Counseling Seemingly Impossible Situations

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2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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I am reading an excellent book called “Counseling the Hard Cases:  True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture“.  This book provides case studies on how Biblically based counselors successfully counseled seemingly impossible counseling situations – including situations which secular-counselors had previously been unable to resolve.

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The book starts with a discussion on whether the Bible is sufficient to help people with their problems….

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“Is Scripture sufficient to inform all the possible counseling situations in this fallen world? The implications of such a question are massive. If Scripture is an overflowing source of wisdom for all counseling, then the pressing task for Christians is to be busy mining the text of Scripture for an understanding of the manifold problems people experience and for the wisdom to help them. If Scripture, though valuable and useful, is ultimately inadequate as a source of wisdom for all counseling, then the urgent work is to look to the corpus of secular psychology for those truths that supply the Bible’s lack. The debate revolves around the relationship between an understanding of hard problems, the nature of counseling, the contents of Scripture, and the role of secular psychology. How we answer the question about the sufficiency of Scripture ultimately describes our understanding of the content of Scripture and defines the kind of literature counselors should use to help them in their work— whether theological or psychological in nature.”

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It goes on to say

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“Modern psychologies have a secular, anthropocentric starting point. This has pervasive effects beginning with diagnostic categories. From the very beginning, psychologists have sought to help people with their life problems apart from any awareness of God, Christ, sin, the purposes of God in suffering, and Holy Scripture.  Secular psychology proceeds on the assumption that people can be understood, and their problems ameliorated, in a thoroughly man-centered way.”

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In responding to the secularists, the book states:

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“(Jay) Adams articulated the fundamental critique of secular psychology: their understanding of people’s problems is oriented away from God. When psychologists diagnose persons with difficulties they see medical problems, developmental difficulties, and dysfunctional behaviors. They do not see the operations of sin. They do not see guilty people who create difficulties for themselves and exacerbate existing problems by their moral failures before God. They do not see innocent people who are menaced by those who transgress against them. They do not see God the Savior of sinners as the refuge for the afflicted. In missing these categories, secularists miss reality (Rom 1: 18– 23). Secular psychologists cannot truly understand the problems people have because people’s problems are deeply theological.”

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It continues by saying that there can be things to learn from secular analysis, as long as you clearly  understand where it falls short and put it in its proper perspective.

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“None of this means that advocates for sufficiency (of Scripture for counseling the hard cases) have nothing to learn from science or from secular efforts at helping people. Biblical counselors can learn much, and they have been saying this from the beginning.  In fact, biblical counselors have consistently stated that the observations of secular psychology can often fill in gaps for— and provoke biblical counselors to more careful biblical reflection about— all manner of issues. The secular interpretations of those observations (as well as the efforts at ministry) by psychologists are what biblical counselors have objected to since they are contaminated by an atheistic worldview. For biblical counselors, secular psychology— although able to observe many things— is unable to interpret the significance behind their observations.”

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“They fail to understand that all problems in living— emotional, mental, relational, behavioral— have a spiritual core. This is a powerful argument for the adequacy of Scripture’s counseling resources. It claims that a biblical understanding of the problems people have, which is rooted in life lived before a sovereign God, has been hijacked by humanistic thinkers and thus secularized. This argument turns the debate on its head: the real concern is not with the sufficiency of Scripture but with the sufficiency of psychology.”

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This introduction to “Counseling the Hard Cases” corresponds well with the basis for this blog.  Secular analysts can observe traits and tactics, and possibly even understand at a surface level the “why”.  My own search into narcissism started, in fact, by first becoming aware of the secular perspective. However, knowing that God has far more insight into the subject than secularists ever could approach, I used the secular observations as promptings to dig into what God says about the subject.  When it comes to understanding root causes and solutions, the secular approach cannot reach the breadth of wisdom and understanding provided by God through the Bible.

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Demonstrating this is one goal of this blog.  In addition to the actual digging out and sharing of helpful insights and solutions, this blog also seeks to create an appreciation and conviction that the Bible does in fact speak sufficiently to all of life’s issues, if we take the time to dig deeply – and to do what it says.

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Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, [b]may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

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Luke 11:10

10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.

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This idea of relying primarily on the Bible as holding the answers to life’s problems, rather than relying on  secular “wisdom”, is not necessarily a popular stance.  It incorporates a broad definition of the Gospel of salvation – with salvation not just limited to escaping the penalty of Hell and enjoying Heaven after we die – but helping us in this life as well.  And the Gospel has rarely been popular.

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Please see here for a very quick explanation of how to know God personally