Please may you excuse my unedited thoughts as I typed them out on this blog post, which I may want to edit later.
I found a blog post that caught my eye, entitled, “Beware of Christian Counselors” by an Ohio man named Bruce Gerencser.
It caught my eye because of the title which led me to believe that Christian counselors may not reflect values, principles and teachings of the bible. As we know, many churches have fallen away from the faith and are teaching false doctrines ranging from the New Apostolic Church, to gay teaching from the “Queen James Bible”, or the Unity Church, Church of Scientology and others. Who knows what mixture of humanistic, new-age and other forms of pagan religions are out there these days?
So I read the blog post thinking I had found an ex-counselor like myself who has been trained and working toward licensure, I was surprised to learn that he had been a pastor in a few churches and had found in his life’s journey that he did not believe in God any more; he had become atheist. He shared his gripes about pastoral counseling and the negative experiences he had learned about it’s being used. His story had an unexpected twist. I fully did not expect this as I began reading.
He brings up a quote from Wikipedia’s definition of Nouthetic counseling;
“The aim of Nouthetic Counseling is to effect change in the counselee by encouraging greater conformity to the principles of Scripture.”
He brings up an example of a woman who receives counseling from a pastor who does not share her “egalitarian beliefs” and how her pastor’s goal is not her help her but to “get her to conform to certain theological beliefs”.
I don’t understand what’s bad about learning correct eschatology. But, when it comes to pastoral counseling where I’m told one is to “be the love of Jesus in the room”, it is a hard concept to grasp. After all, Jesus did teach people the wrong ways of their lives, he gave his life for all of us and threw the money-changers out of the temple. But, he was not a “counselor” per se. His whole reason for being was to teach that we have all sinned and needed to be forgiven, and He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life to do that. His love was so great that he died for all so that we may be forgiven and live in heaven one day after the body died.
There are issues here about how counseling is used in the world today. Counseling has become somewhat blurred the way the bible has; Christian counseling does not exist, other than to explain the gospel and hope that a person will seek God out. God gives life and is the Creator and knows best what mankind needs; we do not. Yet the bible is used as a form of counseling “support” in that certain bible verses get used to “heal” a person, but that is not what the bible is about at all. Jesus healed but did so as a way to prove that he was truly God in the flesh, and referred to himself as being “God’s Son” which meant to the Jews that he was God and of God that they knew about in the Pentateuch.
God’s Holy Spirit comes from the belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, understanding who he was when he was on earth and who he is today. It is a gift from the Lord Jesus, and is given to those who truly believe in Him as Savior and Lord, none other and who has the gift of telling a person in so many ways that they must do this or that, I believe, as we are drawn to do the right thing in a matter. This blog cannot begin to explain how God moves us to be good in our words and deeds, nor how we are given strength to get through our toils on earth, and on and on…
I am telling you only a very elementary description of God’s Holy Word and how he saved us from our sin if we want to know and be near to Him.
It seems that Pastoral counseling can give support to marriages and single people alike but the goal is to bring people to a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, ultimately. God is the great Counselor among other gracious things, in his loving kindness and as our loving Father and Holy Spirit that guides us. They are One.
Counseling is best done by someone who is wizened to the fact that everyday counseling done by counselors out in the field are not trained in the works of the Lord. They do not know God and so have a limited understanding of how to heal someone.
Now some of you are snickering; mankind cannot “heal” people – it is Our Creator who is the one who heals people, because he created us, and mankind can only prescribe helpful and supportive treatments. But the body’s magic in it’s healing is not inspired by mankind; it is the Creator who put the healing properties in humankind’s bodies and He alone can take our health away and/or make us heal right. If He doesn’t, He may be taking the side of the person who wishes to go without God in his life, or he may have another reason, that we don’t know about to make a person not heal.
In his Word he rewards us with healing, prosperity or punishes us by letting us go farther from Him in people’s sin, because personal choice is afforded to all humankind.
