Grace Bible Church Plantation Philosophy of Counseling
It is our firm conviction here at GBCP that the church of Jesus Christ must be committed to giving its people counsel directly and exclusively from the Word of God. That means we affirm that the Scripture is sufficient for all areas of a person’s spiritual life (Ps. 19:7-14; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). The apostle Peter declared: ‘His divine power has granted to us [the church] everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust’ (2 Pet. 1:3-4). This must be emphasized today as never before, because so many who give lip service to the authority of Scripture by their practice deny its rightful, authoritative place.
Therefore, whenever the local church gives counsel, whether formal or informal, it must be accurately Scriptural, with no integration of any other philosophy, including psychology. Even the so-called, ‘Christian psychology’ is racked with conflicting opinions at variance with God’s Word. Dr. John MacArthur rightly surmises, ‘The presuppositions and most of the doctrine of psychology cannot be successfully integrated with Christian truth. Moreover, the infusion of psychology into the teaching of the Church has blurred the line between behavior modification and sanctification’ (John MacArthur Jr., Introduction to Biblical Counseling, edited by John MacArthur Jr. & Wayne Mack, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, p. 10).
We will therefore counsel, both in its message and method, with a view toward the absolute sufficiency of Scripture. We affirm what Scripture teaches regarding the constitutional make-up of all men: physical and spiritual. We do not believe that there is a third, separate category (i.e., ‘psychological’) which many believe also constitutes man’s make-up. We also affirm that the Word of God is the ultimate and therefore adequate means by which the Christian’s non-physical (spiritual) problems must be addressed. We further affirm Jesus’ own words in Jn. 17:17, which teach that special revelation (Holy Scripture) is the only legitimate means to sanctify the redeemed. There, He said: ‘[Father], Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth.’
We believe that because of the curse of sin, mankind will have physical abnormalities and these must be diagnosed and treated under the care of a medical doctor. Please note however, that not every so-called illness or disease really is one; there should be pathologic or physical phenomenon for a person to be legitimately treated in this way. A physician, who bases his care on objective, scientific data, as well as established treatment regimens, must treat physical issues. The Bible alone however, must address spiritual issues. We do affirm that there are instances where physical illness may have come about as a result of spiritual causes. The guilt brought on by sin for example, can have devastating effects on the body. King David declared in Ps. 32:3-4: ‘When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.’ When the physical and spiritual dimensions intersect in these ways, both sound biblical counseling and medical care must join together both for the physical and spiritual health of the counselee and the glory of God.
Because of the popular application of psychology and advances in medical treatments within psychiatry, the distinctions between physical and non-physical phenomenon are now perceived as less distinct. While we support physicians who are committed to a biblical view of man, the Church must ever be on guard against any so-called ‘medical treatments’ which do not address these distinctions. If a physician, like a pastor, affirms the absolute sufficiency of Scripture, then his counsel of an individual will be based more on his belief in the truth and less on his psychiatric training. The psychological profession ultimately then becomes incidental to his biblical counseling and not a basis of it. For instance, Dr. Gary Almy, himself presently a psychiatrist at the Loyola School of Medicine in Chicago, captures the essence of what it means to be committed to true, biblical counseling:
Masquerading as science, sounding plausible, using technical jargon, claiming but never producing good results, and appealing to the ancient human desire for self-perfection, our culture is awash in an ever-changing sea of therapists and therapies, with a willing audience ready to accept them . . . . [But] without the Holy Spirit as our counselor, and without an authoritative and sufficient Word to provide us absolute truth, we are left to our own devices and to the guidance of others who are no less confused (How Christian is Christian Counseling?, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), p. 77.
In conclusion, the member’s of the church, as well as people in the surrounding area, can expect from us a precisely biblical approach to counseling. The ultimate purpose of our approach to counseling echoes Paul’s words to the Roman believers of his day: ‘Concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to admonish one another’ (Rom. 15:14).