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A Theology of Biblical Counseling

Book Review

Heath Lambert builds a theological framework for counseling, piece by piece, to show that the very foundation for counseling is indeed theological in nature.

Jun 29, 2021

Heath Lambert has written an invaluable resource with A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry. Lambert builds a theological framework for counseling, piece by piece, to show that the very foundation for counseling is indeed theological in nature. He connects core doctrines to the work of counseling in an incredibly practical and understandable manner.  

Dr. Lambert is a pastor, father, dedicated biblical counselor, and theologian whose engaging work has now built upon so many who came before him in this field. One question frames Lambert’s work: “What serves as the culmination of our theological knowledge?” (page 317) This inquiry drives each chapter to take richly theological content to an incredibly practical level. This writing is not merely for gaining knowledge but will assist you in knowing God via relationship with Christ. It will help you use every bit of theological prowess in an outpouring of worship to Father God. As you read and study, you will be captured by real-life stories, thoughtful experiences, and well-placed Scripture to illuminate the ideas on the page. 

Lambert articulates with striking clarity a thorough summary of key doctrines and their relevance to the ministry of biblical counseling: Scripture, Common Grace, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Humanity, Sin, Suffering, Salvation, and the Church. The introduction alone sheds light on the crossroads of Theology and Counseling and should be required reading for every believer. Lambert clearly builds the case for counseling as a “theological discipline” (page 11). When we acknowledge the reality that “Counseling is a conversation where one party with questions, problems, and trouble seeks assistance from someone they believe has answers, solutions, and help” (page 13), we can embrace the role theology has in helping each individual with their counseling problems, and the role of the counselor as one who is required to have an understanding of what God desires in order to be able to offer those answers, solutions, and help. 

When the counselor speaks, we desire those words, that advice, and that specific guidance to be rooted in the Scriptures as an anchor of truth. To do this, we have to not only know the Word of God, but also understand aspects of the Theology of Scripture (Chapter 2): inerrancy, sufficiency, the role of the Scriptures in church history, and further categories of sufficiency. Particularly when so much of our modern day counseling relies on external resources and is not centered on doctrine, Lambert cuts to the core of each angle necessary around this issue of the Scriptures as our source and solution.  

Lambert has written so well about the necessity of the Spirit’s work to convict, indwell, teach, empower, offer gifting, and glorify in the life of the individual receiving counsel. In Chapter 6, each of the Holy Spirit’s functions are explained along with five ways we as biblical counselors ought to respond to this doctrine of the Holy Spirit as it pertains to our work. Nestled within this chapter is the sharp reality that our work is utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit. We submit to His Lordship as “He is the one who makes all real and lasting change possible” (page 179). 

Continuing in Chapter 9, “Because of Adam’s sin against God in the garden, all people now live in a world of profound pain” (page 248). Why is there suffering? This is a common question that arises in biblical counseling, and it must be addressed with care and empathy. Lambert helps the reader to rightly divide suffering’s various causes: sin, the world, the devil, confusion, and death. Lambert is honest when he acknowledges that often our answers from Scripture around suffering may not be the kind of answers our counselees desire, but nevertheless, “We point counselees to the strong and loving character of God and plead with them to trust him. We appeal to them to believe that when bad things happen, we can trust that he loves us in his care and is able to use his power in good ways that may not be understandable to us” (page 261). 

This volume is an absolute necessity in the library of any dedicated biblical counselor, student of biblical counseling, or pastor seeking to offer the full counsel of the Word. It provides rich concepts and will aid a counselor to truly lay a solid foundation for the work to which each of us is called. May we each be prepared to give answers and submit to the work of the Spirit in every counseling relationship. 

Helpful Quotes 

  1. “In counseling, when people share their most serious and secret problems, counselors need to have something to say” (page 37).  
  1. “The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a promise that God himself will give you something from him to say in those sacred moments” (page 38). 
  1. “The Holy Spirit is vital to a biblical approach to counseling. In fact, if biblical counselors were to offer any qualifications to their theology of the sufficiency of Scripture, it would have to do with the doctrine of the Spirit” (page 161). 
  1. “My personal creed in counseling is: ‘When in doubt, check it out.’ When I am counseling someone who is experiencing a problem that is extreme, new, bizarre, or out of the ordinary in any way, I encourage that person to see a physician for a full medical exam…. It helps me to see all the potential problems in the counselee, both in body and soul” (page 202). 
  1. “The goal of counseling those who have been sinned against is to have them extend forgiveness to those who have wronged them, and do it in such a way that they see the person and the sinful act as two separate realities. We want our counselees to treat those who have sinned against them as though they did not sin against them” (pages 236-237).