Important Advice for Biblical Counseling Students

I rise today to share some urgent advice with students of biblical counseling. My target audience are those students especially who are studying in College or Seminary as well as those who are learning in a number of church-based training centers. You are involved in an important study which you will find to be life changing, not only for those to whom you will be ministering in the counseling room someday, but for your own life as well. Diligence in your studies now will produce fruit you are not yet able to envision.

My advice for you is simple, but urgent. If you will take my admonition to heart and embrace my counsel, your studies will be enriched exponentially. Those who will heed my advice will quickly recognize the wisdom of my exhortation and will be rewarded with a renewed vigor for their studies.

Now, you may think I am over promising and that there is no advice or instruction I could offer that could possibly live up to my hype. Trust me, I wish I were articulate enough to make my case even stronger. If you will implement my simple guidance here, the benefits you will reap will change the trajectory of your studies profoundly.

So, without further buildup, here it is. Students of biblical counseling, do this one thing—READ JAY ADAMS!

Now those readers who have been students of biblical counseling for some time are scratching their heads at this. They are thinking, “Donn, these are biblical counseling students you are addressing, of course they read Jay Adams. What are you talking about?”

If that was your reaction I fear I have bad news for you. Generally, young biblical counseling students today do not read Jay Adams—they read about Jay Adams. And sadly, what they read about Jay Adams, and often what they are told about Jay Adams, gives them no incentive to actually read Jay Adams.

I recently talked to a young man who had just graduated with a degree in biblical counseling from an otherwise fine Christian college. He confessed to me that he had never read a book written by Jay Adams. This past week one of our students sent me a link to a page describing a seminary course entitled Intro. To Biblical Counseling. I will not identify the Seminary other than to say I know it to be a fine school. The pastors I know who are graduates are well trained and number among the most effective pastors I know. But here is the course description:

An introduction to the basis of biblical counseling, covering topics such as the theological basis of discipleship/counseling, the definition of biblical counseling, the essentials for the discipler/counselor, a comparison of counseling philosophies, and the biblical view of change, guilt, and self-image. Also included are the key elements of the counseling process, handling one’s past and one’s attitude.

Textbooks Required:

Descriptions and Prescriptions, by Michael Emlet. New Growth Press.
The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, by Heath Lambert. Crossway.
The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, by Jeremy Pierre. New Growth Press.
The Biblical Counseling Movement, by David Powlison. New Growth Press.
The Pastor and Counseling, by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju. Crossway. (ThM students only)
How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison. Crossway. (ThM students only)
Counseling One Another, by Paul Tautges. Shepherd Press. (ThM students only)

Textbooks Recommended:

A Theology of Biblical Counseling, by Heath Lambert. Zondervan.
Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically, by John MacArthur. Thomas Nelson.
No Quick Fix, by Andrew Naselli. Lexham Press.
Seeing with New Eyes, by David Powlison. P&R Publishing.
Speaking the Truth in Love, by David Powlison. New Growth Press.
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, by Paul Tripp. P&R Publishing.

My purpose in reproducing this list is not to criticize these books (well, most of them anyway). There are many fine books listed which biblical counselors should eventually read. I would simply point out that each of these authors either studied under Dr. Adams himself, or one of his students. Most build on Jay’s foundation. Reading any of them without a familiarity with Adams’ work first hand is like building a house starting with the roof and working down.

Let me list just a few of the reasons students of biblical counseling should read Jay Adams.

