Mental Health Deception

The Independent Fundamental Baptist church is famous for their support of the Nouthetic Counseling movement and their rejection of psychology. They teach that psychology is sinful because it has roots in secular humanism and the only way to heal mental health issues is to use the Word of God for counseling.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nouthetic counseling here is a brief overview:

Nouthetic counseling is just a fancy way of saying Biblical Counseling or in other words, the use of ONLY the Bible for counseling. Proponents of Nouthetic counseling claim it is a Christ centered, “directive” way of counseling, as opposed to most secular “non-directive” counseling methodology. It uses the authority of God to be confrontational and discerning. Nouthetic counseling includes the following: discerning sin or wrong doings in the counselee; admonishing; confronting with the Word of God; motivating for change; providing direction from the Scripture; teaching the word of God; leading the counselee to confession, repentance, reconciliation and restoration; supporting and encouraging the counselee in his walk with God.

The flagship scripture of the Nouthetic counseling movement is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reprofe, correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (KJV). They teach that these two verses show that the Bible can be used for “instructing” and “correcting” all issues in life including mental health issues. They believe this because they teach that mental heath issues are the result of sin and that one only needs to purge the sin in one’s life through the use of scripture. They teach that if you pray hard enough, read scripture more, and have enough faith that there is no issues that can’t be corrected. They teach that serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction are the result of sin and that they are in fact sin themselves. They take scripture out of context and use such verses as “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish (or “competent to counsel” as interpreted by Jay Adams) one another.” Romans 15:14.

There are many other verses that are taken out of context and misinterpreted to support their belief such as Acts 20:31 and 1 Corinthians 4:14. The 2 Timothy 3:16-17 passage, for example, really has nothing to do with mental health. The purpose of Paul writing that letter to Timothy was to remind him that the Bible is our guide for life and the filter by which we are to test things to see if they are true or not. It shows us how to live for Christ and what we need to do to live holy lives. The danger comes when scripture is applied to an area of life that it wasn’t intended to apply to. Just as when someone is physically sick they seek a doctor, when someone is mentally ill they seek a mental health practitioner.

We believe that Nouthetic counseling is not only ineffective but also VERY dangerous because of it’s high potential for spiritual abuse and it’s misinterpretation of scripture. We have identified several flaws of the Nouthetic counseling movement:

Major flaws in the Nouthetic Counseling movement:

  1. Narrow understanding of the Word of God – Rally Cry: “The sufficiency of Scripture” – More Bible Centered than God Centered. It elevates the Bible as a 4th member of the Trinity
  2. Exclusive order focus on sin, instruction and obedience. We are all in agreement that sin is a psychopathology of the soul so sin is important, however, other pathology is not sin. Sin may send a person to hell, depression will not.
  3. Instruction and Obedience – “Here is what the Bible teaches, go out and do likewise” – The goal is conformity to the law. It’s very Authoritarian which is a cognitive dysfunction.
  4. Focuses on external not internal – The focus is on changing the outward behaviors in order to change the inward. This is backwards from what the Bible teaches.
  5. There is no doctrine of common grace. In fact there is no focus on grace at all. The focus is on changing self so that you are in better standing before God and so that God will love you more. This is also backwards from what the scripture teaches.
  6. It’s anti-science or at least anti-psychology
  7. It’s not practical – “Be more Spiritual!” – What does that mean?
  8. It’s unreasonable – “We are right and everyone else is wrong” mentality. Closed mind, unwilling to acknowledge other areas where the Lord is obviously working (i.e., a counselor’s office).
  9. It’s judgmental – They teach that the counselor’s role is to convict of sin. Leaves no room to allow the Holy Spirit to work and convict.
  10. It’s extremist – Inflexible, no room to make mistakes, no room for God’s grace.

Probably the most important reason why Nouthetic counseling is ineffective and dangerous is that it is ultimately disrespectful to the Creator of the brain, human body, and human development to ignore or downplay the biological, physical, and emotional by insisting that Christian counseling only works within the Spiritual realm. There is more to a person than just the spiritual components.

The problem here is that the Nouthetic way of thinking forces a believer to acknowledge that they aren’t spiritual enough because they are having these mental health issues. The blame goes to their lack of enough faith or trust in God’s deliverance. This type of spiritual abuse eventually leads to cynicism because the person is mustering up all the faith/trust they have and living just shy of perfection yet they still have depression, anxiety or whatever mental health issue. This can lead to a crisis of faith where the person begins to question their salvation. The leaders of this movement will even state outright that perhaps the person who struggles with mental health issues, despite their best efforts with faith, trust, increased spirituality (reading the bible and praying) really isn’t saved to begin with or else they wouldn’t have these problems.

This article is for educational, promotional and informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical or mental health advice, guidance or care. Emergency services are not available via this website. If you are having a crisis or emergency please call 911 or go to your local emergency care facility.


  1. I noticed what they had done as it influenced the Pentecostal sector more than you want to admit especially Assemblies of God when they have the slippery slope of mental illness. When I had a church mate in Bloomingdale Assembly of God kill herself, the pastor published her parting note in the bulletin as it was transcribed from her jeans. When you manage to torque an Independent Baptist how they preach against swearing, you ask them if they drink their own piss and eat their own dung. I had seen the Good Neighbor parable play out in the streets of Oak Lawn, Illinois, in front of the namesake of the hospital.


    I thought this went so well with the deception of the IFB movement, (this was something my Aunt, who is an Episcoplian ministers wife posted on Facebook today). It really spoke to me because of the lies the IFB presents, about how any mental health problems mean you’re not walking right with God, and that taking medication only blunted your need for God, and was sinful. What a horrible thing, and so many people have been hurt by that. Idk if the person who wrote this blog would allow it to be used on here, am hoping!

  3. @ Jerry

    Well I don’t believe you on either account. I may not be psychic but I’m not stupid either. I think I’ll skip your book now that I know your level of integrity.

  4. Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.

    Nope! Never saw the prosperity Gospel anywhere in the IFB — in fact, I heard them preach against it hundreds of times & mock its proponents. Your spirit is for me uncomfortably condescending & self-righteous. Methinks a little more of the IFB has rubbed off on you that you may realize. No, you DON”T know that I was trying to promote my book, unless you are psychic. So I will bow out & let you puff all you want. I should have seen this coming & not lowered myself. 🙂

  5. Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.

    Steve, I have never heard the Prosperity Gospel anywhere in the IFB Movement. It has always been more closely associated with the Neo Evangelical Movement, and the Pentecostals. Aldo, Freud’s “False Guilt” has always been a very subjective designation for me. Thanks for the clarification, though.

    1. I have never heard the Prosperity Gospel anywhere in the IFB Movement. It has always been more closely associated with the Neo Evangelical Movement, and the Pentecostals.

