A Message to our Friends

I recently had lunch with a great friend from out of town who is both a pastor and an experienced counselor. After lunch we drove out to visit Dr. Adams and on our drive home he said, “I wish I could visit South Carolina more often. It is the only time I get to hear what God is doing through Jay and the Institute. How often do you communicate with your students and friends of the ministry?”

I rehearsed for him my typical thoughts on the subject—I am very busy, our friends and students are busy, I don’t want to annoy people with unwanted email, folks will think I am trying to get money from them, Jay does not like to promote himself, if people are interested they can read the website . . .

At that point my friend cut me off. “Donn, shame on you! For over 50 years Dr. Adams has had an important ministry in the lives of thousands of people and for the past 12 years you and the Institute have had a life changing ministry to hundreds of students and, through them, thousands of counselees. These people love Jay, and they love this ministry. You simply must do a better job of communicating with them. Hundreds would love to help you if only they knew how!”

Well, of course I was chastened. It has been several weeks since that conversation and this letter is the fruit of my thinking since then. It is longer letter than anything I plan to publish in the future but I have some catching up to do. Please indulge me while I share with you, in some detail, what has been happening at the Institute and some plans for the future.

God is Prospering the Institute

Compiling exact statistics would require expending more time than the principle of good stewardship allows but the Institute now has thousands of students who have enrolled in at least one of our courses and hundreds of graduates who have completed our entire curriculum. These students and graduates are having important ministries in their local churches and are offering the hope only the Scriptures can give to hurting counselees on every continent around the world.

Our website is visited by hundreds of people every day. It not only provides information about the Institute and the training we offer but visitors can also find:

  1. a treasure trove of information about Nouthetic counseling, much of which is out of print and can be found nowhere else
  2. a daily podcast by Dr. Adams that features 8-9 minute discussions of every counseling issue imaginable (and some you never imagined)
  3. our blog featuring recent articles by Dr. Adams as well as, from time to time, classic articles which Dr. Adams has written in years past that can be found nowhere else
  4. our online bookstore
  5. our Facebook page which has over 1700 “friends” (Are you one of them?)

Our opportunities continue to grow. One of the most exciting partnerships we have developed recently is with Mid-America Baptist Seminary in Memphis where we are helping establish PhD, DMin, and MA programs in Nouthetic counseling. I taught for two weeks in January and will be returning to teach again in June. Next month (April 7-9) Jay and I will be speaking at their first conference on biblical counseling along with Martha Peace and Lou Priolo. More information can be found at their website.

Dr. Adams’ health continues to concern us. While God has given him a degree of improved strength he still deals with a number of challenges every day. Jay continues to write blog articles, Jay and I recently contributed an article to the new Theological Journal to be published by Mid-America Baptist Seminary, and recently R. C. Sproul’s Tabletalk magazine published an interview with Dr. Adams. When I am asked about Jay’s health I like to report that he is “full of sap and very green” (Ps. 92:14). I stopped by his home unannounced several weeks ago and found him reading Basil of Caesarea in the original Greek!

Our training continues to be the single most comprehensive, foundational, and convenient place to study Nouthetic counseling. That may sound like self-serving bluster but please hear me out. We have many friends, and we know of scores of others, who do a fine job of teaching biblical counseling in a number of venues—formal academic institutions, well-structured conferences and seminars, and local church training centers. Each of these, however, owes their existence to the foundational work done by Dr. Adams. Our advice to those seeking training in biblical counseling is to study under Dr. Adams first and establish a firm foundation studying under a teacher they can trust before navigating the wealth of good training (and the plague of poor training and exegesis) available in other places.

But We Have Challenges

Our growth and opportunities have required that we try to do more and more with the same amount of resources. The day to day operation of the Institute is handled almost exclusively by our Executive Director. His daily responsibilities include bookkeeping, taping and editing video lectures, writing and editing curriculum notes, maintaining our websites, interacting with students by phone, recruiting students, teaching, counseling, and answering email. In addition to these daily responsibilities he is working on several writing projects, speaking at counseling conferences, and teaching in an adjunct role in Seminary.

