BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the eleventh in a multi-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Biblical Counseling Education and Equipping. These posts are written by leading biblical counseling equippers/educators. In today’s post, John Babler of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary shares about The Sufficiency of Scripture for Biblical Counseling at SWBTS.
It has been my privilege to teach the principles of the sufficiency and superiority of Scripture in a variety of contexts at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas for over 20 years. During that time, Southwestern’s counseling focus has evolved into a strong, multilevel program in biblical counseling with opportunities for everyone from the layman or woman who has no formal theological background all the way to a resident Ph.D. It has been a great blessing to watch the growth in biblical counseling as many become convinced of the life change that God desires to bring about as people are challenged and encouraged by His Word.
In simple terms biblical counseling is ministering Scripture to those who face struggles in life or who desire wisdom or God’s direction. Biblical counseling is not a new concept. There are examples throughout the pages of Scripture where God’s Word was cited in instructive and corrective ways to both individuals and groups. There are also examples throughout the history of the church of the utilization of Scripture by pastors and others to provide encouragement and admonition to members of the flock.
The programs at Southwestern are based upon the following definition of biblical counseling:
Biblical Counseling is a ministry of the local church whereby transformed believers in Christ (John 3:3-8) who are indwelled, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26) minister the living and active Word of God (He. 4:12) to others with the goals of evangelizing the lost and teaching the saved (Mt. 28:18-20). Biblical counseling is based on the conviction that the Bible is sufficient for the counseling task and superior to anything the world has to offer (2 Ti. 3:16-17, He. 4:12, 2 Pe. 1:3-4, Ps. 119, Jas. 4:4). Biblical counselors realize the significance of sin (Ro. 3:23, 6:23) and after self-confrontation (Mt. 7:5) lovingly confront those who are in sin (Lk. 17:3-4) and call them to repentance (2 Ti. 2:24-26). Biblical counselors also realize that in a fallen world people can face significant crises that are not a direct result of their own personal sin (Job 1-2). Biblical counselors purposefully and patiently walk with, serve, love, encourage, and help people in these cases (1 Th. 5:14) and also call upon others in the Body to assist based on their gifts and roles (1 Cor. 12).
Biblical counseling can be informal (accomplished over coffee, in the hallways of the church, and in the work place and community) and formal (accomplished through scheduled appointments in an office setting). All Christians should be taught to minister God’s Word and encouraged to boldly do so in the official ministries of the church and as they are living life. Biblical counselors are motivated by the compassion of Christ (Mt. 9:36, 2 Cor. 5:14-15) and by obeying HIs commands (Jn. 14:21) seek to be salt and light in such a way that others see their good works and glorify their Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16).
The primary counseling degree offered at Southwestern is the M.A. in Biblical Counseling. Additionally concentrations in Biblical Counseling are offered in the M.Div. and the M.A.C.E. degrees. For those with graduate Seminary degrees, we offer the D.Ed.Min. as well as a Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling. Finally for those who aren’t interested in pursuing a graduate level degree, we also offer a training program in Biblical Counseling that meets for seven weekends over a period of a year. For more information go to www.swbts.edu or email me at [email protected].