Troubling Tweets: Biblical Counseling to Treat Schizophrenia, Bulimia, Depression, ADHD?

Mental Health, Biblical Counseling, Geoffrey Kirkland, Addictions, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar, Bulimia, ADHD


 

This evening, I tweeted the following:

After seeing this tweet:

Who is Geoffrey Kirkland?

From Geoffrey Kirkland’s bio:

Geoff grew up in St. Louis and then moved to LA to go to the Master’s College. God saved Geoff in 2001. Geoff loves studying, preaching, and discipling men in the truth of the Word. But most of all, Geoff’s passion is to shepherd his wife, Elizabeth, and five children: Hezekiah, Tikvah, Emunah, Kesed, and Ahavah. Geoff is a graduate of The Master’s College (BA), The Master’s Seminary (MDiv and ThM), and Baptist Bible Seminary (PhD). Source

At the Christ Fellowship Bible Church website, we can read  their distinctives. Here is their distinctive on Biblical counseling:

Counseling & Psychology
We believe that the Bible is wholly sufficient for all of life and godliness. Therefore, the Bible has the answers for any and every problem that may arise. We find our wisdom and counsel from God’s Word and apply it to the specific counseling situation so that the Spirit-indwelt person can implement biblical principles and get to the root of the sin-issue and replace that sin with a Godly and holy virtue. We do not practice psychology, psychotherapy, or so-called ‘Christian psychology’; we practice biblical counseling.

 

So, what’s the big deal about this Biblical Counseling PDF?

Go ahead and see for yourself. This pdf on “Biblical Counseling” claims to have the answers on how to treat addictions, depression, schizophrenia, bulimia, ADHD, etc. I’ve highlighted a few examples below.

A brief excerpt from Biblical Counseling On Depression

The Root Issue Biblically, depression always involves hopelessness & it manifests a low view of God at that moment.

3  crucial biblical counseling diagnostic questions related to depression:

  1. Could God have changed the circumstances? (yes)
  2. Did he? (no)
  3. Is God good? (yes)

We must constantly repeat this in our counseling our own hearts (and others)

A brief excerpt from Biblical Counseling  On Eating Disorders

The Biblical Truth

Overeating Is Not an Addiction Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ. [This is fundamental to biblical counseling!]

A brief excerpt from Biblical Counseling On  Guidelines for Counseling the Sexually Abused

Bill Gothard spanking

I found this section very disturbing. The first part is a very tough pill for many survivors to swallow. Some will interpret this to mean that God has acted as an abuser because He is Sovereign and knew abuse was going to happen, yet didn’t stop it from happening:

God is sovereign (Job 1-2; Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28-29; Gen 50:20)

It doesn’t get any better here:

Why does God allow abuse?

(1) To bring deliverance to others. Gen. 50:20

(2) To build character in us. Rom. 5:3-5 James 1:2-5 I Pet. 1:6-9

(3) To equip us to comfort others. II Co. 1:3-11

(4) To display the works of God. John 9:1-3

(5) To help us to appreciate the hope we have in Christ. Rom. 8:18,28-29

I hope Elder-Shepherd Kirkland has a good insurance policy in order. It sounds like he could be “treating” folks out of the scope of his educational qualifications. Kirkland’s PhD is no MD, and I am concerned that his counseling could put people in harm’s way, especially those who need medical treatment.

 

 

150 comments on “Troubling Tweets: Biblical Counseling to Treat Schizophrenia, Bulimia, Depression, ADHD?

  1. DANGER-DANGER-DANGER-RED FLAG-RED FLAG-RED FLAG!!!! I doubt this counseling (sic) would offer medication for schizophrenia. How is he even qualified to diagnose mental illness? His passion is to shepherd his wife – ding, ding, ding, and YIKES! Patriarchy and Fundamentalist – Houston, we’ve got a problem. Whatever problems a person might have when they walk through those doors at Christ Fellowship Bible Church to get counseling – rest assured the problems will be magnified afterward.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. J.A.- I looked at the church site under the heading “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” To the right under “Other Resources” is listed 9 Marks (otherwise known as 9Marx LoL!), Albert Mohler, Challies, Digital Puritan, Grace to You Blog, Institute for Nouthetic Studies, Tony Miano – just to mention a few. What a powder keg of potential abuse. Oh, they’re Reformed – Calvinistic to the core. In case you didn’t notice. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They say, “We believe that the Bible is wholly sufficient for all of life and godliness.” No, if they actually believed that, the dude in the picture wouldn’t be wearing glasses. Poor vision, just like the organic malfunctioning associated with all manner of mental illness, would be viewed as a sin problem, and resort to optometrists would be strictly forbidden.

    If you have a leaky pipe, call a plumber. If you have a broken bone, go to the emergency room. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, go to a psychiatrist (not a psychologist, but a psychiatrist). If you have a sin problem, turn to Jesus (and no, the Bible alone, without Jesus, will do you no good).

    But whatever you do, do not, for any reason, turn to these all-purpose quacks with a string of dubiously earned honorifics (BA, MDiv, ThM, PhD) attached to their names. BS is the one honorific I would concede is appropriate, and by BS I do not mean bachelor of science.

    I will concede also that the Bible is sufficient to warn us against these self-proclaimed gurus who lay heavy burdens of guilt and shame on people (it’s your sin! It’s your sin!) without so much as lifting a finger to help.

    Liked by 9 people

  4. While I think it’s unwise to suggest one’s counseling will “heal” schizophrenia, bulimia et.al., let’s not make our case based upon the [ questionable ] success rates of secular psychiatry – psychology.
    *
    Today’s psychiatrists simply prescribe chemicals which may alleviate symptoms but do not generally heal the underlying problem. 15 minutes to talk about side effects and medication adjustment is the norm for a session with a psychiatrist.
    Not a whole lot of healing there.
    [ And as we all know, ALL meds come with unexpected side-effects, which in some case can actually kill you. ]
    *
    As for psychologists or other therapists, they’re simply doing what a nouthetic type counselor is doing – face to face verbal therapy – by any other name. Some are quite gifted, others not so much.

    Like

  5. Another thought: Given their utterly heartless blame-the-victim-for-failing-to-appreciate-the-sovereignty-of-God approach to “counseling” survivors of sexual abuse, is it any wonder so many big name preachers have begun to think it necessary to surrounding themselves with armed bodyguards?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. @senecagriggs

    Unless you happen to have personal experience with a debilitating mental health condition having its etiology in an organic malfunctioning of the brain, then to hell with your opinion expressed at 5:18 A.M. If you do happen to so suffer, yet still would prevent others from seeking the relief you reject, then my you be brought to utter despair–not as retribution or punishment, but that you might be driven to seek the help you so foolishly reject.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am alive today because over 20 yrs ago a psychiatrist diagnosed my condition and saved my life. I will always be on medication. It makes the difference of being sane or crying all the time. I am not Bi-Polar. I suffer from a really bad form of chemical imbalance. The meds put the necessary chemicals back into my system so that I can function. I had the choice after being diagnosed to seek Christian counseling with my then minister or to see my psychiatrist. I chose the psychiatrist. For over 4 yrs I met with him in intensive counseling sessions. No ministers that I know of are trained like this man was. What this Kirkland guy is saying is totally wrong. Same to you Seneca. Yes, I had people tell me not to see a psychiatrist. To just get closer to God and it would all work out. People said seeing a psychiatrist was wrong. I have news for them, maybe they should see one and learn how wrong they are. Mental health problems can change a person so much. I had lost my ability to love life and be happy. As I always tell people, I lost my ability to smile and this man taught me how to smile again. Yes, he was a christian, but that didn’t play into our counseling sessions unless I wanted it to. When I hear so called “well-knowing” people take stabs at the field of psychiatry it makes me really upset. These people have no idea what they are talking about. Since my original diagnoses I have had several psychiatrists as they have either moved on to other places or I moved. One was a total quack and a christian. He wanted to keep his patients totally drugged up like zombies that can’t function. That is not me. I will always have to check in with psychiatrists for a medication check and to see if I am doing all right. I thank God for the kind gentleman that diagnosed my problem. I thank God he put the right man in the right place to help me. I thank God that he gave medical science the right tools to create the medicine that I need to take to keep alive. To those who say that all mental health problems can be healed by going to christian counseling, they have no idea what they are talking about. You have no first hand knowledge of what it is like to walk even a few steps in our shoes. You don’t have any understanding of this at all. Yes, I am Christian and I thank God I am alive. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I am grateful for it. It has taught me so much. A lot of it is compassion. Once you go through something this traumatic and all the other health problems I’ve had, you can’t help but feel compassionate for others. God has given me such a heart of caring and love for those in need. I always had it to a degree, but even more so.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. Senecagriggs, your comparison of nouthetic counseling to traditional “face-to-face verbal therapy” is at best ill-informed and at worst purposefully misleading. A Nouthetic “counselor” believes that the only solution for any type of mental illness or disturbance is found in the Bible. A competently trained and licensed mental health counselor or therapist relies on scientifically validated approaches to psycho/social/biological malfunctioning of the human psyche or brain. Gary W is right (4:19 am) when he points out that we do not apply the same reasoning to physical ailments. If we did we might urge the person who needs corrective lenses to pluck out their eye, since it offends them or does not work the way it was created to work.

    I am sure that there are many nouthetic counselors who can listen empathetically, and offer compassion to hurting people. But restricting their recommendations for healing to the Bible is a huge disservice to those they are “treating” but also reflects a very low view of God and His continual work on behalf of His creation. Does He not continue to speak and work through the intellect and skills of scientists and researchers seeking better treatments and remedies or cures for the ailments we all face? We are grateful that we no longer face what now is considered archaic medical treatments because science has offered better understanding of disease and better treatments. The same is true of psychology or psychiatry. Prior to the advent of psychotropic medications to treat clinical depression, electric shock therapy and lobotomies were common practice. Now, thanks to scientific research we have medications that can vastly improve the lives of those suffering from this debilitating disease. Did not God create the minds that developed those drugs and treatment? Nouthetic counseling and psychotherapy are not the same–no, not at all.

    Brenda

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Upon reading all 121 pages of the Biblical Counseling pdf, and based on my 27 years of counseling and caring for Christians struggling with most of the problems mentioned, what Kirkland presents is not all bad. Which also means it’s not all good!
    The accent on believing Scripture and applying it to life is good; seeing it as the ONLY answer to all problems is naive, if not at times dangerous to those being counseled (especially for schizophrenics and their families). Two surprising absences are the Holy Spirit and his work in believers (making one believe it all depends on what they do) and the positive effects proper medication and doses can have on certain health problems (depression, schizophrenia…).
    Many sections (like the one on the demonic, which I deal with often), come across as based more upon lectures and books than personal – and successful – counseling experiences. The complexity of some problems/situations is often minimized or downplayed.
    Personal conclusion: In spite of some good points, this approach is unbalanced and could become a form of abuse for hurting Christians who don’t find healing or deliverance because they “didn’t have faith” or didn’t “obey Scripture”. If only life and healing were that simple!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A Nouthetic “counselor” believes that the only solution for any type of mental illness or disturbance is found in the Bible.

    ” ‘Research’? ‘Peer review’?!? Pffft. Who needs all that jazz? We’ve got The Bible!!! We don’t need anything else!”

    I agree, Brenda. Psychiatry and nouthetic “counselling” aren’t even in the same league.

    Seneca, I hope you read Harley’s post. She’s been there, and knows what she’s talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Seneca, you seem to have a fatalistic attitude. There is a middle ground which is what I’ve heard far more than your doom and gloom forecast: psychiatrists who prescribe helpful meds and also recommend that their patients seek therapy. This combination, has helped many to survive and then thrive, eventually without needing meds or therapy.