All of that to say, “We need help!” Our most pressing need is to hire an administrative assistant to handle some of the day to day operations. Coupled with that is the need to find better office space from which to function. Almost two years ago the wonderful office space we were renting in Greenville was sold requiring us to move out. Since then we have been working out of two spare bedrooms and an over the garage bonus room in the Arms home. I still have over 4,000 volumes of books packed away in boxes in the garage. Hiring an administrative assistant will require that we have more functional office space somewhere.

Meeting these needs will require more income for the Institute. Since our founding more than twelve years ago we have been largely funded by tuition paid by our students. We have discovered, however, what every other educational institution has learned—tuition income alone cannot cover the cost of training.

Our tuition is exactly the same as it was twelve years ago. We have never raised it—nor do we plan to. We want to keep training in biblical counseling under Dr. Adams accessible to as many students as possible. We believe raising tuition would keep many from students studying with us and as a result, reduce our income, not increase it. No, we believe the first solution is more students, not higher tuition.

Second, we have been lousy fundraisers. We used to wear this as a badge of honor partly because we do not want to be perceived to be focused on money. While Dr. Adams has had an important ministry to thousands over the years he has never cultivated donors. When he was once asked to become the president of a Seminary he turned them down, in part because he believed his lack of fund raising skills would doom the school financially.

As I said at the beginning of this letter, we have been challenged in recent days by several friends to do a better job of asking friends to help us. They have made the case that there are thousands of people helped by Dr. Adams over the years who would love to see others helped in the same way, and would want to help us if only they were asked.

How Can You Help?

Those are some of our current needs, now we want to boldly ask you to do FOUR things for us.

  1. Please make the ministry of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies a priority matter of prayer for the next month. I commit to you that I will do a better job of keeping you informed about the ministry of the Institute than I have in the past. Would you commit to putting this ministry, our students, and Dr. Adams personally, at the top of your prayer list for the next month?
  2. Would you help us advertise the ministry of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies?

    1. “Like” our Facebook page. Currently, we are right at 1700 likes. Help us increase this to 2,000 by the end of the month.
    2. “Share” our Facebook page with all YOUR Facebook friends and invite them to “like” us as well.
    3. Promote our blog, our podcast, and our website on YOUR blog or ministry website.
    4. Tell your family, your friends, your neighbors, your church family, your pastor, your in-laws, and everyone else you know about us.
  3. Would you navigate to our donation page and give as large a gift as you are able to this ministry? We pledge to use your gift carefully. There are no six figure salaries paid here. In fact, I will overcome my reticence to discuss such things and tell you that Dr. Adams has never taken a dime in income from the Institute. He has given of his time, his lectures, and his writings and as asked for nothing in return. As Executive Director devoting full time to this ministry, I have never taken an annual salary of more than 25K. We do not plan to change that until after these other needs are met.
    1. Give a gift today. The summer months as well as December are usually lean because fewer people devote themselves to studying during those times. Your gift now would help us prepare for the lean summer months that are just ahead. Would you make, what is for you, a significant gift today?
    2. Register to make a monthly donation. Please consider becoming a partner with us in this ministry by registering on our donation page to make a regular monthly gift. You can also send us an email to let us know you will be sending a check every month. We cannot hire an administrative assistant or secure office space until we have regular monthly commitments to cover those expenses. Your gift to the Institute will multiply several times over as it will not only be a blessing to us, but to those who will be learning how to minister the Word of God effectively in the counseling room, and then to those counselees whose lives will be changed by that ministry.

4.  Finally, would you help us by sharing your testimony with prospective students? Sometime today or in the week to come would you write a thoughtfully worded paragraph describing your experience as a student or graduate of the Institute? How has Dr. Adams impacted your life personally, and how have you used what you have learned to minister to others? We would like to share your testimony on our website. We can tell prospective students what we think and what we are seeking to accomplish but your testimony and endorsement would have a far more effective impact. Would you take perhaps a half hour to write up and share your experience with us? You can send it to us at feedback@nouthetic.org.