      Yes, it has unfortunately permeated many of our modern denominations, including the IFB.

      I find it rather hard to believe that you’ve been so closely associate with First Baptist of Hammond and “never heard the prosperity gospel anywhere in the IFB movement”. Either your lying (a simple Google search lead me to and took all of about 30 seconds to find) or you don’t know what it means.

      Yes, false guilt would seem subjective to you if you are confused about what it is or what it means. But it’s an unfortunate reality of spiritual abuse and ultimately why spiritual abuse can be so destructive and harmful. False guilt can keep us from experiencing grace and is a foundation that leads to a works based righteousness. Freud understood the harmful effects of false guilt on the psyche and worked to help heal it.

      I know you were just typing a quick comment to promote your book, but it would behoove you to be more careful in the future lest you come across as ignorant (a characteristic not very becoming of an author promoting a book).

  6. Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.

    Freud said guilt was neurosis. This invalidates the reality of conscience, and thus becomes a deal breaker for me in respecting psychoanalysis in view of Freud being the Father of Psychoanalysis.
    Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D., author of “Profaned Pulpit—The Jack Schaap Story.”

    1. No, Freud argued that FALSE guilt was a neurosis. He argued that removing false guilt still left an unconscious sense of guilt (shadow guilt) resulting from that false guilt and as such is difficult to treat*. Freud rejected the idea that God uses illness (or negative experiences) as punishment or wellness (or positive experiences) as a reward – a concept I wholeheartedly agree with since, ironically, the IFB is notorious for it’s “prosperity gospel”

      * Westerink, Herman. 2009. A Dark Trace: Sigmund Freud on the Sense of Guilt (Figures of the Unconscious)

      PS – Your book looks interesting. I hope I have a chance to read it!

  7. This was very informative, thank you! My boyfriend (IFBer), I’ll call him DD, sited one of the reasons he had to break up with me (born again Christ follower) was because of my being into “psychobabble”. I believe the brain is an organ like the others and should be treated as such. Signs and symptoms of mental illness can be sinful and need to be addressed as such. Theses comments helped me to see how his IFB doctrine has brainwashed such an intelligent man.

  8. Dear Steve Sorenson, thanks a bundle!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I am currently on staff with a new pastor that has introduced a new term to my life. “Nouthetic”. Today I have spent a few hours looking into this new church…or way…I am not sure that there is a need for a new term. God is God. He has revealed Himself through His Son and His Word. We have the Word and Holy Spirit to guide, correct, rebuke…..etc. And, as I go about sharing Christ and teaching God’s Word and making disciples as I have been commanded to, I am always in refference to the “way” of the Lord..and His Word…(In which is the revelation of His character) The Bible is not a medical book. The bible is not a study…It is God’s Word. I study it, read it, share it, teach it and preserve it. I would support that in some way or some fashion that the Word of God has all the answers for a person’s life….but, does it come in a simple problem, solution fix?… Of course not! I do youth ministry. Does the Bible come right out and give the answer simply for every encounter I have with youth?…with thier emotions, their physical, emotional and spiritual changing and development? Did the Bible say specifically what to do in every situation that a teenager can look right in and find the answer? NO… The Bible is not a quick reference for even the simplest of encounters…Yet a whole understanding of God and His word can serve to guide us and them through these and any of lives struggles. I am aware of sexual tensions, personal insecurities, and on and on the list goes that youth are going to face!.. These encounters are common to all humans. Does God mention that?…yes..does He have the “Way”?…yes.. is it always in a form of…type this question in and I give you the immediate and simple anwser…? No! Most often when we try to approach life, God and our daily encounters this way, we find that God does not participate. I am older, wiser and more expirienced than my youth in life. I have been tempted, sinned, fallen, raised, succeded and I have been observing the behaviors of youth for decades. Are all the behaviors, the encounters, temptations and situtations that the youth face addressed in the Bible?…No… not in specific forms, but yes in some sort of fashion. I do see and know more about the occurances in, around and through teens more than them, for two reasons..One, because I have spent many years studying the Word of God for my own sanctification…I have learned the do’s and dont’s by the way of the Lord’s guidance and I use my Bible for that reason…God’s Word for me. After I have learned, I am then able to teach. I know what some Scripture says about this or that issue because I have experienced it. Thus I can point youth to the Word as well. The second reason is because I have observed youth for a long time. They just like any other species of living being can be observed. We know about a wolf from observing their behavior. Observing their behavior?…You mean watching? Studying? Making evaluations based upon observing behavior?..yes..not only observing but making proper decisions and judgements and knowledge of them. We all know that a wolf does not act like a poodle. How?..because we have observed or studied their behavior. We might put a poodle by our children but will not have them around a wolf..even a somewhat domesticated one. We have observed that they are unpredictable. Is that knowledge? Is it fair to say that we can observe behavior of animals, and humans alike and know basic functions, behaviors, patterns and things? I think so. So…I have found no where in Scripture where it talks directly about many issues my youth are facing, yet I am able to help, guide and counsel them through their unique encounters based upon two things….First and for most…the Word of God..and the Holy Spirit. This is “Nouthetic” counsel. What does the Word say…Where is that found?…Sometimes a right nugget of wisdom is not found in a specific do or don’t passage. Sometimes it comes from only a revelation of the Spirit. Yet also in some way the Word will address the approach of the issue to satisfy God’s “Way”. Biblical counsel!!!!! And even the will of God…is much deeper than a quick answer approach. The Spirit along with the Word will guide me. And it may not be with a yes, no, do or don’t method. In fact sometimes the answers take years to be found. In guiding students, I am confident in God’s Word to be the source of guidance and “will” of God..but are there not open to other bits of knowledge and learned application? I know that baby male goats will mount up on their brother baby male goats. You know how I know?… because I observed it when our family’s goats had babies. There are a lot of other observations that were made that were even more absurd. But I learned about the goats by observation. Thus if I desire certain behavior from my goats, I will make decisions based upon my observations of them. Just because the Bible does not talk about the behavior of goats does not mean that I can’t observe them and learn “knowledge” of them based on their behavior. The same goes for not only youth, but also human behavior. In supporting and teaching and preserving the Word of God, I would be a fool to discount all learned knowledge of human behavior in an approach to opperate in some “nouthetic” counseling. Simple because God apparently did not see it necessary to put a book in the Bible about “teen sexual development”.(for instance) Just because there is not a book in the Bible about “teen sexual development” does not mean first that it does not exist….nor that God is not concerned for it or that even more so, that God’s Word does not address it. It does speak of the evil desires of youth..and homosexuality and fornication and sexual immorallity…but as far are instances and daily changes of the body, the mind the emotions…? No it does not explain that stuff in detail. Since the Bible does not explain it in detail, does that mean that it is not a legitimate experience? Of course not! Because the Bible does not teach all about the dynamics of sexual development, does that mean that any observation, study, learning and evaluation is wrong and not “biblical counseling”.?? Of course not. I believe God’s Word is God breathed! And that it is inerrant!.. Yet in guiding students, I don’t “ONLY” use the Scripture! I use testimony, failures, successes and so much more from my own learning…and even use knowledge not only from my personal observations but also those of others who are trustworthy in their lives pursuit to observe and pattern and define human behavior. Is that wrong? I would say absolutely not! For example, I know exactly what will happen among youth in many of their situtations…Not only by my past study of the Bible, but also by the study of human behavior…namely teens. Am I disqualified from the proper handling of God’s Word if I explain, tell, teach and pursuade teens to walk with God among their own sexual development as they learn to relate to opposite sex, social peer pressures, sexual harrassments, abuses and the like?…If I attempt to guide teens only using the Bible, I will only touch the surface of their encounters. But, if I stand in, for and by the Word of God and us learned knowledge of Him, His Word, and also things I have learned from not only my past personal lessons, failure and successes….by observation…I then become one who can identify with them very deeply and am in great position to point them to the way and will of God. Take sexual desire for instance. The Bible says, do not sin….and I can list many Scriptures in the area of sexual sin and expierence…I have chosen not to for times sake…Well the Scripture is clear about do’s and dont’s. But does it talk in detail about sexual development in the mind? The emotions? The body? Is there something in the Bible that will teach a teen all about the changes that are going on? The males new found unavoidable ability to envision themselves with a female in sexual encounter? And moreover the desire for physical touch to the genitils? This is all new for them and so much more. The females new found need to look good and desireable and their desire to be wanted, taken and be the center of a passionate dream?.. there are so many things that take place the the Bible does not talk about… Are they sin?.. Well that is what is being taught to the youth. That how they feel is sin. That sexuality is dirty and bad. They are battling with these things and it seems that most of the Christian teaching is saying you are WRONG!!!!… But does not sexual development happen whether you are born again..male, female, mentally disabled…etc…Yes it does and where did sexuality come from?..The big bang theory? NO! It came from God. God created it. Does He have a plan for it? Guidelines for it?…yes..but are all the details about it layed out in Scripture?..of course not! Thus, there is room for behavioral observation and conclusion. Applying studies and observation and conclusion in this area will serve a teen in first of all understanding how they feel…why they feel…and more importantly how to “Feel” within God’s will! If i leave out the natural observations of behavior I do them an injustice. I not only support “Biblical Counsel” but practice it!.. But I also observe my and other humans behavior. I and many way more trustworthy people have observed and concluded about our behaviors…and much of the conclusion is good for teaching and guiding through the explaination and application of such knowledge.

