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First Thoughts

Mislabeling Counseling and the Great Commission

Introduction: The Problem of Processed Food

This week, I walked into a local grocery store and saw a brochure on the stand next to the sliding doors. The brochure had three medals on the front and one in the middle engraved with “USDA ORGANIC.” The flyer read, “You can feel better about buying… we don’t take these designations lightly.” This grocery store wants to put its customers at ease by using a trustworthy stamp of approval. The food they are selling is real, healthy food – authentically organic.

There has been a massive shift in the food industry. Nearly every other week, there is a news headline warning consumers. I’ve seen warnings just this year concerning everything from pre-made lunch boxes to certain kinds of baby food. Yesterday, I found my favorite juice drink from childhood. It now says right on the front that it is “made with all-natural ingredients.” That wasn’t the case 20+ years ago.

This massive shift in the industry has happened because people have become alarmed when foods lead to dangerous and life-threatening outcomes. We don’t want to consume chemicals that lead to cancer and instead want pure organic certified food. The health of people is too important to be contaminated by dangerous additives.

How much more should we want the same for the superior task of counseling? The work of counseling deals with the most intimate, personal, and life-defining realities one can imagine. The issues of counseling impact not just this earthly life but eternity. Life and death are in the balance. Counseling is about helping the anxious find peace, bringing healing to the hurting, and seeing captives set free at the foot of the cross. Counseling is far more important than the food we buy (John 4:32).

To guard the good deposit entrusted to us, I am convinced we need a reset on the term biblical counseling. Biblical counseling must be defined according to the sufficiency of Scripture. It must be truly biblical. It cannot include man-made “wisdom,” which undermines the sufficiency of Scripture. There are “biblical counselors” who want people to think they are biblical but instead are promoting counseling with harmful additives. It is wrong to label man-made, processed counseling as biblical, and it is wrong to label organic biblical counseling as integration. Both errors are being made in the biblical counseling movement, and it is time for a clear and open statement of the truth.

What is Biblical Counseling?

Biblical counseling has a rich history that is well-established and defined. The biblical counseling movement is set apart from Christian Psychology, Integration, Transformational Psychology, and other various eclectic approaches.[1] Biblical counseling believes that the Bible contains all the wisdom needed for the issues of “life and godliness.”

Look at how 2 Peter 1:3-4 emphasizes the word “all” and connects it to the knowledge of Christ.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

All the wisdom needed for the Christian life is found in Jesus Christ alone, and it is him, his gospel, and his Word that we proclaim. This teaching is not exclusive to Peter but is found in the writings of Paul. Consider Colossians 1:28, which shows how the Christian has “all” wisdom in Christ.

“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).

This wisdom in Christ is sufficient to present everyone mature. This means that if there is an issue of sanctification, the Christian has all the wisdom necessary for it. Paul makes this point again in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

If there is a good work to complete in this life, the Bible provides us with all the wisdom we need to know how to perform it. This is what the biblical counseling movement has embraced and continues to embrace with great eagerness and hope.

Paul doesn’t stop here, but he is even more specific on issues related to suffering and trauma in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).

Notice the totality of that text. “All comfort.” “All our affliction.” “Any affliction.” If there is any suffering in this life, the Bible provides all the wisdom needed to address it.

The Bible contains all the wisdom needed for pastors, disciplers, counselors, and church members to be presented mature and blameless before the Lord at his coming.

There is more to say (and has been said) about this, but the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling wisdom is the defining truth of what makes biblical counseling unique.[2] This is what it means to have organic biblical counseling.

This understanding enables us to identify two pressing problems. The first problem is it is wrong to label man-made processed counseling as biblical. The second is the problem of labeling organic biblical counseling as processed integration. These two errors are causing confusion, and each will be addressed in this essay using specific examples for the purpose of bringing clarity.

Problem #1: Mislabeled Integration

Many Christians have realized that when they place a biblical label on their counseling, people are drawn to it the way consumers are drawn to organic food in the grocery store. The problem is that instead of making sure the ingredients of their counseling products match the label, they wrongly advertise their counseling as purely biblical when it is full of man-made additives. There are Christian seminaries, counseling centers, and churches that want the label biblical counseling but are not truly committed to biblical convictions and practice.

To be clear, this is not a condemnation of their motivations. Most people who enter into counseling ministry truly desire to love and help others. I am not questioning anyone’s sincerity. However, it is possible to be sincerely wrong. A sincere and heartfelt confession of biblical counseling doesn’t make someone a biblical counselor.

