Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

Do Theological Foundations Matter for Counseling?

If we who love the Bible and biblical counseling ever begin to waver on the tenacious holding of the former, while at the same time claim to remain committed to the latter, then we have been seduced by the spirit of this age. If we subtly begin to fudge on the foundation of sound theology then our counseling ministry to one another will become nothing more than another form of spiritual pragmatism.

In The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Dutch Reformer Wilehlmus à Brakel contends for the inherent authority of the Scriptures. Specifically, while defending the authority of the Word of God independent of the church, he rightly argues that the church does not grant Scripture its authority, but rather the opposite is true. Ponder his words with me for a moment and then I will make brief application to the world of biblical counseling.

If the Word of God is the only criterion by which we can determine a church to be the true church of God, then we must first acknowledge Scripture to be the Word of God before acknowledging the church to be the true church. Furthermore, we cannot receive the testimony of the church unless we acknowledge her to be the true church. Thus, we do not believe the Word to be the Word of God because the church affirms it, but on the contrary, we believe the church to be the true church because the Word validates her as such. A house rests upon its foundation, and the foundation upon the house. A construction is subordinate to its cause rather than the cause being subordinate to what it has constructed [Volume 1, p. 29].

Please allow me the freedom to change a few of à Brakel’s words in order to make a point: “If the Word of God is the only criterion by which we can determine biblical counseling to be true counseling, then we must first acknowledge Scripture to be the Word of God before acknowledging the counseling to be biblical. Furthermore, we cannot receive the testimony of the counselor unless we acknowledge him or her to be truly biblical. Thus, we do not believe the Word to be the Word of God because the biblical counselor affirms it, but on the contrary, we believe counseling to be truly biblical because the Word validates it as such. A house rests upon its foundation, and the foundation upon the house. A construction is subordinate to its cause rather than the cause being subordinate to what it has constructed.”

What’s my point? Biblical counseling has authority over people’s lives only to the degree that it espouses, and adheres to, the Word of God, which is the revealed mind of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 2:11-16). If the foundations of sound theology are undermined by anyone who claims to be a lover of biblical counseling then he may claim all he wants, but what he has actually done is subordinate the foundation to its construction, which results in the weakening, and ultimate demise, of both. When the foundation is compromised it is only a matter of time before the construction begins to tilt.

Fellow biblical counselors, I am calling all of us to not fudge even a tad on sound doctrine. The proper care of men’s and women’s souls is at stake. If the foundations of theology are undermined it will not take very long for the house to fall and what we now call “biblical counseling” will be nothing different than any one of the myriad substitutes already offered by the world.

Print this entry

3 Comments

  1. Thank you kindly Dr. Tautges for this timely article. After reading, I was confronted with the reality of my own struggles with the place of Scriptures in biblical counseling. I never doubted the authority of Scripture but I am surrounded by ‘so called’ “Christian counselors” and it is very discouraging. This morning, the Lord woke me up at 4:00 am to deal with me regarding this matter with the help of your article. Thank you so much for your firm stand of the role and place of Scripture in biblical counseling. It has change my life and I am thankful to you.

    What are your thoughts on pre-screening counselee online before even having that initial visit? I do not think it is right but…

    Thank you for your excellent ministry, I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you.
    Jennifer.

    • Thanks, Jennifer, for your encouraging words. I’m unsure about pre-screening online. At this time, our church uses some basic information forms to help us see the person’s perspective of his/her situation beforehand, which seems to work well.

  2. I sure appreciate your comment Sir, helps me understand the process as a “beforehand.” Thank you!