    I am not taking a proper time period to put together a proper argument.. And am just typing as I go…but at the same time trying to explain a frustration I am having. I am 38 years old. I am married and have three girls. I am a youth pastor and have been for about 13 years. During this time my first wife left the Lord and me and pursued a lifestyle of adultery and sin that destroyed me to the point of gasping for breath. She never repented unto a reconciliation and after many affairs and pain…she divorced me after a 15 year relationship and 11 years of marriage and two beautiful children. I sought her until the Holy Spirit confirmed release to me. She was not living as a believer and I could not pursue her for a spouse because she was not “in the Lord”. Thus I was single for a few years and am now remairried. (By way and permission of Scripture) This is my frustration. At this time in my life I began to see a Christian counselor. From the first seconds of dialogue I began to heal. She and I would talk about the Scripture and God and His will and where He is in all of this. As I was barely alive, she would not only use the Word and Spirit in my healing but so much was said and shared that made so much sense about what was going on insided of me as a result of the adultery and divorce. Things I had never heard of yet was feeling for the first time…only became manifest and understood through her counseling. This counseling is Godly..was Godly…and Scripture was the foundation!!!.. But while I am a biblical counselor myself…and knew the exact Scritpure she is presenting and I have taught and counseled the same Scriptures and things…I could not gather my self..I was half dead.. I was in the Word.. I trusted God.. I konw God’s Word!… Yet some of the deepest times of healing came not only from the Word she would present…but so much calrity and healing and understanding…AND!!!! change of my minds behavior!!!!These things were brought about also by the knowledge of human behavior that she had learned! She has spent her life studing the Word (a professional Christian counselor..and a pastor’s wife). She has alos spent her life studying the behavior of humans, families…by way of accademic education. She has mulitple degrees in Counseling. The things that she would explain about what, where, when and how…I was feeling were unbelieveable. She simple had to explain the dynamics of observation and learning…and I can see them clearly..and see the changes that I need to make as well. Well, now I am in a remarriage situation and it demands so much as well. Two lives blended is like a train wreck!…I can testify that my counselor knows far much more than I! She teaches, promotes, and preserves the Word of the Lord through biblical counsel. We also talk about communications skill, anger, measuring sticks, and so many other terms of observation and conclusion about our situtation and THEY WORK!!! THey help identify and usher in the change needed! I know the Word..I know what it says…but I don’t necessarily know why my wife feels this or that!….Observation, study, and conclusion can help!!! if it were wrong and sin, then Paul would have not recommended that older women and men train up younger men and women!..How can they do that? With only a bible in hand?..No! By living out the Word of God in reflection to humanity!…Yet this is my frustration…I use terms and illustrations and practices that I have learned in my growth and counseling to guide, repair and help all other people the Lord brings into my life. I counsel biblically,, and also use knowledge that I have gained from life and books and studies from other observers…I use them as my pator laughs at me and says things about my “Wisdom of man” counsel!… Ha . it is the funniest thing ever. What about this…if that is the case…then he must not say anything at all from the pulpit!.. the only thing he must do is read the Scripture.. and send his church away. Because!!! if he shares anything at all about what the Scripture means, or how to apply it to our life, is that not the exact same as what I do?…Take my experiences, my observations, my lessons, my successes and failures and teach biblical counsel from not only them but the Word of God?…. Arrogance! Is it not the same thing that those who oppose any educational study of medicine, mental illness and social or phsychological observation are doing?..I am not in position to judge the wholity of any group such as “nouthetic” counseling, but if any one would say that my and other observatins are not to be used in explainging God’s way, I must disagree. even Jesus did that as He taught from the surroundings around Him. My pastor can mock all he wants…and he can continue to brow beat my students with do and don’t…yet his counsel will be inaffective because he does not undertand them. He is not concerned with their emotions…only thier deeds. What about the little girl who has been abused in every way and lives daily with pain, fear, anxiety….and on and on…is it black and white for her?.. Can she pick up a bible and see who what when where and why she feels that way?…or can someone who has been through it all too and who can apply observations and conclusions based upon God, His Word and way….can that person not use their wisdom to help?…this is not what Paul was talking about when he condemned the “wisdom of man”…or the “wisdom of the world”. He was talking about human regulations!! A totally contextual and cultural application that in my opinion is taken out of context!..

