The BCC Weekend Interview Series: Defining Biblical Counseling

September 10, 2011


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Weekend Interview

In most of our BCC Weekend Interview Series, participants have provided a succinct working definition of biblical counseling. We thought it would be instructive to collate these definitions (provided as of September 9, 2011). Please remember that none of the interviewees were sharing these definitions as their final, robust, complete descriptions of biblical counseling. We offer them in alphabetical order.

Association of Biblical Counselors, President Jeremy Lelek: “ABC defers to the two definitions offered by the authors of our training materials, Dr. John Henderson and Dr. Bob Kellemen. They are as follows:

  • Biblical Counseling is a fluid event and process, as part of the Great Commission, whereby one or more theologically and relationally qualified persons provide spiritual, emotional, and behavioral service, comfort, and guidance in love to one or more persons through the truth and power of God’s Word under the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John Henderson).
  • Biblical Counseling is Christ-centered, church-based, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed one-another ministry that depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s Word to suffering and sin by speaking and living God’s truth in love to equip people to love God and one another (Matthew 22:35-40). It cultivates conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ leading to a community of one-another disciple-makers (Matthew 28:18-20) (Dr. Bob Kellemen).”

Briarwood Counseling Ministries of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Pastor Howard Eyrich: “Biblical counseling is about loving people by taking the time to understand them, interpreting their life situations through the grid of Scripture, confronting them with God’s framework, and challenging them to engage in the put off, mind renewal, and put on dynamic of Ephesians 4:22-24.”

Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Pastor Deepak Reju: “We believe Scripture provides hope for even the darkest of human sin and suffering. So our goal is to erect from the Bible a model and method to wisely help people with their problems. As biblical counselors, we seek to build strong relationships and help people to apply the gospel in ways that are meaningful and direction-giving. Our counseling is shaped by a Christ-centered view of human life as found in the Christian Scriptures, which takes seriously the physical, social, and developmental nature of our difficulties. We believe that people can be healed, strengthened, and built up as they grow in their understanding of the gospel and in their relationship with Christ. However, this doesn’t happen apart from our personal dependence on Him and seeking of His help.”

Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), Executive Director Tim Lane: “Biblical counseling involves walking patiently with someone, while wisely connecting them to Christ through the grace-centered message of the Bible. This one-on-one ministry is done in the community of the church where both the normal and complex problems of daily life can be addressed.”

Faith Biblical Counseling Center of Faith Bible Church, Biblical Counselor Martha Peace: “Biblical counseling is a model of counseling that believes that God truly has given us ‘everything we need pertaining to life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3). Biblical counseling adheres to a high view of God and a biblically-accurate view of man. The counseling is Christ-centered and practical. Therefore, there is amazing hope and help.”

Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries, Pastor Rob Green: “Biblical Counseling is the process where the Bible, God’s Word, is related individually to a person or persons who are struggling under the weight of personal sin and/or the difficulties with suffering, so that he or she might genuinely change in the inner person to be pleasing to God.”

Grace Fellowship Church, Pastor Brad Bigney: “The goal in biblical counseling is to come alongside a person who is struggling and seek to apply the principles in God’s Word in such a way that the person responds in an obedient and godly manner to the problems they are facing to the glory of God and the person’s own good.”

GraceXchange Counseling, Rev. Shawn Doud: “Biblical counseling is applying God’s assessment of who we are, where we are broken, and how Christ brings the grace of repentance to all areas of our thinking, believing, and doing. Biblical counseling is short term, pastoral, problem-attentive discipleship.”

Harvest Bible Chapel Soul Care Ministry, Pastor Garrett Higbee: “Speaking the truth of God’s Word in the light of His grace to transform lives in the compassionate Spirit of God, through the intentional community of God.”

Immanuel Bible Church, Pastor Paul Tautges: “Biblical counseling is an intensely-focused and personal aspect of the discipleship process whereby believers come alongside one another for the threefold purpose of teaching, warning, and leading one another toward the biblical love and godliness that mark progress toward spiritual maturity (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”

Overseas Instruction in Counseling, Executive Director Wayne Vanderwier: “Biblical counseling is that action or process in which a believer (or group of believers) lovingly confronts and scripturally instructs a (sinning or suffering) fellow-believer for the purpose of affecting God-glorifying change.”

RPM Ministries, Executive Director Bob Kellemen: “Biblical counseling is Christ-centered, church-based, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed one-another ministry that depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through Christian sustaining and healing) and sin (through Christian reconciling and guiding) to empower people to exalt and enjoy God and to love others (Matthew 22:35-40) by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ, leading to a community of one-another disciple-makers (Matthew 28:18-20).”

Reigning Grace Counseling Ministries, Co-Founder Julie Ganschow: “Biblical counseling is intensive, targeted discipleship that reaches the heart level of the problem where true and lasting change takes place. I want my counselees to understand that living their lives to glorify God is the most important thing, not feeling better.”

Truth in Love Ministries, Founder Mark Shaw: “We define team biblical counseling as at least two redeemed sinners partnering together in the body of Christ to ‘speak the truth in love’ to counselees so that all involved may know God intimately, glorify the Lord, become more like Christ, fulfill the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40), and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). It is disciple-making that is Christ-centered, Gospel-driven, Word-based, and Holy Spirit-empowered. This type of counseling must always be compassionate!”