When the important task of caring for broken, hurting, and sinful people is at stake, we cannot afford to be wrong. We should not want to offer a product that is mislabeled and do real spiritual harm. Therefore, we must clearly acknowledge that a confession of biblical counseling does not itself create genuine biblical counseling content.

A specific example of mislabeling can be seen at Metroplex Wellness and Counseling, which is led by Jeremy Lelek, who is also the president of the Association of Biblical Counselors. There is a confession of biblical counseling but a denial of it in practice. His counseling center has fully embraced the practice of “aroma therapy,” the use of the enneagram, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), the practice of using neurofeedback therapy, and various treatment plans related to “gut health.”

A justification for adopting “aroma therapy” on the Metroplex Wellness and Counseling website was found on their homepage last month, which referenced Proverbs 21:20. “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling…” While Lelek and his team claim the label biblical counseling, this is a clear example of a man-made product.[3]

Here is the entire verse:

“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (Proverbs 21:20).

This verse means that a wise man works hard, is blessed by the Lord, and doesn’t blow his money or valuables. The plain meaning is further confirmed when read after Proverbs 21:17, which comes just three verses before.

“Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

Those who are wise fear God and have self-control. It is a misunderstanding and misapplication of the text to use it as support for incorporating oils into a wellness plan to bring about balance in your somatic levels or to relieve stress.[4]

Biblical counselors have made it abundantly clear that we believe in the importance of the body, but we do not confuse counseling practice with medical care, and it is unethical to do so.[5] Medical practice should be accomplished by those with the training and competency to do it and should be based on established science. Biblical counseling is not the practice of medicine.[6] Biblical counseling is part of the Great Commission.

As you browse their counseling center, you will find the first package listed as “Integrate: Optimizes body and soul integration for a deep sense of emotional wholeness and wellbeing.” Lelek’s leadership at Metroplex Wellness and Counseling promotes both “biblical counseling” and advertises how, in their practice, “Our treatment modalities consist of professional counseling and therapy, the cutting-edge technology of Micro-Current Neurofeedback therapy, and empirically based mental health nutrition.” It is alarming that the president of the Association of Biblical Counselors has felt freedom to keep the label “biblical” while pursuing unbiblical wisdom from secularly trained professionals.

I am confident Lelek is a warm, sincere, gentle counselor with whom I would agree on the central tenets of the Christian faith. He is my brother in Christ, and we will worship Jesus forever with all the nations of the earth. My concern is that Lelek has redefined the term biblical counseling.[7] The ministry he has founded seeks to lay claim the practice of biblical counseling, but their practice undermines it.

I am sure that Lelek and I would agree about the importance of the Great Commission. The Association of Biblical Counselors readily confesses that counseling is “part of the Great Commission” in a blog post called “A Definition of Biblical Counseling,”

“Biblical counseling is a process of focused discipleship. It is one aspect of discipleship. It is an aspect of discipleship focused on the application of God’s Word and walking in God’s Spirit when dealing with matters of life as a whole. Biblical counseling can be defined as a fluid event and process, as part of the Great Commission, when a follower of Jesus Christ in the service of the Holy Spirit provides face-to-face ministry of the Word to others.”[8]

This is all gloriously true! “Biblical counseling is a process of focused discipleship.” All biblical counselors believe their ministry was commissioned by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus is the one with all authority, and he tells his disciples to “make disciples,” which includes “teaching them to observe all” that Christ commanded. The Great Commission happens when followers of Christ give loving instruction to others, helping them grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. The Great Commission includes both conversion and sanctification issues. It includes both evangelism and discipleship. Biblical counseling has historically believed and taught that counseling ministry falls under Matthew 28:18-20.

However, it is with sadness that I must point out the Great Commission does not include the extrabiblical methodology and therapies that are promoted by Lelek. For example, regardless of what one thinks of the enneagram, it is uncontroversial to say that it is not a part of the discipleship plan for the world that Jesus outlined. It was not used by the early church and, at best, is completely unnecessary for sanctification. The same can be said about neurofeedback machines, which are scientifically suspect. You can read about this on the National Library of Medicine website, which provides access to a journal article called “Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology and Clinical Applications.” It states,

“Although it is a non-invasive procedure, its validity has been questioned in terms of conclusive scientific evidence. For example, it is expensive, time-consuming and its benefits are not long-lasting. Also, it might take months to show the desired improvements. Nevertheless, neurofeedback is known as a complementary and alternative treatment of many brain dysfunctions. However, current research does not support conclusive results about its efficacy.”[9]

Regardless of what you think about neurofeedback or its scientific credibility, it is uncontroversial to say Jesus did not give it to his church for their mission before he ascended into heaven.

