Age

As we celebrated Jay Adams’ 90th birthday last week I was reminded of this prayer Jay wrote in 1979 in a little book entitled Prayers for Troubled Times.

I’m tired.
__As I grow older
__fatigue comes sooner.
__This worn and weary frame
__no longer functions
__as it once did.
That I may continue to serve You
__and live the rest of my days
__to their full
__is my prayer.
I know, Lord, that I must learn
__to recognize limitations,
__to choose among opportunities,
__to eliminate excess baggage.
But that knowledge comes hard.
__I am not wise;
__I need to understand
__much more that I now know
__of the practical application
__of your Word
__to these matters.
Forgive me Lord
__for not learning sooner,
__for wasting time
__and dissipating energy
__I now wish I had.
__I see the importance
__of these commodities
__now that I am beginning
__to run short of them.
I want to serve You
__to the end,
__not in a lackluster manner,
__nor in weariness of flesh,
__but vivaciously,
__conserving and wisely using
__all my remaining strength
__________for Your glory,
_______________Amen.

Committed to Craftsmanship in Biblical Counseling

We are pleased to announced that the first reprint of Dr. Adams’ books is now available! Committed to Craftsmanship has been one of our most frequently requested titles and its new availability has been met with gratitude by those who teach Biblical counseling, seasoned counselors, and counseling students alike.

As Dr. Adams interacted with counselors over the years he became concerned that many counselors had settled for a minimal amount of training, had adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to common problems, and were not growing. This book is not only his challenge to such counselors, but an encouraging guidebook for those who want to grow and become true Craftsman in the art of Biblical counseling.

If you are a Biblical counselor who is serious about pleasing God and providing genuinely biblical help to your counselees, this book is must reading for you. Order your copy from the INS Bookstore today. Soon to be available as an eBook.

Happy Birthday Jay

On January 30 Jay Adams will celebrate his 90th birthday! While Jay no longer receives email, we have established a special email address for his friends to communicate with him on this special occasion. Send your greeting and whatever message you would like to communicate, long or short, to this address—jayeadams1970@gmail.com. We will print them out and present them to him in a binder so he can read through them in the days to come.

Update

We are grateful for all those who have contacted us to ask why our blog seemed to have gone dark. We are glad that so many noticed and have checked in. As 2018 comes to a close let me give you an update about what is happening at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies.

First, let’s talk about Jay. Next month Jay will celebrate his 90th birthday. His entire family was able to gather for the Christmas holidays and, together with a number of local friends, they celebrated the event early with an event at Redeemer Presbyterian Church last Friday.  This is a photo of Jay and my daughter-in-law who baked and decorated the birthday cake.

While Jay’s health has been stable in recent days he will be dealing with some challenges early next month. On Wednesday, January 2 he will be undergoing surgery on his foot and if all goes well, he will have the same surgery done on the other several weeks later. Please pray with us that he will tolerate the surgery well and that the result will enable him to walk better.

January 30 is the date of his 90th birthday. We have set up a temporary email account for him to receive your birthday greetings. Jay no longer receives email, but we will print out each email message we receive and present them to him in a notebook on his birthday. Send your greetings and messages to him at jayadams1970@gmail.com.

Now, about my health. On Thanksgiving evening, I was clobbered by an acute case of pancreatitis. This came on the heals (pun intended) of surgery I had on my foot just three weeks before that. After a week and a half in the hospital and several weeks of bed rest I am finally able to function well enough to answer email and work at my desk several hours each day. I am grateful for your prayer and ask that you continue to present my health issues before His throne. I am dealing with several complications, including a blood clot in my leg, and it looks like I will require more surgery on my foot once my other issues are resolved.

However, the ministry of the Institute is going forward! As I hope you have heard, we are now the publisher of most of Dr. Adams’ books and we are working diligently to bring a number of titles back into print soon. While my health issues slowed down our progress temporarily, we hope to have several titles ready early next year. We will have Committed to Craftsmanship in Biblical Counseling ready early next month. Soon thereafter we hope to have What to do on Thursday ready to print.

Thank you for your interest in this ministry and thank you for praying, both for Dr. Adams and myself.

The Institute for Nouthetic Studies is Now a Publisher!

Today we have launched a new bookstore and are excited to announce that the Institute for Nouthetic Studies is now a publisher. We have assumed publishing responsibilities for all Jay Adams’ titles formerly published by Timeless Texts and soon you will see them made available in our new online bookstore.

