Gospel-centred counselling is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ

“We live in the Age of the Counsellor  It’s not much of a question any more whether people will get counselling at some time or other. The question is what kind of counselling they’ll get… Every (counselling method) has foundational beliefs about what is wrong with people and how they can be helped.

“…Gospel-centred counselling… is the process of one Christian coming alongside another with words of truth to encourage, admonish, comfort, and help – words drawn from Scripture, grounded in the gracious saving work of Jesus Christ, and presented in the context of relationship. The goal of this counselling is that the brother or sister in need of counsel would grow in his or her understanding of the gospel and how it applies to every area of life and then respond in grateful obedience in every circumstance, all to the building up of the church and for the glory of God.

“(The) gospel-centred paradigm is derived from the Bible…We derive our paradigm from the Bible because we distrust merely human diagnoses of what’s really wrong with us and because we recognize our utter powerlessness to effect deep change in anyone by our own efforts. Only God’s Word has the power to discern ‘the thoughts and intentions of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12), and to illumine our darkened understanding (Psalm 36:9, John 8:12, 1 John 1:7)…

“Gospel-centred counselling seeks to answer the questions, ‘What is wrong with us?’ and ‘What can be done to help?’ by intentionally applying Scripture in a balanced way, recognizing both what the gospel declares about us and what it demands of us. Counselling that neglects the Scriptures when seeking to answer these questions always eventuates in a bloated self-opinion and an enslaving and futile self-focus. Counselling that neglects what the gospel says about us will eventuate in works-righteousness and its ultimate and inescapable fruit, either pride or despair, or a vacillation between the two. Counselling that neglects the obligation forced on us by the gospel always eventuates in complacent laziness, excuse-making, and loose… gospel-centred counselling…applies both gospel declarations and obligations to every problem we encounter.”

Elyse Fitzpatrick, “Counsel from the Cross”, pp. 91-93

(HT: Richard Bresson)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

2 thoughts on “Gospel-centred counselling is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ

  1. While I agree with much of what the author says about a Gospel paradigm, I think it is a mistake to rubbish all other kinds of counselling. God has graciously revealed truths about the Universe which scholars and therapists have uncovered. So much good and help is received through medical counseling, counseling in schools, cognitive therapy and so on.
    I think working out a Christian approach to counseling through the paradigms of Creation-Fall-Redemption and Restoration, by applying the whole of the Biblical grand narrative avoids the pitfall of rejecting natural revelation, and rubbishing the genuine insights of secular counseling.
    Isaiah tells us the the Lord instructs the farmer and teaches him the right way. Knowledge about how the World works, about wise human behaviour and decisions are discovered by people.
    All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. Is.28,23-29. We can rejoice in the wisdom of chefs, farmers, engineers and counselors too.
    We must not leave out the Fall from our paradigm. All human thought is limited, and can be distorted by sin. We need to analyse professional practice to see how sin has affected it.
    As we seek to restore the goodness of God in all walks of life, as we seek to redeem knowledge, skills and wisdom by bringing all things into subjection to Christ, as we seek to do do good to a
    all men through our work, trades and professions…… let us search for whatever is pure, right, admirable or excellent in secular counseling practice, and redeem it for God in the ways the author suggests.

  2. I would agree. While I appreciate Elise’s gospel-centered counseling paradigm and will use it in my own counseling practice, the biggest problem I have with many biblical counselors is the constant trashing of secular psychology and Christian counselors who choose to integrate. Most of the comments made about what Christian counselors believe regarding exalting evolution above the biblical model of the origin of problems is inaccurate, and it really diminishes the value of biblical counseling. I think Jay Adams did a thorough job bashing psychology in his writings, so why do contemporary biblical counselors have to continue the banter? Why don’t you just present your case for gospel-centered counseling, and let it stand on its own merits? Frankly the biblical counselors I most respect are those who are either state licensed or have had training in secular psychology, and they do not put down Christian counselors who integrate. Also, they have a much more balanced approach to gospel-centered counseling. So, please, stop the bashing. It is utterly unprofessional and not becoming of a follower of Jesus Christ.

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