All Christians can agree that Matthew did not record Jesus saying, “Go therefore and make disciples teaching them to calm their anxieties with the Bible and aroma therapy.” Christians don’t need to be opposed to dieting, oils, or clean living. But Christians should not be confused into thinking this is a part of the Great Commission. Jesus told his church in Matthew 28:18-20 to seek out the lost and train them in godliness, not to pursue proper gut health as a means of discipleship. A pressing question when it comes to using the label of biblical counseling is the following: is the ministry of biblical counseling under the category of the Great Commission, or is it not?

If these additional therapeutic interventions are included in the mission of the church, then the church has a lot of new work to do that the Apostles neglected. If we believe the best discipleship uses neurofeedback devices, then we must send these machines out with missionaries overseas. How essential are essential oils to the Great Commission? Why aren’t we sending both Bibles and bottles of oil across the Pacific if this is the best way to minister? Do we need to inform and equip missionaries about the latest “gut health” research to help make disciples in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and India?

When Jesus Christ commissioned the disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, did he leave marriages in the dark until the enneagram was created or until various Western empirically based mental health research studies were conducted by unbelievers? No, the Wonderful Counselor didn’t leave us groping in the dark for two millennia. Jesus gave his church all the resources we need to fulfill his commission.

In the spirit of “holistic care,” I am arguing for certified organic biblical counseling. When it comes to the most important task of sanctification, I want real biblical counseling. Not counseling that claims to be biblical but is actually filled with therapeutic GMOs, psychological phosphates, secular sulfates, and other man-made carcinogens. I want to make sure the church is offering the bread of life and not something manufactured in a therapeutic lab masquerading as nutritious.

It is obvious there is a fundamental difference between historic biblical counseling and counseling with additives. To be clear, I am not alarmed that there is disagreement among Christians. Christians are permitted to disagree with each other, and each person should be convinced in their own minds before God. However, confusing the church by mislabeling a counseling ministry is unhelpful. It is unhelpful to claim counseling is a Great Commission ministry but then add to that mission. Integrative counseling should be called integration and not biblical counseling. Not everyone must agree with the biblical counseling position, but everyone should want clarity about what kind of counseling they are going to receive.

Problem #2: Mislabeled Biblical Counseling

The problem described above is when Christians incorporate man’s wisdom with God’s wisdom and still want to keep the biblical counseling label. But there is another problem that is dangerous. There is a problem of Christians mislabeling real biblical counseling by calling it integration. There is a desire to take true biblical counseling and cause people to think it really isn’t organic but that all counseling has a mixture of integrative chemicals.

For example, Nate Brooks is attempting to blur the lines between biblical counselors and integrationists. He has stated that every counselor does integration. In his mind, biblical counselors cannot escape the fact of integration. He has stated,

“This article will argue that biblical counselors of necessity incorporate material drawn from domains of knowledge outside of Scripture, thereby requiring biblical counseling to establish its own robust theory of integration.” He continues, “I will demonstrate that the act of integration is performed by all biblical counselors by demonstrating pervasive use of knowledge sourced from domains other than Scripture throughout the work of three traditional-nouthetic biblical counselors: Jay Adams, Wayne Mack, and Heath Lambert.” [10]

Brooks lists examples from each of these men. Space does not permit analyzing every one of the instances of “integration” noted by Brooks, but a few can briefly be examined. Brooks points out that,

“Adams gave detailed suggestions and instructions on the need to review homework at the beginning of sessions, interpreting body language and nonverbal cues, taking notes, how to ask relevant questions, transitioning between stages of counseling, and ending the counseling relationship.”

Concerning Mack, Brooks writes,

“Speaking of nonverbal data, Mack notes that the way a family positions themselves in a counseling room can communicate relational alliances. Physical actions such as squeezing chair handles or looking at the floor when a particular issue is raised likewise “reveal information that will be useful to help counselees change.” Likewise “paralinguistic communication” such as “tone of voice” and a counselee’s willingness or unwillingness to talk about particular issues “can provide as much information as merely concentrating on what the counselees say.”