In addition to making these titles available again we will also be bringing back into print all Dr. Adams’ books that have been out of print and unavailable, in some cases, for many years. While this is a process that will take several years to complete, you will begin to see several important books appear very soon. In fact, we have an entirely new book from the pen of Dr. Adams in the pipeline.

Want to know more? Follow this link to our new bookstore and explore the site. Please excuse the mess as it is still under construction. Many more titles will be added in the next few weeks, but you can check us out now and order books that are available. Bookmark the page so you can check in with us regularly.

www.INSBookstore.com

 

I Need Your Help

I need your help, yes you! You are reading our little blog because you know, have read, have heard, or are otherwise familiar with Jay Adams. You have profited from his ministry and have been a greater blessing to others because of what you have learned from him.

But sadly, there are many who travel in Biblical counseling circles these days who have never heard Jay speak and, unbelievably, have never read Competent to Counsel. When I first began my journey as a biblical counselor Jay Adams was scheduled as the speaker for all five plenary sessions at the annual NANC conferences. Today, a large majority of those who attend an ACBC conference have never heard him speak. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is good that so many younger men and women now identify with the movement.

But the Biblical counselor, of any age, who does not read and learn from Jay Adams is missing a great blessing and, frankly, is derelict in his responsibility to grow as a counselor. Imagine the theologian who has never read Calvin. Is there a pastor anywhere, who is serious about growing as a preacher, who has never read Spurgeon? Can one be a conscientious WWII historian if he has never read Churchill? How about the Methodist who has never read Wesley, the Lutheran who has never read Luther, or the musician who has never heard Bach or Mozart.

One reality those of us who love Dr. Adams must face is the fact that since his retirement from an active speaking and writing ministry, Adams’ critics have been louder than his supporters. Some of those critics travel in our circles and are often the only voices new counselors hear. As a result, there has arisen a generation of biblical counselors who knew not Jay Adams. Our movement will be the poorer for it if we allow this to continue.

Thus, I come back to my initial plea—I need your help! You will soon be reading about a new initiative to bring many of Dr. Adams’ books back into print and make all of his books more readily available. Before we launch this initiative, I am collecting as many testimonies, endorsements, and recommendations as a can from folk like YOU who have profited from reading Jay Adams. Would you consider sending me a short “blurb” describing how reading Jay Adams has helped you?

First, I need comments from YOU. Please do not think that since you are not John MacArthur or R C Sproul no one will care what you think. I want to appeal to other counselors and pastors who are just like you.

Second, I need short, pithy testimonies or endorsements. Two or three sentences is great but also a short paragraph would be helpful.

Third, I need specific comments:

How has reading Jay Adams helped you generally? You have no specific book in mind, just his writing ministry in general.

Imagine you are telling a friend, “Here is why you should read Jay Adams.” What would you say?

Is there a specific book that has helped you? Now I am sure I will get many comments about Competent to Counsel or The Christian Counselor’s Manual, but what other books have helped you? How so?

Several of Dr. Adams’ books have been out of print for some time and are on our radar for republishing soon. If you have read one of these, and can provide us with an endorsement “blurb,” who knows, it may appear on the back cover of the book!

Committed to Craftsmanship

Insight and Creativity in Christian Counseling

What to Do On Thursday

Finally, you may be thinking, “there is no way I can express my love and appreciation for all I have learned from Jay Adams’ books in a short paragraph, can’t I say more?” YES! I am also entertaining guest blog articles from counselors and pastors who can do as suggested above—explain to readers why they should read Jay Adams. In fact, if you maintain your own blog, how about posting such an article there and telling us about it?

Send your articles, blog posts, endorsements, blurbs, and comments to me at donnarms@nouthetic.org.

 

 

“Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do.”

It was more than 30 years ago. I was the young (and very green) pastor of a church in a small rural town in southern Iowa. I had just told the chairman of our deacons about my plans to attend the latest and greatest conference on church growth when he said these words to me:

Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do.

It was, of course, his kind and gentle way of telling me we simply need to do the things we already knew to do rather than constantly seeking the next big thing to make our church grow.

I was reminded again of his words as I recently reviewed this short blog from Jay which we posted nine years ago:

Nevertheless, let us walk on the same level that we have attained.
                                                                   Philippians 3:16

When you go to church; when you study your Bible; when you learn a biblical truth from a brother of sister, it should change your life.

This verse follows up one in which Paul says that God will help you learn what you don’t already know. But, nevertheless—even though you may not know many things—don’t be so much concerned about them as about the ones that you do already know.

