Friends and Members of ACBC,
The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors is at the beginning of our annual process of membership renewal. This is a crucial time in the life of our organization as our membership reaffirms their commitment to our standards of counseling doctrine and practice. The central way our members accomplish this reaffirmation is by signing our ACBC membership covenant. The covenant expresses the commitment of our membership to the sufficiency of Scripture in counseling.
As we begin that process this year I am excited to announce that our board of trustees has voted to approve a revised covenant for our new members to sign. For years, many people inside and outside of our organization had questions about the clarity of several statements of our covenant. This revised covenant adds needed clarity and theological precision to this important document.
This covenant forms the basis of our convictional commitment to biblical counseling. Signing it is a commitment of our membership to the authoritative and sufficient Word of God in counseling. This is our newly revised covenant that we ask our members to sign.
I am in agreement with the Constitution, By-laws, Standards of Conduct, Policies and Procedures, and the Doctrinal Statement of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (which can be obtained on our website at www.biblicalcounseling.com) and hereby affirm my commitment to the sufficiency of the Scriptures in counseling as follows:
Biblical counselors affirm the value and usefulness of the entirety of God’s revelation, including general and special revelation. General revelation is a display of the goodness and power of God in the things he has made. The divine self-disclosure in general revelation leads to condemnation, rather than salvation (Rom 1:18-32).
Special revelation is recorded exclusively and completely in the Scriptures. It is an inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient rule for all of life and faith. Because counseling concerns matters of life and faith before God, Scripture is an inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient rule for the presuppositions, principles, and practices of counseling (2 Pet 1:3-21).
We deny that the findings of secular psychology make any essential contribution to biblical counseling.
God’s goodness allows that secular psychology may provide accurate research and make observations that are helpful in understanding counseling issues. Because unbelievers suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness the efforts of secular psychology at interpreting these observations lead to misunderstanding. Because their observations are distorted by a secular apprehension of life their efforts at counseling ministry will be in competition with biblical counseling. They cannot be integrated with the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
There are several things to note about this covenant.
First of all, this covenant is an unqualified endorsement of the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling. It explicitly affirms that the Bible is sufficient for counseling because the Bible is sufficient for the issues of life and godliness, which are on the table in counseling. The covenant explicitly rejects that the findings of modern psychology are necessary for counseling practice.
Second, however, the statement makes clear that an embrace of the sufficiency of Scripture does not mean that biblical counselors reject truth outside of the Scriptures. The covenant affirms that an embrace of common grace allows biblical counselors to affirm the truthfulness of the observations that psychologists make. The covenant makes clear, in very careful language, that psychologists can know true things, but those true things are not required for counseling, and that the secular interpretations that psychologists make about their observations cannot be integrated into counseling practice.
A final observation about this covenant is that it is a theological document. The covenant, like ACBC itself, seeks to define counseling theory and practice in categories that are self-consciously doctrinal. Our association of counselors feels no need to define the counseling task according to the preferences of a secular culture. Indeed, we find such a practice to be troubling. The revised covenant reaffirms our commitment that counseling is, fundamentally, a ministerial task, which is informed by theological, rather than psychological, commitments.