When analyzing Lambert’s book Finally Free, Brooks states that it,

“Contains many interventions that exceed the data found within text of Scripture. The chapter on ‘Radical Measures’ insists that a man or woman caught in sexual sin must give their accountability partner any device that can play movies and give them total access to their home— including keys and a permission to “enter at any point to do a spot-check of your residence and your car.” … In other words, the purpose of these measures is to create an aversive environment for negative behavior. Once again, this parallels common secular techniques.”

He believes that biblical counselors are integrating by using information outside the Bible and is suggesting these men also used material from secular psychology in their counseling practice. Brooks highlights the advice from Adams and Mack to be observant about non-verbal data. But the awareness of facial expressions and body language does not mean that Adams and Mack really have taken their cues from secular psychology.

The first book of the Bible has been teaching its readers to pick up on non-verbal cues.

“but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? (Genesis 4:5-6).

Solomon also writes,

“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord” (Proverbs 6:12-14).

The Bible continually identifies body language as an important element of communication (see Proverbs 16:30; Daniel 3:19; Isaiah 3:9; Matthew 8:12, 26:49, 28:9; Luke 7:44,15:20; 18:13; John 17:1 and Acts 7:54). All of this occurred multiple millennia before the advent of secular psychology in the modern West.

The same issue of the Bible being the source of wisdom for biblical counseling can be seen in the “Radical Measures” of Lambert, which Nate believes “Once again” “parallels common secular techniques.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:27–30).

Jesus did not get these radical suggestions from a psychology textbook in his synagogue. And neither did the Apostle Paul who wrote,

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

If Romans 13:14 sounds like Skinner or parallels any other therapist in the past 2000 years, it is because they stole the idea from Paul and ripped it out of its divine context. To suggest these ideas from Adams, Mack, and Lambert were taken from secular psychology is to wrap a certified organic filet up in a Big Mac box. It is unfortunate that Brooks is mislabeling biblical counseling.[11]

In order to bring clarity, it would be helpful to note how the biblical counseling movement believes there is true information outside the Bible. Jay Adams did not say any piece of information that could be discovered within secular psychology was already in Scripture. Adams was speaking about counseling wisdom and plainly made clear in his writings that secular psychologists could find new and even useful information about humans.

In his book How to Help People Change, Adams writes:

Is there a relationship between Christian counseling and legitimate psychology then? Yes, of course. But let me make it clear what that relationship is and how it can be developed most fruitfully. I have said that the relationship is not a necessary one. Christianity has survived, and often survived well, without any such relationship for centuries. That means that the relationship must be occasional and expediential. Where it may be expedient to bring the two together, and according to biblical principles it is possible to do so, the Christian counselor may wish to make use of information garnered by legitimate psychological activities. As a relationship between business and psychology or music and psychology occasionally may be validly expedient at some points, so, similarly, will occasional relationships between psychology and Christian counseling fruitfully occur. But neither business nor music nor Christian counseling bears a necessary, dependent relationship to psychology (pp. 36-37).

In the book What About Nouthetic Counseling?, Adams answers the question, “Don’t you think that we can learn something from psychologists?” He responds:

“Yes, we can learn a lot; I certainly have. That answer surprised you, didn’t it? If it did, you have been led to believe, no doubt, that nouthetic counselors are obscurantists who see no good in psychology. Or perhaps you have been told that they are sadly self-deceived persons who, while decrying all psychology, take many of their ideas from psychologists without knowing it. Both charges are preposterous.

While I can understand how the idea that I am opposed to psychology and psychologists could have gotten abroad because of my strong statements about the failures of psychologists as counselors, a careful reading of my materials will make it clear that I do not object to psychology or to psychologists as such. My objections are directed solely to so-called clinical and counseling psychology in which most of what is done I consider not to be the work or province of psychology at all. That I deplore psychology’s venture into the realms of value, behavior and attitudinal change because it is an intrusion upon the work of the minister, in no way lessens my interest, support and encouragement of the legitimate work of psychology.

I have profited greatly, for instance, from the results of the work done at the Harvard sleep labs (and elsewhere). This sleep study I consider to be a valid and worthwhile enterprise for psychology. Indeed, I wish all psychologists would go back to such work.

But when psychologists attempt to change men, although they have no warrant from God to do so, no standard by which to determine what are proper or deviant attitudes or behavior, no concept of what man should look like, and no power by which to achieve the inner changes of the heart and thoughts that are so necessary, I cannot help but be concerned.

I would not oppose psychiatrists either if they were doing the important medical work that it is necessary to do to help people whose behavior is adversely affected by organic causes” (Page 31).

