Going Dark

Jay and Betty Jane and Sandy and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. We are grateful for you and your interest in the ministry God has given to us.

We will be going dark for about a week as we celebrate the Incarnation with our families. We are looking forward to resuming our blogging in 2011.

A Note to Second Generation Counselors: Stop it!

This week we are away at the annual NANC conference. We will be rerunning some of the most important blogs from this past summer.

As we said at the beginning of this series, we are not surprised by the criticism we receive from those who are immersed in secular psychological systems, either from unbelievers or fellow believers who have embraced an integrational approach to counseling. However, in recent days criticism has risen from a crop of biblical counselors who would identify themselves as the “second generation.” By their own testimony they believe that because of their efforts the movement has “matured,” “grown beyond Adams,” “is more attuned to the suffering of counselees,” and is “more flexible” in its “pastoral method.”

Let me quickly say that it is not my goal here to simply return fire. Some of these men are my friends—they love their Lord and have a genuine desire to serve Him. Most of our readers would recognize them if I were to name them. These are things I would (and do) say to them personally when I have opportunity. But because they make their criticisms of nouthetic counseling (and of Jay personally) public (in writing and on the lecture circuit) we have decided (finally) to respond publicly.

First some context. Humanly speaking, these “second generation” men owe their training, their positions in ministry, and the platforms from which they speak to Dr. Adams. With one accord I believe they would acknowledge this. They are employed by ministries founded by Adams, teach in academic programs founded by Adams and his early coworkers, and are leaders of organizations founded by Adams. In public they often rise up and call him blessed for the work he did “in the early days of the movement.” But now, they believe, we must reevaluate what Adams has written and his approach to counseling. We must listen to the criticisms of our integrationist brothers and find ways to please them.

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NANC Conference

Please indulge me while I take over our blog today for a personal word. I am leaving this morning to make my way to Lafayette, Indiana to attend the annual conference of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors which begins next Monday. I will be arriving early so I can visit with my mother and sister who live several blocks from Faith Baptist Church where the conference is to be held.

The annual conference is always a highlight in my schedule each year. It is a joy to see many friends whom I only get to see occasionally, it is an encouragement to see many newly certified counselors receive their certificates, and it is always helpful to attend workshops to hear the fruit of what many good men in our association have been studying in recent days.

I want to appeal to our readers to be in prayer for the conference this year—especially the business meeting that will be held on Tuesday afternoon. Because some important issues will be raised this year the potential exists for divisiveness. Now, while division is not necessarily a bad thing, please pray that God would give wisdom and grace to those who will be speaking at that meeting and that all participants will be as anxious to listen as they are to speak.

Jay and I have not blogged about this before now and I will not go into detail here other than to report that we, and 25 other members, have put forward several amendments to the NANC bylaws in an attempt to clarify several issues for the board. Earlier this year a plurality—not a majority—of the NANC board made, what is in our view, several unwise decisions and did so in violation of the NANC bylaws. We are praying that the amendments that we have put forward will not only prevent these kinds of decisions in the future but will encourage the board in the good work God has entrusted to them. Please pray that God would give each NANC member great wisdom as we debate these issues.


Logos 4

LogosLogoTrans400x127For about a year now I have been enjoying using Logos 4 Bible software. It is not my purpose to do a full review here but I wanted to pause from our regular blogs to rise up and call the folk at Logos blessed!  Because this software has been an immeasurable blessing to my Bible study I have been working quietly to raise the necessary funds to purchase it for our pastor, Bill Slattery. Last week week we achieved our goal so last night I was able to present Bill with his own copy. He was geeked!

If you are looking for a way to be a blessing to your pastor let me urge you to consider a similar fund raising effort with the goal of presenting YOUR pastor with Logos 4 at Christmas. This would be, of course, in addition to the regular year end offering or bonus you normally provide for your pastor and his family.

Followers of this blog will be glad to note that several of Jay’s books are available in the Logos library including Competent to Counsel, Christian Counselor’s Manual, Theology of Counseling, and From Forgiven to Forgiving. The first three are Zondervan titles and are only available in their Biblical Counseling Collection which, be warned, contains a bit of chaff along with the wheat. Also, soon you will also be able to purchase all of the back issues of the Journal of Modern Ministry.

Check it out. Logos 4 is now available in a Mac version as well for you snooty Apple users.


Update on Dr. Adams

Jay was in the hospital again over the weekend. He is home but is very weak. Please continue to pray for both Jay and Betty Jane. If you would like to send a greeting you may do so at feedback@nouthetic.org and I will forward it on to Jay. I know he will be encouraged to hear from friends but he will not be able to respond to anyone personally.

Jay is still blogging, however. The blog post that appears Monday was written upon his return from the hospital!


Thank you for Praying

Dr. Adams spent the weekend in the hospital and is now continuing his recuperation at home. While he had several rough days his doctors believe he is on the mend. I picked him up at the hospital Sunday evening and he was feeling well enough to regale me with stories about the history of several cults on the way home.

Please continue to pray for Jay. He is still quite weak and will require more rest. Pray also for Betty Jane who has had some painful complications from knee replacement surgery.

On a personal note, I had the joy of marrying my son and daughter-in-law last Thursday. We had a great time with family members who had gathered for the occasion. Thanks to all who have sent greetings and a special thank you to our wonderful church family who ministered to us so selflessly this past week so we could focus on rejoicing with Paul and Brittany.


Please Pray

We pause from our regular blogging efforts to ask you to pray for Dr. Adams today. He is experiencing some significant (and we will leave it at that) health issues. He is home but complete rest has been ordered. Pray also for Betty Jane who is experiencing her own health problems.

This is a day of rejoicing for the Arms family as I will be leading the marriage ceremony for my son Paul this afternoon!

