Book recommendations often read as follows; “This book ought to be on every pastor’s, counselor’s, or parent’s shelf.” I will say frankly and without reservation that A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption ought to be read by and on the shelf of every believer, especially those who desire to counsel and disciple others.
In my opinion, there is none like it available today. On page vii, Dr. Jay Adams writes: “More Than Redemption is the first attempt to consider a biblical theology of counseling.” Refreshingly, he writes not for academia but for the growing believer, pastor, counselor, parent, and disciple-maker. It is practical theological instruction written for real people, living real life, fighting real battles, struggling with real problems in a real world.
The book treats most, if not all, major doctrines of the Bible from the settled position of biblical sufficiency, comprehensiveness, and exclusivity. God’s Word is all God’s children need for matters pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-3). Theology is non-negotiable for any believer to think, speak, and function for the glory of God. He is converted from depravity and must have his mind renewed (literally reconstructed—Ephesians 4:23) with God’s truth; no other substitute will do. This work provides a wonderful foundation for this journey. You never outgrow the need for biblical theology.
It is written from an experienced counselor to those who counsel—which includes every believer in one way or another (i.e. pastor, parent, spouse, Bible study leader, disciple-maker, college professor, etc.). Every Christian, when commenting on life and godliness issues, must represent God’s perspective with integrity. This book will get the reader moving forward on the way to doing just that—thinking about and handling the variety of life’s issues with biblical clarity and appropriate application.
An alarm is sounded loud and clear to warn believers of the danger and disaster that results from trying to mix God’s truth with secular thoughts and theories. On page ix, Dr. Adams introduces his book with this challenging statement: “…Christians must deplore any and all concepts, methods, systems, etc., that are set up in competition with God’s concepts, methods and systems. When pagan approaches are developed to do what God has given the Bible to do, these approaches must be exposed, rejected, and opposed.” This is the reason biblical exclusivity is so crucial: biblical thought and secular thought should never be unequally yoked together.
The book calls attention to several of the secular psychologists who not only popularized secular theories but were gradually brought into the church by non-discerning leaders. These theories made unbiblical ideas normal and, in many cases, treated them on par with biblical truth. Dr. Adams identifies these unbelievers, their unbiblical theories, and illustrates how they have been subtly brought into the church. He also issues a strong challenge to God’s people to be discerning.
Sound theology is non-negotiable to accomplish this task. The very first chapter, “The Need for Theology in Counseling,” lays the groundwork to establish and meet this need. Adams begins where many don’t—at the beginning. The need for counseling from creation, even before the fall, is clearly set forth. Man was created dependent, not independent as many secular theories proclaim. It is truly a theology of Christian counseling.
To demonstrate the rich practicality of this work, the basic doctrine of prayer is given 26 pages. The Christian Doctrine of prayer, prayer by the counselor and the counselee in the counseling process, as well as false ideas about prayer are all covered. Read what the author says on page 67 regarding prayer and children; “Few children are taught (or taught how) to bring their problems to God … without prayer, God is a picture on the wall.”
Whoever you may be and whatever role you fill in life (parent, pastor, elder, deacon, spouse, etc.) this book will equip you to be more effective as a private minister of the Word. Not only that, but it will enhance and strengthen your own personal growth and maturity.
On page ix, the very first statement in the introduction is: “All counselors have one goal in common: change.” Unlike the scores of counseling systems, change that pleases God can only come as the counselee follows the biblical process and utilizes the biblical truths of God’s Word. Learning to discard old habits of thinking and living and replacing them with godly habits (Ephesians 4:22-24) is discussed in clear, simple, and full detail. No counselor can function without this understanding.
Authentic biblical counseling must be inextricably connected to the local church. The local church does not start counseling centers, the local church is a counseling center. On page 276, Dr. Jay states: “Counseling may not be set up as a life calling on a free-lance basis; all such counseling ought to be done as a function of the church, utilizing its authority and resources.”
When asked by ACBC to do a book review, I did not hesitate … I chose this book intentionally, it was not assigned to me. It has personally been life changing, with my family as well as my ministry. My personal copy is so marked up it looks like a kid’s coloring book. It is not to be read in cursory fashion … it is to be savored over the long haul of learning to think, live, and minister biblically.
I recommend to you the flagship; the resource that will lay the theological foundation, get you started and keep you maintained as you pursue excellence in biblical counseling.