The verse says:

Walk (i.e., live, day by day)

On the same level (not on some lesser level of knowledge and behavior but living up to what you have . . . )

Attained (You have a level of biblical knowledge? OK, then live up to it!)

Great wisdom from one who followed it!

A Systematic Theology of Counseling

Part Three in a series

God’s Word comes to us as poetry and narrative, proverbs and prose, metaphors, parables, prophecy, letters, edicts, law, and so much more. Is it not given to us in dictionary form enabling us to look up subjects in an index and learn what God says about a specific subject. Because of this, our forefathers in the faith have labored to organize biblical data in a systematic way. We refer to these efforts as “Systematic Theology” and the study of Systematic Theology has produced hundreds of systems of theology over the millennia since these efforts began.

Most of these systems of theology have been given names. Sometimes these names are descriptive of the conclusions of the system—Unitarian, Postmillennial. Often they are named for the originator or key theologian of the system—Calvinism, Arminian, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Pelagian.

Even subdivisions of these systems have identifying names. Under eschatology, we have Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Amillennialism. In Ecclesiology, we have Presbyterian, Congregational, and Episcopal forms of church government. Even the order of salvation has subdivisions—Supralapsarianism, Sublapsarianism, Infralapsarianism, etc.

In the area of counseling, the secular world has been devising and debating systems for more than a century. For many years three main systems held sway—Freudian, Rogerian, and Behaviorism. Each had a plethora of subdivisions and spinoffs. Today, there are hundreds of these systems, including systems that seek to integrate a secular system of counseling with a theological system.

Beginning in the early 1960s, an accomplished theologian, Greek scholar, and Bible exegete launched a personal study of the popular secular systems of counseling and labored to understand how any one of them could integrate with what he believed would be a faithful system of theology. After pouring over scores of psychological textbooks, and spending an entire summer traveling with a former president of the American Psychological Association, he concluded such integration was a hopeless task. Once he came to that conclusion, he was able to free himself from the rubble and clutter of these secular systems and focus on building a thoroughly biblical counseling system. He formed the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation to serve as a kind of laboratory in which he and his students could do counseling and study what the Scriptures taught about the various problems counselees presented to them.

By 1970 he was ready to publish his first book detailing his conclusions, and with Competent to Counsel, began to build a system of counseling that would be constructed only of materials he found in the Bible. Before he could build, however, he had to do for his reader what he had done himself. He had to clear away the ruins of the shoddily constructed systems that had gone before and prepare a level building site. In order to do the work of site preparation, one has to use a bulldozer. Shovels and rakes will not do. In Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams took a bulldozer to the failed secular systems that many Christians were trying to use along with their Bibles.

The results were predictable. Those who were still living in those dilapidated structures railed against Adams and his system. He had pushed their systems aside and warned others not to take shelter under their roofs. Those structures were built with inferior materials and would collapse and injure those who abode there. But countless pastors and other believers rose up and called him blessed for providing a sturdy new system built on a solid foundation.

Competent to Counsel was only the beginning. In it, Adams cleared a building site and poured a solid foundation—he told us what needed to be done. In his next book, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, he showed us how. The Manual was a practical volume that examined methodology, explored specific counseling problems, explained how and why to assign homework, promoted careful data gathering and listening, and led the counselor through the counseling process—explaining what the Scriptures taught about each matter.

But Adams was still not done building his system. His next volume dealt with theology. Adams believed every counseling problem was, at its core, a theological problem. Good counseling could only rise from good theology. More Than Redemption, a Theology of Christian Counseling was his explanation of the theological underpinnings of his counseling system.

One more book rounded out his seminal works explaining Nouthetic Counseling, How to Help People Change. Since change is the goal of every counseling endeavor, it was vital that the Nouthetic counselor understand God’s change process.

Nouthetic counseling is a counseling system. It is NOT built around one Greek word, but rather, on the entire canon of Scripture. It is Jay Adams’ attempt to systematize what the Scriptures say about counseling. Listen to Adams’ explanation in 1976:

I prefer the words “biblical” or “Christian” but reluctantly I have used the word “nouthetic” . . . simply as a convenience by which the biblical system of counseling that has been developed in such books as Competent to Counsel and The Christian Counselor’s Manual might be identified most easily.

