Objections to Biblical Counseling

Be prepared to receive them! You can be sure that they’ll come. There are so many out there that have been brainwashed into thinking that counseling must be done by a “professional” psychologist or psychiatrist that they rebel when they’re told that a preacher or laymen is doing counseling. You can understand their objections, and you should respect them for voicing them. At least they‘re concerned! You should have less respect for those who talk behind your back and are not man or woman enough to come out and challenge you. It’s the “Sauls” of Tarsus who, when converted, turn out to be “Pauls.” Learn to respond, cheerfully, cogently and challengingly. Those are the people we are especially concerned to win over to the truth.

Objections will come. You should become prepared to meet them. Most objections will take the form of “Who do you think you are to be doing counseling?” Your answer, of course, is that you are a child of God; that He has commanded to do so. The Galatians 1 passage, along with Colossians 3:16, along with Romans 15:14 are warrant enough for you to respond to a fellow believer. Learn all you can about those passages in order to be able to satisfy those who want a reason for the ministry you’re engaged in. Of course there are other passages such as 2 Timothy 3:15ff, and 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to which you might also wish to turn as well. But don’t confuse the discussion by citing too many passages. Know a few well, and indelibly impress them upon your listener’s thinking. Remember, in all of those passages the noun “nouthesia” or the verb “noutheteo” is used. And don’t forget that the word has the three elements: loving Confrontation, out of familial Concern, in order to bring about God-pleasing Change.

The object isn’t always to win the objector. Rarely, will you “convert” anyone to biblical counseling on the spot. But get them thinking biblically. Urge them to study the passages you’ve mentioned. Try to set up another time for further discussion. That, of course, is what you do with believers. So far as unbelievers are concerned, you will want to explain that you don’t knowingly counsel unbelievers, so he has nothing to worry about! But you might tell also him that you do pre-counsel [evangelize] people like him. Then, go ahead and do so. In all cases, you need to be able to give a thorough, reasoned response to objectors. Remember II Peter 3:15, 16.

As you do more and more counseling, you will eventually have people who can testify to the effectiveness of God’s word in their lives. Many of the people you have counseled will be willing to testify to the facts should you need them to do so. But never appeal to their testimony as the fundamental reason for doing Nouthetic Counseling. Always rest your case on Scriptural authority. Their testimony is merely illustrative; God’s Word needs no corroboration. And never ask anyone to testify unless he has agreed to do so beforehand.

My hope is that many people will object to your counseling. Not because I wish for difficulty to come your way. But because I hope you will make such an impact upon those around you that they can’t keep still about it. When people object, it’s usually because something is happening. Actually, many object because they are interested and want to understand. “There’s no better way to find out whether there’s anything to this Nouthetic stuff,” they assume, than to put some hard questions to its adherents. That’s good. And when you’re prepared to meet all of their objections, that’s very good!

Nouthetic counselors ought to be savvy about what they are doing, and why they do it. But they will not get that wisdom and knowledge apart from study. There are plenty of books to help. And that’s one reason why the Institute for Nouthetic Studies exists. If we can help you to be able to give a reasoned response to objectors by offering training in Nouthetic Counseling, please let us do so.

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.

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20130623_133222. . . to our students in British Columbia who worked diligently as a group to complete their course of study with the Institute for Nouthetic Studies and received their certificates. Your church or ministry can form a group to study with us as well. Any group with more than 5 students receives a 25% tuition discount. Contact us if you would like more information.

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Sufficient or Insufficient?

“What can we do to help you?”

That’s the way it may begin. Where it will go from there, no one but God can know beforehand.

I’m talking about a counseling session, of course.

Because it may take any number of possible turns from that moment on, it will be necessary for a biblical counselor to be able to handle each one—no matter what direction counseling takes.

You may have to deal with a husband’s resistance to help, a wife’s weeping, a son’s wild behavior, a . . .

You name it—and the seasoned Nouthetic Counselor has faced it.

Now, if you want to counsel effectively, so as to help rather than hurt people, you will need three basic things:

  1. Ability to exegete the Scriptures
  2. A thorough understanding of theology
  3. A biblical method of counseling.

If you are interested in training in Nouthetic Counseling, be sure that any program in which you enroll has at least those three elements.

