'CHRISTIAN COUNSELLING' COURSES - ARE THEY JUST FINE?

The Alarming Truth is that Most "Christian Counselling" Courses Have Almost Nothing to do with Biblical Christianity Whilst Upholding Most of the Assumptions of Liberal Christianity!


What is "Christian Counselling"? Is Your Church Starting to Strongly Promote the Need for Christians to Study on These Courses? You Need to Check Out This Article First!

H ere is a scenario for you to consider....





A Baptist minister - currently without a pastorate - offers his services to a specifically Christian charity which reaches out to those with various social problems. To his surprise, however, the charity insists that he will be of no use unless completing 2 or 3 'counselling courses'. His reluctance to do so means that he is turned down for a counselling role. So this man, with a wealth of experience, compassion, knowledge of life and a deep knowledge of the Word of God is rejected! Yes - you understood correctly: A Bible-believing and theology degree holding Christian minister is rejected from joining a "Christian" counselling charity, because he has not undertaken certain 'counselling courses.' Surprising?? Actually this sort of thing is starting to happen a lot, at least here in the UK. So what are these mysterious "Christian counselling courses" which Bible believers have somehow managed to do without for 2,000 years, but which a few now consider so essential?

I'm afraid that just a little research reveals that in all too many cases Jesus Christ is firmly sidelined in such courses and the Scriptures are rarely consulted. On the contrary, people like Freud (the 'father' of psycho-analysis and an enemy of the Christian Faith), are given great credence even while many are increasingly rejecting his various theories. But whether or not his theories are being rejected, they are inherently unchristian and in no way based on the Word of God. The 'father' of situation ethics, Joseph Fletcher, too (we understand) often plays a role and the whole package apparently comes delivered in a highly permissive and politically-correct attire!
Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991) published the book, Situation Ethics, in 1966, thereby securing for himself the dubious distinction of, "the Father of Situation Ethics." Fletcher was a leading academic involved in the consideration of such socio-moral topics as abortion, eugenics and cloning. His approach was unflinchingly liberal. Once ordained as an Episcopal priest, Fletcher later identified himself as an atheist. He taught Christian Ethics at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts for many years where, sadly, he influenced many young Christians to adopt 'pragmatic situationism' as the best approach to ethics. This, of course, opposed any concept of ultimate, or divine truth emanating from an omnipotent God. In 1974, the American Humanist Association named him 'Humanist of the Year.' That, perhaps, says all we need to know about Mr Fletcher!

One person who left such a 'Christian counselling course' told us that it is amazing that the word 'Christian' was connected at all, even though several church-attenders were involved. She revealed to us that the only form of "Christianity" which could be discerned was the most liberal form. Religious Pluralism ('all religions lead to God and have equal worth') was at various points (though not always) assumed and Bible-believing evangelicals would be bound to feel highly uncomfortable on many occasions!
Such courses - all too often - pursue this society's liberal, permissive and non-judgemental agenda and do not follow biblical guidelines.

Truth is that 'Christian counselling' courses buy into our society's new fascination with "Therapism" and 'Therapism' is inherently anti-Christian but finds a place for liberal Christianity (as long as the concept of the authority and sovereignty of God is ditched). But we must see 'Therapism' as yet another aberration of this self-absorbed and responsibility-dodging modern society. What is particularly worrying is how such flawed and intrinsically atheistic lines of human reasoning (which, essentially, deny the realities of sin and of human responsibility), are now even making inroads into evangelical Christianity. So suddenly we see people advertising their services as "Christian therapists" and "Christian counsellors" even when some of these people would deny the great Christian creeds and statements of faith.

In some large evangelical congregations the practice of counselling with a minister has just about gone, having been replaced by the recommendation to counsel with a team of "trained counsellors" within the congregation.
One senior gentleman told me this,
"I wanted to see my senior pastor about a private, personal matter but I was told that the pastor no longer handles these things. I was offered a choice of three counsellors. All three were less than half my age and my wife used to babysit two of them! One of the guys was barely out of his youthful acne! When I questioned this I was simply told about the Christian counselling and psychological training the guy had come through. I later rang my pastor to complain. He said, 'Some of these things are now a matter of law and have been taken out of my hands.' HELP! What's happening to us??"

We need to ask whether such courses can give Christians 'counselling skills' which the study of the Holy Bible cannot?

Let us consult a few Scriptures:

What should be a Christian's foundation of knowledge?

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
(Proverbs 1:7).
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding..."
(Psalm 111:10 NIV).