Thank you for staying with me through this longer than usual email. We treasure your partnership with us in this ministry. May God bless you as you consider how you can help us promote the ministry of the Word of God to hurting people.

When Counseling, Also Don’t . . .

Yesterday we published Dr. Adams’ list. Here is mine. What would you add?

  1. Minimize your counselee’s problem. It was important enough to him to seek counsel.
  2. Tell your counselee that you understand what he is going through. You probably don’t. Tell him Christ does.
  3. Use psychological labels and jargon.
  4. Debate counseling models and methods with your counselee.
  5. Give homework that does not directly relate to the problem.
  6. Delay addressing his problem thinking you must build a relationship first.
  7. Adjudicate disputes between two people.
  8. Overwhelm your counselee with too much homework.
  9. Let your counselee’s emotions dictate the agenda.
  10. Let other things distract you during a counseling session.
  11. Fail to laugh and enjoy a humorous moment when appropriate.
  12. Try to make a point with a long list of verses. Instead, explain carefully the one or two verses that best meet the need.
  13. Fail to take good notes during the session.
  14. Charge your counselee for the privilege of counseling with you.
  15. Commiserate with a depressed person—-help him!
  16. Excuse failure to do homework.
  17. Allow someone, whose own life is out of control, control yours.
  18. Have your counselee read Scripture during the counseling session. You read it TO HIM clearly.
  19. Yawn
  20. Fake it. If you don’t know what to do next ask the counselee to pray for you as you study the issue during the coming week.
  21. Do another pastor’s work for him. Insist that your counselee’s pastor come along to the counseling session.
  22. Become angry with an angry counselee.
  23. Pity a pitiful counselee.
  24. Think more highly of yourself than you ought.
  25. Speak in abstractions, be concrete.
  26. Assume your counselee understands the biblical principle or passage you are referring to.
  27. Let your counselee settle for relief from the immediate problem.
  28. Give up.
  29. Settle for some substitute for church discipline.
  30. Promise absolute confidentiality.
  31. Ignore or gloss over doctrinal differences.
  32. Fail to secure commitments from your counselee.
  33. Confuse repentance with regret.
  34. Monopolize the conversation. Listen!
  35. Talk about a counseling case with someone who has no reason to hear about it.
  36. Fear litigation because you have obeyed Scripture.
  37. Back down when you should stand firm.
  38. Fail to handle the Word carefully and honestly. Do your exegesis!

Happy Birthday Dr. Adams!

DSCN1841Today is Dr. Adams’ 85th birthday. If you wish to send him a greeting you may do so at jay@nouthetic.org. He will not be able to respond to everyone individually but he will enjoy hearing from you.

God bless you Jay! May this day be full of joy as you celebrate with your family.

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green.

Psalm 92:12-14

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

indexFor the past three weeks it was a joy for Dr. Adams and me to teach a group of faculty members, PhD, and DMin. students at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. I traveled to Memphis to teach in person and Dr. Adams joined us via the internet. We will be teaching at MABTS again in June. Dr. Tim Seal (Academic Dean), Dr. Matt Akers (Dean, DMin Program), and Dr. Jere Phillips were gracious hosts and are enthusiastic supporters of nouthetic counseling.

MABTS is in the early stages of launching new degree programs in nouthetic counseling which will include PhD, DMin, and MA degrees. They are committed to the sufficiency of the Scriptures, sound theology, careful exegesis, and solid academics. You will not find stuffy academia here, however. These folk have a heart for evangelism and engaging preaching. Practical theology is no afterthought.

The Institute for Nouthetic Studies is excited about the opportunity we have been given to help establish and develop this new emphasis at MABTS. If you are seeking a place to pursue further training in biblical counseling or pastoral ministry we urge you to check out MABTS.

Plan now to come to Memphis for MABTS’ first conference on biblical counseling April 7 – 9, 2014. Lord willing, Dr. Adams will be traveling to Memphis to speak at the conference as will Lou Priolo, Martha Peace, and myself. We will publish complete information including the conference schedule shortly.