    In short, I support, promote, teach and preserve God’s Holy Word!…I am busy making disciples daily. I deal with sin, life, pain, abuse, and emotional scars on a daily basis, not only in my own life but the lives of others! I know what the Word says…and in pressing on.. and guiding and making disciples…I use not only my observations from personal life, but also the study of others who have dedicated their lives to the task of understanding and concluding as well. Listen… the Spirit will convict the world of sin and righeteousness…I know when a falls teaching is presented. All obeservation and conclusion is not bogus and ungodly!.. Some is! But not all. Medicine, social study, human behavior, study of the mind by way of human behavior and patterning…they all can be done within the will and direction of God!..Many who are not believers of course teach falls things.. but not all study and wisdom is wrong just because it is not listed in the Scripture!.. Like I said, I know that if I get a goat and it has two babies, the two male goats are going to go crazy things. I learned this from observation. Furthermore, if anyone holds that any application of phychological, emotion, or other studies is bogus and sinful and only the Bible is the valid for any counsel at all!……then if I come to see you in your counseling office…you better do nothing but read Scripture!!!! Because anything said at all other than that is not “Biblical Counsel”. It is yours and I dont’ want to hear it… yet I do because I trust that the Lord will discern what is right and wrong to me. But that is my point. Upholding and preserving the Word does not mean no other observations are allowed in God’s will. They are. Every preacher preaches each week…every coundselor counsels each day…hopefully from the TRUTH of Scripture…and their commentary is just advice. Both can be helpful..Truth is NEVER wrong, but advice can be. Yet I can advise you from the Scripture and also by what I have learned…obeserved and concluded!…to be God’s will!..

    any way.. I am tired of typing..God bless

    1. God bless you in your ministry and witness for Christ. As He has healed and continues to heal you, may He continue to use you for the healing of others and above all for their salvation.

  10. Shawn Bickel :
    Hello, I wanted to point out that God holds His Word above His own Name!

    Where is that in the Bible? Do you have a reference? Sounds like typical IFB propaganda to me.

    The problem I have with logic like yours, Shawn, is that EVERYTHING that is bad is a direct result of sin. My questions to you are: Why does the IFB focus on Mental Health issues as needing Biblical counseling and not other health issues? Why not send a cancer patient to a Nouthetic Doctor? Where do you come up with the ideas about mental health? Is that in the Bible? If not it’s pure IFB brainwashing and you are sinning by following that non-scriptural teaching.

    A diseased liver may be the result of sin, but you would still go see a Hepatologist wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t go see a nouthetic doctor or counselor to treat a diseased liver would you? How absurd!!! Then why not go see a neurologist or psychologist or a psychiatrist with a mental health disorder or a disease of the brain? I simply don’t get the logic behind the IFB’s twisted way of thinking about the brain and the mind.

    The brain is an organ just like the heart, liver, skin, kidneys, etc. To say that a diseased gallbladder is the result of medial issues, but a disease of the brain is the result of sin is nothing short of ignorance.

    The IFB needs to stop pretending that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, anorexia, etc doesn’t exist and reach out to those who are hurting and need help.

  11. Hello, I wanted to point out that God holds His Word above His own Name! The Bible has the answer to all man’s problems, which really boils down to sin. Nouthetic counseling only works if your Saved. If a LOST person goes to a Nouthetic Counselor, the first session will be on “Biblical” Salvation, Repentance of sin and putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ. After Salvation, one has the Holy Spirit living within them and the Word of God can work on them. Most mental issues are a direct result of sin, unless a person was born with mental issues. Realization there’s a problem, usually as a result of confronting someone through the Word of God, showing how to get right, through the Word of God and giving hope, again, through the Word of God. After this process, the individual must yield to the working of the Holy Spirit. The Grace of God is involved in this whole process. The church NEEDS to stop allowing the worlds way in to help God’s people. Only the Word of God can help God’s people.

  12. Thank you for this page. I am a Christian who has mostly tried to pursue my faith with passion. I have also suffered from anxiety/depression most of my life. I have been told so many times about the “spirit of depression in my life, as if it was a demonic attack. I have been told to turn to God to heal. (Not that I don’t believe God can heal, I believe, however, sometimes He choses not to as a learning experience.) I have learned more about Him and His love for me by working it out the correct way. My faith HAS sustained me in the way I knew He would get me through this. However, counseling and medication have been huge in managing my illness.

    I never was suicidal. I believe this is only due to the fact that I knew that the Lord would bring me through in His time. I didn’t know how, only that He would. As I said to my Dr., God led me to the right Psychiatrist to put me on the right medication (so many wrong first) to the right therapist to work me through some issues and help me with coping skills, to the right friends, Christian, for support. This was ALL directly in response to my prayer for delivery. Just because it didn’t look like sudden healing, does not mean all if it was not from God.

  13. Scott, I once read a book called “Going Crazy” many years ago. To the best of my memory it contained personal testimonies of how abusive their treatment had been at the hands of their psychologist/psychiatrist.Freud believed that epilepsy was a neurosis.I’m not convinced Psychology is science although parts of it might be (how one learns) and they might have some good insight in diagnosing/defining a mental/emotional ailment. I remember a chorus of an old hillbilly song- “cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild, women, they will drive you crazy they will drive you insane.” Whoever that hillbilly was that wrote that song had some great insight too! I,m sure there are some mental/emotional ailments that are caused by body/brain not functioning properly.I’m sorry that you and others have had bad experiences with Nouthetic counseling.Nouthetic counseling helped me tremendously and I recommend it to all. I recommend seeing a physician if there is a body/brain problem and I would caution all about the pseudo-science of psychology although they might have some insight into defining problems.

    1. Harold, I think that the field of Psychology has made tremendous advancements since the time of Freud… after all Freudian psychology was over 120 years ago. That’s like saying: “I think orthopedics is just pseudo-science. They used to use wooden splints to help heal bone fractures in the late 1800s”. How absurd.

      Your comment reeks of ignorance and your Nouthetic counseling experience seems to have brainwashed you. Nouthetic counseling WANTS people to think that psychology a “pseudo-science”. That’s their modus operandi.

      I would refer you to Dr. Daniel Amen Dr. Amen has developed brain imaging and we can actually “see” mental health disorders now.

      PS – You refuse to consider psychology a science yet you get your insight from a “hillbilly song”? That doesn’t instill much confidence in those you are trying to convince.

