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What is Biblical Counseling?

Introduction to Biblical Counseling  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Purpose of our Series

The History of the Biblical Counseling Movement

Jay Adams

Psychology vs Scripture

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

In short, it has diminished the church’s confidence in Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and preaching as means through which the Spirit of God works to change lives.

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

In short, it has diminished the church’s confidence in Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and preaching as means through which the Spirit of God works to change lives.

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

Indeed, it has left many with the feeling that God’s Word is incomplete, insufficient, unsophisticated, and unable to offer help for people’s deepest emotional and spiritual problems. It has directed millions of Christians seeking spiritual help away from their pastors and fellow believers and into psychological clinics. It has given many the impression that adapting secular methods such as twelve-step recovery plans can be more helpful than spiritual means in weaning people from their sins. In short, it has diminished the church’s confidence in Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and preaching as means through which the Spirit of God works to change lives.

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

In contrast to those trends, however, another movement has been gaining strength among evangelicals. Clear voices are beginning to call the church back to the Scriptures as a sufficient help for people’s spiritual problems. A groundswell of support has been building for a return to biblical counseling in the church. Every week I hear from pastors and church leaders who are rediscovering the importance of biblical counseling. They are realizing what they have actually always believed: that Scripture is superior to human wisdom (1 Cor. 3:19); that the Word of God is a more effective discerner of the human heart than any earthly means (Heb. 4:12); that the Spirit of God is the only effective agent of recovery and regeneration (Eph. 5:18–19); and that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ Himself (Col. 2:3).

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

WHAT IS WRONG WITH PSYCHOLOGY?

The word psychology literally means “the study of the soul.” True soul-study cannot be done by unbelievers. After all, only Christians have the resources for comprehending the nature of the human soul and understanding how it can be transformed. The secular discipline of psychology is based on godless assumptions and evolutionary foundations and is capable of dealing with people only superficially and only on the temporal level. Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, was an unbelieving humanist who devised psychology as a substitute for religion.

Before Freud, the study of the soul was thought of as a spiritual discipline. In other words, it was inherently associated with religion. Freud’s chief contribution was to define the human soul and the study of human behavior in wholly secular terms. He utterly divorced anthropology (the study of human beings) from the spiritual realm and thus made way for atheistic, humanistic, and rationalistic theories about human behavior.

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

But the basis of modern psychology can be summarized in several commonly held ideas that have their roots in early Freudian humanism. These are the very same ideas many Christians are zealously attempting to synthesize with biblical truth:

• Human nature is basically good.

• People have the answers to their problems inside them.

• The key to understanding and correcting a person’s attitudes and actions lies somewhere in that person’s past.

• Individuals’ problems are the result of what someone else has done to them.

• Human problems can be purely psychological in nature, unrelated to any spiritual or physical condition.

• Deep-seated problems can be solved only by professional counselors using therapy.

• Scripture, prayer, and the Holy Spirit are inadequate and simplistic resources for solving certain types of problems.

MacArthur Pastor’s Library on Counseling Chapter 1: Rediscovering Biblical Counseling

Some basic reminders might be helpful. For example, Scripture is the only reliable manual for true soul-study. It is so comprehensive in the diagnosis and treatment of every spiritual matter that, energized by the Holy Spirit in the believer, it leads to making one like Jesus Christ. This is the process of biblical sanctification. It is the goal of biblical counseling.

T

Theological Commitments of Biblical Counseling

Inspiration of Scripture

Inerrancy of Scripture

Infallibility of Scripture

Sufficiency of Scripture

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