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Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture (Resources for Changing Lives) Paperback – October 31, 2003
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About the Author
David Powlison is the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling, teaches at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) in Glenside, Pennsylvania and at Westminster Theological Seminary, and counsels at CCEF. He is the author of Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare; Competent to Counsel?: The History of a Conservative Protestant Anti-Psychiatry Movement; and numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology.
Powlison earned a Ph.D. in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Harvard (A.B.). He is a board member and fellow of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors.
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Top Customer Reviews
Powlison points out that "secular psychology" views "human problems" simply as "things that are not working right," this is because the Bible was not utilized to understand the core issue of all humans, which is their "alienation from God" (192). He explains that if sin is seen as a "willed action" then "complex inner troubles" will be classified under "other categories" (194). In fact, psychiatrists will not explain that a paranoid schizophrenic is yielding to sin, but rather he or she is experiencing a psychosis. Powlison states that paranoid schizophrenia is a "defensive behavior" and actually refers to it as the personification of "powerful unconscious defensiveness" (193). Powlison explains that the underlying issues for schizophrenics are pride and "hiding" (195).
Powlison admits that biblical counselors are seen as "bizarre spiritualizers" because they rely on God, repentance, and faith as their main focus in counseling (251). He speculated that the premise of Jay Adams (the founder of Nouthetic counseling movement) was not fully understood when he said, "to be feeling-oriented is the central motivational problem in people" (215). Powlison believes that the problem with current counseling practices is that the counselor is seen as "primary" while God (if He is even considered at all in the process) is usually "secondary" (178).
This book has helped me to understand the stance of Nouthetic counselors, and to comprehend the reason why they say sin is the core issue of human disorders. However, I did not get a clear indication of Powlison's position regarding psychotropic medications. Powlison's perspective on counseling is a good start in the right direction, but his book does not outline the direction. There is something missing. To counter society's view of biblical counselors as "bizarre spiritualizers," Powlison suggests, "We have work to do to protect and build up the body of Christ" (251). This is not a solution-it is merely a generalized statement. In order for others to see biblical counselors as competent practitioners, they need to find a way to truly bridge the gap between traditional and biblical counseling.
The "new eyes" are the eyes enlightened by faith in Christ and restored to sight by confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture to explain life and relationships. "Seeing with New Eyes" offers a theological-intellectual defense of "Nouthetic Counseling" as a biblical counseling model seeking to understand truth about God and humanity through God's eyes as revealed in Scripture.
It is an excellent introduction by perhaps the leading theologian in the Nouthetic Counseling movement. However, the book is also a compilation of many previous articles by the author. Thus at times it reads more as a string of excellent artilces than a tightly woven and thematically consistent book. That aside, Powlison is to be commended for his articulate explanation of the human condition through the lens of Scripture.
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and the forthcoming "Beyond the Suffering: The Story of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."