      1. Susan, I’m not convinced that psychology is a science. I thank God for Science and for every achievement that it brings to health care and other disciplines. I judge no one’s motives in that field of study. What little psychology I’ve studied and have read about all seems like a bunch of psycho-babble to me.And no I’ve not been brainwashed by Nouthetic counseling, but I know that it helped me considerably. Are there mental/emotional problems not brought on by cigarettes and whiskey and wild wild women? There probably are and I am too ignorant in this field of study to venture what some might be. But if I had one I would see a Dr. who would treat anatomical/physiological symptoms. Changing the subject to depression, if I went to my physician and said I had been sad for a long time and crying etc., he might say to me , you are depressed and we know now that chemical imbalances causes depression and here is some Prozac to help treat those chemical imbalances, my question to him is “What caused those chemical imbalances? Was is the loss of a child? Was it a life of wild living? Does it have a anatomical/physiological basis? I don’t need a Physcologist for this, I need common sense and/or some medical answer., and I don’t need Prozac to get over it. As for getting insight from an hillbilly song,please indulge me in another song. I taught in a maximum security prison for 2 years so this is relevant …..”you gotta listen unto me, lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be” (Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison- Cocaine Blues). I’m sure many of those prisoners would say that song had great insight and I’m sure that Dr. Daniel Amen would agree and I would not be the lest surprised if he could detect cocaine addiction through brain imaging. The point being is that sin not only damages the body it also damages the brain and thinking. I have already stated that I think modern psychology might have value in defining problems, though I feel this is more art than science. The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky had great insight into human nature and I doubt if he ever had a class in Psychology. By the way, I don’t know that I was trying to convince anyone of anything, I was simply stating recommendations,and defending Nouthetic Counseling. I hope I did not hurt your feelings as that was not my intent. You and all are in my prayers. My first e-mail was meant for Steve Sorenson not Scott and my sentences were sometimes jammed together, the lateness of the hour contributed to both. P.S. Thanks for the website for Dr. Amen

  14. We have addressed Mental Illness in our church. For the typical issues, our pastor does recommend Biblical Counseling. He also advocates using a Psychiatrist and regular Doctors for non-typical issues such as Scitzophrenia, Bi-polar, Depression, Cancer, Broken bones and etc. He states that although God created us “perfect” that when sin entered the world, everything, including our bodies and brains got messed up. We pray for the Doctors to get God’s wisdom in treatment.

  15. I can’t go into detail about my friend except for the fact that this individual probably needed the services provided at one of the top notch research specialty hospitals in the big city rather than the smaller community hospital or trauma center. There were many outstanding facilities within 100 miles of where we lived. These may provide a higher level of care as well as a much wider range of services. She was pretty much left on her own with her family. it’s sad because some of these larger facilities do work with the indigent as well as the middle class and very wealthy. They work with uninsured as well as the insured since they have major federal and state research grants. They also provide education and tutoring services.

    I did feel that the 1-5 college options did not take into account persons with various types of disabilties who needed additional services the IFB colleges and universities did not provide to that level. i’m not saying the services did not exist. The problem was that the infirmaries and hospitals were not only not part of regionally accredited professional programs, but their medical facilities were not accredited. If a person needed a very high level of care which included life support, the insurance would not cover it and the parents or students would foot the bills. In respect to continuity of care, sometimes it is best for students to attend community colleges as well as colleges, universities, and technnical institutes closer to home. i think this needs to be the decision of the family and those who participated in the education of a particular student.

    They did not stop a person from receiving medical care; however, with the involvement of so many activities so many times a week, it was hard to schedule things without missing church. Also, I’m not sure they always understood the seriousness and need for additional assistance which is rehabilitative in nature that follows the initial care. This also includes advocacy and other forms of financial assistance as well as tutoring and other educational and work related issues and housing and transportation. Sometimes one does need help with the government or a private agency outside of a church situation.

    I did feel that harsh discipline and blacklisting destroyed my trust in others although i was not directly blacklisted myself. I didn’t feel secure with the education cause i knew at any time or for any reason or anything external beyond my control, i could be punished right up to graduation. I worried about my ability to remember all the information for a final exam four years later. I did worry that anything i said might be used in a way I never imagined or intended against me or people i knew. i had difficulty in confiding with leadership due to these reasons even when i needed the help. Actually I was struggling with organic drepression and still assisting with children and participating in the choir as if there wasn’t a problem, but there was. Also when students become ill, they lose time in class and with studying. i was able to finish the classes at a later time so they worked with me there. And they worked with transportation issues. They saw an illness as something that starts and ends when the actual medication is finished but they didn’t always understand how complications affect the body, the mind, and all aspects of one’s life.

    The issue about accreditation not only involves the regional accreditation colleges and universities recieve but also professional accreditation hospitals and medical programs receive and board certified doctors. It’s also not a situation limited to IFB colleges either but can be an issue at secular colleges as well as any type of medical facility which is not licensed, inspected, or insured to provide such services and treatment. It is definitely an issue for parents who have children with disabilities as well as families who have restrictive medical and dental insurance policies. It’s definitely an issue for graduates who want to further their professional education.

    It’s very hard to restore broken trust. And if the punishment can be unduly harsh or even unpredictable and one cannot feel secure about completing courses for graduation, then one loses that ability to trust whether or not one is actually the victim of such practices or becomes aware of them when they happen to others. The reputation of the school is a major issue. So is the conduct of the highest levels of leadership who publicly represent the school. I worried than anything i did or said might get myself or others into trouble. I also worried about direct or indirect breeches of confidentiality.
    the discussion in a professional counselor’s office is supposed to remain private. If a minister discusses a case without permission from the client in front of the congregation in detail with or without mentioning the name, others may know about it. That’s a breech in confidentiality. i am not talking about cases where laws are broken. I am not talking about cases which threaten other students. Of course i believe the Bible and religious music can be a very important part of the healing process that should be included. But some churches act as if that’s all that’s required. Sometimes a lot more is necessary. This is not only true for church. This includes local squabbles between health provider networks and the competition between the small community hospital and the great big research specialty hospital in the big city.

  16. Scott:

    I got information on two organizations which may help you with your family.

    Alcheimers Foundation

    National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

    Many local hospitals and trauma centers and research centers have local chapters for some of these national organizations. Check your local newspaper, telephone, and the internet for more specific information. Hopefully this has been helpful to others as well. I mentioned a book on my previous page. The listings in that book start on page 1026. I realize that these groups are there to serve a function that’s not exclusive to Christians and may include others. However, they can provide information, assistance, and social activities and advocacy for families and individuals who feel overwhelmed and perhaps even isolated.

  17. Scott

    Don’t try to deal with issues like these by yourself. There is support for families who are dealing with a variety of health conditions which affect the memory in one way or another. It can get really overwhelming.

    in the back of the book, DK American College of Physician’s Complete Home Medical Guide, many support organizations are listed in the appendix in the back. I hope that you are able to find some help near where you live if you haven’t already. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find other Christians who are also dealing with some of these issues individually or with a member of their family or a friend. It’s scary for any person to have periods where one cannot remember details whether the details are present or past. Once you find the name of an organization that may be helpful to you, go on the internet, type the organization with the name and address and list your city and you can find the nearest chapter and maybe attend meetings. I do know that some of the police departments are increasing the training they give to their officers to discern when they are dealing with patients with various types of neurological and mental illnesses in a more compassionate way that’s helpful to the individuals and their families. This may also include a variety of cognitive learning disabilities which also affect memory and balance and the ability to master basic living skills.