While helpful information can be identified through experiments and observations, solutions for troubled souls are not ultimately found in science or common grace. The Bible is the only resource that shows how people can experience change that is true and eternal and is the only source of wisdom necessary to provide counseling solutions.

All kinds of information are important for counseling that is not in the Bible. For example, you can only help people by listening to them share extrabiblical information about their personal problems. The core issue has always been where the counselor obtains wisdom. Does it come from the wisdom of man or the wisdom of God? Does it come from the fount of all wisdom – Jesus Christ – or is the wisdom of Jesus in His Word lacking and insufficient? Do we need wisdom the Bible lacks?

Not only is the Bible not lacking wisdom, but we can never exhaust its wisdom.

“Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit” (Psalm 119:96).

“I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts” (Psalm 119:96–100).

Jesus As The Only Solution For Our Crisis

It is no secret that we have a mental health crisis. Week after week, we are confronted with the stories of devastation. Many of these stories are personal. We know our friends who are despairing of life itself. We see families pierced with the pains of anxiety, eating disorders, attempted suicides, and unstable emotions. Real people made in God’s image are harming themselves and harming others.

This is a darkness that can be felt across the globe. In her book Bad Therapy: Why the Kids aren’t Growing Up, Abigail Shrier acknowledges the widespread problem. She notes that “forty-two percent of the rising generation currently has a mental health diagnosis”[12] That is astonishing. The number of children who have been labeled with a mental illness in America continues to climb year after year.

Shrier, an unbelieving evolutionist, makes an observation about what is not working. The mental health solutions of American psychologists and therapists aren’t helping. She notes that “with unprecedented help from mental health experts, we have raised the loneliest, most anxious, depressed, pessimistic, helpless, and fearful generation on record.”[13]

We live in a country that for decades has carried on with mental health institutions and treatment plans that have repeatedly failed. It might be unprecedented help, but we all need to be honest that it isn’t working. She notes that “nearly 40% of the rising generation has received treatment from a mental health professional.”[14]

As mental health “help” increases, so does the poor condition of mental health. “Seventy-five years of rapid expansion in mental health treatment and services has landed us here, marveling at the unprecedented psychological frailty of American youth.”[15] Before going on to suggest that mental health professionals are making things worse, she notes, “After generations of increased intervention, that shouldn’t be the case. More access to antibiotics should spell fewer deaths from infection. And more generally available therapy should spell less depression.”[16] Shrier is one of many who are starting to realize that hope cannot be found in the mental health profession.

During such darkness, is there any hope of obtaining stabilizing joy and peace? Yes. Jesus is the Savior that no therapist can ever be. Jesus Christ came to earth to redeem his creation. He came into the world to seek and save those who are lost, confused, hurt, and responsible for their rebellion. Jesus knows the trials and weaknesses of humanity yet lived a perfect life full of joy, peace, righteousness, and self-control. Jesus said that he came so we might have the fullness of joy.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:9–11).

Isn’t fullness of joy what we need for mental health? Isn’t perfect peace what we long for to be “healthy” again? The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cure for mental health. He promised that after his resurrection he would provide for us his Spirit to empower us for obedience.

We can have the peace of Christ – “perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3) and “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-8) – because we have his Spirit producing “peace” inside of us (Galatians 5:22).

He came to give every broken person hope as the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep (John 10:11). He is the sacrificial shepherd who “restores our souls” (Psalm 23:3). We need our Lord to restore our souls. For this to happen, it will require momentary grief on our part. It is difficult to acknowledge that we are responsible for our sin. It can be hard to view our suffering as a trial that is designed by God to refine us (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6; 4:12; 1 John 3:13).

Yet when we bring our sin, shame, and suffering to Jesus Christ, he will not harm us. Instead, he will heal us. Jesus will welcome us “just as we are” and transform us to be just as he is. Our transformation doesn’t happen instantly. It happens progressively from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Because of the resurrection, our transformation is guaranteed (Philippians 1:6).

The power of Christ is the source of our hope in these dark days, and we should not be embarrassed by him. We are not ashamed of the gospel nor ashamed of any of his words (Mark 8:38). We should not accuse him or his word of being insufficient. True biblical counselors are wholly committed to the sufficiency of Christ and his Bible.

Conclusion: We Must Have Real Biblical Counseling  

In the grocery store I mentioned at the beginning, the flyer displayed an organic label and then added this statement: “We’re proud to offer an award-worthy variety of items that you can feel good about bringing home to your family.” This grocery store knows the value of caring for the health of families. How much more should the church know the value of caring for its family?

