Category: Transcript

CDC1-01. What is Biblical Counseling? 1 {Transcript}

February 21, 2017

Introduction and Review

This is the first lecture or talk on, in our Care and Discipleship training, and this for people who may wanna be certified from IBCD and Care and Discipleship. It also counts towards NANC certification for those of you who are going in that direction, and maybe some of you just want to learn about biblical counseling. And this first talk is called What Is Biblical Counseling? And we’re really gonna be contrasting biblical counseling with other approaches people take to counseling in this first talk. As we go through this series, we’ll go through a methodology of counseling, and how to apply the scriptures to different situations, as well.

A breakdown in society – the religion of secular humanism.

And you might have said, “Why do we need biblical counseling? We’ve already got psychology.” And psychology is something actually that’s relatively new in terms of people thinking of it as a science to help people with their problems. 100 years ago, 150 years ago typically, if someone had a problem, if they were feeling discouraged, or depressed, or if there was a conflict in relationships, or they were struggling with worry, with fear, or with temptation, if they were Christian, they would probably go to a pastor, or to elders to get help, to get wisdom. Perhaps even to family members. And then with the coming of Freud, and psychoanalysis, and psychology, there’s been a huge shift in not just western culture, but really the whole world in which psychology has replaced theology as the basis by which people understand themselves.

There’s also sociology, another one of the social sciences. Through this people go to psychologists, to licensed counselors, psychotherapies when they have problems. And, of course, something more, in our day, is even going to their general practice family doctor and wanting pills to help them with the very problems that in the past people sought help from, spiritual help, and Christians would seek spiritual help from the scriptures.

The failure of the church

As this has been happening, and something that’s been very disappointing in the last few generations is the church has failed really to carry on its work. Something we’re gonna emphasize in this course is that pastors and leaders in the church are to shepherds God’s flock, care for people with their personal needs. That older women are to help younger women, and that the very problems that we understand from the scriptures that God has given, that the Bible addresses, and that we as believers should be helping each other, especially leaders in the church.

That many churches have kind of abnegated their responsibilities, and have either farmed people out to psychologists who may not be Christians at all, or even now in many seminaries, Bible colleges, psychology is taught almost uncritically as the methodology by which people should be helped. And, yet, our perspective would be that in the same way that Darwinism has changed many of the sciences, and replacing the Biblical creation story with evolution, and then many implications that have been untrue and harmful. With the coming of Freud, the understanding of who man is, and how to help man has been a radical change not for the good. Thomas Szasz who is a professor of psychiatry, I don’t if he was a believer or not, but he writes how, “With the decline of religion and the growth of science in the 18th century, the cure of sinful souls, which had been an integral part of Christian religions, was recast as the cure of sick minds, and became an integral part of medical science.” And in our understanding and our concern is that as, in the name of psychology and the name which sounds very scientific, that really the role of the church and the role of Christians helping other Christians has been taken over. And we’re gonna see there’s a place for helping people who have a genuine illness such as schizophrenia, where their brain is deteriorating.

So, many of the cases of people having problems, and the cases for which people today maybe going to doctors for medicine, or getting counseling that may not be at all from a Biblical perspective. So, many of these are addressed by the scriptures, and, of course, we wanna train you to address those. But, as I said, something that is very sad is really up until about the late 1960s, the churches in general were almost uncritically accepting psychology as being the new way to help people, and they did not recognize the contradictions between much of what psychology says and what the Bible teaches about how to help people with their problems.

The emergence of the biblical counseling movement. Jay Adams: 1970’s Competent to Counsel.

And the Biblical Counseling Movement of which we are a part, really began to emerge late 1960s, early 1970s, with the Jay Adams who ultimately published his landmark book Competent to Counsel. And in the Biblical Counseling Movement, this is a kind of like a reformation. It’s like when Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, declaring that the church at the time was going in a wrong and unbiblical way, and was making a challenge. In this way Jay Adams, also, in this book declared his belief that what the Bible teaches about man and how to help people is contrary to what was going on in secular psychology, and even much of what’s called many Christians who were practicing psychology.

And through that, there emerged a movement in which there’s been an effort to study the Bible, to understand the scriptures, to help people with their problems, developing, as we’ll see in this course, a methodology that’s rooted in scripture, to address specific problems as the Bible addresses them, and to be wary of some of the solutions that those who don’t have a Biblical perspective have proposed. In the last, now it’s been a generation, it’s been over 40 years, as I’m making this video. It’s been over 40 years that this movement has been going on, and it’s been something very encouraging. Initially there was a training center, CCEF, Christian counseling and Education Foundation at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Since then there’s been many other colleges, universities, such as Master’s College, Southern Seminary, and more who have been returning to the scriptures as the way to help people with their spiritual problems.

Many more churches are getting involved, and really the passion of IBCD is to train people to use the Bible to help one another with their spiritual problems in the local church. And I have been involved in Christian counseling now for over 20 years. Actually I was convinced of this in the early stages, even in the Biblical counseling Movement in the late 70s, early 80s, but have been working with what is now The Institute for Biblical counseling and Discipleship, which began as CCEF West and got a new name in the 90s. But it’s been my privilege both to counsel and to train people using the scriptures. And my testimony is that it’s been a great encouragement.

Most preachers, and that’s my main job, most preachers take Mondays off; and for the last 20, or so, years, I’ve been spending my Mondays counseling for several hours. And the reason I choose to do this is I see God doing great things. And through the course I’ll talk about many specific cases, obviously changing names where appropriate, but we’ve seen God work in great ways, and even more importantly that we’ve seen as churches engage with this, and as training takes place, that we see entire churches more or less converted to biblical counseling, getting people trained, and helping one another with the scriptures, doing biblical peacemaking in the scriptures. Having women helping women within the church using the Bible. And that’s something for which we have a great passion, and about which we’re very excited. And our belief is that God has given us sufficient resources in his word, by his spirit, and in the church to help people with their spiritual problems.


  • Jim Newheiser, DMin
    (MA, DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is director of the Christian Counseling program and professor of practical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. He is a fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and a board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE).
    View all posts

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