NANC/ACBC Update

Several weeks ago I published two blog posts about NANC and I would like to give an update on the conference and our hopes for NANC/ACBC going forward. First, however, I have to attend to some important business with you—I need to ask for forgiveness from my readers.

As I reported my concerns about NANC I raised the issue of the NANC board’s non-compliance with the organization’s constitution. While my facts were correct I did not have one important piece of information. The NANC board had sought forgiveness for this. While I was the one who confronted them about this in a letter no one had communicated this to me personally and I had been functioning under the assumption that nothing had been done. Now to be clear, this was not an offense against me personally so there was no need for the board to communicate with me personally. Had I known this, however, I would not have raised it again and I am culpable for publishing without having all the facts at hand. I have communicated with the board and have asked for their forgiveness.

Now about the conference, I came home encouraged about the direction of NANC/ACBC. At a pre-conference meeting of Fellows Heath Lambert, the new Executive Director, laid out some of his plans for the future. I was pleased to hear him address a number of things that had been a concern to us including raising the bar for certification in the area of training, a continuing education requirement of certified members, and a formal procedure for dealing with members who stray from what they professed when they joined. I have also been assured privately that several of our other concerns will be handled in the days to come.

The conference itself was a refreshing change. I was not able to attend all of the plenary sessions but the ones I did attend were most helpful. It was especially encouraging to hear Heath Lambert simply open the Scriptures and show us how a passage in James applies to the work of the counselor. His workshop dealing with the integrationist point of view was also helpful. It allayed some of my concerns that rose from his book The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams (see my review here).

There remains much to be done. I will be praying for Heath and the NANC/ACBC board. After this coming year it will be much clearer what is to become of NANC/ACBC with Heath at the helm and we will be able to take a measure of where NANC/ACBC has moved under his watch. My concerns about inclusiveness and relationships with other organizations that do not share our commitments remain. Let’s compare notes next October and evaluate.

 

Homiletics Friday!

Preaching_TheoMattersWhile Jay Adams is best known for his work in the area of biblical counseling you should know that his training and passion has been primarily for the study and teaching of homiletics. He was serving as a homiletics professor when he was first assigned the task of teaching counseling. It was that assignment that drove him to the Scriptures to learn what they had to say about counseling. Later, Dr. Adams established and taught a D. Min. program in homiletics at Westminster Seminary in California.

We have in our archives a treasure trove of articles Jay has penned over years that deal with every aspect of preaching. Beginning next week we will be posting one of those articles every Friday for the foreseeable future. These articles will then be archived in a special section on our website.

Pastors, here is a great way to sharpen your skills as a preacher and minister of the Word. Be sure to check in each Friday and let Dr. Adams help you with all aspects of your preaching ministry. We will be looking forward to hearing from you how Jay has been able to help you sharpen your skills.

NANC Certification

Among the communications I received this past week were some I had not been acute enough to anticipate. I realize now, however, they were a natural result of my blogs last week. Each of these communications involved unique circumstances but they had in common the fact that they were from those who were either in the midst of the certification process with NANC or anticipated beginning soon.

The common question was, “What do I do now?” Each was excited about nouthetic counseling and were grateful to Dr. Adams for “turning on the lights” for them with his books. They just did not want to invest the time and money in a certification process that was not going to lead to certification as a nouthetic counselor.

If this is your situation I offer my advice with the understanding it is simply that—advice, an opinion which you should carefully weigh in light of your specific circumstances. My advice:  Stay the course. Continue working toward certification but do so wisely and invest your time in training that will have benefit for you whether you eventually decide to become certified with NANC or not.

This next year will tell us much about what NANC is to become. I said in an earlier blog that I believe its trajectory is irremediable—but I hope I am wrong. NANC will have a new Executive Director this year who tells me he understands there needs to be change. Let’s give him a chance to make those changes and reevaluate in one year.