What this blogger misses is that the Bible is not about Social Justice, nor is it about healing done by mankind, but is about how Jesus told mankind about their sins, and that he would take their sins upon himself and die on the cross for us so that we can be forgiven for being the sinners that every one of us is.
He paid the price for all of our sins and gave us Himself, by his Grace and our faith in Him alone, to forgive us and cleanse us from sin, so that we may live on for eternal life in His presence, instead of being separated from His love for us, and for eternity.
Counseling, in today’s world is based upon an atheistic view and that is not compatible with Christian faith. Every topic that a person comes in to see a counselor for is most probably going to be the result of a person’s sinful natures since we are all born into sin. No one understands sin really being that they only label homosexuality or abortion as sins. They don’t understand all the hatefulness in a person’s heart that is at the base of all sin. Hatefulness is rebelliousness against God’s love and direction. Understand Eve’s fall in the book of Genesis and you’ll see more about her rebellion against God’s instruction. The instruction He gave out of love of his children.
My point about counseling today is that with all one is taught in counseling school, on the one hand, being there to listen to someone’s pain with empathy, offering support and maybe resources is all well and good, but a kind person can do that. Learning to sit for long hours providing your personal attention, care and learning some of the tools of counseling while being paid to do so may also be found helpful to some – or many people.
What is counseling meant to do? Ultimately, as a counselor you walk with a counselee (or client) to help them solve an issue: a behavioral problem in themselves or a family member, having suicidal tenancies, self-harm, addiction, emotional problems, or whatever. You come up with a treatment plan, or a “care plan”, and then you assign tasks or homework, you listen and provide helpful feedback or ask gentle probing questions so that a client looks at the logic of what they are saying. There are millions of such tools in a counselor’s toolbox if they have the right experience, and are intelligent and seasoned, caring “therapists”.
But what happens with the person the next time they run into an issue that becomes overwhelming or they need someone to “bounce things off of”? These are things which they learn to go to a human for advice and therapy. How much does it help? Maybe it brings some temporary relief but who is the Creator of all mankind? Why would our Creator be the one left out of a counseling session?
More can be said here but I’ll add another issue which brought me to a crossroads about quitting being a counselor: clients who have issues which I cannot support them in that go against my Christian faith. How would I be able to help them? Clients seeking abortions, or are “transitioning” to the opposite sex, or problems in their same-sex marriage or becoming a same-sex attracted person, would be some examples of those clients which I could not help walk their path. I could not condone those things.
So, getting back to the blog post that intrigued me in the beginning.
He felt counseling is done by mankind, as if mankind can solve all the problems brought to them but with no Jesus Christ to invite into their lives.
Again, the bible is not a manual for how to counsel people. It shows us who God is, what Jesus did on the cross for us and why we need Him. It does not tell us we are to solve problems of others on our own. It is a book for the believers to know and trust God, the One True God and it’s not about social justice warriors, social issues of the day nor what we ought to do with our children who want to change their genders.
It definitely is not about how God is a lesbian, gay man or about homosexuality as being a way to marriage, definitely not! People have turned the bible into all kinds of things because of the sin in everyone’s life and in the world from the beginning of mankind in the Garden, but because people don’t know the bible, they can get away with saying all kinds of things that are made up versions and published versions by mankind. The same mankind who want to become counselors teaching empty bible verses and applying them on today’s problems like a fortune cookie quote would. That’s about the extent of it.
In the blog article I read I may have been a bit misled by the title but now I’m afraid I’m a bit mad at how the author bashed the Word of God, as if knowing God and reading the bible could not help someone – yet it can. He may not have been a true believer in the first place and so has turned to the worldly ways of mankind to help him get through some of his problems. But God’s blueprint for learning his ways and who he is is found in the bible as we read more and learn more through the Holy Spirit that guides us. If you don’t know the bible and don’t truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, how can you tell us what is possible through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ who has given so much to us all and promises eternal life with Him? Sure we will be tested through life, but his strength delivers us in a manner that strengthens our knowledge of Christ, if you believed.