    Often i work when the meetings are scheduled; however, periodically i am able to attend a support group. I do know that there are a few groups which deal with the conditions you mentioned.

  18. I can’t stress the importance of also seeing a board certified physician (family, general, or internist) in addition to counseling. There is a close relationship between physical, mental, social, and spiritual wellness or affirmaties and since the body is connected, one can affect another. Also sometimes an illness can be discovered or symptoms can mascarade from one system to another or sometimes even as side effects to medicine. While this is important in respect to church, it’s also important outside of church situations also.
    An older or even mid-age person may not have had the techology or advances in medicine or intervention that a younger person has as well as access to the top research facilities even though a lot of care is now also available at smaller trauma centers and community hospitals and even supportive organizations that provide information and advocacy as well as public and private agencies.

    A person that feels depressed can’t always see what’s obvious to everyone else who isn’t dealing with some type of mental illness. I should add a gerontologist to that list at the top for the elderly too. Even tests aren’t so clear. Certain specialties order certain tests. Certain conditions are diagnosed through certain physicians w ho order certain tests.

    People can see something they don’t understand and jump to conclusions. i think t his is why many who struggle with some type of obvious or sbutle condition withdraw. Or one can get labeled, especailly in school, for something that’s confused for something else. People don’t always talk about things cause they don’t feel comfortable. People may or may not ask for help whether or not they need it because, unfortunatley asking for help is associated with weakness. I know some people who have affirmativies that one would think are obvious, but have learned to adjust and compensate so well, that others never even suspect the person is dealing with something. Of course, I know there is a struggle when one does compensate and is treated like a moron because others cannot believe that a person has learned to cope with something, and that can happen anywhere, unfortunately often, due to policies and attitudes. I’m not sure these attitudes have gone, just that people are better at covering them up.

  19. I struggled with depression and anxiety for ten years, hating myself for my sinfulness and lack of faith and trust in God. Finding a counselor who believes in God, and uses Scripture for healing, but also advocates medication as needed literally saved my life. This style of “Bible only” counseling almost cost me my life.

  20. I was reading the post on mental health counseling by Brian. Didn’t Job suffer a lot from this when he was afflicted with all the problems. Job was one of the strongest beleibers. God let Satan test him. A lot of people questioned him and said basically the same types of comments with the intentions to help Job.

    Isn’t our faith based on redemption? Judgments by others are so harsh. Mental illness are by no means pleasant. They can be quite painful whether they are temporary in nature, cognitive, or chronic. Many have organic causes. Personally I do believe in cases where individuials are incapable of making decisions in their faith, the Holy Spirit does intercede.
    Jesus Christ ministered to individuals who were outcasts of society who most avoided.

    I’ve really struggled with this issue with faith. Didn’t God say “fogive seventy times seven?”
    I struggle to forgive as much as to be forgiven. The condemnation causes individuals and families to be isolated from the very ministries they seek. This is also true with genetic conditions.

  21. I am 50 years old, and was raised in a IFB family. Concerning real mental health issues – its a chemical imbalance for me, and to be a normal, healthy person I take drugs to balance me out. When I was a practicing
    fundamentalist, and fighting depression, it came out in very strange beliefs and behaviors because of how the church taught -I was very supersticius and afraid all the time. Personally I believe its dangerous to treat mentally ill people with church cliches, and a church that does so is legally and spiritually responsible ! Also I have come to believe that a large majority of people in the IFB church have mental illnesses.

  22. I don’t know what IFB church you were a part of, but I have been a part of one for 29 years. I have never been told that a persons illnesses, mental or physical, are a result of sin in their lives. That is not biblical and not something I have ever experienced. I think that there are churches and other establishments that are leading people astray in many areas and that are too caught up in legalism, fortunately I have not had this type of experience at the church I attend.

  23. Several years ago I was dealing with fallout from a childhood that was extremely abusive in EVERY way. I had never heard of Nouthetic counseling. I was attending a Christian college at the time and was having what I now know is PTSD. Unfortunately, the counselor, who was part of the University faculty believed in Nouthetic Counceling. He became very angry with me told me my problem were a result of MY sin and bitterness. He told me he did not want to hear anything about my sexual abuse, and accused me of “leading my foster father on.” When my family doctor placed me on an antidepressant I was told I did not want to change, that “I cannot help you, no one can, not even God can help you.” All because I questioned why taking an antidepressant was wrong but the counselor who was a severe diabetic thought it just fine for him to take his insulin. I never forget being told, “Diabetes is not a spiritual problem, depression is.”

  24. YouKidsNever :
    I don’t believe in “mental illness”

    Pfff… I’d like to hear you tell that to my Grandfather who has dementia or to my Uncle who has schizophrenia. What a stupid thing to say. I hate it when people speak about things they don’t understand. I would recommend you get an education before you share more about what you don’t believe in.

    1. YouKidsNever is right – you need to recognize the difference between brain disease (where there are pathological/biological changes in the brain (like dementia) and schizophrenia where there is a break from reality due to something traumatic happening in their lives. The “mind” is not corporeal; hence it cannot get “sick”. If disease processes are ruled out (like thyroid, brain tumors, diabetes, etc) there is no “mental illness”. “Bipolar” for example is a behavior, and no behavior qualifies as a mental illness. As Dr Szasz says, Typhoid fever is a disease; Cabin fever, on the other hand, is not. Borderline personality disorder is a form of postraumatic stress (I will not call it a disorder because it’s a natural response to a traumatic event). As I said, people have emotional problems – some more than others – but those are not “diseases” or “illnesses”.

  25. I would agree that Adams takes things too far; the Bible gives basic wisdom on dealing with people in Proverbs, but it does not provide the specifics of relationship skills such as dynamics of relationships, or how to speak what we want to say clearly – we also need to be aware of other people’s ability to divert our attention from subjects when trying to confront someone about an issue that needs addressing and stay focused. These are skills one cannot pull out of Scripture. They are part of general revelation, albeit we still need to learn them.

    I don’t believe in “mental illness” – however, people have emotional problems and do become wounded. As Christians, we are to comfort each other, help each other heal, and, I believe, help each other learn the wisdom of handling situations better via communication, boundaries, and taking responsibility for one’s own actions. We also need to realize we cannot change another person (although if we change how we deal with them, it might prompt a change in their behavior).

    I also believe the part of psychology that deals with human behavior can help with this IF a person is truly seeking answers and solutions.

