Counseling (How to Counsel Biblically)

by Glen H. Jones

John MacArthur and the faculty of the Master's College have put together a comprehensive view of biblical counseling. Unlike most current counseling methods, including some Christian methods, this counseling method focuses on the counselee's need to come to grips with his/her own spirituality or lack of it.

This method appears to be heavily influenced by Jay Adams's nouthetic counseling techniques. Adams taught that most mental illnesses that were not organically caused were spiritual problems that were best solved by counseling from the Scriptures. The counselor's aim is to help the counselee identify the inward spiritual problems rather than focusing blame on external forces, as so many other counseling models do.

It is not society, family, government, employer, or abuse that causes us to do the hurtful things we do. Most are caused by our own sinful nature and failing to walk under the control of the Holy Spirit.

MacArthur's biblical counseling model has seven characteristics: 1) God is at the center of counseling, 2) other sources of knowledge must be submitted to the authority of Scripture, 3) sin in all its dimensions is the primary problem counselors must deal with, 4) the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer, 5) the biblical change process must aim at progressive sanctification, 6) the situational difficulties people face are not the random cause of problems in living, and 7) counseling is fundamentally a pastoral activity and must be church-based.

Before serious counseling can begin the counselor must gather essential information about the counselee. An appendix to the book contains a Personal Data Inventory Form.

Biblical counseling, however, does not mean that the counselor must immediately accuse the counselee of sin in his/her life. The counselor must first gain the confidence of the counselee. The counselee must believe the counselor is sincerely interested in him/her and wants to help. The counselor may have to gradually move the counselee into the position of identifying sin in the counselee's life, accepting responsibility for his/her actions.

Several chapters are devoted to helping the counselor develop compassion for the counselee and to help the counselor instill hope in the counselee.

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