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  12. Thank you Serving Kids in Japan for your kind words. This has been along journey I have traveled and will continue to travel on. Seeing Kirland’s video just infuriates me. If he had diabetes would he go to Christian counseling because there is sin in his life that is causing him to be a diabetic? I don’t think so. If he was having trouble managing his diabetes would he see a christian counselor to tell him what he was doing wrong and to pray more about it and confess his son. Absolutely not. That would be outrageous. He would see the correct medical doctors, just as I am doing.It is no different. I did not sin to cause my problem. It was hereditary and I seem to be the 3rd generation that I know of who has this type of problem. Mine being pretty bad. But then he would say the sins of the fathers are passed down to their children. That’s a bunch of hooey. We genetically get certain conditions or are more prone to certain medical conditions due to family history. This has played it out in my life in many ways. Oh Seneca, God bless you for you know not what you say.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. If you’ll re-read my comment [ of course you won’t ] you’ll see I did neither doom nor gloom. But we need a little perspective. I DO have personal familial experience with psycho-tropic meds and secular professionals. Some of them are quite good.
    While in the past, psychiatrist WOULD spend time with their client base, that has really, really changed in the last few years. Meds and money made the difference.
    *
    What hasn’t changed, all meds have side-effects; can you live with them? All doctor’s are quite human; some better at their professions than others.
    *
    THANK GOD

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  14. Lost the ending:
    *
    THANK GOD for common grace which gave all mankind aspirin, diabetes meds and even the psycho-tropics.
    *
    But let’s be balanced and not assume that ALL secular mental health professionals are superior to ALL Biblical counselors. As I said, some are gifted, some not so much.

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  15. In my job I see a lot of people with medical issues that involve the brain, and which in turn affects their thinking, emotions and physical health. For many of them, if it weren’t for medications to stabilize them initially they’d never be able to think clearly on anything – the Bible or anything else. To tell these people that they are not going to receive medication but only be counseled in Scriptural truths is nonsense, pure and simple.

    Like

  16. Julie Anne said re: the counseling notes for the sexually abused:

    “Some will interpret this to mean that God has acted as an abuser because He is Sovereign and knew abuse was going to happen, yet didn’t stop it from happening”

    That’s what it sounds like to me. I can’t help but be disturbed that If you went to him for counsel, you would first be taught this fatalistic Calvinistic belief which in my opinion, distorts God’s character. Does he believe that God orchestrated the abuse or “allowed” it in order for “good” to come about? How twisted! If you really think about that, then God sounds so uncaring and distant. How can you trust a god who just sits back and nods and then proclaims, “well, it’s all for your own good and the good of all those others.”

    Then, in putting so much emphasis on finding all information through the written scriptures, he opens himself up to the danger of leaving out the work of the HS. The words themselves don’t contain some kind of “magical” fix for all the problems he encounters. It’s in the person and message of Jesus. I know he believes the HS is necessary, but all of scripture and the HS points to Jesus and His message. I don’t see Jesus as the orchestrator of abuse in order to bring glory to God.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Senaca observes, “[A]ll meds have side-effects; can you live with them?”

    What the hell is your point? Excuse my anger, but this is deeply personal to me. There is a very good chance that at least two people who are very close to me would be dead if they had rejected psychotropic medications because of their side effects. Another person who was very close to me actually did reject psychotropic meds. They subsequently killed themselves.

    Your concern for side effects would be laughable were it not for the fact that some are dying who are listening to absolutely unqualified, heartless, dangerous people like yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Kirkland’s claim that “God’s Word is sufficient.”

    In regards to what? In doctrinal matters, okay, I’ll buy that.

    But in treating depression, anxiety, anorexia, domestic abuse, child abuse, and a myriad of physical health problems? Nope.

    You know Luke, who most likely wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts was a physician. In one of the NT books, someone (was it Paul?) told someone else who had a queasy stomach to “take some wine” for it.

    I don’t know why so many Christians are so insistent on sticking to the Bible alone for any and all things in life. That view is generally not pragmatic and does not work.

    Even the Bible itself says in one NT letter to ‘put the Scriptures down and go put it into practice.’ – Just reading the Bible alone won’t do much of anything.

    Some Christians stubbornly cling to this idea that to recover from any thing and everything, all they need to do is read the Bible (and/or pray, and/or go to church regularly).

    I think this keeps a lot of people needlessly trapped with the same problem for many years. It did me.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. (part 2)
    I used to have clinical depression – I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist when I was younger. I was on medications for it, and I saw psychiatrists and some psychologists for it.

    Off and on over the years, I would go on and off the meds, thinking I was “lacking faith” by taking meds and seeing doctors, so sometimes I’d stop using either one (doctors or medications).

    In my case, the doctors and medications did not work (for other people, medications may work, so I am not “knocking” their use) – but neither did the usual Christian approach of prayer, Bible reading, and having faith.

    I was finally released from the depression from getting to the root of the cause of it, which neither the doctors I saw or Bible reading alone per se could really address.

    Come to find out, the Bible does address the root of my issue, but maybe only in an in-direct or vague way.

    After so much indoctrination by my Christian family, churches I went to when younger, and Christian literature I had read since I was a kid (all staunchly conservative, evangelical / Baptist, sola scriptura-ish in nature), I was taught to read and interpret the Bible in a certain way that had the consequences of me ignoring or downplaying the passages that maybe could have helped me.

    That’s still a bit of a “maybe,” because the Bible doesn’t come right out point blank and address my underlying issue. It is in there, but you have to know what you’re looking for – which only helps in hindsight, not when you are in the middle of suffering from this issue I dealt with.

    And even then, when you see it and explain it to other Christians, most other Christians will try to argue you out of it by interpreting some the verses in a different way (like “Flag Ken” at the other blog). It’s almost like some Christians WANT people to stay stuck in problems.

    I had to read books by Non-Christian AND Christian psychiatrists / counselors to get a proper diagnosis. Bible reading alone didn’t help. Talking to other Christians didn’t help.

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  20. (part 3)
    In my last post, where I said something like, “It’s almost as if some Christians WANT you to remain stuck in your pain or problems.”

    By the way. A while back, some other site I visited posted a link to some church or some biblical counseling site. I don’t know if I bookmarked it or remember what church it was for.

    Some church was working in association with a biblical counseling group (to offer free counseling at the church or something like that), and the counseling group had a link to a PDF of their beliefs. It was so distressing to read.

    This biblical counseling group point blank confesses on one of their FAQ pages that their goal is NOT to heal you of whatever problem you have but to get you to see your sin or dwell on your sin (I forget how it was worded).

    But the gist of it is that they don’t care about getting you over or past your pain / problem or healing you. They want to bash you over the head with your sin, that was their driving motivation.

    I was horrified to see that. Getting people to beat themselves up over their sin is not compassionate, and it’s not going to help them get past their struggle.

    Also, biblical counseling seems to assume that any and all bad things that happen to you are your fault. The Bible teaches that it not so (eg, book of Job in Old Testament, Jesus’ words in Luke 13:4, etc). Sometimes bad stuff happens to you due to other people’s bad or wrong choices.

    I’ve read at least one book by a pro-biblical counseling author (his name escapes me at the moment), and it was a very victim-blaming endeavor.
    He also puts the burden on the victim to recover, he sort of assigns them tasks and things to do. I don’t think most hurting people have the mental fortitude or energy to try to accomplish another set of religious tasks.

    Using the words “counter productive” and “cruel” to describe Christians who engage in victim-blaming, and under the guise of you’re supposedly honoring God or being faithful to the Bible when doing so, is deviant and disgusting. I can’t think of stronger words to describe it and condemn it.

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  21. OP:

    “At the Christ Fellowship Bible Church website, we can read their distinctives. Here is their distinctive on Biblical counseling:

    Counseling & Psychology

    We believe that the Bible is wholly sufficient for all of life and godliness. Therefore, the Bible has the answers for any and every problem that may arise.”

    No. When I had to put more RAM cards into my computer years ago, I bought a “Computers 101” book for that. The Bible doesn’t say squat about computer repair.

    You know like I’ve said on domestic abuse threads that decades of Christians telling abused wives to “submit more” and “pray for your husband” has not worked, and it’s obvious these approaches do not work, so Christians should toss them in the trash can?

    It’s the same with depression or other problems. My mother (who was a Christian) had depression (she also had physical health problems). She spent decades visiting some Christian psychiatrists, reading books by Christians about depression, reading the Bible, praying, etc., to figure out how to be healed of depression.

    I too suffered depression and spent the 1980s onwards reading books by Christians about depression, listening to sermons by preachers about it.

    Almost all the advice and commentary by Christians always boiled down to the same list of suggestions:
    focus on your sins and repent of every sin you’re aware of; go volunteer in soup kitchens; read the Bible; go to church; pray; take your mind off of yourself
    (depression is often mischaracterizied by Christians as a form of self-centeredness, as though the depressed are the same as NPD, which it’s not)

    My Mom and I (and many other depressed Christians) tried those same, worn out approaches for decades, and they do. not. work. But Christians keep tossing them out at people anyway.

    Churches that are ignorant about mental health problems and shame folks from seeing docs and using meds and insist hurting Christians use the Bible alone result in stuff such as (this is from 1985):

    Church Sued Over a Suicide Says It Will Change Training

    Snippet:

    A Protestant church that was sued for clergy malpractice because a young member committed suicide says it will reform its counselor training programs, even though the lawsuit was thrown out of court, the pastor, the Rev. John MacArthur, said Friday.

    The parents, Walter and Maria Nally, sued the Grace Community Church after their son Kenneth, 24 years old, shot himself in 1979. They said Mr. MacArthur and other members of the counseling staff had discouraged him from seeking outside help and had never told them about their son’s suicidal tendencies.

    They also said Mr. MacArthur made their son’s condition worse by telling him his depression was the result of sinning.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I am still reading through the Original Post at the top. I am sorry. I don’t mean to hog the comment section here. This topic grinds my gears.

    Quoting some biblical counseling page:

    “However, addiction is not a biblical term.”

    That doesn’t mean it’s not real or doesn’t exist. The words “Trinity,” “soteriology,” “dispensationalism” “Bible,” or “Rapture” aren’t in the Bible either.

    OP:

    But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ. [This is fundamental to biblical counseling!]

    Here they go, assuming each and every problem a person has in life is due to their personal sin, when such is not always the case. Their view will only add self-blame and shame to the person.

    I didn’t find my deliverance from the depression in the “person of Jesus.” Sorry, but that was my reality. I give two thumbs up to Jesus, he’s a swell person, but me looking to him didn’t lead me out of depression.

    Regarding the section under “Sexual Abuse.” Sounds Gothard-like- I’ve seen Gothard material that is victim-blaming.

    Also, that book by the biblical counseling guy I talked about above said similar stuff in his book. He had a 30 something patient who had been raped by someone (I think her dad?) when she was like 8 years old. This counseling guy said he told the woman that she and her sin played a part in her rape as a kid – very, very victim blaming stuff.

    The only person to blame for the rape was the rapist, not the 8 year old girl. These biblical counseling people are demonic, perverse sickos who masquerade as Christians.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. senecagriggs said,

    <

    blockquote>While I think it’s unwise to suggest one’s counseling will “heal” schizophrenia, bulimia et.al., let’s not make our case based upon the [ questionable ] success rates of secular psychiatry – psychology.

    <

    blockquote> I didn’t know you were a Scientologist.

    How has Tom Cruise been lately?