    I have absolutely no use for psychiatry, which seeks to resolve emotional problems with pills/drugs that do nothing but create a fog and divert people’s attention from what is really going on in their lives. I see psychiatry as being no different than drug pushers who encourage people to escape problems through street drugs; the result is essentially the same.

    God bless.

    1. Man I wish you knew more about psychiatric care and conditions before making a fool of yourself. The reason for the drugs, is because mental health conditions are caused by a disruption in the BRAIN…..physiological makeup. Blanket statements like what you made, ARE the single most wives tale prejudice in North American society. I’m a U.S. Marine have ptsd, brain injury, etc. Physical conditions also affect your physiological mental health. I work with and counsel people with mental health conditions. Whatever doctrine or teaching you are influenced by, you need to check it. 90% of all “Christians” refuse to recognize a biological or acquired condition……until it happens to them or their child……even then it’s highly questionable whether they seek help or not, for the false doctrines they have been brainwashed with.

  26. Incredible site!

  27. Dear Brother,
    You seem sincere and you seem to have good intentions. It if fairly clear that something happened in your past to hurt you and to create these opinions and impressions that you have of the nouthetic style of biblical counseling.

    My personal testimony is the opposite of yours. Nouthetic biblical counseling healed my marriage and made it better than it was before. It was a loving and gentle process, full of the grace of God. It seems to me that you may have met someone who practiced biblical counseling the way the Pharisees practiced Judaism. Jesus condemned them for hypocrisy and for their lack of love. Anyone who uses verses from the bible like a fly swatter, trying to smash the sin in the life of a person who comes to them for counseling, is using the Bible in an unbiblical way.

    I would like to address your “flaws of the Nouthetic counseling movement” one by one. I will do so in a straightforward way, clearly stating where you are wrong or where your opinion is unsupported.

    1. “Narrow understanding of the Word of God….”
    Unfortunately, you elevate your own opinion above that of the verses that your website quotes. Please reread 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and explain how trusting in that verse from Scripture elevates the Bible to the level of God Himself.

    2. “Exclusive focus on sin, instruction and obedience….Sin may send a person to hell, depression will not.”
    Your hyperbole is inexcusable. Anyone who takes a few minutes to see the books that nouthetic counselors use will know your opinion is wrong. Here are a few titles from one of the favorite sites of nouthetic counselors. They show the importance of God’s grace, of faith, of love, and of worship of God.

    (Link removed by Admin)
    Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God, by Paul Tripp
    Growing By Grace, by Jay E. Adams
    Compassionate Counseling, by Jay E. Adams
    Before the Throne of God, by Carol Ruvolo
    How Big is Your God?, by Ed Bulkley
    How to Grow in Christ, by Jack Kinneer
    Life in the Father’s House, by W. Mack & D. Swavely
    Only God Can Heal A Wounded Heart, by Ed Bulkley

    If you were to scan the titles of topics that are taught at nouthetic counseling courses and conferences, you would see that they are strongly on the side of grace far more than on the side of simple obedience. To teach obedience alone is pharisaical and unbiblical.

    3. “The goal is conformity to the law.”
    On the contrary. The goal is conformity to the mind of Christ.

    Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….

    1Cor 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

    4. “The focus is on changing the outward behaviors….”
    The counselor you met must have been poorly trained or not trained at all. Behavior is simply the overflow of the heart. Above all, nouthetic counselors seek to identify the heart issues that are the root of the person’s problems. Go to (Link removed by Admin) and look at the titles of all the books that address the heart.

    5. “In fact there is no focus on grace at all.”
    Dear Brother, this is simply an untruth. Again, see for yourself at the many websites that teach and are proponents of nouthetic counseling. In “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands,” Paul Tripp wrote, “We seek to open people’s eyes to the full glory of Christ’s grace as they see the gravity of their sin. The gospel is what turns idolaters into worshippers of God.”

    6. “It’s anti-science or at least anti-psychology.”
    Your statement is half wrong. Nouthetic counseling is not anti-science. Your charge that nouthetic counseling is anti-psychology shows your bias for psychology. It you read the words of the founders of the branches of psychology, in which they denigrate Christ and Christians, would you still support psychology?

    In “The Future of an Illusion,” Sigmund Freud wrote, “Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.” He further said that faith “is a fantasy structure from which a man must be set free if he is to grow to maturity.”

    In “The Dogma of Christ,” Eric Fromm said (p.19), “These religious ideas, which are given out as teachings, are not precipitates or end results of thinking: they are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strangest, and most urgent wishes of mankind. The secret of their strength lies in the strength of those wishes.” He also said (p.45), “By substituting fantasy for reality, the Christian message satisfied the longings for hope and revenge, and although it failed to relieve hunger, it brought a fantasy satisfaction of no little significance for the oppressed.”

    Carl Rogers repudiated Christianity and practiced necromancy–communicating with the dead through a medium. In “On Becoming a Person,” he wrote, “It is to experience that I must return again and again; to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets–neither Freud nor research–neither the revelations of God nor man–can take precedence over my own direct experience (pp. 23-24).”

    B.F. Skinner was an atheist who even denied that man has a mind that is separate from the body. He believed that the concept of human dignity was an obstacle to human happiness and productivity! People are simply complex animals and should be treated as such.

    Abraham Maslow said, “I am a deeply religious non-believer. This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”

    These are just a few examples, and not even the worst ones. I could go on and could site every major figure in the history of psychology. They all were or are aggressively anti-Christian and anti-faith. Their goal is simple: it is to replace a biblical understanding of man with man’s understanding of man.

    7. “It’s not practical – ‘Be more Spiritual!’ – What does that mean?”
    What does THAT mean? Sir, this is simply a rant, and it hurts your credibility.

    8. “Closed mind, unwilling to acknowledge other areas where the Lord is obviously working (i.e., my counseling office).”
    Are you a psychology-based counselor? This is the reason you oppose nouthetic counseling. Many doctors of psychology and psychiatry have turned away from their education and back to Christ. You can do it too. I can put you in touch with a godly man who would love to talk to you.

    9. “It’s judgmental – They teach that the counselor’s role is to convict of sin. Leaves no room to allow the Holy Spirit to work and convict.”
    On what do you base this opinion? I am a nouthetic counselor, and you are incorrect.

    10. “It’s extremist – Inflexible, no room to make mistakes, no room for God’s grace.”
    I have already addressed your charge that nouthetic counseling lacks God’s grace. The real problem is that nouthetic counselors oppose the way you make your living–with psychology-based counseling. Which style of psychology do you practice? Freudian? Skinnerian? Rogerian? Or one of the many others? Or do you pick and choose which parts of each you agree with and want to use? Psychology is not one thing. It is many things, and they all disagree with each other. It is not a science, and it is not medicine. Medicine cures. Psychology does not.