Join the Conversation

Which definitions resonate most with you? What is your succinct definition of biblical counseling?

8 thoughts on “The BCC Weekend Interview Series: Defining Biblical Counseling

  1. Pingback: Destaques On-line da semana – n.1/setembro 2011 « Conexão Conselho Bíblico

  2. The English word “psychology” is derived from two Greek words:a. psuche =
    soul, life, person, selfb. logos = word, logic, study of,
    reasoningBiblical Psychology would be a biblical study of the heart,
    mind and soul of man as we can understand him from his creation before the
    fall in the garden and then using the OT Scriptures, e.g., Wisdom Literature,
    and NT Epistles and instructions for Godly “rational” thinking and behavior for
    correctionand teaching to better understand ourselves and others in our
    lives. The choice to do good or evil, where true thought begins and
    ends without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is clearly the result of
    flawed motivation, “irrational” thinking. Counseling without the
    Scripturesfor effectual change brought about by the Holy Spirit
    (regeneration resulting in “rational” thinking) will do little for any
    individual with eternal consequence. “Much of what is called Christian
    counseling today is nothing more than mind psychology. Telling people to
    shape up, change their mind, etc.[2]”“for with the heart man
    believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made
    unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)Cognition defined: “Cognition, act or
    process of knowing. Cognition includes attention, perception, memory,
    reasoning, judgment, imagining, thinking, and speech.[3]”Cognitive Therapies:
    “Cognitive therapies are similar to behavioral therapies in that they focus
    on specific problems. However, they emphasize changing beliefs and thoughts,
    rather than observable behaviors. Cognitive therapists believe that
    irrational beliefs or distorted thinking patterns can cause a variety of
    serious problems, including depression and chronic anxiety. They try to teach
    people to think in more rational, constructive
    ways.[4]”A Biblical “Cognitive
    Behavior Therapy” would be diagnosing and isolating problems, explaining
    how behavior can be changed from inappropriate behavior to appropriate
    behavior, by making a conscious effort, behaving or responding appropriately
    and intentionally, using God’s Word to define “rational” and “irrational”
    beliefs and thinking.Counselees throughout the counseling process are
    encouraged to continue in worship, personal devotion, prayer, and
    fellowship for the benefit of the means of Grace, by which they are enabled to fulfill their obligation to serve God in their daily lives. Obeying
    God is rational behavior. “Conclusion: we are GodÂ’s creation, trying
    to survive in a fallen world, destine for destruction. Outside of Christ
    Jesus, God almighty, and a constant feeding and reliance on His Word through the
    Holy Spirit (Matthew 4:4) there is no therapy or instruction that can teach,
    correct, and/or answer any questions in an effort to fill the void in the
    hearts of men that they themselves search endlessly to fill. This void is
    a life without Christ.” (Rev. Thomas R. Miller, B.A., M.A.,™ content on all pages… ©CopyrightRevTMiller,2003;
    2. Associate Pastor/Biblical Counselor V.
    Tauriello New Hope Presbyterian Church (OPC) Frederick, MD.
    Vtauriello–12-20-2002—in correspondence w/TRMiller3. “Cognition,”
    Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All
    rights reserved.4. “Psychotherapy,” Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. ©
    1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.Compiled by: Rev. Thomas R. Miller,
    B.A. M.A. Senior Pastor and Pastoral [email protected] Clinical Pastoral
    Counselor with the National Conservative Christian Church N.C.C.A. Board
    Certified Faith Based Crisis and Abuse Therapist; National Christian
    Counselors Association Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor (not state licensed); Certified Pastoral Member of the Sarasota Academy of Christian
    Counseling & N.C.C.A. A.P.S. CertifiedN.C.C.A. Stands for The
    National Christian Counselors Association“The grass
    withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
    (Isaiah 40:8 NKJV)

  3. Great article with some ideas. I agree with parts of most and disagree with others, such as being in the church setting. As a licensed counselor, much of what I do is outside of a church, but just as meaningful and impactful. If I had to add my own definition, it would be something like this:

    “Biblical counseling is walking alongside others in a graceful, compassionate, yet truth-filled way that helps to understand and reframe their experiences through a biblical worldview and make important changes based on application of the Gospel of Jesus. It is Christ-centered, often involves theological adjustments, repentance, and should result in a process of Christ-like love that produces increasing praise and glory to God.”

  4. Something I have come to believe is that Biblical counseling first and foremost is for Christians only. No non-Christian can or will receive true biblical counsel before they become believers, mainly because biblical counseling involves the Gospel itself.
    There are of course counseling services that use modified biblical principles that have some success, such as AlcoholicsÂ’ Anonymous where people are able to stay off alcohol. However, this is not true biblical counseling, which point directly to the Gospel as the answer.
    If a non-Christian actually responded to true biblical counsel, it would mean that they had been drawn by the Father to faith in Christ. (See Jn.6:37 & 44 & 65). It would also mean that they have come to faith in Christ alone.

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  6. Regarding Christian Counseling being for
    Christians only and to partially quote a responders post: “If a non-Christian actually responded to
    true biblical counsel, it would mean that they had been drawn by the Father to
    faith in Christ. (See Jn.6:37 & 44 & 65). It would also mean that they
    have come to faith in Christ alone.” That is correct and that is the plan. It’s
    called evangelism.

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