Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Counselors in the Church

 I've been thinking about the topic of counseling after reading the following comments: 

Just curious, does anyone know of any Bible passages that were used to establish the "evil" of getting counseling? Or was this another extra-Biblical add on

  1. I don't necessarily remember a specific scripture. Someone else might though. I think it was based on the idea that we don't need to be looking to man for our answers - God clearly tells us that mans' ways are not His ways. However, I believe there are many good pastors, friends, and even licensed counselors out there who can point us to God's ways - people who have been through difficulties themselves and/or people who have had time to research the scriptures extensively to bring about coherent, productive study relevant to different topics that one might be struggling with, such as money issues, marriage struggles, struggles with healing from traumatic life incidents or resisting certain sins. Certainly a counselor who points us back to Freud or Jung as the ultimate authority ought not to be trusted - but there are a great many people out there giving counsel and pointing others back to Christ as their ultimate authority. To not seek them out in our time of need is foolishness!

I love the above comment and agree with it completely.

Many churches have trained lay people who serve in the capacity of counselors.  Some churches refer out to Christian counselors.  Lots of pastors and their elders or assistant pastors counsel their flock.   So it occurred to me, why is it that at our church, only one man did counseling, the pastor?   

I've heard stories that the pastor at BGBC did not condone outside counseling. 

In light of the topic of spiritual abuse, I have a few questions for consideration:

Why would a spiritual abuser not want their congregants to receive counseling outside of the church? 

Why would an abusing pastor want to be the only counselor?   Wouldn't it free them up to do other things?  

What could the pastor gain by being the only counselor? 

Why wouldn't an abusing pastor want others raised up to counsel?  

If elders were "equal" with the pastor, why wouldn't they be qualified to counsel?


  1. Recently I treated myself to a new study Bible, the NIV version. How refreshing to have another translation, another perspective and another commentator's notes. Having the pastor as the only counselor is very similar to insiting on only one translation of the Bible (the NKJV, MacArthur edition, no words of Jesus in red). It limits the congregants' access and allows situations of spiritual abuse to occur. The more I study my Bibles, the more I learn about the God of the Bible and how much He wants to be with us (He lived in a box to be near the Isrealites!). Eliminating other sources of spiritual guidance and limiting study resources also limit spiritual growth and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

  2. NO ONE should be counseling ANYONE without the proper schooling. It takes 4 years at the very least to become a counselor but it's best to go with someone with a Masters or a Ph.D. a tremendous amount of damage can be done in a very short time with someone who doesn't know what they are doing. Many times it is irreparable.

    This "pastor" is interested in total control of his congregants and that is a HUGE red flag.

    1. My experience is "the other side of the coin". My pastor, who never actually gave me counsel, sent me to a 'Christian counselor' who was barely 'Christian' and did not 'counsel'. That lasted 3 sessions. Next I went to another 'Christian counselor'. I won't even go into that mess. The same thing happened to my husband well before I ever met him. That same pastor sent him to a secular counselor, a female, for what was distinctly a "male" type issue. A female should never have been his counselor though I suppose some would say it doesn't matter. Whatever--she never came up with a conclusion, the church lingered on the issue(s) and it all sort of disappeared for both of us. Oh, and then we met and married! :) I didn't see any big CONTROL issue though I don't doubt that is quite common and I agree it's a huge red flag; rather, I saw an outside counselor as being a way to move people out of the church so that if something really sticky was revealed, the church wouldn't be faced with some kind of accusation or lawsuit. Quite frankly, the very best advice I got was from a relative who was, at best, a deist and didn't claim to be a Christian. She said, "God gave you brains--use them." And so I did. It made quite a lot of things so much simpler, and didn't cost a dime!!! I am sure there are many fine counselors out there who are conscientious and sensitive to what's going on with their patients; however, you can understand why it will likely be a long time before I ever ask advice of a pastor or a counselor. My experiences with both were pathetic.

  3. I think that to restrict who counsels is rather typical of cultic behaviour. NO?

  4. No one should council anyone without 4 years training? What a crock . . . . . .I've counselled many with addictions because the Lord anointed it, having had 27 years of addictions Im well qualified. . . . I don't need 4 years of theory from the worlds system, i have Gods ultimate system.
    What's with this church setting such a terrible witness to the world suing people. . . What happened to Luke 6:27-28 where Jesus Himself says "but i tell you who hear me, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who ill treat you!"

  5. >"Why would a spiritual abuser not want their congregants to receive counseling outside of the church?"