  1. Adams is clear. I have seen early manuscripts of a number of his books. They bleed with red ink where he has crossed out, revised, simplified, clarified, and otherwise amended his text. He has labored to be clear. Where a simple word will communicate well, he forsakes a complicated one. No one has ever had to “plough” through a Jay Adams book. In his books one will never encounter such words as “heretofore,” “aforementioned,” “advantageous,” “disseminate,” “deleterious,” “subsequently,” or promulgate.”
  2. Adams is biblical. He begins with Scripture and leads his reader from the text to its logical application in the counseling room. He is one of the leading Greek scholars and Bible exegetes of his generation.
  3. Adams is practical. He does not speak in abstractions. Reading Jay Adams will not only show you how Scripture intersects with life, you will learn by his example how to make the Bible live for those you counsel.
  4. Adams is direct. You will not have to wade through a swamp of indecision and equivocation. You will encounter no “nuances” to consider.
  5. Adams is provocative. Note that I did not say “combative.” His books will provoke deep thought, thought about issues you may have never encountered before—and issues you may have not wanted to think about.

Unless students actually read Adams for themselves they will know none of this. One of the required books in the list above paints an unflattering picture of the man and would give the student reason to avoid his books (see my review here).

“But Adams has written over 100 books in his lifetime. Which one(s) should I read first?”

Good question. Obviously his foundational books are must reads—Competent to Counsel, Christian Counselor’s Manual, Theology of Counseling. But let me urge you to consider three titles which are not as well know but will richly reward the biblical counselor’s investment of time and money—Committed to Craftsmanship in Biblical Counseling, Insight and Creativity in Christian Counseling (temporarily out of print), and The Grand Demonstration.

Biblical Counselor, do not be part of a generation who knew not Jay Adams. One hundred years from now our descendants will be reading and discussing Jay Adams in the same way that we read and discuss Spurgeon, Calvin, Machen, and C.S. Lewis today. Read Adams and profit from him now!

 

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.

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.

 

 

Buy Now!

Several weeks ago I explained what was happening with a number of Jay Adams’ book titles. Today I have an update you will want to hear. Our friends at Timeless Texts have made good progress in selling down much of their inventory but they have a significant overstock on 14 titles. That is great news for you! For a limited time they are offering an unheard of 75% discount on these books. Now is the time to buy!

One of my favorite books is The Grand Demonstration which features Jay’s careful exegesis of Romans 9 and makes clear the nature of God’s sovereign grace in lives of His people. I have given away scores of these books over the years and now I will be stocking up again. Your counselee, your bible study group, and your family need to hear the message of this book. At this price, you can order 20 copies and give them away.

Another important book included in this great deal is Winning the War Within. In recent years some confusing teaching has come forward on the subject of sanctification and it has even infected some corners of the biblical counseling movement. This book is the solution. At this great price you can buy one or two dozen and give them to counselees and others who may be confused on this important theological issue.

You should own every one of these books but let me highlight another. A Thirst for Wholeness is easily the bestselling of these 14 titles—for good reason. This is a topical study of the book of James. Countless small groups have used this book and now, yours can too at a price you will never see again.

One of the most astonishing and grievous charges leveled against Jay Adams personally, and Nouthetic counseling generally, is that it is somehow dispassionate and unconcerned with the suffering of God’s people. Those who level this charge are either uninformed and therefore careless in their accusations or they are dishonest. Jay’s book Compassionate Counseling gives lie to this canard. This is a must read book.

These books and more are now available to you at 75% off. Go to the Timeless Texts website, grab these deals now, and fill in the holes on your Jay Adams shelf. And, even more unbelievably, if you spend over $50 they will ship for free!

 

The Preacher’s Library

You used to be able to tell a lot about a preacher—and about his preaching—simply by walking into his library. If it was filled with catchy titles, how-to manuals, frothy experience-oriented fluff, as well as second-rate commentaries, you could know that isn’t the place to hang your hat as a church member. But things have changed. Now, a man can have an entire library on a computer’s disc that includes volumes that were once inaccessible, and with translations galore at his fingertips. It has become very hard to judge a man by his books (unless he‘s an old foggy like some of us), because all of the good stuff can be hidden away on a hard drive.

But, were you to be able to become aware of what he has on shelves and on disks—and how frequently the good stuff is used—you’d know what you used to know from visiting his library.

