This book is an effort to bridge psychology of counseling with “moral-spiritual” issues (249). Powlison believes that “sinners sin instinctively,” and though external factors such as having a dysfunctional family or experiencing childhood abuse can contribute to sinful desires or actions in adulthood, his contention is that “sin is its own final reason” (206). People have sinful thoughts or do sinful acts because they are focused on themselves rather than God (230).
Powlison points out that “secular psychology” views “human problems” simply as “things that are not working right,” this is because the Bible was not utilized to understand the core issue of all humans, which is their “alienation from God” (192). He explains that if sin is seen as a “willed action” then “complex inner troubles” will be classified under “other categories” (194). In fact, psychiatrists will not explain that a paranoid schizophrenic is yielding to sin, but rather he or she is experiencing a psychosis. Powlison states that paranoid schizophrenia is a “defensive behavior” and actually refers to it as the personification of “powerful unconscious defensiveness” (193). Powlison explains that the underlying issues for schizophrenics are pride and “hiding” (195).
Powlison admits that biblical counselors are seen as “bizarre spiritualizers” because they rely on God, repentance, and faith as their main focus in counseling (251). He speculated that the premise of Jay Adams (the founder of Nouthetic counseling movement) was not fully understood when he said, “to be feeling-oriented is the central motivational problem in people” (215). Powlison believes that the problem with current counseling practices is that the counselor is seen as “primary” while God (if He is even considered at all in the process) is usually “secondary” (178).
This book has helped me to understand the stance of Nouthetic counselors, and to comprehend the reason why they say sin is the core issue of human disorders. However, I did not get a clear indication of Powlison’s position regarding psychotropic medications. Powlison’s perspective on counseling is a good start in the right direction, but his book does not outline the direction. There is something missing. To counter society’s view of biblical counselors as “bizarre spiritualizers,” Powlison suggests, “We have work to do to protect and build up the body of Christ” (251). This is not a solution-it is merely a generalized statement. In order for others to see biblical counselors as competent practitioners, they need to find a way to truly bridge the gap between traditional and biblical counseling.
Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti