Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Counseling and Special Revelation: The Doctrines of the Scriptures - Jay E. Adams

Where were Christians before Freud? Up a tree? Were they bereft of all crucial knowledge about man's relationship to God and his neighbor? Was the church's counseling a hopeless, primitive, stone-age activity that should have disappeared with flint knives? Were Christians shut up to sinful, harmful living before the advent of psychotherapy? Did God withhold truth for living until our present age?

Or did men like Paul, Peter, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon and many others have something worthwhile to say to their converts and parishioners about how to live in a sinful world and about how to solve problems? Isn't the answer apparent?

Drop the question in that form for a moment if it's too hot to handle, and consider this (even hotter) one: How did Jesus Christ become the perfect Counselor that the Scriptures report Him to be apart from the "insights" of clinical psychology and psychiatry that we are now assured by unbelievers (and many Christians who follow them) are essential to effective counseling?

A moment's reflection should make one thing abundantly clear -- the Old Testament adequately supplied Jesus with all the knowledge and wisdom necessary for Him to counsel others unerringly. He was not inadequately supplied, but (as Paul once put it) "thoroughly equipped for every good work"1 by those writings. So too, following the Lord, the church (whenever she has been faithful in this matter) has found the Bible to be a rich, inexhaustible source of information for its counseling ministry.

Again, we must return to the concept of God's Word as counsel (we must never forget that this is one of its prime functions). No wonder, then, that David (in Ps. 119:24) referred to the Bible as his "counselor." Nor should we wonder that, in contrasting what he learned there with human wisdom, he declared that scriptural counsel had made him wiser than all his teachers!2

So, there should be no question about the fundamental function of the Bible as God's counsel to men, or about the pastor's duty to use it in a ministry of shepherdly counseling.3 Part of any ministry of the Word is a ministry of counseling.

In this chapter I shall discuss the relationship of certain aspects of the doctrine of Scripture to a ministry of counseling.

First, let us understand plainly that the biblical doctrine of the inerrancy of the Scriptures has important implications for counseling. The Christian counselor has a Book that is the very Word of the living God, written in the styles of the individual writers, who (through the superintendence of the Holy Spirit) were kept free from all errors that otherwise would have crept into their writings, and who, by His providential direction, produced literature that expressed not only what they themselves wanted to say, but what God wanted to say through them, so that (at once) these writings could be said to be Jeremiah's or the Holy Spirit's.4 This is a God-breathed book. (The word translated "inspired" means, literally, "breathed out by God." "Inspired" means "breathed in.") When God says that He breathed out His Word, He means that what is written is as much His Word as if He had spoken it audibly by means of breath. If the reader could hear God speak, he would find that God said nothing more, nothing less, nothing different from what is written.5

Counsel drawn from a book like this adds a note of authority to counseling. When faced with plain proposals for sin ("Can I leave my wife for another woman?"), questions about behavior ("Must I pay taxes when they are so unfair?"), etc., the Christian counselor can give an unequivocal answer because it is based not upon his own opinion, upon the probabilities of the consequences, expediency or any other such relative standard, but upon the commandment of the living God, who has spoken.

This makes a tremendous difference. The ministry of the Word in counseling, as a result, is totally unlike counseling in any other system because of its authoritative base. This authoritative character stems, of course, from the doctrine of inerrancy. If the Bible were shot through with human error, and were no more dependable than any other composition -- if it were not a God-breathed revelation -- this note of authority would give way to opinion.6 But, because the Bible is inerrant, there is authority.

Continued Here


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