Preacher, we can’t tell anymore. That may be a blessing to all. But one thing is true: you know what your library (of both books and computer programs) is like, and of greater importance, you know how often you use the resources at your disposal. We don’t know, until we hear you preach. Then, over a period of time, we can surmise what kind of sources you are using and how hard you are working at exegesis.

What a preacher focuses on will determine what kind of ministry he has. Is it an exegetically-based ministry, or is a ministry of the popularization of modern themes? Do you really feed hungry sheep the bread of life, or do you hand over hand-me-downs from other preachers? Do you focus on sensational topics? Are you a prophecy hound? Do you always avoid the tough passages? Are your people being entertained—or are they learning? Do your people go away challenged, convicted, caring? Does your preaching edify? These should be matters of deep concern.

It has been historically true, and doubtless is and will continue to be true, that a man who is well read, who has good sources and uses them well, is more likely to have a fruitful and longer ministry than the one who doesn’t. He will tend to become a better exegete, he will be well-read in biblical and church history, he will be able to draw upon a wealth of systematic and practical theology, and his congregation will become the better for it. How does your library look, pastor?

Speaking of exegesis, how do you do it? Do you cobble together bits and pieces from various commentaries into some explanation of the preaching portion? Or do you do the hard work of figuring out for yourself what the passage says, using various commentaries to help you? Between these two approaches to the text, there is a large difference. That for which you have worked will come through in your preaching as authentic. That which has been cribbed from some commentator who did the work, will come through as inauthentic (unless, of course, you are an astute actor). Hard work requires using a goodly number of sources to help you come to valid decisions about a passage. But it doesn’t mean abusing them by mere copying. Are you guilty of this sin, preacher? If so, repent, and begin to do the right thing that you know, down deep, you ought to be doing. Rightly handling the Word of God is not only work, but a great responsibility.

Update on Books by Jay Adams

We get calls regularly now from counselors, pastors, and students seeking to locate a place to purchase Jay’s books. I am sorry to report that a number of Jay’s books are, temporarily, out of print. Let me explain why. A number of years ago a friend of Dr. Adams, Dave Crawley, started a publishing company to publish Jay’s books. While most of Jay’s basic books are published by Zondervan, and are still available, Timeless Texts became the publisher of a significant number of titles. After Dave Crawley’s death last year his family made the decision to liquidate Timeless Texts’ inventory and seek another publisher for Jay’s books. As the inventory has become depleted many of the books have become unavailable.

Do not despair. Talks are underway with another, well established publisher, to bring most of Jay’s books back. We find ourselves, however, in a period of time during which some of Jay’s books will be out of print and unavailable. While this is a temporary situation, it will work a hardship on many who are studying biblical counseling. Let me make some suggestions.

First, go to the Timeless Texts website and see which of Jay’s books are available. If there are titles listed there that you do not have, NOW is the time to buy. Everything in stock is at least 50% off!

Second, search Amazon.com for available books but beware, do NOT buy a book for more than the original price. Some sellers have realized there are folk who so want to obtain these titles that they will pay confiscatory prices. If you do purchase from Amazon, please use this link. When you do we get a small cut.

Third, check out used book sites such as Alibris. Often you can find a used book at a good price.

Finally, if all else fails and you are a student who needs a book that is out of print to complete your studies, email me at donnarms@nouthetic.org. We may be able to help.

Please pray with us that this time of transition will be smooth and brief. If you already have most, or all, of Jay’s books I urge you to guard and treasure them. I often tell our students that 100 years from now our descendants will be reading and discussing Jay’s books in the same way that today we read and discuss Spurgeon, Calvin, Machen, and C. S. Lewis.

Competent to Counsel, The Revised Edition

Several years ago I began to pester Jay with what I thought was a brilliant idea. “How about publishing a revised, updated version of Competent to Counsel?” I asked naively. “Competent to Counsel II, Competent to Counsel 2.0, Competent to Counsel: The Next Generation” or some such thing.

