02 June 2006

Evangelistic Counseling -- Part 1

Recently I had a class discussion about the propriety of using biblical counseling as a method of bringing the unchurched under the sound of the gospel. One participant expressed concern that, if the unregenerate counselee rejected the gospel in the first session, the counselor would be obligated to give biblical counsel to someone who, ultimately, could not enact it. On the other side, he expressed concern that the biblical counselor would aid the unregenerate counselee in becoming merely a “well-adjusted sinner.” In other words, you could quickly get yourself into a lose-lose situation.

These concerns are well-founded. First, because all acceptable human obedience starts with worship and thanks to God (See Rom 1:21, where disobedience is rooted in the lack of this attitude toward God), and because sinners, before regeneration, are hostile to God and cannot please him (Rom 8:7), we must conclude that all the good things they do are still displeasing to God, as Isaiah illustrates, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). The unbeliever cannot please God with his actions, and expecting him to do so is useless.

Second, because the unconverted are often inconsistent with their anti-God principles, they could take some of your biblical counsel and put it to use. Unfortunately this activity may only serve to produce further hardness. The ministry of Jesus is full of examples of people who were too self-righteous to find the forgiveness of sins he offered. Of them the Lord says, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41). Sometimes the Deceiver uses even biblically revealed standards as a means to blindness (See 2 Cor 4:4 where “unbelievers” in context refers to those whose eyes are veiled under the old covenant).

So both of these concerns are legitimate. However, I would like to think that they do not damage the idea of an evangelistic counseling ministry beyond repair. I think these concerns could be anticipated and addressed. I also believe that this type of ministry provides a good way to bring unbelievers under the sound of the gospel. But all that’s for Monday.


T. Baylor said...

I think something else that needs to be brought into view is that the gospel, in biblical counselling, should be central at all times. There should be no counselling session which points humanistically toward self-betterment apart from the gospel. In this way, every time the unbeliever attends counselling he is under the sound of the gospel.

Jeremy Pittsley said...

I tried to make that point in the discussion as well. I'll be sure to touch on it Monday.