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Theology of Christian Counseling, A Paperback – June 28, 1986
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All suffering is from sin, even if it's only Adam's (first man, not Jay), and as such the gospel is the only news that can bring about healing.
Adams begins with the Doctrine of God, moves into the Doctrine of Man, Salvation, Sanctification, the Church, and Eschatology. Adams argues that a biblical understanding of each of these topics is vital for the counselee to find "more than redemption," and therefore the counselor must equip him/herself accordingly.
I especially appreciate Adams's conviction that if these doctrines are embraced and obeyed by the counselee, he/she can actually trust that their situation won't just be "fixed," but that they will find themselves in an even better place than they were before the need for counseling presented itself.
As someone who struggles with fear of man, I also appreciate Adams's ability to call sin sin. I know his personality can rub some folks the wrong way, but I, personally, can learn to be more like him in this way.
I also believe Adams is right, that pastor(s) should be the best counselors, but I find myself intimidated by the professionals. I often struggle with insecurities, particularly in this sphere, but Adams work helped me see those feelings are rooted in my lack of faith in the sufficiency and authority of God's Word.
This book was a good reminder that God really has given us all we need for life and godliness, and He's done so in His Word and by His Spirit.
If you want an overview of basic theology and help applying a biblical framework to your life, all Christians could benefit from A Theology of Christian Counseling.
Absolutely! In fact, you can't have true biblical counseling without doctrine. Adams wrote this book almost 30 years ago to "convince the reader that truth and godliness are interrelated in such a way that it isn't possible to have one without the other, and that, therefore, counselors must become biblical theologians..." (pg 307) This is a follow-on to Adam's book "Competent to Counsel" that I have also reviewed and found to be very helpful.
I can recommend this book as generally beneficial but not as much so as "Competent to Counsel", "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" by Paul David Tripp, and "How People Change" by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp. The point of such nouthetic counseling books is that counseling must be grounded in Scripture, specifically in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who can transform the heart - to the ends that the soul finds satisfaction in the preeminence and glory of Christ Himself.
The book is laid out much like a systematic theology. Adams connects issues of counseling with various biblical doctrines. For example,
1. Related to the doctrine of the Scriptures (pg 16-56)...
All other eclectic counseling methods are setting up rival systems that compete with the Bible (v8-9). We must know what Scripture says and that it communicates authoritatively to counselees (pg 13). The authority does not come from the counselor (pg 20). Only the scriptures have the power to transform( 2 Tim 3:15-17) (pg 36-37). We understand our environment that surrounds us from the scriptures (pg 38-56).
2. Related to the doctrine of God (pg 57-93)...
The Believer can find encouragement in the names of God (pg 57-60). Counselees should understand that all that is happening is taking place in the presence of God, for His glory and they should be dependent on Him in Prayer (pg 61-87)...as opposed to self-sufficiency (pg 67). C.f. study of the words/synonyms for prayer - pg 71-74. God does hear hypocritical, resentful , pharisaical, self-centered, unbiblical, and self-addressed prayers (pg 78-87). I would have like to seen here more exposition of texts that boast in the glories of Jesus Christ Himself.
3. Related to the doctrine of Man (pg 94-173)...
Normally, in psychology, the therapist is determining the "standard" of behavior and how the counselee should live (pg 102). Rather, the standard is Jesus Christ in all of His perfections, and we should look unto Him and depend on His righteousness (pg 100-105). Man is basically a dichotomy of body and soul/spirit (unified yet two-fold) (pg 110-117). Man is responsible for his sin and totally depraved (in all parts and aspects, man is corrupt) (pg 141-143). God is NOT in the business of just "reforming" behavior but RENEWING through the Gospel in regeneration (pg 120-121).
4. Related to the doctrine of Salvation (pg 174-232)...
Adams coins the term "super redemption" to refer to Christ's amazing work of grace in elevating a person positionally in Christ. That same power allows us not to "settle" for anything less than what God designed for our lives. As a result of salvation, Christians are able to forgive and ask forgiveness of others (pg 184-232).
5. Related to the doctrine of Sanctification (pg 233-275)...
The Gospel results in change in person, not merely actions (pg 238). We are not merely to stop doing something. We are to "put off" and "put on" (pg 240), all grounded in the grace of Jesus Christ's work. We continue our walk in obedience (endurance) (pg 244). We must walk by the Spirit and depend on Him for the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5, 1 Tim 6:11, 2 Tim 2:22) (pg 249-262). We must take definitive, concrete action ("radical amputation") in dealing with our sin (Matt 5:27-30) (pg 263-270). We will also have a different view of suffering than an unbeliever and should be counseled that way (2 Cor 4:17) (pg 271-275). We need each other within the context of the church to aid in our growth through discipleship in the Word of God (pg 276-306).
The back of the books says it all..."No counseling system...can offer what Christian counseling offers...the Christian Counselor's stance is struck by the far-more-abounding nature of the grace of Jesus Christ in Redemption..."