CTC was enjoying its 45th anniversary and critics were saying it had become outdated. Now, CTC has always had its critics so why I thought critics should be heeded now after 45 years I cannot say. I thought my idea was inspired. Jay was, well, unimpressed. He was too kind to simply tell me what he was really thinking (“Arms is an idiot”) so he simply smiled and said he would think about it.

Because I was too obtuse to take the hint I persisted and after several months of raising the subject he finally said no but went on to explain his reasoning. While you are certainly more acute than I am I thought you might enjoy hearing his reasons:

  1. “My views have not changed.” We live in an age when vacillation and flexibility are lauded while certainty and confidence are seen as character defects. Today’s popular writers are tentative and nuanced. One blogger recently said of Adams, “He never grew. That is an unfortunate sign of extreme pride, namely believing that you are so right in 1970 that could couldn’t (sic) possibly learn anything from anyone by 2016.” Most other secular, or even Christian books, about counseling published in 1970 are now out of print and forgotten. Those that do remain have usually undergone several revisions. Dr. Adams certainly has thought deeply about counseling since 1970. His 100 plus books written since CTC demonstrate that. The Bible, however, does not change and if Adams’ thinking was biblical in 1970 it remains so today.
  2. “Competent to Counsel should be viewed as an historical document of the movement.” CTC was written to meet an important need during a critical hour in the history of the church. It was the counseling world’s equivalent of Luther’s 95 Theses, Paine’s Common Sense, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. Anyone reading other important historical works understands the need to contextualize, they should do the same with CTC. These books, and many others like them, continue to hold great value for today’s reader. I predict that 100 years from now our descendants will be quoting Jay Adams in the same way that we quote Calvin, Spurgeon, Machen, and C.S. Lewis today.
  3. “Who would be my foil?” When CTC was published there were generally three broad schools of thought—Freud, Rogers, and Skinner. Rogerian thought especially had largely captured the church. These served as effective foils for Adams to make his case for a biblical approach. Today, while we are seeing a resurgence of a kind of neo-Rogarianism in biblical counseling circles, there are hundreds of various views, methods, and approaches advocated and practiced in Christian counseling rooms today. Tackling them all would require that a revised edition of CTC be a multivolume set.
  4. “The things I wrote about in CTC 40 years ago continue to recycle themselves. What may seem dated today will be up to date—perhaps next year.” I was reminded of Jay’s point recently as I listened to a podcast posted by a biblical counseling organization. Two counselors were discussing how directive counselors should, or should not be, with their counselees. For nine minutes I heard “on the one hand this, but on the other hand that.” Meanwhile, as one person would talk the other would make the appropriate “uh huh” or “hum” noises affirming what the other was saying. One counselor recalled telling a counselee (after three or four sessions) that he was not sure she was yet “ready to hear” what he had to say. I wondered to myself how much he was charging this poor woman for counseling sessions in which he did not give counsel. Adams discussed this anemic kind of neo-Rogerian “counseling” at length in CTC 45 years ago. The same organization recently posted another podcast in which the counselor, while disavowing Freud, allowed for the place of dream analysis in biblical counseling.

What about you? Have you read Competent to Counsel? How long has it been? If it has been awhile, or if you have not read it for the first time, let me urge you not to merely listen to what others say about it. Read it for yourself—soon! It is one of those books that you should reread every few years. You can then use my response to people who come into my study and see my books. Invariably they ask the question, “Have you read all of these?” My response—“Some of them twice!”

Conversations with Dr. Jay Adams

indexA number of years ago a young man whose educational background was in secular psychology spent four days conducting a wide ranging series of interviews with Dr. Adams. Those interviews were transcribed but the interviewer was unable to do anything more with them at the time. Now, thirteen years later, those interviews have been published and the resulting book is a fascinating look into the thinking of Dr. Adams.

Before you click on the link below to order your copy, however, let me explain what it is you will be reading.