    Griggs said,

    “As for psychologists or other therapists, they’re simply doing what a nouthetic type counselor is doing – face to face verbal therapy – by any other name. Some are quite gifted, others not so much.”

    No.

    A biblical counselor will shame and blame a patient for his/her problems (usually by having them dwell on their personal sin), where-as a qualified secular (or even non-biblical counseling / Nouthetic Christian) psychologist or psychiatrists will try to help the person through and over their pain or problems.

    BCs (Biblical Counselors) do their darnedest to keep people stuck in their pain and problems.

    Like

  24. I don’t have any problems with the side effects of the medications I am taking. Never have had and never will. I always research any new medication I am prescribed before taking it to make sure it doesn’t interfere with these medications. Some of them do. To me the side effects far out weigh the benefits. I was tried on a couple of other meds at first, but they didn’t work. My doctor at the time took me back into complete chemical imbalance 2x to see if other meds would work. Believe me, I don’t ever want to experience that again.

    Most people would never know my story if I didn’t tell them. At first I was embarrassed when I saw a new doctor and had to give them my list of medications I take. Some at first looked down their nose at me. Like I was just depressed. Not so. I will defend my diagnosis to anyone and the medications I take with the proper medical science to back me up. I know that if and when I start getting really depressed over something to call my psychiatrist. I will also up my meds a bit. Plus I will of course rely on God even more than ever. Plus I remember all the tools I have been taught.

    I have lived a life of many health issues over the past many many years. If I had not been on this medication while going thru them, I honestly don’t know what the outcome would have been. I have had over 50 surgeries and counting that have had unequivocally nothing to do with the side effects of my medication I take for my chemical imbalance. I wouldn’t wish this life I live on anyone friend or enemy. But I thank God for it. He has been with me each and every hard, hard step of the way.

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  25. Griggs said,

    Some of them are quite good.
    While in the past, psychiatrist WOULD spend time with their client base, that has really, really changed in the last few years. Meds and money made the difference.
    *

    As I stated in a post above, medications and psychiatrists did not help me – I had to seek relief other ways. However, I do not shame or discourage others from using secular counseling or from taking meds, because those approaches might work for other people.

    I do know what did NOT work for me: faith, Bible reading, going to church, and other “spiritual” solutions.

    Which is not to say I am telling others to halt Bible reading, faith, prayer. If reading your Bible or prayer comforts you or helps you in some ways, great, keep at it.

    (I’m just saying it did not work for me, and doesn’t seem to work for a lot of other Christians who have mental health problems.)

    Like

  26. A Missionary Pastor:

    Personal conclusion: In spite of some good points, this approach is unbalanced and could become a form of abuse for hurting Christians who don’t find healing or deliverance because they “didn’t have faith” or didn’t “obey Scripture”. If only life and healing were that simple!

    BINGO!! I truly believe that those who claim Biblical counseling to be the ONLY way and guilt people who take meds are using their position of authority to abuse. I believe this is a form of spiritual abuse.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Re: senecagriggs FEBRUARY 24, 2016 @ 10:15 AM, (side effects of medications)

    I never went through biblical counseling per se but was subjected to its views when researching Christian approaches to depression, anxiety, low self esteem and other problems I dealt with.
    And Griggs, those bogus Christian views also came with negative side effects.

    The victim-blaming or ignorant approaches often prescribed by Christians to treat depression (or whatever other problems) can lead to compounded feelings of shame, can increase feelings of hopelessness in a depressed person, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. A Missionary Pastor said:

    Two surprising absences are the Holy Spirit and his work in believers (making one believe it all depends on what they do) and the positive effects proper medication and doses can have on certain health problems (depression, schizophrenia…).

    This is so true. One thought about the Holy Spirit – – those who claim to do Biblical counseling don’t seem to give much credibility to the Holy Spirit to speak in the lives of the Saints, even those Saints who are suffering emotionally. In fact, I believe these so-called Biblical counselors are in effect trying to BE the Holy Spirit in the lives of counselees.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. FYI – in my earlier years I was a Psych Aide for 3 years [ think the men in the white jackets ]. I knew the psychiatrists, the psychologists, the nurses, the social workers, recreational therapist, occupational therapists etc. I also had a list of patients I was responsible for every day. I can speak of the mental health industry from much personal experience.

    Like

  30. Harley, I truly appreciate you sharing your personal experience with meds and how they have benefited you. I hope someone reads your comment and realizes they don’t have to feel guilty about getting help through medicines.

    I’m tired of hearing the bad rap about mental health/meds from church leaders. They do not have all of the answers and should not calling real medical issues as sin issues.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Griggs said, “I can speak of the mental health industry from much personal experience.”

    That’s great, but some of us here have suffered from mental health problems and not just worked with mental health patients, and we can speak from our experiences of what worked or did not work for us personally.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. You don’t offer a lot of hope here to those who have suffered mental health issues, seneca, and if you continue to act like a troll, I will treat you like a troll. This place is first and foremost a safe place for those who have been harmed. If you are not willing to be a support, you will need to find another place to comment.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. And for the record, I have been on medication for 26 years. If I didn’t have meds I’d either be in prison, or rotting in a state mental hospital. And I’d be in prison for violent, unspeakable things, too- like dismembering people who claim that you don’t need meds for mental illness and you should just pray harder. I’m not kidding. That crap makes me so furious that I have seizures.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Dash said,

    Biblical counseling for people with genuine brain disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar illness is rank stupidity and idiocy. GO SEE A REAL DOCTOR.

    I agree with you there, but would just add that some people have emotional or psychological issues that aren’t necessarily tied up in biological causes.

    (Well, depression does run in my family on both sides, so it may have a bio component in my family, but …)

    People can have problems stemming from how they view life, God, themselves, and if they can change how they think about things, that can alleviate their depression or anxiety. It did with me.

    Maybe what I experienced by way of reading books and blogs (which helped me change the way I view things) was a form of Cognitive Therapy?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_therapy

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  35. I’m sorry if that was over the top, but I can’t stand this ignorance. I’M ONE OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAS TO LIVE WITH CHRISTIAN STUPIDNESS, and I’ve had enough. I’m 46 years old and these people have been blaming me for my problems my whole life, and they need to shut up. They need to shut their mouths and walk away and stop being arrogant negligent ignorant lackadaisical pricks, because that’s what they are being.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Oh my, Daisy! That article about John MacArthur’s poor counseling is not a surprise. And this Kirkland guy who believes the Bible has the answer for everything in life supports MacArthur’s Grace to You blog. Just go look at the link I posted above on the Christ Fellowship Bible Church website. As I said in my first comment: Whatever problems a person may have when they walk through the doors at this church to get counseling, rest assured they will be magnified afterward.

    For years I struggled with panic attacks – intense panic attacks that terrified me. I had no idea what caused them and I thought I was going to go insane or die each time I felt them coming on. Had I gone to someone like this quack – yes! I will call him a quack – I think I may have ended up in a psych ward. One time in the midst of a panic attack, a dear Christian friend who was also a counselor taught me breathing techniques. That was the beginning of learning how to manage my panic attacks. However, at another point while teaching high school, the panic attacks worsened and I went to my primary care physician. He had the wherewithal to understand that stress – overwhelming stress – played a huge role in my panic attacks. He prescribed a generic form of Xanax which helped tremendously because it worked to combat the panic within 10 – 15 minutes after it was in my system. Initially he prescribed an anti-depressant because my mental and emotional state were bordering on a nervous breakdown. Along with the medication he recommended an organic diet of fruits, vegetables, and healthy meats, and told me to cut out consuming large amounts of caffeine. Altogether these solutions worked and I was able to finish out teaching that semester without having a menal breakdown. Since then, I have gone off anti-depressants, but I still take a generic form of Xanax when needed and I have substantially limited my caffeine intake, from what used to be around 8 cups a day to 2 at the most.

    This Biblical counseling (sic) would not have helped me. I know because I have been a guinea pig of such counseling. It almost destroyed my marriage. My husband was made to feel like a faithless, sinful, incompetent Christian and husband. Sitting under the care of that kind of Biblical counseling sent one message: Your sin is what is causing all of the problems in your life. And you are suffering because you haven’t repented of your sin. This kind of shoddy counseling can send the person into a cycle of despair in which they begin to spiral out of control. This is what happened to my husband and he was on the brink of hopelessness, which for a short while led him to some very risky behaviors. Thankfully, both my husband and I are in a much better place today – NO THANKS to nouthetic counseling. Please – PLEASE – whoever is reading this blog – listen to the warnings of all of us who have suffered under this kind of BOGUS remedy to mental disorders.

    Liked by 5 people

  37. Darlene (FEBRUARY 24, 2016 @ 10:52 AM)

    I agree with everything you said. Biblical counseling, or attitudes similar to the ones it advocates, can cause even more damage in a person who is hurting. I found the same attitudes in various sermons I listened to, or found those same beliefs of “blame the victim” in books I read by Christians about depression.

    I know medication does not work for everyone (it didn’t work for me), but someone like Griggs above who is anti-medication (and apparently anti- counseling?) doesn’t offer another alternative.

    Bible reading, prayer, and faith alone does not work for a lot of Christians. It didn’t work for me.

    I still have problems with anxiety. It’s not as bad now as it was, but I deal with a daily, low amount that sometimes spikes and gets higher if a stressful situation pops up. I’m sorry you deal with anxiety too. I don’t often have full-blown panic attacks (with shallow breathing, racing heart, etc).

    I did read in one book by a (competent) Christian psychiatrist that some cases of anxiety can have a biological cause, so he says he cringes when he sees Christians shame or scold Christian anxiety sufferers for it, for saying their anxiety is a sin.

    I do think that Nouthetic Counseling / Biblical Counseling, or variations of its beliefs (the “only rely on Jesus or the Bible” thinking), can cause more damage in someone who already has some kind of problem. Such teaching / counseling sure as heck does not cure or relieve the suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. The introduction of “biblical counseling” advocates to the “DivorceCare” curriculum is part of the reason my wife and I stopped using the material. They are foolish and dangerous.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. Daisy, I’m surprised there haven’t been more instances like the one you linked to of churches getting sued for clergy malpractice, or perhaps practicing psychiatry without a license, or whatever. When nouthetic counselors claim the sole legitimate diagnosis to be the patient’s sin, and not anything going on in their brain tissue, they are pronouncing in areas outside of their expertise; sometimes with deadly results.

    “…so that the Spirit-indwelt person can implement biblical principles…”

    As soon as I saw that phrase “biblical principles” I knew there were serious problems. Literally every single time I have ever come across anyone claiming to find a principle in the Bible, as opposed to a teaching or doctrine, it has always turned out to be the result of eisegesis, not exegesis. In other words, somebody started with an idea and proceeded to find it throughout Scripture, even though it’s not there. So far, I have yet to run into any exceptions to this.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. One thing I read over at The Wartburg Watch yesterday in the comment section is that MacArthur believes that once a person is born again, the old nature is eradicated and removed. If this can be substantiated – ARE THERE ANY FOLKS HERE FAMILIAR WITH MACARTHUR’S BELIEFS/TEACHINGS ? – then the method of counseling his church and others like it implement can be said to be very detrimental. Imagine if a person in these kinds of churches is suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, overwhelming sadness/depression, and they go to get help from their pastor who believes this way? That poor congregant will be led to think he must not really be saved – not a real Christian – if he is suffering from a mental disorder/condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I’m limited on time or I’d search, but I did an article about a guy who committed suicide. The guy was a Master’s student and was told biblical counseling is the only way. There was a lawsuit involving this case. Very tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Julie Anne, Loren can correct me if I’m wrong – I have only a passing familiarity with it – but Divorce Care is a ministry that is supposed to help divorced people.

