Christian Counseling

The Problem
Christian counseling, for the most part, seems to have become the way to describe the practice of counseling associated with the church or marketed toward the Christian community. But, just because someone claims to be a Christian Counselor, does not mean they are. I have to admit that I have grown more than a little irritated with someone who claims to be a “Christian Counselor” whose only focus is the person with whom they are counseling or the problem the person is facing. I have experienced personally and have known people who have gone to so-called “Christian Counselors” with problems, only to come away with the same hopelessness and despair that they started with, knowing that there had to be a solution to the problem but just not finding it.

The Question

What is the difference between Psychology and Christian Counseling?

Psychology deals with the study of the human mind as if to find the answers within ourselves. But, if anything can be called Christian, then it must concern itself with a Christ centered focus, a Christ directed end. For the Christian, everything should lead us back to Christ. He is our everything and there is nothing that cannot be solved in Him. If we look for solutions to the problems we face in anything other than Christ, we will never overcome them. Apart from Him we can do nothing. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. With God all things are possible. The answers to our problems cannot be found within ourselves. Psychology may be able to identify problems but it cannot solve them.

What I am not addressing here
I am not talking about Psychiatry. Psychiatry deals with chemical imbalances and behavioral problems that require medication. Different discussion altogether. Incidentally, I am not opposed to medication when needed.

To conclude this rant with as much brevity as I can muster, I will assert that if “Christian Counseling” does not point people to Christ using the Scriptures, then it is not “Christian” and should not be labeled as such.


4 thoughts on “Christian Counseling

  1. What is the difference between Psychology and Christian Counseling?

    One primary difference is the basis for which self-esteem is attributed. Either the love of God or the love of man towards us.

    I’ve been very interested in finding more information about the puritan approach to counseling I’ve been told of, are you familiar with it?

    1. Great point on self-esteem! The only way for us to find any real, lasting worth is what we find in God through His Son Jesus Christ. To try and find it in anything or anyone else is empty and fleeting and I might add idolatrous.
      As to your question about the puritan approach to counseling, I have not studied it specifically. However, from what I can tell about the way they handled this, in what I have read of their writings and learned from lessons on them, Piety was at the forefront of absolutely everything they lived, believed, taught, and encouraged others with. They had an all consuming view of God and His sovereignty in all of life’s circumstances, struggles, sufferings, and pain. They saw these things as God working in them to conform them to the image of His Son. The Puritans did not fear struggles and sufferings as much as they felt favored by God to be granted the opportunity to overcome the temptations that often went with them. They encouraged others to embrace all that befalls them in life, looking through the trials (no matter what they are) to God with Thanksgiving in sweet surrender to His sovereign care over their lives.
      Alton, I hope this helps. Please let me know. Thanks for your input and for stopping by.

  2. Here’s something I came across on Dave Bovenmeyers blog regarding the Puritan approach to counseling,this is an excerpt from it.

    The Church has seemed to concentrate on the superficial and external. It has tended to call people to moral uprightness, assent to doctrinal essentials, acts of will-power, and commitment. The hands-on and case-wise feel for the outworkings of many doctrines that had existed in earlier generations of Christians has been lost.

    Powlison points to the Puritans as an example of a generation of Christians who were not afraid to dig in and grapple with the internal struggles and motivations of the heart.[4] The Puritans had developed

    “a massive and profound literature on a wide range of personal and pastoral problems. They wrote numerous case studies. They had a sophisticated diagnostic system that penetrated motives…They carefully addressed what the twentieth century would term addictions to sex, food, and alcohol; the gamut of problems in marriage and family relationships; depression, anxiety, and anger; perfectionism and the drive to please other people; interpersonal conflict; priorities and the management of time and money; unbelief and deviant values systems.”[5]

    this is a link to the blog if you want to read the rest,it’s very good!

  3. Jeff, Thank you for the link! The excerpt is right on. My concern is with churches being superficial about Christ. I know someone who had been attending a sexual addictions men’s bible study and I pointed out to him that it was either/or and not both. Either you are focused on the bible, or you are focused on sexual addictions. He told me that there was a gentleman who had been attending the group for nine years. What concerns me is that people are focusing on the sin and not on the Savior. The reason I love to read the Puritans is because they seem to have the most Christ centered writings I have ever come across. Thanks again for the link. I know there are people who have articulated my argument for me better than I have. LOL

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