Let me offer some specific advice about the certification process. The first phase is training. Do not settle for three weekends of classes or a one week conference. You would not go to a barber, let alone a counselor, who had only three weekends of training. If a new certifying organization for nouthetic counselors arises it will certainly require that you have better training than that. Of course the best place to get your training in nouthetic counseling (shameless plug alert) is through the Institute for Nouthetic Studies where you can study under Dr. Adams himself. There are other fine training options as well.

Second, spend the necessary time to do a good job on your exams. The NANC exams have been only slightly altered over the years and will be a good exercise for you. Be sure to help your grader in the way you lay out your answers on paper (so to speak). No typos, consistent margins and formatting, clear and complete answers, and proofread!

My most important advice, however, concerns the third phase—supervision. Because there are no guidelines for Fellows about how they conduct their supervision every Fellow largely does that which is right in his own eyes. Most will do a good and thorough job of leading you through this phase. Not all, however, are thoroughly nouthetic. Ask questions of your Fellow and be sure you partner with one who understands what Nouthetic counseling is and is committed to teaching it.

Mental Illness

Folks let’s get this straight. The mind is not a physical organ. It cannot have a disease or illness except in a metaphorical sense as in a sick economy or a sick joke.

Typhoid fever — disease
Spring fever — not a disease
Scarlet fever — disease
Bieber fever — not a disease

What’s in a Name?, Part Two

Last week we published an article on our blog explaining why, even though it grieves us, we were in favor of the name change the NANC board is asking us to ratify at our annual conference next month. If you have not read that article it might be helpful for you to read it before proceeding here. I came to that position only after assurances that the name change is in no way intended to be a repudiation of Dr. Adams and what he has taught about nouthetic counseling, especially in his foundational books on counseling.

Then, this past weekend, a communication appeared in my inbox from NANC promoting this change. My heart sank as I read the explanation for dropping the word “nouthetic.” It contradicted the assurances I had received about not repudiating nouthetic counseling as taught by Dr. Adams and revealed a lack of understanding of what nouthetic counseling is. It did, however, confirm me in my opinion that we should indeed change the name so as to conform to what is indeed the reality—that NANC is no longer nouthetic.

Here is that paragraph:

First, the word nouthetic is a perfectly good Greek word, which most people simply do not understand.  Most of us in NANC spend more time explaining the meaning of a Greek word than we intend to when we mention the name of our organization. Once people understand the meaning of the term it does not help us that much.  The term means “to confront or admonish,” and this only describes a narrow slice of the kind of counseling endorsed by NANC.  Of course biblical counselors admonish people in their sin, but at NANC we also encourage our counselors to comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, pray, encourage, instruct, take care of their physical bodies, and 101 other things the Bible says to do.  In its precise meaning the word nouthetic is a truncated expression of the many and varied counseling styles that God communicates in Scripture.

Let’s unpack this. First we have this statement:

the word nouthetic is a perfectly good Greek word.

No, “nouthetic” is an English word coined by Dr. Adams in the late 1960’s and explained carefully in his book Competent to Counsel. Its etymology is Greek and it is derived from the Greek word that can be transliterated “noutheteo” in its verb form or “nouthesia” in its noun form. But it is an English word. The email defines it like this:

The term means “to confront or admonish.”

Because the English was confused with a Greek word it is unclear which is meant here. While “confront” and “admonish” are two possible translations of the Greek word they do not explain the robust and colorful nature of the word and neither translates it literally. Noutheteo is a compound word blending nous (“mind”) and tithemi (“to place” or “to lay”) producing a word that literally means “to place (or lay) on the mind.”

In Competent to Counsel Dr. Adams goes to great length to demonstrate that Paul uses the term to communicate how he gently and compassionately counseled those to whom he ministered. In Acts 20:31 it is something he did “with tears.” In 1 Cor. 4:14 he did it as though his readers were his “beloved children.” In 2 Thess. 3:15 he did it in a serious situation “as a brother.” In Ephesians 6:4 it is what fathers are to do with their children.

