“The Practical Theology of Counseling.” God speaks timely, pointed, personalized truth. He does not speak in timeless abstractions. Scripture is not a textbook on ethics or theology or preaching or counseling. It is the sourcebook.
Theophostic ministry claims to be Bible-based, but its approach to counseling suggests that “embedded lies” (experiences from our past) cause our pain. This view ignores original sin, that we sin because we want to live our lives on our own terms rather than God’s.
Book Review: Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon and The Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson. Spurgeon gives you twice a day grist for the mill of loving Jesus Christ; he incites prayer. Ferguson teaches you how to think about the grace of God in Jesus Christ: he informs understanding. The language of Morning and Evening has been updated, both in the Bible citations (NIV replacing KJV) and in Spurgeon’s comments.
“Biblical Interpretation and Counseling, Part 2:” The first element in sound Bible interpretation in counseling is the human element. Faithful interpretation demands a new heart and spiritual growth in the pastoral counselor. Second is the literary element, all the aspects of language and literary form that go into the Bible and must be properly understood. Finally there is the divine element. The Holy Spirit’s inspiration and illumination alone can sanctify people, “changing them to think and operate the way God desires.” Counselors must analyze Scripture exegetically, theologically, literarily, and “finally, the most important of all,” telically. “What did the Holy Spirit intend to do to people through this passage?”
“Biblical Interpretation and Counseling:” A person who can’t interpret the Word of God properly can’t counsel biblically. Scripture is easily misused and twisted by would-be counselors. How does one interpret the Bible well? It takes diligent study. Three words describe this task. “Hermeneutics” means to explain (Lk 24:27). “Exegesis” means to lead out, drawing a writer’s thoughts out of his writing. “Opening” means to open the door of knowledge from God’s Word (Luke 24:32, 45). The goal is to understand the thoughts and intents of the Holy Spirit.
“Exegete the Bible: Exegete the Person:” Interview with a local church pastor who became committed to integrate counseling ministry with the more public ministries of his church. Face-to face ministry must be a ministry of the Word done with depth and accuracy. A commitment to theological and exegetical accuracy finds its payoff in direct ministry to confused, straying, hurting people. “We need to ask our counselees, ‘How would the Bible label this problem?'” “My view of ministry primarily was forty hours a week in the study, some occasional administration, making some evening calls on people, hospital visits, and preaching and teaching on Sunday. I think a lot of guys escaped to that because they were scared to deal with counseling problems.”
War Psalms of the Prince of Peace: Adams explores the imprecatory psalms, passages that call down God’s curse on enemies. Adams shows how these psalms are intended to be understood and used in the context of evangelical faith. One pitfall is to make these psalms occasions for personal vengeance; another pitfall is to sweep these psalms out of sight as an embarrassment. In fact, a Christ-centered understanding of imprecations holds out hope to transform counselees who may be stuck either in anger or hopelessness.
Hebrews, James and I and II Timothy, Jude. When God speaks, Adams hears clear, pointed teaching, not vague sentimental talk. No abstract theologizing, no indecision, no ambiguity, no handwringing, no mystical and mystifying flights of religious sentimentality.” Adams’ strengths are refreshing, but need three complementary truths. First, Adams sounds more tough than tender, more the voice of imperatives than the voice of promises. Second, Adams’s stance is to speak as the proclaimer of truth, not the recipient who becomes proclaimer, the counselee who becomes counselor. Third, Adams’s speaks exclusively from the authoritative stance, and does not hedge against authoritarianism nor teach the mutuality and one-anothering that makes up the bulk of counseling in the body of Christ.
Let the Reader Understand: A book encouraging responsible methods of Bible interpretation. Take seriously both the spiritual state of the interpreter and the call to obedience and application that should result from true interpretation. “Our moral standing before God has a direct impact on our ability to handle the Scriptures properly,” and “the central purpose in interpretation is not simply to exercise ones mind, but to know and serve God.”
I and II Corinthians: This is vintage Jay Adams, sounding familiar Adamsian themes: Scriptural foundation, the need for careful rational analysis of specific problems, sanctification, both inner and outer change, both tender and tough methods, critique of non-Christian counseling models. “This commentary is distinctively Jay Adams. Learn from him. Be challenged by him. Even disagree with some of his particular emphases, interpretations, or applications. But do so for reasons that the book itself teaches: because you are compelled to do so by Scripture.”
“Scripture and the Apologetic Task:” God’s special revelation corrects misinterpretations of God’s natural revelation, so that we “view creation in the light of Scripture,” and engage in constructive conversation with unbelievers about real persons in real situation. Many sins can hinder the apologetic task: compromise, underestimation of sin, pride, lovelessness. “To defend the Christian faith [or biblical counseling] with a quarrelsome spirit is to defend Christianity plus quarrelsomeness — a self-destructive hybrid.”