In the first article of our current series, I demonstrated that using the term “biblical” to describe the kind of counseling we do has become confusing and requires further clarification. By it, many mean simply that they use the Bible somehow, somewhere in the counseling process. I believe the term “Nouthetic” brings clarity to the conversation about counseling. It is a term that has boundaries. The seminal textbooks written by Dr. Adams fence it in. It explains exactly what we believe the Bible says about counseling issues, not simply that we believe it is good to use the Bible.

Ah, but for some reason, there are some readers who chafe at the word. You may have heard, read, or learned about nouthetic counseling from someone who lives in one of the structures Adams has demolished. Imagine you had spent your academic career, and many thousands of dollars, learning secular counseling systems. Your financial livelihood rose from your teaching or practice using those systems, and your standing in society or your own sense of “self-esteem” rose from the books you have written or the lectures you had delivered promoting those systems. Then imagine someone comes along and not only challenges the validity of those systems, but insists that the systems you promote inflict harm rather than good on those you seek to help.

How would you be expected to respond? You would be left with few options. You could repent, disavow what you had been teaching and practicing, and instead seek honest work. You could try to refute this person who says such things about your system, but since you are seeking to refute what is biblical you would quickly find yourself trying to refute the irrefutable. Or, you could attack the messenger, seek to discredit him, complain about his tone, his friends, his scholarship, or even his beard.

If you object to Nouthetic counseling but you have not read these four foundational books by Dr. Adams—shame on you! J. Gresham Machen once wrote:

It is usually considered good practice to examine a thing for one’s self before echoing the vulgar ridicule of it.[1]

If you have read these books and you find them objectionable, you should stand ready to explain exactly what Adams writes that is off putting. Do you object to the idea of the sufficiency of the Scriptures? How about the doctrine of progressive sanctification? The authority of the Scriptures? Is Adams wrong about gathering good data, listening carefully to counselees, assigning homework, insisting that counselees obey God’s Word, or that sin must be put off and replaced with God’s solution? Maybe you think Dr. Adams has mishandled the Word in some way. Is his exegesis of a key passage faulty? Which one?

Remember, Nouthetic counseling is a system of counseling. One does not have to agree with everything Jay Adams believes to embrace his counseling system. I certainly don’t. I am still trying to bring him around on the subject of baptism. If you believe Adams has some personal character flaw that disqualifies his system, please email me with the details. I will take any valid concern to him and nouthetically confront him about it.

In an article I cited in the first of this series, Drs. Babler and Johnson wrote:

Recently biblical counseling has been besieged by many voices that minimize or even attempt to redefine [the historical distinctions of biblical counseling].  We suggest it is time to return to basics.

Nouthetic counseling embodies those basics. That is why we, at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and the Institute for Nouthetic Studies, still boldly and unashamedly call ourselves Nouthetic counselors. Perhaps you should too.

[1] Christianity and Liberalism, p.62.

A “Nouthetic” Ministry

Part Two in a series

On January 15, 1968, a 38 year old seminary professor took his turn addressing the students in the chapel service at Westminster Theological Seminary. While he was primarily a homiletics professor, he had been researching what the Scriptures taught about the pastoral ministry of counseling. He was especially interested in a word the Apostle Paul used to describe his ministry, and this cold winter morning in Philadelphia presented him with his first opportunity to present what he had been learning.

The people Paul ministered to, like the people to whom these students would minister, struggled with problems and sinful lifestyles. Paul used this word, “noutheteo,” to describe the kind of ministry he had to help them with these problems. It was not a common New Testament word, and only Paul used it. While it is often translated “admonish” or “warn,” neither of these English words adequately communicated Paul’s idea.

Jay Adams unpacked the word for the students that day and concluded by urging students to emulate Paul by having a “nouthetic” ministry in the churches they would be leading. Adams coined the word “nouthetic” that day, and in the years to come referred to the counseling system he was building by his new term.

Biblical counselors need to understand this word, stand ready to explain what it means, and combat the misinformation, straw men, and scurrilous canards that critics have invented. First, however, it is necessary to separate the Greek word Paul used (noutheteo) from the English word (nouthetic) coined by Adams.

The Greek word “noutheteo” is a compound word built by bringing together the Greek words “nous” (mind) and “tithime” (put, place, lay). It is at this point many interpreters take a wrong turn. Compound words are not always the sum of their parts—in Greek or in English. Paul does not use the term to mean “to place or lay upon the mind” as well-meaning counselors sometimes teach. A “butterfly” is not a fly that landed in the butter dish. A “turnkey” operation is not a description of how a lock works. It is usage that determines meaning, both in English and in Greek. To understand the Greek word “noutheteo” it is necessary to examine how Paul uses the word, not simply do a word study.