People are more desperate than ever for help with their sin, suffering, temptations, and trials. The souls of those who are suffering are too precious for us to give them harmful additives. The church must be the place anyone can go to receive help, and for that help to be biblical.

Biblical counseling must have the proper labels because ministry is too important. If people expect real biblical counseling and they receive processed integration, we have not loved them well. Even more than this, if we are claiming to have a ministry that is a Great Commission ministry, but that ministry adds man-made wisdom and methods into the mix, then we have not loved Christ well. People are too precious to be harmed by unbiblical chemicals, and God’s glory is too great to be stolen by wrongful advertising.

[1] Dale Johnson, et al., Sufficiency: Historic Essays on the Sufficiency of Scripture in Counseling (2023), https:// (accessed April 1, 2024), 10-27. A commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling is the defining feature of all biblical counselors. Christian psychologist Eric Johnson argues there is a difference in understanding the sufficiency of Scripture between what he calls “Traditional Biblical Counselors” and “Progressive Biblical Counselors.” He argues that Jay Adams and Wayne Mack have an “extreme sufficiency position” and believe the “Bible is adequate as a scientific text, that it is scientifically sufficient, having the same level of precision, specificity and comprehensiveness regarding psychological and soul-care topics that one finds in good contemporary psychological textbooks and journal articles.” Eric L. Johnson, Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal (Lisle, IL: IVP Academic, 2014), 109-111, 117-123. This is contra to Heath Lambert who evaluated Johnson’s understanding of history of biblical counseling movement and concluded that “no principal disagreement exists.” He concludes, “There may be differences of emphasis, tone, and application, but all the people Johnson cites in his book, upon more careful examination, hold the same basic position on Scripture and the relevance of outside information for the counseling task.” Heath Lambert, The Biblical Counseling Movement after Adams (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 136.

[2] Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2016); Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert, Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015); David Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003); John MacArthur, Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically, MacArthur Pastor’s Library (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2022)

[3] How Metroplex Counseling has interpreted Proverbs 21:20 is not how the church has interpreted this passage. This can be seen in commentaries such as the following: Iain M. Duguid, et al., ESV Expository Commentary: Psalms – Song of Solomon (Crossway, 2022), 903; Roland Edmund Murphy, Word Biblical Commentary: Proverbs, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David Allen Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, vol. 22 (Zondervan Academic, 2018), 161; Charles Bridges, Proverbs, Geneva Commentaries (Banner of Truth, 1991), 383; Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 182–183; Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott, Matthew Henry Concise Commentary (Moody Pub, 1981), Pr 21:20; Jay Adams, The Christian Counselors Commentary: Proverbs (Timeless Texts, 1999), 167.

[4] Unfortunately, the misuse of biblical texts for the purpose of promoting man-made additives is not an isolated instance. Metroplex severely misused Jeremiah 33:6 to promote their practice of EMDR.

Metroplex Wellness and Counseling (@metrocounsel), X photos, July 24, 2020,

[5] Heath Lambert, The Gospel and Mental Illness (Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014); “Mental Illness and Medicine,” Our Beliefs, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, accessed April 1,

[6] Heath Lambert, “Who is Saying Medicine is Unimportant?” Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, August 16, 2014, (accessed April 1, 2024).

[7] Jeremy Lelek, “Welcome to Metroplex Counseling,” Vimeo video, March 7, 2020, (accessed April 1, 2024).

[8] John Henderson, “A Definition of Biblical Counseling,” Association of Biblical Counselors, August 2, 2021, (accessed April 2, 2024).

[9] Hengameh Marzbani, Hamid Reza Marateb, Marjan Mansourian, “Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology, and Clinical Applications,” National Library of Medicine (April 2016), (accessed April 2, 2024)

[10] Nate Brooks, “Everybody Integrates: Biblical Counseling and the Use of Extrabiblical Material,” Southeastern Theological Review (2024), chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/ (accessed April 1, 2024).

[11] Heath Lambert, “Six Crucial Confusions of the New Integrationists,” First Thoughts Blog, May 20, 2024,

[12] Abigail Shrier, Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up (City of Westminster, London: Penguin Publishing Group, 2024), 17.

[13] Ibid., xvii.

[14] Ibid., 17.

[15] Ibid., 20.

[16] Ibid., 21.


Sean Perron (Ph.D. in Applied Theology from Midwestern Seminary and M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Associate Pastor.  He is the co-author of three books: Letters to a Romantic: On DatingLetters to a Romantic: On Marriage, and Letters to a Romantic: The First Years. 

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