This could get sticky and might elicit some push-back from a few but it needs to be talked about.
Do we only refer to “Biblical Counselors” or do we refer our hurting people to other types of counselors?
In the spirit of Frontline (being brief and to the point) I am not going to go into great detail about the differences between “Biblical” and “Integrated Christian Counselors” but I will try to briefly make some distinctions.
The hard core Biblical Counselor does not use any theories, research or interventions that are not explicitly taught in Scriptures. The basic belief is that all human problems stem from a broken relationship with God which then results in broken interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. (How we relate to ourselves and others) A Christian integrationist would agree with this core belief but also believes there is complexity in humans that should be considered and therefore research based psychology and brain physiology can be very helpful in the counseling process.
The bottom line question is this: If we would not turn away from modern medicine to treat our physical ailments then why reject modern psychological medicine? The relationship between emotions and brain chemistry is a clear and indisputable. Likewise the science of how humans interact with one another has also been clearly established through decades of research. All this science is merely discovering what God has already done.
Yes, it is true that there is much to be warry of when dealing with “secular” psychology. Often the goal of the pastor and the goal of the secular therapist are not in alignment. Secular Therapists are taught to alleviate suffering and hold no absolutes and for the Christian who is held to an eternal perspective this could be extremely dangerous leading to “gaining the whole world and losing one’s soul.” But do we need to exclude anything that is not explicitly taught in Scripture or can we expand our understanding of truth to include all of God glorious creation whether that be physical, social, or psychological.
The real question is what a Christian does in the field of psychology? Does he or she seek God’s discernment to identify truth that is in alignment and consistent with Scripture? Too many have neglected the real work of Christian counseling by either ignoring the science of psychology or disregarding the teaching of the Word of God. I consider both paths to be negligent and should be avoided. So here are some guidelines that may be helpful when qualifying counselors that you may what to use.
- Do they have a thorough understanding of the science of human behavior and how the brain produces neurochemicals that effect moods?
- Are they continually growing in learning about the empirical research that supports healthy thinking and relationships?
- Have they thought through the empirically proven therapies in relationship to the clear teaching of Scriptures and are able to design interventions that are true, effective and lead to ultimate life?
- Do they have a dependence upon and a commitment to the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in their counseling?
- Are they living a life that is consistent with godliness and discipleship?
- Are they willing to partner with you in the healing process and assist you in becoming a more effective minister of the Gospel?