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
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
we do agree with much that Dr. Adams says, we differ on some specific
points that we will list below.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
to Counsel by Jay Adams
The Christian Counselor's Manual by
Introduction to Biblical Counseling
by John F. MacArthur, Jr. and Wayne A. Mack
Totally Sufficient by Hindson and Eyrich
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
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
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.