    I’m not sure if this is the same group that works with churches or not, but it’s something like this:
    http://www.divorcecare.org/

    “DivorceCare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. Don’t go through separation or divorce alone.”
    “DivorceCare is a ministry of Church Initiative. © Church Initiative.”

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  43. Troubling Tweets: Biblical Counseling to Treat Schizophrenia, Bulimia, Depression, ADHD?

    Scientology Auditing makes exactly the same claims.
    And has exactly the same attitude towards mainstream psych.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. I’m sorry if that was over the top, but I can’t stand this ignorance. I’M ONE OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAS TO LIVE WITH CHRISTIAN STUPIDNESS, and I’ve had enough.

    And sometimes the urge to choke the Stupid out of people just gets overwhelming.

    “The dog returns to its vomit,
    The sow returns to its mire,
    And the burnt fool’s bandaged finger
    Wobbles right back into the fire…”
    — Rudyard Kipling, “Gods of the Copybook Headings”

    I’m beginning to think it’s a side effect of gaining Wisdom; you just notice the Fools more and more and they really grate on you. No, not side effect, it’s the FLIP SIDE of Wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. @Darlene:

    One thing I read over at The Wartburg Watch yesterday in the comment section is that MacArthur believes that once a person is born again, the old nature is eradicated and removed.

    JMJ over at Christian Monist used to touch on that subject a lot. Mostly about how that belief’s a crock and causes a LOT of damage, with examples.

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  46. @Darlene:

    Sitting under the care of that kind of Biblical counseling sent one message: Your sin is what is causing all of the problems in your life. And you are suffering because you haven’t repented of your sin.

    In Clamspeak, you haven’t been fully cleared of your Body Thetans and have to go in for further Audting. And/or you’re an Entheta SP.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. This is horrible! I guess God must not have “allowed abuse” in his life because he sure is not “equipped to comfort others” !!

    My heart really goes out to anyone who is suffering who receives the double burden of “counseling” like this. Pure bondage!

    You know, this brings to mind an article I read recently- http://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism/2016/01/narcissism_ocd/ This woman describes living under the extreme legalism of narcissistic religion-addicted parents, which drove her to OCD. The prescription was, of course, more abusive legalism.

    Let me say that I do, in a sense, agree that the Bible contains all the answers. However, I see the answer in “love one another as I have loved you.” “Love does no wrong to a neighbor” “Love is the fulfillment of the law” The answer is love. How to love is something that will demand study outside the scriptures. A doctor shows love by learning (outside the scriptures) how to heal disease, relieve pain, and repair injuries. A psychologist learns (outside the scriptures) how to help people heal from emotional damage. A psychiatrist learns (outside the scriptures) how to help those with brain dysfunctions.

    I think this kind of thing should be just as illegal as practicing medicine without a license.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Seneca, “As for psychologists or other therapists, they’re simply doing what a nouthetic type counselor is doing – face to face verbal therapy – by any other name. Some are quite gifted, others not so much.”

    Great strides have been made in the field of psychology, strides based upon research and study of how people actually function and what actually works. There is no similarity to nouthetic counseling whatsoever. In “verbal therapy,” what is being said is of prime importance!

    Personally, I find psychology to be a fascinating field of study. I am not trained in it but it has been a lifelong interest of mine and I’ve done a lot of reading over the years. When my good friend went through college to be a counselor recently, I read several of her textbooks. There are so many tools to help people now. I find the area of cognitive behavioral therapy extremely promising, it put an end to my fear of flying for good.

    A question I have is why do some Christians have an irrational fear of psychology? Are they afraid that if people get more emotionally healthy, they will lose their faith? or is it more they fear they will recognize abusers more easily and learn how to set better limits? The more repressive and controlling the group, the more likely they will come out against psychology.

    Liked by 2 people

  49. So when Seneca gets cancer, he’ll just double down on the prayer; I’ve heard those chemotherapy drugs have some mean side effects.

    Wasn’t Seneca eventually banned at TWW? I can’t remember for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. This “Biblical Counseling” is one area where I wish the government would step in and prevent them from making unsubstantiated claims on what they can “cure.” Even supplement companies can’t make claims on their products per the FDA, and I think some amino acids can better improve a person’s neurotransmitter status than this nouthetic shill. Biblical Counselors should not be allowed to diagnose or treat conditions where no proof exists that it is at all effective. It’s like practicing medicine without a license or even any education for that matter.

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  51. One other observation I have. When people go to “biblical” counseling, how come the message they get is all about sin? Why are they given a FAILED prescription? The law did not bring about anything good. No one was made righteous or holy by it. Why do they think applying the law is going to bring any kind of healing or good?

    Why aren’t these counselors pointing people to grace? When a person comes in suffering, why are they not comforting them with the information that God has “separated them from their sins as far as the east is from the west” that their sins will be “sought for and found no more” that he “loves us with an everlasting love” that there is nothing they can do that will make God love them more than he loves them right now, that he is not keeping track of our failures but loves us unconditionally? I think that the grace of God is a refuge in the midst of our suffering in this world. Turning back to sin and the law- how can that possibly be of help??

    Liked by 2 people

  52. isn’t it comparable to faith teachings in a way?

    I think so. On that pdf you linked it says about addictions:

    Addictions:
    People sin because their hearts have been captured by something other than God . .
    Inaccuracy of Addictions/Substance Abuse & the “Disease” Mentality
    • Incompatibility of diagnosis and treatment—the treatment is not medical but moral.
    • A lack of empirical evidence to support the disease model

    So, an addiction is just a moral problem to be overcome by the power of God. I don’t think it’s wrong to use religion as an adjunct, but it’s irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst to try and help an addict using just the Bible.

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  53. HUG, I notice you often draw a parallel to scientology. Were you involved in it at one point? You seem to know a lot about it.

    It seems like all of these abusive and deceitful systems have so much in common. You can kind of just interchange the various doctrines!

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  54. I was bulimic for years. It actually got worse while in the spirit-filled Shepherding cult. It wasn’t until after I was married and had my first baby that it finally went away for good. My theory is that I finally, for the first time in my life, felt loved and secure.

    But people have died from eating disorders, and I wouldn’t dare risk the life of a severely malnourished person by expecting Biblical counseling to cure them.

    Liked by 2 people

  55. About 6 months or so after being diagnosed with my chemical imbalance, my doctor had my husband and I see a christian psychologist who was a friend of his for marital counseling. Both separately and together. It helped out our marriage. It wasn’t done in the church. This woman, was the well known wife of a minister of a large church in the big city near us. She didn’t practice in the church. She was separate. That’s what you need. Separation, but a doctor or psychologist who understands your faith in God. This woman did this for us. As Dash will tell you, when you go something like this, your thinking is changed. You have to learn how not to fall back into old habits. It was hard.

    Dash, I understand where you are coming from. It’s hard. To get people to understand the mental health world is a very hard thing to do. Sometimes I think they are the sick ones not us. When you have to “fight for your sanity” every day, others don’t understand it. But if you don’t take your meds then its terrible. I have missed probably less than 5 doses of my meds while I have been on them. That was due to being extremely ill.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Darlene, “One thing I read over at The Wartburg Watch yesterday in the comment section is that MacArthur believes that once a person is born again, the old nature is eradicated and removed.”

    Miles Stanford, the author of the Green Letters, wrote about this a lot. Miles was heavy on discernment ministry (can seem like a bit of a nit-picker) but I think he had some insight on this. You can look up his articles on persons’ teachings on the wayback machine, https://web.archive.org/web/20101225182709/http://withchrist.org/MJS/persons.htm

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  57. Shy1: I think it may be that for many of these Christians who support Biblical Counseling and reject the advances made in the field of Psychology and Psychiatry – applying grace in counseling is just a way of enabling them in their sin. So, for them, the better approach is to hit the counselee hard and make them face their responsibility as to why they are suffering from any particular malady. Their mindset, I believe, is that they are more concerned about people’s sins than they are about loving people in spite of their weaknesses. I know there’s more to this religious mindset that I have just stated here, but this is certainly part of it.

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  58. BTDT, “My theory is that I finally, for the first time in my life, felt loved and secure.”

    BINGO! Isn’t that what “biblical counselors” OUGHT to be dispensing? Unconditional love, security, acceptance… these are the things where healing is to be found! It’s very sad that the church is the very place they are so often in short supply! But in order to offer these to people, they would have to give up control, and that is not going to happen. When you do find a group that seems to be offering them, it turns out to be manipulative love-bombing, just designed to entrap people.

    These are what our hearts long for, these are what Christ offers us freely, but something is getting lost in the translation.

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  59. So, this guy wants to take ancient religious/spiritual texts and apply it to a physical issue? It doesn’t work that way.

    On their pdf you can find, “Addiction is not in the Bible.” Well…..duh! When the words in the Bible were written they believed that mental illness was due to demon possession. That’s about the only point that these Biblical “counselors” don’t take their beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. The bible is not a book of magic, and given there are so many different doctrines and interpretations of it, I’ve come to view ‘biblical counselling’ as highly suspect. It was this religious nonsense that screwed me up!

    Ironically, it was getting (secular!) professional help that finally brought me the freedom and peace I’d always been promised…

    Liked by 2 people

  61. One issue that hasn’t been brought up is “emotional boundaries”. A good therapist has usually had their own therapy and explored their own issues. This is a key component towards building a good therapist. This makes them aware of what issues the client is dealing with and not project some of their own crap onto the client. This can easily occur when the counselor has limited self-awareness. Some of the teaching in the Biblical Counseling manual practically screams emeshment. The nouthetic counselors have nothing more than their own personal life experience to draw from (and a Bible), but no training in biology, active listening, nothing to educate them to even diagnose basic psychopathology. But, they are in a relationship which gives them power over vulnerable people.
    It also appears the nouthetic counselor expects the client to come in with a working knowledge of their problem. Although the writer refers to the DSM-V (diagnostic manual used by therapists) to attach a diagnosis to a client, he also disparages the same manual as being secular and not useful for what he refers to as spiritual problems.
    I have been on psychotropic drugs for over 20 years. Between this and therapy, I have become strong enough to wrestle with spiritual issues and experience God in a real way. Without this, I would have been too depressed and paralyzed to engage in my spiritual journey. I do believe spirituality is a big part of healing, but having correct medication and an empathic therapist (who doesn’t judge my emotions or tell me he has all the answers) has kept me alive and made God accessible to me.
    I do agree with Seneca that now unfortunately most psychiatrists just do medication and not therapy (fortunately mine does), but they are usually very willing to work in conjunction with a psychologist who does the therapy.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. @ Ann said,
    “I do agree with Seneca that now unfortunately most psychiatrists just do medication and not therapy (fortunately mine does), but they are usually very willing to work in conjunction with a psychologist who does the therapy.”

    Psychiatrists are all about prescribing pills; that is what they are supposed to do. Psychologists are supposed to be for talking through issues.

    My sister kept pressuring me to talk to my psychiatrist years ago to talk about my problems, but I told her that is not what they do. She kept nagging though, so I asked my psychiatrist, but she just kept telling me ALL she does is write prescriptions. She kept trying to give me the number of a psychologist.

    Anyway – neither she nor the other psychiatrists or the 1 or 3 psychologists I saw before her were able to diagnosis my true problem. (I also saw a different shrink after her, and that one didn’t get to the root of my problem either.)

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  63. I’d like to second what livingliminal said.