  1. This book consists of raw and largely unedited transcripts of a conversation between two people. Little, if any, of the pleasantries of conversation have been omitted. Nothing has been edited to make it an easier read.
  2. Because it is the record of a conversation between two people it does not follow any sort of logical outline. You will not be able to go to an index and find the place in the book where Adams discusses a specific topic. He may discuss a topic in which you are interested in several different places in the book.
  3. The folk who did the transcription were obviously British. Thus you will encounter some strange spelling (counselling, neighbour, etc.).
  4. This interview took place in September 2002. The interview reflects Dr. Adams’ thoughts at that time but not necessarily his thinking today. Now Dr. Adams is not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and his thinking about fundamental issues of theology and counseling have not changed. However, the interviewer presses Adams for his opinions about various authors and organizations. Since those things do change, one should not extrapolate from this interview Dr. Adams’ opinions today.
  5. This is an unguarded interview. Dr. Adams spoke frankly with his interviewer and probably would have wished the final product had been edited. In fact, in one place, Adams expressed to the interviewer that something he had just said should probably be omitted—it was not.
  6. The interviewer wishes to remain anonymous and I will honor that here. I will tell you who it is not, however. He is almost certainly not someone you know, trust me. Today he is a businessman. He has never been a NANC/ACBC member, nor has he traveled widely in biblical counseling circles. This is the only thing he has published that has anything to do with biblical counseling or ministry in general.
  7. The Institute for Nouthetic Studies has no interest in the book. While we knew the interview had been conducted 13 years ago we were surprised that it was finally published. While the Institute receives no royalties or income from the book we do urge you to order it from this link as more of the proceeds will be used for good purposes if you do. You can also order it from Amazon or our own Amazon bookstore if you wish.

With those caveats, I urge you to purchase a copy. It is a fascinating read. I have the unusual privilege of being able to visit with Dr. Adams in his study and talk with him at length these days about whatever topic interests either of us. You do not. This is the next best thing.

Huge Book Sale!

Announcing

The Greatest Used Book Sale/Giveaway
In the History of the Planet!

When:  Saturday, April 14, 2012,  9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Where:  105 White Oak Road, Greenville — in the former Gospel Hour Building behind Woodlawn Cemetery

We have lost our lease and must significantly downsize our library. My 6,000 volumes must be reduced! Every hard copy which I also have in my Logos collection must go. BJU textbooks, a complete set of Lenski, The Pulpit Commentary, Greek and Hebrew reference works, commentaries, theology (both good and bad). You won’t believe my prices! Come take advantage of my fiscal naiveté.

Hundreds of books originally from the library of Dr. Jay E Adams! Register to win copies of Jay Adams’ books SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR! Drawings held throughout the morning, you must be present to win. Grand prize is a NEW autographed set (10 volumes) of Adams’ Christian Counselor’s Commentary (a $240 value). Grand prize drawing at noon.

Also, a HUGE moving sale will be held inside our warehouse—rain or shine! Bring your wife or girlfriend to shop the garage sale while you search through the bookshelves.

What’s the catch? Only that over the years I have accumulated a significant amount of chaff along with the wheat. There are thousands of books to search through. Come on and take a chance. What is chaff to me may be gold to you! What do I know?

Many books are free for the taking. Most are priced dirt cheap. Who knows, you may even be able to dicker and convince me you are worthy of an even lower price!

Rules: All sales are final. All books sold “as is.” No one admitted early (don’t ask).

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t miss it!

Questions? Call Donn R Arms at (864) 346-7468.

A New Book by Dr. Adams!

People2We are pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Jay Adams entitled Types of People—How to Counsel Them Biblically. We have not seen anything like this in print anywhere else and have found it to be both insightful and (especially) helpful. If you have had some experience as a counselor you will quickly identify some of these kinds of people as having sat across the desk from you at one time or another. Jay does far more than simply categorize—that is the easy part—he provides concrete help for the counselor as he seeks to minister the Word of God to each one and points the counselor to solid, biblical, and practical solutions for the the challenges each type of counselee presents.

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