Other things are very helpful, as well, but those three are absolutely essential.

There are a number of training programs out there; but not all are the same. In order to evaluate the training offered, it might be well to compare the offerings of any given training with that which you will find in the curriculum of INS.

If, in investigating programs that are available in your area, you discover that what they offer isn’t satisfactory, remember INS is here to help. Give us a call.


The Eagle Has Landed!

OK, this may not be as dramatic as Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing but with our new online school we are able to deliver over the internet in ways the astronauts could not have imagined in 1969. Its a pretty big deal for us and we think it will be for you as well. Check out our all new website and learn how you can begin studying with Dr. Jay Adams today!

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A Note to Our Students

Perhaps I should contact you more often.  But there is little to say that I haven’t already said on the disks that you are watching. But, perhaps, a word of encouragement is what some of you need.

Life is full of activities—God has designed things that way; so that’s good! But it does mean that if you are going to do anything worthwhile that takes time and effort, you probably must schedule your work. If you’re having trouble finding time, then you must look for it—it’s there.  We all have 24 hours a day—it just depends on how we cut the pie!

Notice JESUS HAD A SCHEDULE. Often it is pointed out that His hour had not yet come.  But when it did, He said He came for that hour. If Jesus thought it important to set times for what He was doing, don’t you think we might do so too? I suggest that if you’re having some difficulties, that you set aside about two hours at least once a week, and work on the course at hand.

Blessings as you study,


INS Elsewhere

Danny and Nancy Hill, from Alabama, came all of the way to South Carolina, attended our church, and even dared to listen to me teach a SS class—why? All of this to get their certificates from INS signed.  For them, it provided a bit of the “graduation service” that we normally are unable to have since our students are all around the world.  We were so happy to see them and we hope that this will not be the last time graduates will make the trip. We will sign your diplomas in absentiaI of course, if you can’t. But it was so nice of them to make the effort.

I hope all of you students out there are doing well. I corresponded yesterday with our New Zealand affiliate, following the earthquake. They are safe and well, but evidently affected indirectly by it. Pray for them as they work at organizing and promoting the Institute for Nouthetic Studies in that country. You can check them out at www.nouthetic.org.nz.


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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.

Continue reading

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This and That

Beginning tomorrow we will be posting, in three parts, a new article written by Dr. Adams which appears in the most recent issue of the Journal of Modern Ministry. I will not comment on it further here other than to say it is a significant article that speaks to some important issues in the biblical counseling movement today. Do not miss it!

The first question I am usually asked when people correspond with me is, “How is Dr. Adams?” The best way I know to answer that is in words similar to those of the Apostle John to Gaius. My wish and prayer would be that his health would be as sound and prosperous as his soul. While Jay has had to significantly cut back on any travel and public speaking engagements he continues to study and write. Please pray with us about his health. Many days he is in continual pain which makes any physical activity very difficult. I know I risk being fussed at for writing about Jay personally but for the sake of those who love Dr. Adams and want to pray for him I’ll take the heat.

God is prospering the Institute these days. We continue to get new students regularly in spite of the fact that we do very little advertising beyond this blog and our website. We are so thankful for the technology that has enabled Jay to have an ongoing teaching ministry to hundreds of students even though he is not able to travel. Be sure to check out our website for complete information about how you can study under Dr. Adams in the comfort of your own home.


Open House at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies

If you are planning to travel to attend the NANC conference next week, or if you live here in the upstate of South Carolina, plan to join us this Sunday afternoon from 12:30 to 3:00 for an open house and buffet lunch at our offices. Feel free to come and go whenever it is convenient for you. We want you to see the wonderful office space God has given us and give you an opportunity to enjoy a leisurely lunch and good fellowship with others who share your burden for the ministry of the Word of God in the counseling room.

Our offices are located in what was once the headquarters of Oliver B Greene’s radio and evangelistic ministry. The weather is supposed to be perfect for eating and fellowship on the patio by the pool (that’s right, I said “pool”). For more information including directions and a map follow this link to our website.

It would help us plan if you would e-mail us at the link below and let us know you are coming. Still, if you find you are able to join us and have not let us know please come anyway. I am assured by those who are planning the meal that there will be far more food prepared than we will be able to consume. It would be a joy for us to greet you this Sunday after church.


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