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Counseling is nothing new; it has been around for a very long time.  The kind of counseling we at OAIM do is called BIBLE counseling (Basic Insights for Biblical Living Everyday). It is a type of nouthetic counseling.
Nouthetic is a term that was coined by Jay Adams that is based on the Greek word nouthesis.  This word is used to define this concept of a combination of confronting, admonishing, warning, teaching, and training that is the heart of biblical or nouthetic counseling.  Since this Greek word is very rich in its meaning, no one English word is sufficient to translate it. (While we do agree with much that Dr. Adams says, we differ on some specific points that we will list below.)

The Bible is very clear in teaching that it holds the answers for us to live our lives in a godly way.  "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16-17  Nouthetic counselors are committed to the belief that God through His word and the Holy Spirit is the one we should turn to for instruction in dealing with our problems.


Nouthetic counselors come in many forms, male, female, young, and old.  Their training does not come from traditional secular schooling, but through studying the Bible and practicing its application in their own lives.  Actually, all Christians are called to do nouthetic counseling to some degree. 

In Colossians 3:16 we are told, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another (nouthetically confront one another) with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  Applying the word of God to our own lives in a way that molds our behavior to line up with God's commands is nouthetically counseling our own selves.  Therefore, nouthetic counseling falls more under religious training than under what our society terms as mental health.  There are training centers for nouthetic counselors to earn degrees at and one of our counselors is presently completing a masters degrees in biblical counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary.  However, the key ingredient in a nouthetic counselor's success is not a piece of paper, but his/her knowledge of the Bible and how to help others use it to transform their lives along godly growth.

Psychology is a relatively new concept and counseling for what is now termed "mental illness" used to be the territory of priests and pastors.  If you look at the statistics, you will see that although we supposedly have access to more mental health professionals than ever before in the world's history, suicides and other emotional dysfunction has been on a continual rise since this type of therapy has become available to the point where 44 million Americans "meet the criteria for mental illness". (Psychology Today, June 2000, p. 10)  Biblical counselors believe that the humanism that fuels the mental health industry today is directly contrary to the biblical principles God gives us in the Bible.
 

Modern psychology is rooted in a false pretense.  This pretense is that man can find the solutions to his problems within himself.  Many who are connected with psychology (both Christians and non-Christians) are taught to have the counselee determine the answers for themselves, to remain aloof from the counselee and turn all questions that are asked them back to questions for the one being counseled to answer from within their own being.  Man can solve his own problems if given the right tools.  This, however, is an anti-biblical line of thought.
 
Biblical counseling is different.  It realizes that mankind can never solve his or her own problems because we are at heart sinful.  Where secular counseling spends months delving into "why" did this happen or "why" the client is acting this way, the nouthetic counselor doesn't need to ask why.  We know why.  Man is sinful.  The bible tells us this.  "There is no one righteous, not even one." Romans 3:10  "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23  Because of this premise that is grounded in the truth of God's word, we can take a different route to help our counselee heal.
ALL pain in this world is caused by sin.  If there were no sin, there would be no problems, no hurts.  But sin exists, whether in our own lives or in the lives of those around us, and it is the effect of sin that must be dealt with in order for healing to occur.  NO OTHER SOLUTION will work because this is the ONLY reason for pain according to the Bible. 
(Physical pain, while also a result of the original sin, is not what we are dealing with here.  Physical causes should always be referred to a qualified medical doctor.  This includes behavioral problems that are caused by medical conditions.  Biblical counselors deal with non-medical conditions. Please note, though, that many claims of "chemical imbalances" are not being substantiated by actual biological tests and are mere suppositions of what might possibly be the problem.)

What a biblical counselor does is what God has commanded Christians to do since His Son came into this world:  look to God's word for the answers.  We must believe that 2 Timothy 3:16 is a truthful statement.  These ideas of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness are what a biblical counselor does and is the true sense of the very meaning of the word "counselor" (one who gives advice in directing the judgment of another).
 

It is interesting to note that Jesus cast out demons and healed physical diseases, but never once in the entire New Testament did Jesus or any of the apostles ever deal with anyone who was "mentally ill".  This indicates one of three things:  1.  Jesus and the apostles didn't care about "mentally ill" people, 2.  Neither Jesus nor any of the apostles ever encountered a "mentally ill" person, or 3.  "Mental illness" is something created by mankind as an alternative to dealing with sin issues and so God did not include it because it does not exist in His mind.  The only one that is in keeping with God and His word is the third one.
 
Ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has tried to deny his sin and hide from the God who made us.  We desperately cling to anything that will explain away our problems other than admitting our sinful behavior and confronting it face to face.  Psychology is man's solution to dealing with sinful behavior.  Depression, suicidal tendencies, multiple personalities, schizophrenia, panic disorders, eating disorders, all are a result of an unbiblical response to either our own sinful behavior or to the sinful behavior of others against us. 

Since all pain is connected to sin, God is the one with the answers, not popular psychology.  How can someone who is lost and doesn't believe in the God of the Bible, the God who made every fiber of our being, have any answers about healing the effects of sin in our lives?  Why should we go to them for any answers?  Isn't that exactly what a pastor is for?  Shouldn't the answers be found in the church instead of someone outside of the church who might not even believe in God? Those who are diagnosed with "mental illness" are in reality sick from a cause that is spiritual and not mental.
 

Those who use secular psychological precepts as the root of their counseling instead of biblical principles (whether they be Christians or non-Christians) will spend months and years accomplishing much less than a biblical counselor can do in days and months.  The problem is not that people need to "work through" their problems or "role play" situations or "relive" their abuse.  The problem is that we are sinful.  We do sinful things that hurt others.  We react to things that happen to us in sinful ways.
 
When we deal with the effects of our own sin or the unbiblical responses we are having towards the sin of others against us, the problems are taken care of.  Then our Christian brothers and sisters can say, "I have learned to be content in any and every situation" (Philippians 4:12) along with the Apostle Paul.  It DOES work!  God CAN do it!  Do we believe what He tells us in His word about how to deal with problems or are we going to choose to believe a secular humanistic psychologist over God?  That is the choice that needs to be made.

OAIM would like to highly recommend the following books for further reference on this subject:


Competent to Counsel by Jay Adams
The Christian Counselor's Manual by Jay Adams
Introduction to Biblical Counseling by John F. MacArthur, Jr. and Wayne A. Mack
Totally Sufficient by Hindson and Eyrich

 

Note: The major difference between BIBLE Counseling and Dr. Adams' nouthetic counseling is that we believe the goal of counseling is not holiness, but relationship. When the focus is on having people change their own behavior, it misses the root of the behavior: the person's beliefs. Besides, if people could change their own behavior just as an act of their will, then Jesus died for nothing. We could have attained perfection without Him. It is our belief that people behave as they do as a result of their beliefs about God. If a person's concept of who God is becomes skewed from false teachings or past experiences or feelings, they act according to what they are believing. When they are taught to line up their beliefs with what the Bible says about God, it transforms their behavior naturally.

For example, if you believe that God is not trustworthy and able to take care of situations that come your way, you will act in a way that relies on your own works instead of relying on God's strength. When you come to realize that God IS trustworthy, then you will see that you do not need to spend all your efforts to protect yourself. He CAN take care of you. In this way, it is your misconception about God that has been wearing you out and trapping you in legalism as you rely on your own efforts to live the life He calls you to.

When the focus is on changing behavior, the result tends to push people towards legalism instead of grace.

Because of this, our type of counseling is essentially a type of discipleship. To read more about this, please see our article, BIBLE Counseling IS Discipleship.

 


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