    Site Admin wrote a response: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Vic. As I ponder what you have shared I find myself with the need to address some issues with your critique.

    You’ve made some faulty assumptions and I’m afraid that you misunderstand where I’m coming from. Perhaps it’s my fault for not doing a good enough job of explaining my position, which is part of the reason I want to reply to this comment. I would also like to set the record strait and provide a further explanation.

    If I seem sincere, as you state, it’s because I am. This is an issue very dear to my heart. I’ve talked about the abuse I suffered from the IFB elsewhere on this site, but this page is written from a logical point of view. Keep in mind that what you’ve shared is “your personal testimony” as you state. Just because YOU had a good experience doesn’t mean everyone does. I never said that nothing good comes out of Nouthetic counseling as you suggest. I’m just attempting to point out its short comings and dangers on this site, nothing more.

    I do believe that Nouthetic counseling has its place. Perhaps where I disagree the most is where that place is. Given its underpinnings, Nouthetic counseling does not have a place in the diagnosis or treatment of mental health issues. In my opinion, Nouthetic counseling has its sole place in the church to diagnose and treat sin and other spiritual issues NOT mental health issues. The line between sin and mental health issues is often blurred with Nouthetic counseling which I find very dangerous and often counterproductive. I believe that Nouthetic counseling has the potential to do great harm which outweighs any possible benefits.

    Nouthetic counseling largely views mental health issues as spiritual issues which is a mistake that can lead to dire consequences. You had a good experience, and I’m assuming that it’s because you had a relationship/heart/spiritual issue NOT because you had a mental health issue.

    I view mental health in much the same way that I view physical health. Mental health issues are largely physical issues related to body/brain functioning. I would refer someone to a psychologist/psychiatrist/psychotherapist with a “broken” mental health issue just like I would send someone to a physician/physical therapist with a broken arm. I wouldn’t send someone with depression to a Nouthetic counselor. Depression is a health issue NOT a spiritual issue.

    Now before you purse your lips in frustration allow me to admit that I agree that depression CAN be CAUSED by a spiritual issue such as sin in a person’s life, but where Nouthetic counseling is helpful is identifying, “confronting”, “reproving”, “instructing” and “correcting” (to use the Nouthetic counseling terminology) that sin NOT in treating the depression. Sure once the sin is dealt with the depression could subside, however, that doesn’t mean that the Nouthetic counselor has “treated” the depression. Also, not all depression or other mental health issues are ALWAYS caused by sin. Just like a broken arm can be caused by an accident, a fall, a defect in bone density, or the inability for the body to absorb and use calcium, “broken” mental health can be caused by physical factors as well. Nouthetic counseling equates mental health with spiritual health and this is where the error lies. It is a misunderstanding of how God has made the body to think that as goes the spiritual life, so goes the mental life. That is simply not true and there is plenty of data to support the opposite.

    Depression (I’m using depression simply as an example here. This certainly applies to other areas of mental health.) is not a sin anymore than a broken arm is a sin. One can get a broken arm as a consequence of sin just like someone can get depression as a result of sin, but just as a broken arm won’t heal any faster or better from repenting neither will depression go away simply from repenting. The danger comes when Nouthetic counseling ignores other reasons for depression such as disorders of the brain, personality and bodily functions.

    Another thing to remember is that there is a difference between Biblical counseling and Nouthetic counseling. One can be a Biblical counselor and not practice Nouthetic counseling. The terms are mutually exclusive. The Nouthetic counseling community doesn’t want you to think that there is a difference. The Nouthetic counseling community would have us believe that unless one is doing Nouthetic counseling he/she is not doing Biblical counseling. This is simply not true. I’m a perfect example of this. I consider myself a Biblical counselor, but I do not practice Nouthetic counseling.

    Nouthetic counselors are trained in what I’ve identified as a serious flaw in the thinking of the IFB movement which is black and white thinking. There are no grey areas in the IFB and proponents of Nouthetic counseling often see mental health issues in much the same say. This can be very dangerous since mental health issues are often VERY complex with lots of grey and very little black and white.

    In your arguments against my “flaws of the Nouthetic counseling movement” you’ve made some good points, but they are mis-founded. I’m not going to address them all simply because all you’ve done, for the most part, is accuse me of not knowing what Nouthetic counseling is. These assumptions are your downfall and I resent your accusations of “rants” and “hyperbole”. Oh and by the way, throwing books in my face and telling me to read what you support isn’t much help. I could do the same to you. There are many books that talk about this issue that support my point as well.

    Furthermore, your attacks on those in the psychology field amount to nothing more than ad hominem fallacies. Attacking people like Freud, Fromm, Rogers, Skinner, Maslow and their ilk does nothing to show that psychology is wrong or sinful. You’ve done nothing but segregate the bad things and ignored the good things. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just because there are those in the psychology field who are anti-religion doesn’t mean that all of psychology is somehow inherently bad.

    The integration of psychology and theology is not perfect and it probably never will be. But at least those using methods of integration other than Nouthetic counseling are trying to bridge the gap. Nouthetic counseling by its own admission is highly resistant to the idea of integration. Nouthetic counseling may not be anti-psychology, as you assert (in my opinion it is by the way), but it sure tries hard to be exclusive from psychology.

    Proponents of Nouthetic counseling have to twist the scriptures in order to exegete the ideas they purport. You asked me to take a closer look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Well that’s a perfect example of error in scripture interpretation. Taken out of context, those verses support very well the message Nouthetic counseling brings to the table. But as you may not know, healthy interpretation of scripture includes the context of a particular passage. Even freshman seminary students know that context is king when it comes to Biblical interpretation. Many false doctrines and errors take place when scripture is pulled out of context and used to form a doctrine or way of thinking. I talk a lot about misinterpretation of scripture on this site and the Nouthetic counseling movement’s misinterpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is no different.

    It would be important, at this point, for me to make the defense that I never said that “trusting in that verse [2 Timothy 3:16-17] elevates the Bible to the level of God Himself” as you claim, and I don’t believe it does. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 by itself is an incomplete thought. In this passage Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage him in his ministry. He is telling Timothy that the scriptures should be used in his ministry because there was a question as to whether the New Testament writings were considered scripture in Timothy’s day. Paul was reassuring Timothy that ALL scripture, including the New Testament writings could be useful for teaching (causing others to understand God’s truth), reproof (bringing conviction of error when there has been deviation from God’s truth), correction (bringing restoration to the truth when there has been error) and training in righteousness (guidance in the ways of right living that God’s truth reveals). Paul was essentially telling Timothy “this is how scripture can be used in your ministry”. It has nothing to do with mental health. No where can you even infer that Paul was admonishing Timothy to use scripture to do mental health counseling.

    Well, I hope this sheds a little more light on my position on this issue. Input and critiques are always welcome. Again, this will remain here for the time being until I figure out how to organize this information on the site.

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