    Simple. Because he would lose control. These churches want to control their followers' every action and thought. Nothing can be done without the pastors permission or knowledge. Allowing someone else that kind of access to a follower would be giving up his control over them.

    And I completely disagree without that ridiculous quote. Pastors are nowhere qualified to give psychological counseling to anyone. Certainly not for complex problems. If you think that you need to run to god to solve every problem and think that humans sometimes solving their own issues is a bad thing, you are still caught up in cult-thinking. If anyone has serious mental issues that go beyond simple relationship troubles and they go to a pastor they are just asking to be screwed up even more.

    1. I agree that pastors are not qualified for counseling - those are two completely different skill sets. The pastors I know won't do counseling anymore, other than one or two sessions to help make plans or goals. The problem with counseling is you have to know how to separate out your goals and your world view from the person or you can mess with his/her mind completely. You help people in their relationship with God, if they want help in that area. If they don't, you leave it alone and help them according to their world view. That's what pastors can't do without more training than they get even with a master's in theology.

      However, what's wrong with thinking God can solve our problems? I think God gave us medicine and doctors and science and I think God gave us help for the spirit and the emotions too. For someone who is a strong believer, God will always be part of the issue, and that's completely normal and healthy.

      There's a reason most states require a master's degree and a couple thousand hours of supervised experience for a counseling license. You just need to find the right one.

  6. Wow, there should be more Biblical references.
    Proverbs tells us 3 times in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom
    11:3, 15:22, 24:6
    The word of God should always be our counselor.

  7. My family and I went to a denomination that was also 'cult-like': It was their way or hell. They tried to enforce the 'no musical instruments’ outside the church as one of the elders had an epiphany. They only talked, or counseled with like-minded people. I believe that they believe, fanatically, that they are right and that there are no other paths to Christ. Actually, I think they are weak-minded as they cannot hear or logically refute dissenting opinions. I found that a 'cult' has these characteristics in common:
    1. My/our way or hell.
    2. Bible verses out of context.
    3. 'We are special/singled out by God'
    4. Everyone persecutes us because they have the devil in them.
    5. Legalistic, not by grace or conviction.
    6. God speaks through the leaders and if you think he speaks to you directly, then it's really the devil talking to you.
    7. Somehow it's always about the Benjamin’s (NOT the tribe).

    You can't change their minds and you can't kill them all before they catch you (sarcasm), so let God have the last work and shake the dust from your sandals and live life the way Jesus and you plan.
    Proverbs 15:22 says it best (to get back on point) about “counsel with many" as my mom use to say.

    Oh, many people put their head in the sand when it comes to making a stand that is uncomfortable or may change their perception of someone by acknowledging abuse. Pick an excuse for each of the offending (or weak-willed) adults that did nothing and look at who you are now... Are you not a catalyst for change in many lives? Are you not a loved and respected mother? I love who I've become in spite of what happened to me also. I am proud and humbled at the same time, it almost seems as a non-event so long ago because the joys and insight of today make me wonder who I would be had it not happened. Would I be able to keep my girls safe without my suffering? I do not wish it upon anyone; but God heals, restores and blesses those who persevere.

    God bless you and yours.

  8. kreepy, kreepy, kreepy, kreepy.... probably would fit better with the Muslims or Mormons......

  9. Ok, I am really, really busy, so I am just going to let one Bible verse speak for me: Romans 15:14. Regardless of how the key word is translated, "comfort, instruct, or counsel," it all points back to counseling. As I state clearly in chapter 9 of my book, Jay E. Adams has done all of the heavy lifting on this subject and that is why he was, and continues to be persecuted by the New Calvinists. They, for the most part have won so far, and hence, 90% of the counseling out there in the church is based on Reformation Gnosticism. There is NO abundance of reputable counselors out there.

    There should be, but David Powlison and others took care of that and replaced the Adams' biblical counseling revolution with gospel contemplationism. Bottom line: I have seen the radically changed lives that resulted from Adams' biblical counseling construct.

    It is time for Christians to tell the philosopher kings to get real jobs, pick up a copy of God's comprehensive philosophical treatise for life: THE BIBLE, Barackman's systematic theology of practical Christian living PRIOR TO THE 1990 EDITION, all of the Adams stuff you can buy for discipleship, and start our own churches.

    God has not left His children without remedy.


  10. Oops, forgot to answer the original question: The premise for counseling being evil is the idea of making the Bible a "formula for life," or "living by a bunch of "do's and dont's." What we should supposedly do instead is contemplate the person and works of Jesus as a way to manifest the "vision of the good." Of course, they cite multitudes of verses to supposedly make that case.


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