Theological Primer for Counselors: Anthropology

We continue our brief series covering the ten basic categories of theology and relating them to our walk with the Lord and to our personal ministry of the Word of God to one another. Today, let’s think about man, the pinnacle of God’s creation who then became His enemy through the rebellion of sin.

The Doctrine of Man

Our view of man’s origin, nature, and sinfulness has enormous impact on the content and approach to the one-another ministry that we call ‘counseling.’ If the counselor has an unbiblical anthropology [doctrine of man] and believes, for instance, that man is basically good (E.g. The self-esteem movement), or is merely the product of his environment [determinism], he will be content with man-centered theories of change and, therefore, true inner change will forever escape the counselee. However, a counselor with a biblical anthropology will recognize the bondage of the human heart to sin and its desperate need for the redemption God has provided in Jesus Christ.

Sin has left all men totally depraved, that is, under the negative influence of sin in every part of his being. Jay Adams describes total depravity this way: “no area has escaped sin’s blighting effects.” Therefore, the biblical counselor will not be content merely with the counselee’s outward compliance to certain expected behavior, but will always be directing his counsel at the inner man, the heart, so as to effect lasting, biblical change. Salvation is not merely the rescue of an immaterial soul from Hell (though that is great indeed!), but also the complete renovation and restructuring of a human life for the glory of his Creator and the benefit of the redeemed (John 10:10); Col 3:10).

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