A Bat on the Ceiling
Much thanks to Barry and everyone else who prayed for me. Swamped is a pretty good description of where I am at right now, needing to read God’s Greater Glory (Ware), The Problem of Pain (Lewis), and Leading the Team-Based Church (Cladis) this weekend. I’m grateful for the grace of no classes on Friday and not being scheduled to work this weekend! Highlights from the day included hearing Bruce Ware preach at chapel (watch the video), and getting to tell Dr. Russell Moore, “There’s a bat on the ceiling…just thought you should be aware.” (Exhibit A)
Defining Biblical Counseling
Last week, I laid out some examples of what biblical counseling isn’t, so this time we will explore what biblical counseling is. A good summary of the definition we discussed in class would be that it is empowered by the Holy Spirit and consists of one Christian giving wise counsel to a brother/sister in need, that they would have a fuller understanding of how the Gospel relates to every area of their life, and respond in obedience.
That being said, one of the most helpful pictures we discussed in class was the relation of the physical and the spiritual aspects of whatever is going on that necessitates counseling. The physical issues that can contribute to a problem are numerous and include sleep deprivation, illegal and legal drugs, hormones, diet, and many others. Spiritual issues can include testings and trials, discipline, faking it, and guilt/cover up. In almost every problem there are several physical and/or spiritual factors going on. Spiritual factors will influence the physical, and physical factors will also influence the spiritual. We have to be incredibly careful about giving pat-answers when someone comes to us for counsel. One thing Jay Adams advocates is having a physical checkup from a doctor to see if there are any known (proven) medical conditions or physical issues that are going on.
We also discussed epistemology, which is essentially how do we know what we know? This is an important question to ask. You may have heard (as I have) the anthem being trumpeted “All truth is God’s truth”. Well, all error is Satan’s error, so we’re essentially back at the drawing board. Let’s look at four levels of where we get our knowledge. The list goes from least subjective to most subjective:
1. Revelation – Recorded exclusively and completely in the Scriptures. We don’t discover it, God has revealed it. This is the Truth that biblical counselors must build their methodologies on. General revelation says that God has revealed some truth to all people at all times about Himself (his glory, his supremacy, divinity, etc.) From here, it is a big step down to….
2. Facts and possible facts – This is essentially the best the world has to offer. Based on the scientific methods, seeking to gain facts and knowledge by the hard sciences.
3. Possible truth and theories produced by human reasoning and observations. This is often called the “soft” sciences. This is much of what sociology and psychology deal with. This is where a lot of psychological diagnoses are formulated. For a shocking look at how little hard scientific research has gone into many abnormalities put into the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), check out the book “They Say You’re Crazy”.
4. Intuition – feelings and senses, almost totally subjective. Unfortunately we see this a lot when people make decisions in their lives. We’re all too often led by our feelings whether it be where to go to college or what we do with our lives. We say “I just had a peace about this” without searching through the scriptures.
Whenever we hear a framework being presented to us, we need to look at where it lands in these levels. Is this capital-T Truth we’re talking about, or are these people’s observations and intuitions, which can so fallible?
I look forward to your comments.
~ Isaac ~