This world is full of a sort of 'knowledge' but if this knowledge is not according to the Word of God, it is ultimately futile and meaningless. It is the product of a 'fallen' mind. Yes, very often, quite sincere - no doubt - but as Christians we are bound to accept that it is the product of minds who 'did not like to retain God in their knowledge' (as Paul says). The great learning of this world and society is, of course, not all wrong but it is ultimately the product of a system which has firmly ruled God to be 'out of court.' As Paul says,

"Professing to be wise, they became fools."
(Romans 1:22).

So what is it that makes the difference for Christians?

It is the receiving of Christ for the remission of sins and the Gift of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit - among other things - imparts the gift of sound reasoning and understanding. This is why the cause of the problems in modern society are so crystal clear to the truly converted mind, even while experienced politicians struggle to see a solution!

Again, the Christian has a grand and panoramic understanding of the non-Christian mind, yet are we not sometimes a little surprised to notice that non-Christians have no understanding of us? We should not be surprised! Paul said it would be this way a long time ago,

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges [* 'understands'] all things, yet he himself is rightly judged [* 'understood'] by no one."
(1 Corinthians 2:14-15, [*] my inserts).

So we see that it is the Holy Spirit Who makes a vast difference. He is the 'Comforter' who would guide Christians into all truth!
One of the great problems with too many so-called 'Christian counselling courses,' it seems to us, is that such courses constantly appear to seek 'common cause' with the world; they quickly take on board a politically-correct and permissive stance while such course organisers, if they are Christians, should be profoundly aware how much this permissive age has encouraged sinful behaviour. Oops!! Apparently, that word 'sin' is not allowed to be used on many such courses!

So two final questions to consider here:

1. Is it wrong to ever use this world's knowledge?
Of course not and we are often grateful for such knowledge. I don't think that those who discovered the dangers of misusing electricity were Christians but - My! I am grateful for their learning!! But that is materialistic and strictly non-spiritual knowledge. Do we see the difference? We don't go to this world's philosophers and psychologists for spiritual knowledge even though they may freely offer it.

2. Are all Christians - by virtue of having received the Holy Spirit - great counsellors? The answer is no, because we are all granted differing gifts and strengths, yet in my experience the great majority of those 'well-seasoned' in the faith, are able to give the correct spiritual advice. Whether that advice is delivered in the most politically-correct way is another matter, but we should be far less concerned with such 'political-correctness', and far more concerned with straight talking and the application of sound biblical principles.

When Christians are encouraged to go on 'Christian counselling courses' what message are we giving them?

We appear to be saying that Jesus is not enough, better to have Jesus plus a tiny pinch of Freud and perhaps a dash of Fletcher and maybe even a sprinkling of Schopenhauer so we can speak to others about our faith, and the reality of their sin! What absolute nonsense!! Actually, of course, as we have already noted, 'sin' is often ruled out of court on such courses, and course students are taught never to use that word when counselling. If this is indeed the widespread approach (and I am reliably informed that it is), then there is no doubt that only a form of "Christianity" which denies the authority and integrity of the Word of God is being embraced. In other words, Liberal Christianity. This - without a doubt - has no power to change lives.

Just as the apostle Paul told the Colossians: Jesus REALLY IS ENOUGH! We don't need this or that philosophy to reinforce our Christianity before we can counsel with others:

"See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fulness in Christ who is the Head over every power and authority."
(Colossians 2:8-10, NIV).

Robin A. Brace
2002. 2009 re-edit.

AN OBJECTION TO THIS ARTICLE FROM A 'CHRISTIAN COUNSELLING' LECTURER:

'It is hard for me to understand your complaint. It is good for Christians to become aware of the work of Freud, for instance, he was a great man who can teach us a lot about why people are unhappy and about the human condition. I don't think he disbelieved in God either...'



MY ANSWER:

Please allow me to quote from an essay:
'Freud described the concept of God as merely a projection of the childish wish for the protection of an all-powerful father. He added that "religion is an attempt to master the sensory world in which we are situated by means of the wishful world which we have developed within us as a result of biological and psychological abnormality."
He concluded that the religious view is "so pathetically absurd and . . . infantile that it is humiliating and embarrassing to think that the majority of people will never rise above it." Except for the brief time as a college student under the influence of a brilliant philosopher named Franz Bratano, a devout believer, when Freud wavered in his atheism, he stated that he remained an unbeliever all of his life. A year before he died, Freud wrote to Charles Sanger, "Neither in my private life nor in my writing have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever."

(From the essay, 'The Real Issue; When Worldviews Collide', Armand Nichol, Jr., M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School).

Think my article may be exaggerative?
TRY TO GET THIS BOOK;
'How Christian is Christian Counseling?'
By Gary Almy MD.
Crossway Publishers
(Almy is a Christian with a very extensive background in psychiatry).


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