Paul uses the verb form eight times in the New Testament. From these uses, we can identify three primary components to the word as Paul used it. First, there is the element of confrontation, verbal confrontation. Does that trouble you? Perhaps our word “confrontation” hits your ear as something harsh or unpleasant. It shouldn’t. Paul saw it as a necessary function of the pastor. He did it with Peter (Galatians 2), Nathan did it with David, Jesus did it with Nicodemus. Paul saw it as a helpful thing, a necessary part his ministry. Our English word “appeal” may say it better if “confrontation” is off putting to you, but the word “appeal” implies an option. Paul’s word was directive. He did not use it when forwarding his opinions or preferences. He counseled people to obey God.

The second element is concern. He did not confront his people in order to lord it over them. His heart yearned over them and his desire was for their good. In Acts 20 it was something he did “with tears.” In 2 Thessalonians it was to be done “as a brother.” In 1 Corinthians Paul had to write pointedly and frankly about some difficult issues, issues in which the Corinthian believers were sinning or not resolving. But he assured them in 4:14 that his goal was not “to shame you, but to counsel (noutheteo) you as my dear children.”

Third, there is the goal of bringing about change in those to whom Paul ministered. In Galatians 1:28 it was what Paul did to “present every man complete in Christ.” In Ephesians 6:4 it is what fathers do with their children to bring them to maturity.

As Adams concluded his remarks in 1968, he urged his listeners to do good for their people. That means they must emulate the kind of “noutheteo” that characterized Paul’s ministry. Or as Paul said in Romans 15:14, they should desire God’s best for their people (be “filled with all goodness”), study diligently in Seminary (be “filled with all knowledge”), so they will be “competent to counsel.” God called on them to prepare to have a “nouthetic” ministry.

What Exactly is a “Biblical” Counselor?

Part One of a series

A Baptist and a Presbyterian walk into a bar—a coffee bar, of course. Both men are local pastors who meet regularly to encourage each other, pray, and discuss theology. As they are exchanging views on some abstruse point of Calvinism, they spot another local pastor across the room and motion for him to join them. As he takes a seat at the table, the Presbyterian explains that they have been discussing Calvinism.

“Oh,” the third pastor responds, “I wouldn’t know anything about that. You see, I don’t follow any man-made system of theology. I am a Biblicist—I just believe my Bible.”

Now, after reading the first sentence of my little story, you may have expected it to end with a punch line. While I did not intend for it to be a joke, perhaps you did chuckle a bit because you recognize it as a common conversation. You probably know a Pastor number three.

Pastor three’s response has several advantages. First, he can use it with the satisfaction that amid the controversy and back and forth of the conversation, his view is correct. It is unassailable.

Second, he does not risk offending anyone. Every party to the conversation wants the same thing—to be biblical.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it saves him the hard work of thinking deeply about important theological issues and wrestling his conclusions about what the Bible teaches into a coherent theological system.

Currently, many in the biblical counseling movement are having a similar discussion about the term “biblical.” Every conservative Christian who is involved in counseling wants to be biblical, and each believes what he is doing and what he believes about counseling IS biblical—otherwise he would not be doing it. Across the entire spectrum, from the most aggressive integrationist to the hard shell fundamentalist, all are convinced his approach is biblical. So, like the pastor in my little scenario, counselors who use the term “biblical” to define the kind of counseling they do, end up just being nebulous.

Several months ago Heath Lambert published a document he entitled 95 Theses for an Authentically Christian Commitment to Counseling. While his focus was not on the term “biblical”, he addressed the core problem using the phrase “authentically Christian” instead. Obviously, from the title, you can see it was an attempt to capitalize on the 500 year anniversary of Luther’s famous document. To demonstrate how obtuse I can be, after a quick perusal of Lambert’s article I set it aside thinking it contained nothing controversial. There was nothing a biblical counselor would disagree with here, I concluded.

I was wrong. A number of bloggers took Lambert to task over several of his “theses.” ACBC, the organization Lambert leads, published several responses to Lambert’s critics. Lambert even hosted a live podcast in which he responded to some of his critics. Rehearsing and analyzing those issues is not the point of my blog today. Only that Lambert’s article, and the blowback from it, demonstrates there is no consensus in Christian counseling circles as to what it means to be “biblical” (or as Lambert put it, “authentically Christian”).