Otherwise, a kind, worldly unbeliever may be the band-aid to help you through tough times. He may be used by the Holy Spirit to help someone, as it is God’s desire that all men are saved, but some will not be because they fail to seek and truly want to know God.
Pastoral counseling is really a person that knows God, can kindly advise and pray for someone and teach them in ways to seek Christ in their trials. That is the best way to start helping someone, by encouraging their faith in Christ Jesus. Becoming a state-licensed therapist and then calling yourself a “Christian counselor” does not make sense because you are still using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, or “DSM” which was created by atheist/agnostic unbelievers in Christ Jesus who were against God and so developed their criteria of what mental illness is. Putting a state license first using diagnostic criterion by unbelieving psychiatrists who do not know God should not be the criteria to treat or help a person with mental health issues.
The mind is the workings of the person’s very soul, being and identity.
We are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies, (or, if you will, embodied minds and minded bodies). (Anonymous, 2003)
Psychiatry doesn’t have the ability to treat the mind of a person since they can’t locate the specific pieces of a mind that may need treatment. Doctors are not able to pinpoint the breath of life that God gave us, firstly in Adam, then in Eve. They give overall generalities of behaviors or bizarre ideas of people and label these as “symptoms” of a diseased mind or one that is “sick” in some way in books like the DSM or other medical texts.
Here we get into their ideas of causation and medical treatments including counseling which do address those symptoms but do not exactly “heal” a person. A person’s soul and human behavior are seen as the person’s nature which is viewed differently in the Christian life vs. secular life. Secularists view the person’s soul in as many personal views of each person’s such as something that will be reincarnated as another animal or life, or is an unexplained part of a person’s life that is inside of their physical body. It is not attributed to being the part of a person that goes to the arms of the Lord when the person’s body dies, which is what true Christians believe.
Christians have a definite belief about a person’s soul and a person’s very soul is intimately tied to their mental faculties, feelings, ideas and capabilities. Whether or not they sin has to do with their being a believer or not; a believer will be led away from sin. While Christians walk the earth they are cleansed mentally and in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. This does not happen in the secular world. God is a Holy God and we are being made ready for when we die and reach heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the mind and heart of a person may be wrongfully led and counseling can endorse rebellion against the Creator who made all life. If you are seeking help my advice would be seek God first and find healing and peace and rest in His love for you, since that is the way in which God created humans in his Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked as friends of God’s.
We are not higher in knowledge than our Creator. He has the way and is the light to follow in our trials here on earth.
There is so much more to be written about secular counseling and Christian counseling. These are only my musings of today although I have had many thoughts about my life as a former counselor and what led me to become one before I became a believer. It makes one wonder…
10 thoughts on “Is Christian Counseling A Valid Form Of Counseling?”
I am in agreement that Christianity is the domain of Christians… this is our area of expertise, for those of us who will put in the work to study. Christian Counseling comes from a totally different perspective and implements a faith-based treatment protocol that is very effective. This is completely different from what the secular world can offer.
I am also sad to hear your report that his faith failed. We can only pray that he acquires, recovers and maintains his place and position in GOD. I have participated in Pastoral Counseling Courses as well, and the mandates are highly legislated. Those that desire to obtain “certification” under the present guidelines must definitely be called into this type of ministry. Amen. The danger to themselves and others would be to “elect and select” themselves for the position. Good Post! Thank You.
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Amen!! I’m a Christian life and relationship coach,and pastor and I agree with you 100%. All my counseling I do is 100% full gospel using it in every circumstance of my counseling!! Bless you!!
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God bless 🙂
Bless you too!!
I really appreciate your post. I am firm believer in Jesus Christ. If you want to know my views on the subject, please check out hawkmission.org.
Thank you for your comment.
The world expects Christians to get on board with their secular agenda. Another example are Chaplains who are to trained to accommodate all religions. You being the one counselor who understands truth you are in a unique and very useful position when counseling. The Lord will use you. God bless.
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You’ve got it right about chaplains, Christians doing secular counseling. They’ve watered down the bible, or they weren’t Christians in the first place, is my guess. It’s a shame. Thank you for your comment.