“What books should I read to better understand the philosophy behind biblical counseling?”
This is an excellent question and one that is asked frequently. More than this, it is a question that needs to be asked.
Biblical counseling has a specific, nuanced, and well-established foundation for how to think about the issues troubled people are facing. If you want to grow in your understanding of the philosophy behind biblical counseling, here are my top book recommendations. These books are chosen for the various reasons and purposes listed below.
Short and Thoughtful:
This book can be read in one hour. It is compassionate, provocative, and careful. It is the first book I recommend to someone who is trying to understand biblical counseling or is skeptical of it. The runner up to this book is Sufficiency which is a collection of essays by Heath Lambert, Wayne Mack, Doug Bookman, and David Powlison.
Deep but Accessible:
A Theology of Biblical Counseling | Heath Lambert
This work shows how the doctrines of the Christian faith are practical. It includes both deep theology and practical stories of how that theology is applied. It also interacts with various controversies in the Christian counseling realm and provides answers.
Clear and Challenging:
A Theology of Christian Counseling | Jay Adams
I read this book after hearing about how uncareful Adams was in his writing. Then upon reading it, I was stunned by how many clarifications, footnotes, and qualifications he brings to the table. Adams has done a careful job and repeatedly challenges his readers to further study. I find it to be challenging, convicting, and a great resource to understand the foundation of biblical counseling.
Gripping and Compelling:
Counseling the Hard Cases | edited by Heath Lambert and Stuart Scott
If someone is new to the world of counseling, this book accomplishes many goals. It shows how biblical counseling looks practically and simultaneously makes the argument that the Bible has answers. The narrative style of the book makes it palatable and smooth to any reader.
Academic and Surprising:
The Sufficiency of Scripture | Noel Weeks
Noel Weeks does not claim to be a biblical counselor but offers a fresh perspective on the doctrine of Scripture. In the first half of the book, Dr. Weeks argues for the same theology and philosophy of biblical counseling without ever discussing the task. His articulation of the sufficiency of Scripture is scholarly, relevant, and thought-provoking. I only wish I had read this book sooner than I did.
Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically | John MacArthur
If someone is looking for a general introduction to the foundations and practice of biblical counseling, this is the textbook to read. The book gives an overview of the most essential issues and then discusses how to implement counseling. The chapter on FAQ’s is one of the hidden gems of this work. The questions addressed in this book are the questions that are being asked.
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