    The Bible can wreck a lot of havoc in people’s lives, and it has. So many Christians disagree on what the Bible means, how it should be interpreted, etc. Some Christians mis- use the Bible to hurt people.

    So I find it sad and frustrating that some Christians (like these Biblical Counseling guys) think the Bible is the end-all, be-all cure for mental health problems.

    Christians can’t even agree on free will v. God’s sovereignty, should babies be sprinkled v. adults fully dunked, does the Rapture happen post, mid, or pre trib, etc etc etc. and a million other topics.

    What on earth makes these guys think their understanding of the Bible in regards to treating bipolar disorder, sexual assault, anxiety, depression and what ever else, is correct?

    Liked by 3 people

  64. I love bios of religious people.

    There should be a competition for the bio which generates the most laughs.

    I love the names of his kids.

    These are the kind of names where a person upon hearing them would seek an explanation of their meanings, thus revealing the spiritual depth and intense knowledge of Hebrew by the parent.

    I’m just joking.

    The names are fine.

    If you live in Jerusalem.

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  65. I’ve always thought that mental problems originating from brain are more correctly labeled “brain illness” rather than “mental illness.”

    Liked by 1 person

  66. The emphasis should not be on WHY God allowed abuse. It should be on encouraging and loving the abused person, consoling them, using the Bible to tell them they are loved and that God can heal their pain, seeing if the perp can be held accountable, involving the family in helping the victim. Wrong emphasis here…theology, not therapy,.

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  67. Daisy: One thing you have to remember is the guys like the Kirkland fella believe he has the True Interpretation of the Bible because Calvinism = the Gospel. It doesn’t matter a hoot to him or other Calvinists like him, because they are only able to have a one-way conversation that leads back to THEM being right. It’s called close-mindedness along rigidly established boundaries.

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  68. The nouthetic counselors have nothing more than their own personal life experience to draw from (and a Bible), but no training in biology, active listening, nothing to educate them to even diagnose basic psychopathology. But, they are in a relationship which gives them power over vulnerable people.

    Exactly, Ann! And not just vulnerable people, but people who could be on the brink of suicide. If you’ve been taught that mental health professionals are not of God and the only way to get help is through Biblical counseling, imagine the depths of despair one would feel if they failed to get help. Now where do they turn? What’s left? Now they feel shame and guilt and probably will have no desire to have anything to do with God because they failed. (But of course Kirkland and his kind would probably suggest they were never Believers to begin with. I know this disgusting rap.)

    Liked by 1 person

  69. Had to jump in here and ditto “a missionarys pastor” comment on the Holy Spirit being involved in the believers life!! This is one area I have had a MAJOR beef with in the church as a whole- the replacement of the HS with the pastor and gang.
    God uses the Holy Spirit to guide each and every believer in the way HE wants them to grow- God can use any type of person, circumstance, issue, season of life to help an individual know what an awesome Father He is! He is not limited to just a pastor.
    He knows what will be needed for His children and listening to the Holy Spirit is so important. I cannot tell you how many times God has used “unconventional” means to produce amazing growth and health…..and it did not happen in the church or with a pastor. Can it? sure…..but to discount the holistic approach of the individual is very dangerous.
    I find that most pastoral counseling is usually relegated to “spiritual” means to heal an individual, and does not allow other factors (such as physical, emotional, past abuses/trauma, like PTSD) to play a part in that individuals whole person.
    This to me is very ignorant on the part of these counselors- they should know better.

    I have used Prosac, natural health, Bible study on my own, psychiatrists, counselors, exercise, counsel from other people around me, prayer; situations that have happened in my life have been “counselors”- you name it, anything can be used by God to heal. Why is God (in the minds of these guys) only limited to the church office of the pastoral counselor?

    Liked by 1 person

  70. There are red flags all over this guy!! Firstly, do not assume that “sinful behavior” is the root of the medical issues such as bi polar, ADHD and other brain chemistry breakdown issues. For years my family bought into the nouthetic counseling protocols and steered clear of medical offerings. It was a frightening journey, directed by patriarchal pastors. We now experience life, joy and freedom from the lies we were fed.

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  71. Julie Anne

    I believe the problem goes deeper than just wanting to be in control. Granted, to walk in the Spirit means abandoning the desire to rule over others. But there’s also the element of submission – do I want to do it God’s way or mine? Then there’s the element of a teacher/pastor only reproducing in others what they have themselves learned. The end result is that when the Spirit is kept as a spectator on the bench and is not in the game as a necessary part of the team, you learn and teach how to play without him. But as Paul told the Galatian believers, the flesh (which is a key part of the problem) cannot accomplish the works of the Spirit (Gal 5.16-17).

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  72. Tim said,

    <

    blockquote>His claims for nouthetic counseling remind me of the claims some people make for the benefits of coffee. The coffee people aren’t serious, though.

    <

    blockquote> Hmm. Would you therefore possibly be in favor of the nouthetic counselor guy being on the receiving end of this message:

    _How About… (image)_ (on photobucket site. The image is PG – rated)
    😆

    Liked by 1 person

  73. Ann said,

    The nouthetic counselors have nothing more than their own personal life experience to draw from (and a Bible), but no training in biology, active listening, nothing to educate them to even diagnose basic psychopathology. But, they are in a relationship which gives them power over vulnerable people.

    I see what you’re saying and pretty much agree.

    My one caveat here would be that I sometimes learn and am comforted by reading about other people’s experiences.

    I think the difference is that regular joe’s on blogs like this are making it clear, though, that they are speaking as regular joe’s and not as licensed psychiatrists or in a capacity as a mental health professional.

    The biblical counselor guys, on the other hand, seem to be passing themselves off as medical professionals as some sort, or implying that they are.

    Maybe one other difference is that when Regular Joes state their personal experiences on sites like this, it’s done from a genuine desire to help other people who may be suffering in the same (or a similar) way.

    I know I’ve been helped or comforted reading regular people discuss their struggles in life on this blog and on others. I think that’s because most who posts on blogs like this have empathy.

    These nouthetic counselors guys seem to lack empathy, though.

    They are more concerned (obsessed) with picking on your supposed sins and making you feel like guilty slime than in actually helping you get over whatever it is you’re hurting from.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Daisy, you are so right. I have been able to share my story with many people over the years. People who were suffering from mental problems and afraid to go see a psychiatrist. I have also benefited by reading the stories. It’s a two way street. We don’t presume we are professionals. We just know what worked for us and what didn’t and want to share it with others.

    I believe too many times these nouthetic counselors try to be “Holy Spirit, Jr”. In fact I think a lot of ministers try to be that way. There is only one Holy Spirit, and it sure is not these men and their clones.

    To say there is only one way to treat a person in nouethetic counseling is totally wrong. No psychiatrist or psychologist who is any good, would dare say this. Each person is an individual. They may have similar problems and similar situations, but they are different.

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  75. Ann, “One issue that hasn’t been brought up is “emotional boundaries”. A good therapist has usually had their own therapy and explored their own issues.”

    Good point, Ann, this is of major importance. I know a woman who earned a degree but could not pass the part where she had to go through counseling; too many issues of her own.

    In the “biblical counseling” model who polices the wannabe counselors?

    Liked by 1 person

  76. I was searching for info on Dementia (and consequences for Christian Theology and Practice) and ran across these two websites:

    http://www.kellysbiblicalsolutions.com/index.php?&action=read&essay=44

    https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2011/remains-of-the-brains-day-a-christians-perspective-on-dementia/

    Both have appalling statements in them. The first article has the appalling statement in the 3rd paragraph and the second in the 4th paragraph.

    The second article (to a quick scan & review) appears to have not much else wrong with it (I could be wrong on that).

    L. L.

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  77. I checked out Seneca’s little list–the one that he intended us all to be so impressed by. It included ALL the drugs ever withdrawn, not just psychotropics.
    So, while he implied that the length of his list would prove his point, what it REALLY proved was that he either (A) is too dumb to know the difference, or (B) thinks that we are too dumb to know the difference.
    Griggs, you need to be ashamed of yourself for twisting the truth into a lie like that.

    Just saying….

    Liked by 1 person

  78. Zooey111, my point was – it is wise to be careful about meds – psych or otherwise.
    All you have to do is pay attention to the television advertisements which NOW will list the potentially DEADLY side – effects. The pharmacological industry itself recognizes potential problems. Shouldn’t we also?

    My original point – all meds have side-effects; can you live with them? It’s basically a trade-off.

    FYI – interesting article about mental health and marriage partner choice.

    http://www.livescience.com/53827-people-with-mental-health-disorders-marry-each-other.html

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  79. Seneca – I check every drug I take or am prescribed for side effects. Some you can live with, some you can’t. I am allergic to a lot of drugs, so it is essential for me to do this. When I have to take the high powered pain pills after I have surgery, they make me itch terribly and sweat. It’s a trade off, Suffer the pain or figure out how to deal with the side effects. I choose dealing with the side effects.

    I had one wacko psychiatrist that told me it wasn’t my business to check out medications for side effects. Nor should I read the info papers that come with prescriptions from drug stores. He said that I wasn’t a doctor and I didn’t know what I was reading. It was beyond my scope of comprehension. That didn’t go down very easily with me. Most my drs encourage me to read as much as possible about any health situation I am going through. I may not be a medical doctor or work in a medical facility, but many people have thought I did due to my knowledge about things and how my body works. Same wacko doc wanted me to start taking another new drug right before major foot surgery. He was trying to over medicate me. I never saw him again by mutual agreement. If I didn’t agree to take more meds I couldn’t be his patient and I didn’t want to anyway.

    You have to be very diligent about your health care, whether it be mental or otherwise.

    Liked by 2 people

  80. Yikes, that section on Abuse sounds like the old ATI materials: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2013/04/how-counseling-sexual-abuse-blames-and-shames-survivors/. That is something I keep observing, that although IBLP may be on its way out and Gothard exposed, the teachings keep getting recycled.

    Just wanted to address a couple of points I noticed in the comments. First of all, I too have been trained in the care of mental health patients. We were taught about the side effects of psychotropic drugs and to carefully monitor patients for those side effects. When such drugs are used carelessly and excessively, it says more about the character of the individuals who prescribed them than it does about psychiatric medicine in general. Incidentally, psychotropic drugs are not the only ones with potentially fatal side effects, there are a good many drugs to treat heart disease, infections, etc. which need careful monitoring. Nobody would dispute that insulin-dependent diabetics need insulin to stay alive, yet if they take it incorrectly it could kill them – an insulin-induced coma is a medical emergency. There is something Gnostic in separating the brain’s illnesses from other physical illnesses, as if the brain, because it allows you to think, isn’t made of physical material that can malfunction the same way the rest of the body can.

    On that note, I just wanted to address the comment that in Biblical times, people believed that all mental illnesses were caused by demons. That is not accurate. In Matthew 4:24, in listing the people who came to Christ for healing, a distinction is made between the demon possessed and those who were insane. I think one of the reasons for this common misconception is the unfortunate habit that those who write Bible headings have for labeling Christ’s healing of the demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:14-29) as ‘Christ’s heals the epileptic boy’. In reality, the resemblance between a grand-mal seizure and someone writhing under demonic torment is very superficial and the differences are such that even people untrained in medicine could recognize the distinction between the two.

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  81. Griggs said,
    “My original point – all meds have side-effects; can you live with them? It’s basically a trade-off.”

    So are you trying to 1. discourage people from using meds, or 2. saying, “It’s okay if you use them, just be aware there can be pitfalls in doing so.”

    If you’re saying 2, I guess I’m fine with that, but not point 1.

    Drugs did not help me with my depression and anxiety.