Because of our full plate we are not planning to post a new blog until Monday. Please do not fall out of the habit of checking in regularly. See you Monday!

Scholarly Criticism

Ed note: This article is the fourth in a series in which we are seeking to respond to a few of the criticisms of both nouthetic counseling and Dr. Adams personally. The series will conclude Thursday with an important new article by Dr. Adams.

We are never surprised when unbelieving secular psychologists attack nouthetic counseling. Nor are we surprised when Christian brothers who have embraced an integrationist approach to counseling are critical. While we are glad to interact with these brothers we do expect our views to be accurately and fairly represented in their criticism. We have little patience for those who would misrepresent us and build straw men in order to facilitate their arguments. Especially grievous are those who would persist with false accusations even after they have been demonstrated to be wrong. Today we will look at one example.

Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling, (Baker Reference Library)The Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling (Baker Books, 1999.) is a huge reference work that is described by the endorsements on the cover as a “monumental work,” “a classic,” “an invaluable resource,” written by an “all-star cast of Christian psychologists” and “noted experts.” The article on nouthetic counseling was written by John D Carter and Donn W Peters (whose parents had the good sense to use the preferred spelling when naming him). Under the heading “evaluation” the authors find but one commendable aspect of nouthetic counseling, “They are zealous to return God and the Bible to positions of authority in the hearts and lives of people.” However they quickly qualify their praise by claiming that they and their fellow integrationists have the same goal and chide nouthetic counselors for “failing to see the validity in alternative approaches” (p 800).”

A second “evaluation” is a shot at Dr. Adams personally. “Adams seems to be not fully knowledgeable regarding the theories he criticizes” (p 799). As evidence they pull one passage about Carl Rogers from Competent to Counsel out of context. Throughout the article special note is made of the fact that “Adams has a doctorate in speech,” he is “seminary trained,” “he served in a pastorate.” It is all quite condescending. Those who read Jay Adams should know that Adams began his seminary training at the age of 16 and by the time he completed both seminary and his training at Johns Hopkins University, he was an accomplished Greek scholar and theologian. It is with those skills he approached the study of psychology in the 1960s. If you ever have opportunity to visit our offices here in Greenville I will show you the hundreds of volumes of psychology books Jay pored over in those days. Each one is heavily marked with marginal comments and arguments Jay made with each author.

A third “evaluation” made by the authors is especially grievous. They begin by claiming that Jay’s use of the Greek word noutheteo is inappropriate arguing that “parakelo (sic), translated comfort, console, or exhort, is a much more appropriate choice” (p 799). The authors, who merely have a doctorate in psychology, err in their understanding of Greek. The word parakeleo is a broad and imprecise word that refers to help generally, all kinds of help. It is a vanilla word that can be translated in so many ways because it can be applied broadly. Jay uses the word noutheteo because it is specific and, more importantly, it is the word Paul used to describe his counseling ministry! Because there is no word in the English language that means precisely the same thing he transliterated the Greek word and coined the English word “nouthetic.”

Then, after seeking to instruct Jay about Greek, they claim he fails to embrace 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and that he “urges a single way of thinking” in his “foundational point that sin is the problem.” This is followed by a gratuitous shot at nouthetic counselors, “. . . one must ask how Adams would counsel Job. Would he (Adams) also be one of the ‘miserable counselors?’”

Carter and Peters are either miserable scholars in that they have not researched what Jay has written on the subject or they are dishonest scholars. As early as 1976 Jay wrote this in a volume of questions about nouthetic counseling:

Question: Do you believe that all of our problems are due to sin?

Answer: Yes and no. That is not an equivocal answer; the question is imprecise and, therefore, requires such an answer.

Yes, all problems are the consequence of sin, if by that one means that ultimately they have the sin of Adam (or Satan) as their ultimate cause. All personal differences with God or neighbor ultimately stem from that cause. All bodily afflictions, and death itself go back to that source.

But I must say no in response to the question if by it one means that all sickness, all evils that he confronts, and all difficulties and distresses that he experiences in life are directly traceable to some immediate sinful cause in the life of the one who undergoes them. That is not a biblical concept. The case of the blind man and John 9 gives the lie to any such notion, and the entire book of Job is a sturdy witness to the contrary.

This canard has also been answered in many forums over the years. You can also read a fuller response on our website. Yet it is enshrined in what the publishers put forward as a scholarly and authoritative reference work.

Meet the Affable Jay Adams

First, a disclaimer. Please note that this post is not written by Jay Adams. Today, and in the days to come, I am exercising my prerogatives as editor and webmaster to talk about Dr. Adams without his foreknowledge or approval. He will fuss at me for using this space to speak of him personally but I’ll risk it. My purpose is to provide some context for an article by Jay that will appear here next week. It will be a longer article than usual and will speak to some things I have been urging him to address for some time.

I want to begin by saying something that will come as a surprise to many, especially those who have read more about Dr. Adams than they have read by Dr. Adams. Jay Adams is a really nice guy. He is kind, affable, humorous, warm-hearted, and gregarious. He has a loving wife, children and grandchildren who rise up and call him blessed, hundreds of friends, thousands who have been blessed by his ministry, and a dog who loves to sleep on his lap.

Now most genuinely nice guys do not need to have others point out that fact on a website. I report it here because most who would oppose Jay’s view of the sufficiency of the Scriptures and his approach to counseling end up complaining about his “tone,” “brash self-confidence,” or “mean spirit” rather than interact with the things he has actually written. If you Google Jay’s name or the term “nouthetic” you will quickly find harsh and even venomous things said about him. While these things are not new they are much more easily accessible these days because of the internet. Let me suggest several reasons for all this.

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