What is Repentance?

Because my series on biblical counseling has been so intense, I wanted to take a brief break to talk about repentance. Given some of the BCM material I will be covering in future posts, I think this topic fits in nicely.

The Church talks a lot about repentance, as well it should. It is one of Christianity’s cornerstones, recalling that Christ came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). However, whenever the word “repentance” is tossed around, I sometimes feel a bit like Indigo Montoya from Princess Bride:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So, today, I want to talk about what repentance means and what it looks like. Continue reading

The Biblical Counseling Movement: The Tangled Web

Photo by Jenny Downing

This is my series on Biblical Counseling. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

In my last post, I highlighted the origins of the Biblical Counseling Movement. One thing I mentioned was that the movement’s founder, Jay Adams, viewed secular education and certification as enemies of biblical counseling. His goal was to create a non-professional counseling practice, deeming only those who had (in his opinion) been thoroughly instructed in the scriptures as “competent to counsel.”

But in a field dominated by academics, it’s really hard to get your views taken seriously without a few letters behind your name. Enter Christian Education Enterprises (CEE).
Continue reading

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

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