser of her kids? Sick! Will anyone repent, or is that a secret, too?
- I want to know who is running the show at GCC. I wonder if Phil Johnson knows?
- Is the congregation so enamored of MacArthur that they don’t recognize a pattern of sin in the leadership? Why aren’t some of the tithers standing up? Are they afraid they will not be considered “one of the elect?”
- Given the Statement from the Elders, one may assume that counseling at GCC is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
- Avoid any form of biblical counseling, be it ACBC or GCC. If one is determined to try it, first get some counseling from a licensed counselor.
- Remember that this form of counseling, ACBC or GCC, is not licensed. Always, for your safety, find a good, licensed counselor. Many of them are also Christian.
- If you need to discuss medications, you need to see a board certified psychiatrist who is the only one who can prescribe meds. There are lots of Christians who are also psychiatrists,
- If you have shizophrenia and follow Jesus, you are a Christian, no matter what they say.
- If you have delusions, please see a psychiatrist. You are not making those up.
- In my opinion, I would never, ever get counseling from GCC or ACBC counselors.