Anyone curious about the definition of the Greek word can consult any number of reference works for help. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittle) has a thorough discussion that is quite helpful. Better still, one can read Competent to Counsel pp. 41 – 56 where Dr. Adams does the research for us. Long before Dr. Adams became well known for his work in the area of counseling he had become an accomplished Greek scholar having studied Koine and Classical Greek under the foremost scholars of the day at Johns Hopkins University.

But none of this is the point, however. The issue before us is the English word “nouthetic,” not the Greek word from which it was derived. Before casting this vote we should be sure we understand what exactly this word means that we are discarding. At about the same time NANC was founded Dr. Adams wrote a short book entitled What About Nouthetic Counseling in which he sought to set straight many of the canards his critics had devised. This is how Dr. Adams says he used the word:

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.

So while Dr. Adams derived the English word “nouthetic” from the Greek word “noutheteo” it was understood by him, and each of the men who founded NANC, to be shorthand for that system of biblical counseling taught by Dr. Adams in his foundational books. Adams was concerned that supporters would attach some awkward adjective like “Adamsonian” or “Adamsian” to it so he preempted them with the word “nouthetic.” The assertion that the term “nouthetic” means “to confront or admonish” is spurious.

So let’s get this clear:

Nouthetic counseling is that system of biblical counseling that is defined by and flows from the foundational books written by Dr. Jay Adams.

 

Continuing from the NANC email:

Most of us in NANC spend more time explaining the meaning of a Greek word than we intend to when we mention the name of our organization.

Every form of counseling practiced on the planet has an adjective attached to it—Freudian, Adlerian, Rogerian, Humanistic, Existential, Jungian, Cognitive, Behavioral, et al. Each requires that the practitioner be able to explain his method to those who inquire. Pity the poor counselor who has to explain his Gestalt therapy! Why is it a burden too great to bear for us to explain Nouthetic Counseling?

Listen again to Dr. Adams from page 52 of Competent to Counsel:

I have no great zeal for the label “nouthetic” beyond its obvious advantages. However, since every school of thought eventually must be identified by an adjective, I should prefer to choose that adjective for myself. The importance of the word, however, as describing a regulative central activity involved in the ministry of the Word should not be missed.

The name of our organization (The Institute for Nouthetic Studies) includes the word “Nouthetic” as well and I have it stitched onto the polo shirts I wear. Several years ago at Christmas my daughter gave me a vanity plate for my pickup bearing the word “nouthetic.” I get questions about it everywhere I go and I have never considered it a burden. It has opened the door to a number to wonderful conversations. I even had one person pull up beside me at a stop light and ask what it means. I gave a two sentence explanation before the light turned green!

If you find explaining the term difficult let me help. Next time you are asked try this:

It is derived from the word the Apostle Paul used in the Greek New Testament to describe the kind of counseling he did. We use it to communicate that our counseling flows from our understanding of what Paul and the other biblical writers taught.

Now if that quick explanation elicits more questions, GREAT! I have a two minute version, a five minute version, and a ten minute version. If there are still more questions I can launch, with great glee, into my 30 minute lecture! If, however, one does not himself understand what it means, it would indeed be difficult to explain it to others.

But 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.

The paragraph continues:

. . . this only describes a narrow slice of the kind of counseling endorsed by NANC.  Of course biblical counselors admonish people in their sin, but at NANC we also encourage our counselors to comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, pray, encourage, instruct, take care of their physical bodies, and 101 other things the Bible says to do.

This is a sad and unfortunate assessment. To claim that nouthetic counseling does not “comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, pray, encourage, instruct, take care of their physical bodies, and 101 other things the Bible says to do” is inexcusable and dishonors Jay Adams. This “more compassionate than thou” attitude must end. Even a cursory reading of Competent to Counsel, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, or More Than Redemption should convince any skeptic these are spurious charges. In these books there are entire chapters about prayer and comfort. Adams has written entire books about instruction and encouragement.

In its precise meaning the word nouthetic is a truncated expression of the many and varied counseling styles that God communicates in Scripture.

This is just not true. Again, because the English and the Greek words have been confused it is not clear what is meant. The English word does indeed encompass all “the many and varied counseling styles that God communicates in Scripture.”

