Who is allowed to counsel?
I love the biblical counseling movement because it shows no partiality. It is Reformational to the core. The battle cry of the protestant reformation was to the sources! Ad Fontes. Sola Scriptura. Scripture alone is all that is needed and not any doctrine or creed from the Catholic church.
In Britain, William Tyndale was zealous for the Bible to spread among the average citizen and not be bound to the church hierarchy. “One scholar was so exasperated with Tyndale that he blurted out, ‘We were better be without God’s law than the Pope’s.'” To which Tyndale replied, “I defy the pope, and all his laws…and if God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more Scripture than thou dost.” (See chapter five in The Unquenchable Flame by Reeves)
The Reformation took away the authority of Scripture from the Pope and declared that the Bible alone held the authority of God. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli believed the right of interpretation should not be held captive by Catholic priests. Rather, the Reformers pried biblical interpretation from the golden rings of the church and placed it in the dirty hands of the common man. For the first time in years, people were able to study the word of God without having to rely upon anyone. They were able to see, enjoy, and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. The Reformers believed any Christian indwelt by the Spirit of God could interpret the Bible. The biblical counselors believe the same thing.
There is a common assumption that only professional psychiatrists can truly counsel. Most Americans and even most pastors seem to automatically believe that people with difficult problems can only be helped by the professionals. Pastors frequently send church members to clinical psychologists who have been trained at secular institutions.
What qualifies someone to tell someone else how they should or should not live? What gives someone the resources to comfort a devastated heart or offer hope to a despairing soul?
Biblical counselors believe that anyone with the Spirit of God and a well worn Bible can adequately counsel those in all things that pertain to life and godliness. As Jay Adams would say, the Scriptures make someone competent to counsel.
This warms my heart and relieves my soul. I do not need to find some secret knowledge found in a psychiatric textbook in order to help those I love. I am thrilled that I do not need to be licensed by the state in order to care for those in my church. Instead, I am free to mine the Scriptures and connect them with daily living. Biblical counselors are called to love the Bible, love others and look intently into their lives to offer help.
Let me be clear; I am 100% pro training. A counselor should attend counseling classes, do theological research, and correctly interpret the Scriptures. A skillful knowledge of the Bible is essential to counsel well. Every counselor should seek to acquire a more seasoned understanding about people that comes from careful observation. I am incredibly thankful for organizations such as ACBC that aid in this process. May every biblical counselor go deeper into the Word and be equipped to connect the Scriptures with hard situations. Purposed thinking is not optional. Thoughtful, practical and intense contemplation is a part of good counseling.
But we should nail this theses on the door: there is no special class of professionals when it comes to counseling. Biblical counseling is available to the common man and not just the psychiatrists. Do you have a Bible? Do you love others? Do you have the Spirit of God and a desire for wisdom? Then counseling is for you.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him…” (Galatians 6:1) No popes, no professionals, no priests. The power of God resides in jars of clay who are committed to knowing the Bible. Let us be trained in the Scriptures and let us boldly approach God for wisdom (James 1:5)
This post is a follow up to Why I Joined the Biblical Counseling Movement