Commentary and Analysis from a Biblical Perspective (if the mainstream media won't touch it, somebody has to!)
Monday, April 27, 2009
More on Nouthetic Counseling
The other day, I realized something.
Over 70 percent of the hits to my blog are queries with the words "nouthetic counseling". This tells me that people are looking for biblically-sound counsel, but I'm surprised that my blog is popping up so high in the search results.
I think the subject deserves a nice new post with some useful links that may help you if you are indeed researching the ministry of biblical counseling. A couple of months ago, I posted excerpts of a book I am writing about repentance and healing from eating disorders, in which I discuss at some length the differences between secular psychology, mainstream "Christian" counseling, and the sola-scriptura approach of nouthetic counseling. I'll try and make this less wordy and more practical.
First of all, I am not a nouthetic counselor. I have not taken any courses or been accredited by NANC (the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors), although quite a few folks in my church are. (In fact, it was a nouthetic counselor from church who recommended Adams' and Macarthur's books on forgiveness to me, which I reviewed last month). I have read books by folks in the field, been studying theology and hermeneutics for a few years, and was restored completely by God from addictions. That's it. Now I encourage other women struggling in the same way, to apply the same biblical principles that helped me renew my mind. Many Christian women who have read my testimony online e-mail me for encouragement in battling eating disorders, which I am happy to provide. I also tell them to find a nouthetic counselor in their local area. NANC's website contains a Certified Counselor List by state. The Christian Counseling Education Foundation (CCEF) also has some great biblical counseling resources, as does the Institute for Nouthetic Studies.
"Nouthetic" comes from the Greek term "noutheos" employed by Paul, and it encompasses the idea of exhorting, admonishing, teaching, and rebuking with the Word of God as the ultimate standard. Unlike the more vague term Christian counseling, which may incorporate pop psychology and questionable therapy methods, nouthetic counseling confronts the counselee with the non-negotiable truth of Scripture. His or her problem is then held up to the light of the Word, which exposes sin and trains in holiness.
Nouthetic counseling is based on the premise of the sufficiency of Scripture - God has fully equipped us to deal with any and every situation through His revealed will. Nouthetic counselors help people deal with a wide range of spiritual problems, including depression, marital problems, sexual sin, addictions, and unforgiveness. As far as I know, it is generally free. You don't need insurance or $100 per hour to be fed with the bread of life, but you do need a desire to be changed inwardly by God.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul assures us that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." A godly man or woman who will hold us accountable is often used by God to walk alongside the struggling sinner. Nouthetic counseling goes beyond talking about our feelings - we're taught to line our thoughts and actions up with God's standard. Homework is given. Bibles are read. Scripture passages are memorized and recited. A pastor I once knew used to say, "Many times, when people come to you for counsel, they don't really want help. They just want someone to feel sorry for them." While compassionate and empathetic, the role of the nouthetic counselor is not to feel sorry for the counselee, but rather to get him or her to take those ungodly thoughts captive to Christ and start living a life in obedience to Him. All believers, in a sense, are called to this ministry. We are to familiarize ourselves with the Word in order to be able to encourage, exhort and spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
If you have reached this page because you are seeking biblical counsel or wish to know more about it, I encourage you to visit the ministry links above.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.