Our friends, John Babler and Dale Johnson who teach at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, wrote one of those articles published by ACBC. Their title was Issues in Biblical Counseling: Addressing the Elephant in the Room.

We would argue that for a number of years there has been an elephant in the room in the field of biblical counseling. There has been hesitancy to address the elephant, but some discussion is beginning to occur. The elephant we refer to is the question of what it means to be a biblical counselor. Professions and various organizations protect the identity of their movements by defining criteria that one must meet to be considered a part of that profession or organization.  We believe that the historical distinctions that have marked biblical counseling are under attack.

Since Jay Adams first published his book Competent to Counsel in 1970 and the contemporary biblical counseling movement began, several core distinctions have marked biblical counseling. We suggest that those core distinctions include the sufficiency and superiority of Scripture, the importance of speaking the truth in love, comforting the suffering, the necessity of calling people to repentance when sin is present, and the reality behind a God-centered anthropology that recognizes personal responsibility for sinful behaviors, words, and thoughts.  Recently biblical counseling has been besieged by many voices that minimize or even attempt to redefine these historical distinctions.  We suggest it is time to return to basics.

Babler and Johnson are exactly correct and their article is must reading for everyone interested in this discussion.

Recently, the biblical counseling faculty at The Master’s University launched a new Journal they have entitled The Journal of Biblical Soul Care. If their journal lives up to the goals they have set out for it, it will be an important addition to the literature of the biblical counseling movement. In the introductory article, Greg Gifford, the Journal’s Managing Editor, pointed out the “ambiguity of the term Biblical Counseling.”

The current climate of biblical counseling leaves the term biblical counseling somewhat ambiguous. There is inevitable ambiguity as to what one actually means when they use the term, especially in light of the rapid growth of the biblical counseling movement and increasing world-wide participation in biblical counseling. It is important to note that the editors affirm and employ the term biblical counseling in our ministry of teaching but that —like any term —we also recognize the natural limitations that this term possesses. Limitations like what exactly is the scope of the Bible in the counseling process; how is the Bible employed in the counseling process; or what is the approach one takes to the Bible when counseling from it. In a very real sense we can be a biblical counselor and integrate secular psychologies if by biblical counselor we mean that we incorporate the Bible into our counseling. This ambiguity necessitates greater clarity and we, the editorial team, sense that.

While Gifford has correctly identified the problem, I am not sure he has found a solution by substituting the equally nebulous term “Soul Care.”[1]

“OK Arms,” you may be thinking, “anyone can identify problems. Do you have any solutions to offer?”

Ah, indeed I do, but you are probably not going to like it. You see, we already have a way to describe exactly the kind of counseling that Lambert, Babler and Johnson, and Gifford describe in their articles. It is an unambiguous term that, while at the same time describing what truly biblical counseling looks like, is a term every integrationist will reject. That term is NOUTHETIC.

No wait; do not dismiss me out of hand. I know I may have just lost some readers. Eyes are being rolled, patronizing sighs are being heaved. Stay with me. The term “nouthetic” has boarders—there are fences around it. It is not elastic or malleable. When one identifies as a nouthetic counselor there is no ambiguity about what he is.

“But come on Arms, the organization Adams founded 40 years ago recently rejected the term ‘nouthetic’ in favor of the term ‘biblical’ because ‘nouthetic’ was deemed to be confusing while ‘biblical’ brought clarity.”

Ah, but does the term “clarity” describe what we have today? Would we be publishing articles, blogs, and podcasts explaining what we mean by the term “biblical” if we had achieved “clarity” with the name change? Do not let the irony of our current situation escape you. Listen to what one especially prescient and insightful blogger wrote four years ago when this name change was proposed:

Regardless of how heavy a lift it may seem for some to explain positively what we mean by “nouthetic” counseling, it is a far lighter load than explaining negatively what we are NOT when we use the term “biblical.” With this change, it will become necessary to clarify that we are NOT like the scores of others who use the term “biblical” promiscuously. That will be true, of course, only if we really are different and want to be seen as different.

“Alright Arms, while I am not ready yet to embrace your solution, you may have a point. But still, you have not sufficiently made your case. How does the term “nouthetic” solve anything? What exactly does it mean and how does it bring more clarity than other terms?”

Thanks for asking. If you will promise to check back, we will seek to make our case in the next exciting episode of our little blog.

 

[1] Integrationists have used the term “Soul Care” for many years. Eric Johnson employs it in the title of his two mammoth, yet murky, volumes explaining his approach to counseling.