    But neither did Christian spiritual solutions, such as prayer, faith in Jesus, reading the Bible, and so on.

    I had to find a “cure” through other means.

    If you are telling folks to stay away from drugs, what is your proposed solution to whatever mental health issue they may be having?

    Please don’t tell me it’s “Prayer, faith, Jesus, Bible reading, and church attendance.”

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  82. Regarding some of the posts above that talk about over-medicating patients.

    My mother had clinical depression, and one or two of the last shrinks she saw over-medicated her. Her depression would not go away, so the doctors would keep increasing the dose.

    When my Mom had other health (physical) problems, the doctors at the hospital she went to looked at her med background and were astounded that her shrink had put her on such a huge dose of anti-depressants.

    I had noticed years before that the medications prescribed to me for depression and anxiety were not working, but my Mother really encouraged me to stay on them (I later quit taking them).

    I think the same thing that was at the root of my depression was at the root of my mother’s depression. None of the psychiatrists (and the few psychologists I saw) ever diagnosed her or me properly. The depression was not a cause, it was a side effect of our real problems.

    I had to do my own research by reading books and blogs to figure out what was really wrong with me. I think my mother had the same problem.

    My mom died several years ago, but if she were still alive, I would share with her what I’ve learned… if I could – the irony is her death was one thing that prompted me to dig deeper to figure out what was wrong with me. If she were still alive, I may never have figured out what was the cause of her depression/anxiety and mine.

    Sometimes secular medicine and doctors can miss the boat-
    But I don’t see that Christian answers – ranging from “Biblical Counseling” to prayer, faith, Jesus, going to church, asking people to beat themselves up over their sins (as Nouthetic counselors do), and/or Bible reading – is always or necessarily the solution, either.

    Goodness knows those religious/ faith-based approaches have been tried by many Christians with mental health problems for decades, over and over, and it’s not worked.

    Liked by 1 person

  83. L.L. – I now work around people with dementia, so I am starting to learn more about the disease. That first article is horrible! While there is absolutely nothing wrong with reciting Psalm 23 to someone every day, the fact that the person thinks that will cure dementia is ludicrous. If anything, it may bring comfort. I don’t find the second link as horrible, It certainly is more positive in providing loving care to a person with dementia with the understanding that the person affected is acting the way they are because of the deterioration of their brain, which is something they cannot control.

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  84. Daisy, I know what you are saying. I have two relatives who were diagnosed with chronic depression. One was prescribed a common anti-depressant which in rare cases can have the side effect of producing suicidal thoughts. This relative experienced that side effect and stopped the medication, and was eventually, with support from family, able to work through the depression without further medical intervention. The other relative with chronic depression was not on medication initially, indeed the symptoms of depression were concealed from family and friends until her sudden (to us) suicide attempt. More than one attempt was made before she was placed on anti-depressants, which she has now been on for many years and is now able to function normally again. Both relatives were before their diagnoses and are still Christians.

    The thing is, that medications for other medical problems have a similar level of unpredictability. Although humans share a large degree of biological similarity to one another, the slight chemical differences between people can have an enormous impact on the efficacy of medications. I myself cannot have a certain commonly used antibiotic, because I experienced a rare side effect of mental changes while taking it for an infection. Many patients have warnings on their charts because certain medicines have not agreed with them, and it isn’t just allergies which cause those problems. How a mental illness will respond to medication is even more unpredictable because the brain is so complex that it is still very much unchartered territory when it comes to medical knowledge. There are a number of bodily illnesses for which we do not know the exact etiology (cause), such as rheumatoid arthritis, but that number skyrockets when we include diseases of the brain. I find it helps to think about mental illnesses as a series of symptoms of an underlying cause, but we still need to find the underlying cause. To draw an analogy, a fever and sore throat are listed as symptoms for many different bodily illnesses, and it sometimes requires a test to see if it is influenza virus or a bacterial strep infection which is causing those symptoms; if it is influenza, rest and fluids will be the best method of treatment, but if it is a strep infection it needs antibiotics or it could escalate and become life-threatening. A mental illness like depression may have as many varied causes and thus as many varied methods of treatment.

    Liked by 2 people

  85. Dear Shy1,

    A question I have is why do some Christians have an irrational fear of psychology? Are they afraid that if people get more emotionally healthy, they will lose their faith? or is it more they fear they will recognize abusers more easily and learn how to set better limits?

    Those are some very possible motives. Another one: Maybe they don’t like the competition. They want to be The Only Ones who Truly Understand the mind and the soul. That seems to be one of L. Ron Hubbard’s reasons for hating, and denigrating, psychology.

    And for the record, no, I was never in the Cult of Hubbard. (I don’t think HUG ever was, either.) I’ve just read enough about it to see the parallels between Scientology and other controlling, totalistic groups. They are disturbingly similar, are they not?

    Liked by 1 person

  86. Several have referenced their experiences with psychotropic medications, therapy and counseling being ineffective until they were able to get to the root of the problem. So much focus is now being paid to trauma-informed therapy and how so much of the psychopathology that therapists see found its origin in trauma. One landmark study, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study found unbelievable correlation between adverse experiences in childhood and adult bio/psycho/social issues, including addiction, depression, obesity and even early death. You can find more on this fascinating study at:

    http://www.acestudy.org/
    http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/

    Nouthetic counseling and the approach that so many churches take towards victims of abuse is re-traumatizing. Trauma-informed therapy is not rocket science but it changes lives. For an incredible first-person account of the difference this can make, watch this short documentary:

    It is important to note that this documentary was made just four years after Ms. Cain’s last incarceration. She has also published a book that details the impact that experiencing a life-changing encounter with Jesus had on her life. You can find information on it here:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MGRCWY2/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

    I have worked with victims of trauma and have experienced it myself. I would love to see churches begin to grasp the magnitude of this problem and to see the opportunity that is theirs to compassionately and lovingly begin dealing with victims from a trauma perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  87. And for the record, no, I was never in the Cult of Hubbard. (I don’t think HUG ever was, either.)

    No, I wasn’t. But I live in the same part of the country where they’re headquartered and during the Seventies/Eighties was active in SF litfandom. Elron started out as a pulp SF writer, and a lot of the old-timers at LASFS said that he never stopped; Scientology was just more Elron Pulp SF.

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  88. Brenda,

    Thank-you for posting the info & video on trauma. I am a little shook up after watching, I cried like a baby, but, it was brilliant and insightful.

    Just a few words on how damaging nouthetic counseling was for me as a victim of childhood sexual, physical and verbal abuse.

    I didn’t become a believer till I was 28 years old. Embarrassed to admit that I self medicated through my teens and twenty’s. It is a wonder that I didn’t end up on the streets. It helped that I had the keys to my dad’s drugstore, I helped myself to the many drugs there and in my mother’s medicine cabinet, I share with regret today. The pain inside had been with me since I was a child, it was so intense that it felt palpable and yes I wanted it to stop however I could.

    After my conversion I spent 20 some years in different church’s that promoted NC and I was always to blame, it made me question God’s love for me, filled me with shame, made me wonder why I didn’t have a peace that passed all understanding, drove me to believe that God wasn’t healing me because I had some secret hidden sin and finally drove me right back into the world with me thinking Jesus doesn’t heal, help or answer prayer.

    While I was AWOL from the pews, I finally was diagnosed with PTSD and with the medication & therapy at least the nightmares stopped.

    I want to scream, at these wanna be PSEUDO WANNA BE MESSIAH’S who are peddling this: STOP IT, you are endangering lives, your intention to want to help others might possibly come from a good motives, but people like me need the trauma’s treated by professionals.

    All you are offering is a infected band-aide to a hemorrhaging ongoing wound. NC hurts so much & this type of so called counseling set me so far back I almost achieved taking my life.

    I have probably said too much, my heart aches & rages over this stuff.

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  89. Brenda, thank you so much for that post. The video is amazing and inspiring.

    I have been reading recently about complex PTSD, the affect of childhood abuse on mental/emotional health. I personally think this is the future of research and real help for the suffering. I found an awesome resource for anyone who might be interested at a website called traumacenter.org, a pdf called The Assessment and Treatment of Complex PTSD by Bessel Van Der Kirk http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/complex_ptsd.pdf I hope it’s okay to post this here, I personally found it to be really helpful and thought others might, too.

    And just to add another dimension to this, what about Christian parents who whip infants to try to break their will? Here is where actual research on how babies develop is leading us- the exact opposite direction:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out?page=2

    And then let’s go back to this, the whole world is supposed to know we are Christ’s disciples by our LOVE for one another. Not by our rules, not by our enforcing of accountability to law, but by our LOVE.

    The phony church leaders we discuss on this site seem to instinctively know this is what people need and are searching for, enough to fake it just in order to draw people in. But authentic love and acceptance are so hard to find. Time and again the love turns back into law. This is why people are vulnerable to cults. This is why people turn to self-destructive behavior. If the churches wanted to make a difference to our world, they would be seeking to know how to love people, not control them and exploit them.

    Liked by 2 people

  90. Brenda,

    Another thanks for the video. I was crying about 15 minutes into it. It tore me up listening to that one inmate talk about just wanting a normal life. And what those male prison guards did to Neen — grrrr. She should have bitten that penis off. Neen is such an amazing woman for reaching out to help others.

    Liked by 1 person

  91. Brenda, I saw a TED talk on the ACE study and when my psych professor announced that we had to do research papers, I asked him if I could do mine on it. I wish all doctors were trained to ask these important questions so that children/families would not slip through the cracks.

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  92. I do believe God is sovereign and that He can do absolutely anything He wants anytime He wants to do it and that likewise He can prevent anything He want to prevent as well. But for that fellow to warp the Bible round to produce some overarching theory of just why God allows abuse is so emblematic of those who are unwilling to let God be God and instead pretend to have the power, via pushing pieces of the Biblical puzzle around, to produce an answer for everything and become, to the people over whom they exert control, God Himself to them. These are dangerous sorts of people.

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  93. Biblical counseling should be about Biblical wisdom, understanding the Bible better, applying it to your life, learning to become more patient and kind, joyful, peaceful, loving. I don’t see anywhere that the Bible compels us to use it to solve all the problems in the world. It didn’t say anything of substance about putting up a tent, Paul surely learned that elsewhere, or tax collection practices, which Matthew learned outside the Bible, or stone masonry and construction, which Jesus must have learned from Joseph.

    Why do these people try to force the Bible to do what it was not intended to do? They make it a science text, a psychiatric guide, etc. Why do that? The Bible is the source of ultimate truth about God’s plan for our redemption, isn’t that extraordinary thing enough, standing alone? Why must it become the manual for everything? Answer: because it can be manipulated by unscrupulous leaders to control every aspect of a followers’ life, if they can refer to outside sources for help in areas where the Bible is silent, they cannot be as easily controlled and manipulated themselves.

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  94. “I am concerned that his counseling could put people in harm’s way, especially those who need medical treatment.”

    I think you are understating the problem here. He IS putting people in harm’s way. He is unqualified. He is a charlatan who is duping his victims.

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  95. I’m starting psychotherapy this coming Monday for my PTSD. I’m already on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds to help with the flashbacks and nightmares. And this joker thinks depression is caused by sin????? Whose sin, exactly? Was my rapes, or my losing my son because of my own sin??? On the contrary. It’s because of what others have done to me and my children. We were the injured innocent party. Someone should sue his butt for practicing medicine without a proper license. How many lives are at risk because of him???

