The Biblical Counseling Movement: Origins and Philosophy

Jay E. Adams, father of nouthetic counseling

The series continues. For part one, click here.

Before I delve too deeply into the organization and theology of the Biblical Counseling Movement, a little history is called for.

Jay E. Adams is considered the father of the BCM – also known as Nouthetic Counseling. However, the movement’s origins begin with psychologist O. Hobart Mowrer (1907-1982). This surprises me, considering just how illustrious Mowrer’s contributions were to the field of modern psychology. He became a foremost expert on learning theory, performed groundbreaking research on fear and anxiety, and was one of the leading founders of GROW therapy groups in the U.S. At one time, he was president of the American Psychological Association. And unlike many of his peers, Mowrer believed that mental illness could have a biological or genetic basis.

However, Mowrer spent his career afflicted by depression. The treatment du jour was Freudian psychoanalysis, which Mowrer underwent several times. When that failed to permanently banish his depression, he became disillusioned with Freud’s theories and methods. He began to think that maybe mental illness was the result of hidden secrets and genuine guilt in a person’s life. Reading the works of Congregationalist Lloyd C. Douglas solidified Mowrer’s belief in unconfessed sin as a root cause of mental illness. But he found no satisfaction in the way churches addressed sin in theology and practice – namely through the doctrine of justification by faith (one of the cornerstones of Christianity, BTW).

Instead, Mowrer structured his therapy groups around the concepts of confrontation, confession and integrity, and he began teaching his theories on sin and mental health to others, including seminary students. One of those students was Reformed Presbyterian pastor Jay E. Adams. Continue reading

The Biblical Counseling Movement: Exposed

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A couple of weeks ago, I revealed that I was researching a shocking expose’ to feature on the blog. I am now far enough along in my research to begin the series.

Let me tell you how this series came about:

As you may recall from an earlier post, my dad confessed to being a sex addict a few years ago. My dad attended pastoral counseling and a 12-step program, but eventually fell off the wagon – which lead to my parents’ divorce. Their pastor, desperate to get him help, suggested an out-of-state, 9-month live-in rehab program for sex addicts. “It is a Christian program,” he said.

I was less than thrilled at that little revelation. My father had already attempted pastoral counseling multiple times, and it had not helped to resolve his core issues. At the time, I was encouraging my dad to seek a professional, state-licensed psychotherapist. But whenever I expressed my doubts about the program, the pastor assured me (via my mother) that the center was staffed with “certified counselors.” That was enough to reassure me and support his attending the program.

My father graduated the program sometime around July this year. About a month ago, he asked if he could contact me. Wanting to evaluate where he was in his recovery, I agreed. He called one night, and we talked for about 40 minutes. I wasn’t satisfied with how the conversation went and mentioned it to my therapist. He asked, “What do you know about this program he attended?” I confessed that I didn’t know much; the program’s website had been somewhat vague about the method of treatment. So, I decided further research was needed.

What I uncovered was the Biblical Counseling Movement. Continue reading

‘Biblical Worldview': A Case Study in Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Sorry I’ve been a bit out of the loop recently, dear readers. Aside from the usual insanity that is my life, I’ve been researching an expos√© ¬†that will feature as a series of posts on this blog. It will be shocking and informative and, hopefully, well worth the wait.

Today’s post will sort of set the tone for what is to come.

During my research, I came across the phrase “biblical worldview.” Specifically, I came across it in a complaint that the majority of modern, “born again” evangelical Christians do not hold one. Of course, my first question was, “What is a biblical worldview, anyway?” The Internet was happy to oblige an answer:

“Christian worldview (also called Biblical worldview) refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which a Christian individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it.”

Then I jumped over to the Focus on the Family website to see what they had to say about it:

“Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.”

Really? The majority of American Christians don’t see this as their purpose? That seemed pretty hard to believe. So I dug deeper. Continue reading

What the Gospel is (and isn’t)

When I started Revolutionary Faith two years ago, I knew I would face some blowback at some point. I knew that some would accuse me of liberalism and that others would claim I was twisting scriptures and preaching a false gospel. You can’t poke holes in the sacred monoliths of fundamentalism and American evangelicalism without someone coming down with a case of hot head.

Well, it’s finally happening.

But what I find fascinating is that the people accusing me of presenting a false gospel cannot correctly articulate the gospel themselves. I mean, it’s a bit like someone pointing at my car and saying, “Your cow is broken.” True, but only if that thing they were pointing at were a cow. The first rule of critique is, if you’re going to claim that something is wrong, you must first have a clear understanding of what that something is.

So today, I’m going to help my critics by defining what the gospel is…and isn’t. Continue reading

Your ‘Deeply Held Religious Belief’ Isn’t Biblical


Most of us know the story. Last year, a Colorado baker was taken to court because he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing that such an act would violate his “religious beliefs” against gay marriage.

You’d think that nearly a year after the ruling (in which the baker was found guilty of discrimination), that most people would have forgotten about it. But no. I still see articles and hear comments pop up on ‘deeply held religious beliefs’ and how it’s such a shame that our government doesn’t seem to care about protecting them these days. (Protecting them meaning that they can be exercised whenever, however, and with whatever consequences that result.) The phrase took center stage in the Hobby Lobby birth control case, and again when a photographer in New Mexico refused to photograph a gay wedding.

However, the more I hear the words ‘deeply held religious belief’ bandied about, the more uneasy I feel. I wasn’t sure why at first, until I had read through the umpteenth article on the subject. And that’s when I realized that the so-called “beliefs” being defended weren’t actually rooted in scripture.

I believe that if someone is going to make a case for a ‘deeply held religious belief,’ then said belief should be backed up with a clear biblical mandate. And those saying it is against their religion to sell wedding favors to gay couples don’t have a scriptural basis for that position.

I can prove it. Continue reading