Second Generation Counselors? – Part 1

Second generation biblical counselors? When I hear people speaking that way, I wonder where some of them have been for the last generation? In their attempt to move away from Nouthetic Counseling—call it what you will—I am somewhat amused at the way they view things. Perhaps this is because there are many who are so young that they have little perspective upon the history of the biblical counseling movement. They believe that whatever existed when they came upon the scene was the first generation—primitive, without guidance, lacking finesse, and unsystematic, to which they probably have an obligation to bring newer refinements and insights.

Because of their shortsightedness, I am pleased to help them obtain a realistic and more historically accurate view.

The fact is, our self-tagged “second-generation” counselors are nothing of the sort. They are what, more accurately, might be called the third generation or, more precisely stated, the heirs and recipients of an already-refined second generation of biblical counselors that, practically speaking, makes them nothing less than a third.

What am I talking about, and how do I justify such terminology?

I don’t mind being called the Great-grandfather of Nouthetic Counseling. As a matter of fact, without going into details, I can assure you that this description tends to fit my view of things more accurately than that of some who view me as its Granddady. It’s when young whippersnappers act as if no thinking has been done, or as if nothing has been written beyond Competent to Counsel and, therefore, as a second generation, they must seek to radically improve upon what has gone before, that the tags become of some importance. They give the impression that some of us have been sitting around for a generation twiddling our fingers while dishing out C to C like pablum! Nothing could be further from the truth. A great deal of refinining, maturing and enlarging of the system has taken place since 1970. Much effort has been expended over the forty-year period, many aspects of counseling have been explored in depth, and a large amount of new material has been mined and made available. What is so surprising—and disappointing—is that this maturing process has been carried on not by our self-styled “second-generationers,” from whom we expected so much, but largely by the same small group of “old-timers” who have been a part of the cadre of counselor-theorists who have been “having at it” from (or near) the beginning—people like Wayne Mack, George Scipione, Lou Priolo and a dozen or so more.

You can speak about the need to get perspective upon the “new times” in which we now live all you want. Some of us, however, have lived long enough, and have been grappling with “new times” long enough, to have seen a couple of them come and go!

We no longer live in the days of Freud, Rogers, Skinner, Adler and Maslow. Believe it or not, some of us oldsters know that. Indeed, we emerged from that era into one in which medication became nearly the sole answer to life’s problems, due to the lack of a succession of new “giants” like those big five.” We now live in a third period, one in which (along with general confusion in the field), “spirituality” is added to medicine, everything is now thought to be an “addiction” or one sort or another, and Eastern elements have again become of interest. Yet, strangely, the third generationers don’t seem all that interested in these elements arising in the new generation after all. You can’t find much in their all-but-unprolific writings about what is happening. Their interest seems to be, above all, to widen the tent for truly biblical or (if I dare call them such) Nouthetic counselors. They must become acquainted with their eclectic brothers from whom they have become estranged. They no longer discern the need for believers to assert the sort of antithesis to the world that was once deemed all-important. Indeed, the antithetic spirit found in the Scriptures, seems to them to have been the culprit in the first place [obviously, the Scriptural antithetical stance toward right/wrong, true/false, holy/unholy, saved/lost, and a host of other similar contrasts, would not be denied outright by our revisers. Error in setting forth the antithesis would, instead, be the charge].

To be continued . . .

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