    Liked by 1 person

  96. So many comments. What stands out to me is the lack of empathy in the experiences with NC. A good therapist sets up a safe therapeutic aliance with the client, so the client feels safe and free to wrestle with their suffering. NC seems to include an element of shame which causes people to shut down or become defensive. Some may “feel” crazier when their emotions and experiences are not validated by the counselor.
    For example, I know a man who suffers from anxiety, and low self-esteem. He is a giver. Unfortunately he will only see a church counselor who says he suffers from the sin of pride. He bought into it. But still suffers. It makes me angry and sad, but my hands are tied, because he doesn’t need another person telling him what to do and anyway, I am a female whose opinions aren’t valid! (My MA in couseling doesn’t give me any cache!)
    For those suffering, never give up! There is hope, just keep looking for a therapist who you can feel safe with and try to develop a support system. It is hard to be
    vulnerable and ask for help, but this step can lead to healing and we all need support! (As well as give it back). You are all I my heart!

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  97. WFTT2, It’s good to “see” you. I’m glad you are getting help. I’m sure it was difficult for you to read this post. You’re right about suing. If he continues this path, he is certainly opening himself up for a lawsuit. Please keep us posted on how you are doing. We care!

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  98. What stands out to me is the lack of empathy in the experiences with NC.

    I agree with you. I went through some biblical counseling training at a church a while back (without knowing the dangers). You are trained that someone’s problems are a result of sin. Where they miss it is when you are a victim of someone else’s sin – even then, you will be sinning by not trusting God, for being too self-focused, unforgiveness, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  99. Thanks, JA. I’ve missed being here. I’ve been spiraling downward, but I’ve finally been accepted back into the VA system, and am even applying for VA disability benefits for a couple of rapes, sexual harassment, stalking, propositioning, and other abuses that occurred while I was active duty in the military, which caused my complex PTSD.

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  100. It is a divorce recovery program put out by a group called Church Initiative. You can go to their website to get an idea.
    http://www.divorcecare.org/
    It is taught in churches and was very helpful to me in my recovery. My wife and I taught it for 8 years, but we became progressively more frustrated. The production quality and the place of women improved over the years (version 3 now) but it is limited to a conservative evangelical outlook. This past version they added a bunch of biblical counseling “experts”. I know what they teach and it cannot stomach it anymore. Last fall we switched to a non-faith based curriculum and had good results and I did not have to spend time un-teaching what they just heard on the video.
    Thanks for all you do Julie Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  101. The relevant portion of Scripture that needs to be considered when evaluating the effectiveness of neuthetic counseling, or the lack thereof, is Titus 2:2-8 (ESV) –

    2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

    This portion of scripture is commonly associated with the need for mentoring, implying an ongoing commitment to the lives of others, which the Apostle Paul expresses as a command in his letter to Titus. What is sad about the apparent popularity of neuthetic counseling among church leaders today, is that it corresponds to a precipitous decline in the level of mentoring available within those churches.

    It stands to reason that, as the community church has become the mega-church, and as churches are managed more like for-profit businesses than non-profit service organizations, a more “efficient” method for providing hurting people with some form of interaction was devised.

    Based on my previous experiences with Harvest Bible Chapel, which has probably been more vocal in promoting neuthetic counseling than any organization, here is what I would consider to be the practical reality of neuthetic counseling –

    • “Professional” practitioners of neuthetic counseling are, at best, only marginally more altruistic than secular therapists.

    The Biblical Counseling Center (BCC), which was partnering with Harvest Bible Chapel until it separated from Harvest due to the financial and personal misconduct of its Senior Pastor, James MacDonald, advertises its rate for an initial visit as $120 for up to 2 hours, and $80 per hour thereafter. In fairness, the organization’s web site (http://www.biblicalcounselingcenter.org/counseling/) says “We work with those who have limited funds. We have never turned anyone away who lacks the ability to pay.”

    • Organizations advocating neuthetic counseling are committed to commissioning as many people as they can within their bodies to practice neuthetic counseling.

    What is the accreditation process for these practitioners? Where is the peer review, the governing bodies, the sanctions against those who abuse the trust placed in them by those seeking counseling? The BCC refers to itself as a “certified ACBC center”, which is a reference to the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (www.biblicalcounseling.com). Nevertheless, there appears to be no formal licensing or other procedures to authoritatively establish the credentials and qualifications of neuthetic counselors, under common law or otherwise.

    • This “Great Commission” of neuthetic counseling includes pretty much anyone, regardless of temperament, qualifications or other factors.

    The BCC offers a Lay Certificate Program (http://www.biblicalcounselingcenter.org/we-train/); “INDIVIDUALS [sic] and CHURCH [sic] ministry leaders may earn Biblical Counseling Center’s highly acclaimed LAY COUNSELING CERTIFICATE. To earn this certificate, you need to successfully complete three courses…”

    • “Treatment” is typically offered for no more than 13 weeks.

    This is the time frame I repeatedly heard referred to throughout the time I was at Harvest, and also when I spoke to practitioners of neuthetic counseling affiliated with other organizations.

    • Neuthetic counseling was developed primarily to serve the interests of pastors, in both making more assistance available to pastors and limiting the assistance their churches would be obligated to provide everyone else.

    The BCC advertises “Free and discreet counseling for pastors and their wives” (http://www.biblicalcounselingcenter.org/we-help/). I have also previously seen material from BCC advising that pastors are not subject to the same wait times for appointments and other inconveniences that others may encounter. This is in addition to “treatment” being limited to 13 weeks, most likely for anyone who is not a pastor.

    • Total devotion to neuthetic counseling is considered an article of faith among churches and other organizations that practice it.

    The typical reference I heard at Harvest to anyone who was seen as not being completely and utterly sold out to neuthetic counseling, regardless of the validity of their concerns, was that they were “practicing psychology”.

    • In order to demonstrate sufficient allegiance to neuthetic counseling, its practitioners and devotees must vocally condemn all other forms of counseling.

    I saw this applied to not only secular psychologists, but also 12-step programs, secular treatment centers, and even Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family that were not seen as sold out to neuthetic counseling. I vividly recall a teaching pastor at one of these institutions (not Harvest) condemning 12-step programs from his pulpit.

    While there is a legitimate debate to be had about the value of chemical therapy and various traditional and non-traditional forms of treatment in addressing different conditions, I can’t escape what I find to be a clear comparison to neuthetic counseling, which I consider to be neither biblical nor a form of counseling.

    Given the similarities between the counseling and therapy doctrines advocated by Christ Fellowship Bible Church, Harvest Bible Chapel and Tom Cruise, as he bounced up and down relentlessly on Oprah’s couch and viscerally confronted Matt Lauer on the Today show, it is my contention that neuthetic counseling more closely resembles Scientology than Christianity.

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  102. @Sean:

    • Total devotion to neuthetic counseling is considered an article of faith among churches and other organizations that practice it.

    The typical reference I heard at Harvest to anyone who was seen as not being completely and utterly sold out to neuthetic counseling, regardless of the validity of their concerns, was that they were “practicing psychology”.

    • In order to demonstrate sufficient allegiance to neuthetic counseling, its practitioners and devotees must vocally condemn all other forms of counseling.

    Again, JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY!

    (Somebody on another blog’s comment threads referred to these kind of shticks as “Scientology for Christians”.)

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  103. Shy,

    My heart pours out for you on the comments you made.

    I am in the process of completing phase 1 of biblical counseling and have seen many issues with it. I do NOT plan to complete certification with them because of all the oversimplifications of people, sin, desires, etc I have seen.

    JA hit the nose on the head. First, biblical, nouthetic counseling, misses the mark on abuse and abandonment issues of early childhood or while growing up. They basically have not category of it except to call it sin. Wouldn’t it be sad to see someone in this category moved to church discipline… all because it was misdiagnosed? They would feel shameful for having the thoughts and feelings brought about by others? So sad.

    Second, they don’t see that sin and abuse is not always individual… it is also social and impacts others around you and has a domino effect on others around us. Abuse, abandonment, emotional incest, and “mind raping” others with truth…. all do not have very good categorizations in nouthetic counseling.

    To categorize it using easy terms, at a 10,000 ft. level I saw the training as being highly oversimplified. Oversimplified when it comes to people is dangerous and can be harmful.

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  104. Gm370, I’m sorry for what you have experienced.

    PTSD is horrible. There with you Sister.

    I’ve been in one NC ‘church’ here which is probably one of the major players in the ‘movement’. NC is a thing here. I see people jumping on the bandwagon like its a new badge of spirituality.

    “I’m a nouthetic counsellor”

    Ooooooh!

    Sean is right.

    Believers today do not love one another and provide counsel in such a way that puts nouthetic counsellors out of business.

    Using the Bible to counsel is like law keeping version 2.

    Whatever happened to weeping with those who weep? Simply listening.

    Instead it’s a case of “thanks for sharing your thoughts now can you please wait whilst I flip through my manual for an appropriate response”.

    What the hell?!

    I hate Christianity more by the day.

    And Jesus…

    He only gets sweeter.

    (Must be a sheep and goats thing)

    Liked by 1 person

  105. Nouthetic counseling can also be viewed in the context of Matthew 5:17 (ESV), within which Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

    It’s interesting how, in Christ Fellowship Bible Church’s Distinctive on Counseling and Psychology, the presence of Christ is notably absent; “We believe that the Bible is wholly sufficient for all of life and godliness. Therefore, the Bible has the answers for any and every problem that may arise.”

    Scientology is the worship of writings and methodology espoused by L. Ron Hubbard, at least ostensibly for the sake of self-improvement and higher consciousness. Not surprisingly, this works-based theology has spawned adherents who are likewise seeking to be worshipped.

    By the same token, nouthetic counseling has virtually nothing to do with the worship of Jesus Christ, and everything to do with the worship of the Bible. While 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”, no portion of Scripture, to my knowledge, calls for Scripture, in and of itself, to be the object of anyone’s worship.

    It’s concerning, to say the least, that church leaders and other supporters espousing nouthetic counseling are effectively advocating that the presence of the Bible is sufficient, even though the Bible states that the only sufficiency is the presence of Jesus Christ, apart from which all that is promised in the Bible can never be fulfilled.

    It also explains the sentiments of those who would flee the temptation to “get along by going along” with nouthetic counseling and its advocates, because Jesus Christ cannot be found there.

    Liked by 1 person

  106. A few other thoughts about the training I went to.

    Heavy and harsh critique of anything non nouthetic…. the critique was heavy/thick enough to be close to condemnational. I even heard the initial gentleman asking people that are “integrationists” (people trained in psychology and integrate their faith) to not be there.. choose where you want to be.
    The training also said with the 6 or so weekends of training that the 200 people there they are there are ready to go out and start counseling others in their ministry in churches.
    Never once a mention of abuse or abandonment issues. Issues were always related to personal sin and desires… that is why I call it an oversimplifiication of people.

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  107. As I posted to this blog on February 28th, my prior experiences with Harvest Bible Chapel when I attended there were that anyone who did not obsessively and compulsively exalt nouthetic counseling, and who likewise did not obsessively and compulsively condemn all other forms of counseling, was judged to be “practicing psychology”.

    I have to question the wisdom of any methodology that has, as its central priority, the condemnation of all other methodologies besides itself. One of the fallacies involved with the worship of anything other than the true God, even the Word of that true God, is necessarily that those advocating the worship of false gods will one day seek to be worshipped themselves.

    As stated in John 5 44 (ESV), “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

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  108. Sean said:

    “I have to question the wisdom of any methodology that has, as its central priority, the condemnation of all other methodologies besides itself. One of the fallacies involved with the worship of anything other than the true God, ”

    I so agree Sean. As we know in scripture as Jesus wrote in the sand …. condemnation often draws a crowd.