It is in the final paragraph that we get insight into the real issue here:

Because “NANC” is in our constitution it cannot be changed without the approval of our membership.

It seems clear that if the word “nouthetic” was not a part of our constitution the board would have made this change unilaterally and merely announced it to the membership. In my naïve desire for peace and unity in NANC circles I have not come forward widely with my concerns about the actions of our board. As a result the board has become confirmed in their direction and we have come to this place. Let me now correct what I should have reported more widely before now.

A little over three years ago the NANC board was “confronted and admonished” because they were not following the constitution. This was manifest in two important areas. First was in the makeup of the board. In the previous two years three veteran men retired from the board—Jay Adams, Wayne Mack, and John McConaughy. The constitution required that these men be replaced unless there was a vote of the general membership not to. Yet the board decided they would not be bound by the constitution and refused to replace them. This had the effect of concentrating decision making into the hands of a fewer number of men.

Second was the matter of finances. The constitution required that an annual budget be submitted to and approved by the general membership each year and that a financial report for the previous year also be submitted. Neither was done and all financial matters were handled behind closed doors. Thus, when one influential board member asked NANC to help fund a Biblical Counseling Coalition the board considered themselves free to give him $30,000 for this project. The constitution required that such an expenditure be part of a budget approved by the general membership. It was not. Nor was it ever reported to the general membership.

Rather than conform to the constitution when confronted about these irregularities they decided instead to ambush the general membership with several amendments to the constitution at the next annual meeting. I use the word “ambush” purposefully as there was no advance notice given that there was to be a vote on amendments. The amendments were not made available prior to the meeting. Members were not even given a copy at the meeting. Instead they were flashed on an overhead screen. When I asked to see a copy one day before the meeting I was refused. Because the general membership desired to trust and follow the board’s leadership the amendments passed and the board became a completely autonomous, self-appointed, self-perpetuating entity that no longer had to answer or report to anyone outside of itself on any matter. Thus NANC is now an organization in which the general membership has no voice or input on any issue—save this one.

We are poised on the precipice of a slippery slope. Others have lost their footing and plummeted down the hill before us. One well known example should be instructive. CCEF was founded by Dr. Adams in 1968 to serve as a kind of laboratory as he developed his counseling model. Today, CCEF has so far distanced itself from Adams that Ed Welch can “shamelessly” write that CCEF has “never identified itself as Nouthetic but steered a more moderate course” (Transformative Encounters, IVP, 2013).

Let me reiterate what I said in my last article. I love NANC. I am grateful for the ministry it has had to me and that I have been able to have through it. I continue to count our new Executive Director as a friend and I know, in spite of these differences, he will continue to befriend me. I know he desires the best for NANC and is burdened to see positive changes in the days to come. I do believe, however, this proposal is an unfortunate distraction at a time when at least a dozen more pressing issues require attention. I am glad, however, that it has given me an opportunity to clarify what exactly is meant by “Nouthetic Counseling.” Understand also that what I have written here are my views. Even though I work closely with Dr. Adams he has not contributed to this article. He has endured far more slings and arrows in his lifetime than those I report here. Sadly, in the past those projectiles have largely come from his integrationist critics. These days they are launched by his friends.

In light of this you may ask, “OK, so what should we do now?” Well, my advice is that you should come to Alabama in October, enjoy the conference, and vote. If you are happy with the direction NANC is going and have confidence in the board you should, of course, vote yes on their motion. If these things concern you and you believe there remains the possibility that NANC can be steered back to its nouthetic roots you can vote no.

It is my view that NANC’s orientation is irremediable. I would love to be proven wrong. From my own selfish and self-serving perspective, this change will help us at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies preserve the integrity of the term “nouthetic.”

Finally, I believe this proposal lays open an undo concern many of our leaders have about what our critics think of us. We can reassure each other as we talk among ourselves that nothing is changing with this vote and how much we appreciate our founder. But regardless of how many press releases we issue about this change, these critics will see it as a repudiation of Dr. Adams and the stand those who founded NANC took supporting him. It will be difficult to refute them.

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