Are You Anchoring Your Soul-Care in God's Word and His Gospel?
In college I minored in psychology along with majoring in political science, because I’ve always been fascinated with the human soul and considered a vocation in soul-care.
One of the things that bugged me about our program was how little it seemed to be anchored in Scripture and in a robust theology, even at the Christian college I attended. Rather than Scripture and the gospel guiding our answers to life’s ultimate questions, it seemed the “discoveries” and theories of sociology and psychoanalysis were the captains of our soul-care ship.
Robert Kellemen and Jeff Forrey understand my concerns, which is why they’ve written and edited two new insightful books on the subject of biblical counseling.
In Gospel-Centered Counseling, Kellemen builds on the foundation of the written Word and provides a gospel-centered resource for understanding people, diagnosing problems, and prescribing biblically-based solutions.
In Scripture and Counseling, Kellemen and Forrey have brought together twenty pastoral and counseling practitioners to give insights into developing a robust biblical view of Scripture’s sufficiency for “life and godliness” and learning how to use Scripture in the counseling process.
Rather than letting culture drive life’s ultimate questions and answers, Gospel-Centered Counseling and Scripture and Counseling fill a crucial gap by helping those who perform soul-care root their efforts firmly in God’s Word and His gospel.
Are you anchoring your soul-care in God’s Word and His gospel? These two books will guide you to ensure all aspects of our counseling are anchored in the gospel and Bible.
Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives
As Kellemen explains, “Gospel-centered counseling promotes personal change centered on the Person of Christ through the personal ministry of the Word.” (GCC, 16)
Why do we need such a counseling method? Because we often teach theology in a way that separates truth from life. Kellemen argues, however, that “theology is practical and relevant, that truth is for life, that God’s Word is robust, real, raw, relevant, and relational.” (GCC, 17)
Consider how Kellemen organizes and engages life’s eight ultimate questions in light of the gospel and for the sake of soul-care (18-19):
- The Word: “What is truth?” “Where can we find answers?”
- The Trinity: “Who is God?” “How can we know him personally?”
- Creation/Understanding People: “Who are we?” “What makes people tick?”
- Fall/Diagnosing Problems: “What went wrong?” “Why do we do the things we do?”
- Redemption/Prescribing God’s Soul-u-tion: “How do we find peace with God?” “How do people change?”
- Sanctification: “How does the change process occur?” “How does change happen?”
- The Church: “What is God doing in the world today through his people?” “How can we help one another to change?”
- Consummation: “Where are we headed?” “How does our future destiny impact our present reality?”
What drives Kellemen’s answers to those big eight questions and his counseling methodology is the Creation, Fall, Redemption narrative. Because for him, we must "build our answer to the question, ‘How do we become like Jesus?’ upon God’s answers to all the preceding questions — upon God’s grand redemptive narrative.” (GCC, 19)
If you are a Christian counselor or pastor who regularly engages in soul-care, you would do yourself and your people well to plant both feet in this book and let it guide your counseling sessions.
Scripture and Counseling: God's Word For Life In A Broken World
Kellemen and Forrey want to help counselors develop a robust biblical view of Scripture for life and godliness. The introductory essay sets this tone by demonstrating the conviction that “confidence and competence in God’s Word can and should saturate every aspect of ministry.” (SC, 17)
In it, pastor Kevin DeYoung and counselor Pat Quinn, both of University Reformed Church. In it, they provide four important convictions that shape their understanding of counseling ministry.
The Word of God is Necessary. DeYoung and Quinn begin with the assumption “We cannot truly know God or know ourselves unless God speaks.” (SC, 20) Practically, this means “the care of souls requires revelation from the Maker of souls.” (SC, 21)
The Word of God is Sufficient. Not only is the Bible necessary, it is sufficient: “All we need for life and godliness, for salvation and sanctification has been given to us in the Bible.” (SC. 21) While not exhaustive, the Bible is enough—especially when it comes to caring for the dark places of the human heart.
The Word of God is Authoritative. “The Word gives definitive claims, issues obligatory commands, and makes life-changing promises.” (SC, 21) They implore counselors to announce all three with authority, an authority built not on a personality or one’s position, but God’s Word. “[T]he counselor...must bring this authority to bear on all those encountered, especially on those who swear allegiance to Christ.” (SC, 21)
God’s Word is Relevant. Finally, Scripture is relevant to all of life. Our human predicament doesn’t change, God’s solution doesn’t change, and truth doesn’t change, which is why they argue the Bible is “eternally relevant.” (SC, 21) As counselors, we must rely on God’s unchanging Word.
DeYoung and Quinn’s essay is a perfect way to launch a discussion on how Scripture integrates with and undergirds the counseling endeavor, which shapes this entire book.
Both books will help you explore how God’s Word and His gospel is sufficient, necessary, and relevant to equip you to address the complex issues of life in a broken world and bring healing to those who’ve been broken by it.
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