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  109. “went through some biblical counseling training at a church a while back (without knowing the dangers). You are trained that someone’s problems are a result of sin. Where they miss it is when you are a victim of someone else’s sin – even then, you will be sinning by not trusting God, for being too self-focused, unforgiveness, etc.”

    The desire for basic justice against cruelty is part of our Image of God. If it were not present then God cannot be a good God. He becomes more like the pagan gods. What they teach is insidious and turns God into a cruel tyrant.

    A lie has been taught that “being Human” means doing evil to others is the normal . In fact, that is being less human created in the image of God. They see what is called the fall as total inability. Which in turn makes The rapist the same sinner as the victim. It only desensitizes us to evil and makes any semblance of justice a joke. In fact, desiring basic justice for evils then becomes a sin in that thinking and your only hope is instant forgiveness. But they have a different definition for forgiveness, too, that was never intended to put us at the mercy of con men, deception, etc.

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  110. Sean, the trajectory of implanting Nouthetic counseling at SBTS is interesting history. It started with Mohler getting rid of the Carver School of social work because the Dean was a woman. (Baylor eventually named a school after her). The Carver School was started by the Women’s Missionary Union to train missionaries in dealing with social problems.

    The Carver School was the only national accredited social work program at a seminary. The masters grads were qualified accredited counselors who could find employment outside the auspices of a church or para church organization. And I think that was the real problem for Mohler: no control. Pastors are to have total control over counseling.

    Speaking with a current SBTS student working on a masters in counseling there, I found out they are no longer using the term “Nouthetic”. According to this student the word has too much baggage so they call it what it is: Biblical Counseling.

    Of course this student will not be qualified to counsel outside any church or para church organization. Not a smart move for the future.

    Here is a link to the curriculum. See if you can spot the problems.

    http://www.sbts.edu/bgs/degree-programs/ma/biblical-counseling/

    It is focused on SBTS’s idea of correct Systematic Theology. My guess is Grudems or similar.

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  111. I should say the group that did the training I went to for the three weekend training was ACBC (Association of certified biblical counselors). They used to be NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors).

    With basically two weeks of training (or about 6 weekends) you can enter phase 2 (acceptance), then in phase 3 you do a few hours under a trained ACBC counselor to be “certified”. Like I said before I have no plans to continue with phase 1 and 2 based on what I heard,

    I believe during one of the weekends one of speakers spoke of Jay Adams as being one of the major founding fathers of the organization.

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  112. @Lydia00, as I posted to this blog on February 28th, “Nouthetic counseling was developed primarily to serve the interests of pastors, in both making more assistance available to pastors and limiting the assistance their churches would be obligated to provide everyone else.” I would absolutely agree that this expectation is inclusive of the need felt by many pastors to have control over the counseling process, and the subject matter and content of counseling as well.

    I also agree that the SBTS curriculum represents a path towards weeping and gnashing of teeth for recipients of “counseling” from SBTS graduates. However, the length, breadth and depth of the current campaign for adoption of nouthetic counseling calls for universal participation in this cult prostitute by all churches, and all those who call themselves believers. This is why so many programs exist to “train” nouthetic counselors, regardless of qualifications, temperament or even comprehension.

    To demonstrate the potential damage that could be wrought upon the Kingdom, remember that Harvest Bible Chapel’s overseer, James MacDonald, saw the knowledge of his pastoral and personal misconduct shouted from rooftops three or four years ago, after he saddled Harvest with $70 million in debt and had his penchant for gambling exposed. Given his ongoing, passionate advocacy of nouthetic counseling, it’s surprising to hear MacDonald’s response, when confronted with his sins (from http://theelephantsdebt.com/the-power/):

    “If you want to remove me, you’re going to have to sue me to get me out of here. And gentlemen, I have two things you don’t have: control of the pulpit and the control of the money. So good luck.”

    Not exactly a willingness to submit to 13 weeks of “treatment”, eh?

    As Harvest’s former Elder Board Chairman, Dave Corning, noted in his open letter on September 18th, 2013 (https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/09/19/former-long-time-harvest-bible-chapel-elder-dave-corning-accuses-pastor-james-macdonald-of-abuse-of-power-lack-of-accountability/), “James has a big issue with submitting to authority. He once said to me, “I have no problem with authority unless I think it’s stupid”.

    Corning also helpfully points out in his open letter that Harvest’s Elder Board “…do[es] not have any real authority to do anything except carry out James’ wishes.” However, this is not just a reflection on James MacDonald, or Harvest Bible Chapel’s leadership, or Harvest’s historical and current advocacy of nouthetic counseling.

    What I’ve described is the logical outcome resulting when otherwise well-meaning people are cajoled, intimidated and/or threatened into worshiping false gods.

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  113. Sean, I am well aware of the James McDonald situation and his incredible arrogance. I also read the elephant debt.

    Are you aware Harvest was in the process of becoming SBC? He has been very involved with Lifeways, The Gospel Project (paid advisor), and preaching at SBC pastors conferences. He will fit right in the Mohler, Mahaney, Dever, Moore and all their fellow travelers….as long as they don’t all want the same spotlight at the same time.

    Nouthetic counseling is never for them. It is for the peasants. They are “Gods special anointed to keep people from ignorance”. (Mohler actually said that at a pastor seminar)

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  114. “believe during one of the weekends one of speakers spoke of Jay Adams as being one of the major founding fathers of the organization.”

    I heard Adams speak years ago at one of Washer’s conferences mainly consisting of young pastors. He literally added a step to Matthew 18 that is not there. And it was a very authoritarian step the young pastors would love. It gave them control over the process. That was enough of a red flag for me.

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  115. The news reports from last year about Harvest’s affiliation with the SBC describe Harvest as a “cooperating church”. @Lydia00, I think you’ve very accurately described the “cooperation” James MacDonald is hoping for, “…as long as they don’t all want the same spotlight at the same time”.

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  116. Lydia,

    “I heard Adams speak years ago at one of Washer’s conferences mainly consisting of young pastors. He literally added a step to Matthew 18 that is not there.”

    Exactly how I interpreted the conference. It took scripture, added human reason, and evolved several meanings stretching way past the what the scripture actually intended.

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  117. Sean, All SBC churches are “cooperating” churches. I heard the same said about SGL as if it made a difference. The only thing the SBC can say to a “cooperating” church is “we don’t want your money” and we don’t recognize you anymore”.. Technically, it is not a denomination although some would like for it to be and it looks like one. It iwas comprised of cooperating churches that send lay messengers to vote on issues. It used to be any church could present a motion for a vote.

    It is all very confusing these days because the Neo Cals operate only in top down mode but spout the autonomy line when there is an embarrassment church. The key to power in the SBC is controlling the entities. Where they go, the churches follow.

    One major key to this autonomy in this day and time is protection from lawsuits –unlike the Catholic Church. Because churches have autonomy, the SBC cannot be blamed if a “cooperating” church harbors pedophiles . So guys like Mohler want power and control but not responsibility for the thugs they recruit for “cooperation”

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  118. “Exactly how I interpreted the conference. It took scripture, added human reason, and evolved several meanings stretching way past the what the scripture actually intended.”

    I have no problem with human reason. I think reason and logic are gifts from God albeit how imperfect they can be. It was daring to use “reason” that our Founders declared that adults have the ability govern themselves without a Monarch or Pope. A radical concept at the time. It took a while for that reason to include women and other ethnicities, sadly. But no one can argue that is not human reason.

    What I had a problem with was actually adding something not there. We can all disagree on interpretations and debate them from context, word meanings, etc but to ignore what is there or add to it, is something quite different. What concerned me more than Adams is none of the preacher boys challenged him.

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  119. Your right Lydia, we all use human reason in one way or another.

    The interesting thing at the conference was when they talked about hermeneutics they mis-defined it as having an absolute correct and incorrect way to go about interpreting scripture — their way of course. Hermeneutics, by definition, is an interpretation or a “lens” in which we view scripture. So it started with a slight mis-representation of the definition of “hermeneutic”.

    So if a hermeneutic is a lens in which we interpret scripture then without a good starting point its difficult to have a good ending point. Human reason just snowballs.

    My .02c worth as I ponder it!

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  120. Centrality,

    The “lens” factor is why proof text wars are a waste of time as are most “biblical” admonishments.

    Some come with a lens of determinism and some with a free will lens. Two completely different ways to view Yahweh. Two completely different ways to view human responsibilility.

    Some interpret Jesus through a “Paul” lens but not the other way around. That is why the whole focus on being “biblical” is so confusing and ridiculous. How does a “biblical worldview” work with these differences?

    We have not even touched on canon formation! Or the misleading word, “Orthodoxy” which is basically tradition and in no way monolithic.

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  121. They way I see it Lydia is everyone has “somewhat” of a lens in which they view scripture. Some have a lens of the abuse and abandonment of their past, others a lens of love and free will, others a lens of Gods sovereignty. We all have a history and we are shaped by that history.

    The real question really is are you “aware” of the lens we use so, at times, we can break free from a singular lens.

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  122. “The real question really is are you “aware” of the lens we use so, at times, we can break free from a singular lens”

    I cannot help but wonder about all the people throughout history who had no access to scripture whether illiterate or because reading it was verboten by the state church. Then take into consideration all the translations, evolution of word meanings, systematic theologies hoisted upon people, etc and it becomes even more confusing.

    The scriptures are beautiful and we are tres blessed now with instant access and the resources for study like historical context, lexicons, etc at our fingertips. The early Christians had no access to what became the NT and the Gentiles were ignorant of the OT.

    Ironically, though, I keep going back to 1 John 2:20 -27 and all of 1 John 3(I know! Scripture!) because it just resonates with me when it comes to this topic of “biblical”, our “indwelling” God and how we can know Him.

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  123. Interesting statement:

    “I cannot help but wonder about all the people throughout history who had no access to scripture whether illiterate or because reading it was verboten by the state church.”

    I have often wondered For 1500 years, before the printing press, and well before the internet 🙂 , how did truth get passed down? The corruption of the catholic church (ie indulgences) is well documented and the catholic church wanted to be the ONLY people/system that could pass down “truth” via sermons done only in latin.

    Before the printing press, one of the jobs of a missionary to get bibles to the lost was not really possible. However, proclaiming the “good news” of Jesus Christ was possible.

    It would be interesting to go back and observe what level of understanding of all the scriptures people had during those 1500 years. I am betting many of today’s debates were never in play.

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  124. centrality, I think there are a lot of peeps from history who wish they had not been so cruel and evil toward others in the Name of Christ.

    Even after the printing press scripture was highly regulated. One faced horrible persecution for daring to own an unauthorized copy. It had to be interpreted for the masses by those “specially anointed” to do so like Calvin and his ilk.

    My point in all this is that it has never been all about scripture. It is about Jesus Christ is and was God in the Flesh. Yahweh of the OT is not a different sort of god. It is the single most amazing thing.

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  125. I know this is late, but just a warning in light of what has been happening at Bethlehem Baptist “Church” lately (october, November 2016):

    Stay away from “biblical counselors.” There is no such thing, even though the highly suspicious ACBC movement even “certify” its counselors. They can “cure anything,” but most of them need healing themselves.

    ACBC=deathtrap. Be warned. It almost destroyed my friend, by suggesting the most disgusting and ungodly “counseling” ever.

    Want counseling for spiritual matters? Consult your sisters and brothers in the Lord. Have disorders? Go and consult a medical doctor, who will refer you to a psychiatrist.

    Last warning: ACBC/Nouthetic/”biblical counseling”=deathtrap, and these are forms of serious spiritual abuse. Please take note.

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