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August 7, 2013

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A Primer on Questions

As biblical counselors, questions are one of our chief methodological avenues to elicit information and gain insight into those we seek to care for and love. As such, a book on the actual topic of questions then helps the counselor pause and think through something which on the surface might seem quite ordinary.

In this short book, Anderson takes the reader through an exploration of what some might say is the discipline of asking questions. For biblical counselors, he rightly conveys that questions are much deeper than mere intellectual pursuits to have curiosity satisfied. He writes, “Questioning is a form of our desire. Even while our inquiries often take an intellectual form, they come from wellsprings deeper than the mind.” Sound familiar? It is reminiscent of Proverbs 4:23 where we are encouraged to guard our hearts with all diligence for from it flow the issues of life. 

As counselors we are typically not the only one asking the questions. We are constantly on the receiving end of questions from our counselees: “Why am I suffering?” “Why am I going through what I am going through?” “Why do I struggle continually? “Where is God in my despair?”

As a counselor, many of the counseling issues I face essentially can be distilled down to, “Who is God, and does He care?” Anderson helps the counselor facing such a question to rightly frame it through questioning versus doubting. He writes, “Our questioning may be rooted in our doubts, but it does not have to be. Conflating doubt and questionings is one of the chief confusions of our age.” Anderson goes on to write that the answer to such questions and inquiry naturally draw us back to “the answer of God’s faithfulness [which] calls into question our experience of doubt and hesitating uncertainty.”

A Small Gem of a Book

There are many more rich and thought-provoking chapters in this small gem of a book. It is rare to come across a book about an ordinary issue such as questions that is also so difficult to put down. Anderson’s writing, while at times can lean towards the more academic and philosophical, are nonetheless balanced by his humor, humility and self-revealing footnotes. I would not recommend this book for a counselee per se, but the content is a must read for counselors seeking to become more competent and to help us develop a deeper appreciation for one of the most significant methods of communication we have at our disposal in the counseling process. 


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