Simply! Read over the information under the “Online Courses” tab above to learn about our curriculum and costs. Then click on the red “Begin Studying” button to sign up and get started. You can begin working on your first course in just five minutes!
Most lectures are between 40 – 50 minutes. Some are a bit longer, others shorter. You will watch the videos online and follow along with the notes which you will download. There are usually some reading assignments with each lecture. Some lectures were recorded teaching a live class but most were recorded in a closed venue.
We are so glad you asked. It is such a great question that we have devoted an entire page to answer it. You can find it here.
Much counseling purports to be Christian. However, most of the counseling that is done by Christians is a mixture of unbelieving counseling systems which have been “sanitized” to sound Christian. I am not saying that everyone who uses pagan counseling systems eclectically does so in bad faith, but it is perfectly clear that even among the best, the Bible is “brought in” after the theory and the practice have been adopted in order to somehow make what is done “Christian.” Worse still, in other cases, the Bible is interspersed to make it appear Christian. Even those who honestly think that sprinkling a few Bible verses throughout somehow sanctifies the counseling, in many cases must have an uneasy conscience about the procedure. In some situations, nevertheless, there may be those who simply know so little of the Bible, how to interpret and apply it, that they sincerely believe this process legitimizes the name “Christian Counseling.”
Truly Christian counseling (Nouthetic Counseling, or that which is in line with Nouthetic Counseling, but does not use the name) is Bible-based from start to finish. See the answer to the previous question for more details. What makes the difference, fundamentally, is whether or not a system is grounded on the promise that the Bible has all the answers for life and godliness. The Bible teaches this in such passages as 2 Peter 1:3 where the promises of God are said to provide just such help. And, in addition, in 2 Timothy 3:17, from three distinct perspectives, Paul says the Scriptures are sufficient for every task an elder is called to do. What makes the difference between those systems that call themselves Christian and truly are, then, is whether it includes extraneous materials as well. Christian counseling, to warrant the name, must assert (and in actual practice demonstrate) the sufficiency of the Scriptures for counseling.
There are many who will say that their counseling is Christian and biblical, but the test comes in evaluating what they actually do when counseling. The issue is whether or not they incorporate other beliefs and practices or not. Nouthetic Counseling is based entirely upon Scripture. Other systems, claiming to be, are not. When you get right down to examining what people do in counseling it is quite evident that their claims are false. That is how it differs from other counseling systems that claim to be Christian. It warrants the claim to the name “Christian” and to the name “Biblical.”
Some who purport to do “biblical” counseling only use the Bible to support what, upon examination, proves to be a non-Christian system. A good example of this is the temperament school, revived by O. Hallesby and others. They took this idea over form the Greek physician-philosophers who believed that the body was regulated by the proportions of four humors (or fluids that had to do with temperament) which one possessed. The modern “Christian” proponents of this system conveniently leave out the fluid basis for the system, still propagate the four temperament theory, and add biblical verses or stories about the personalities of various biblical characters whom they use to illustrate their viewpoint.
In doing this, the Bible becomes an illustration book from which the temperament people take materials to “back” their beliefs. Because they use much Bible-wrongly interpreted and used for purposes for which it was never intended-what they have to say may impress the unwary as being quite Christian. The fact is, however, there is nothing fundamentally Christian or biblical about the temperament theory at all. Indeed, to call it such is deception of the rawest sort. Christians need to become far more discerning, and not accept whatever claims to be Christian as such. Unless the system is biblical from start to finish, it isn’t Christian.
Jay E Adams
There is no way that I can look into individual hearts in order to answer your question, but from the scuttlebutt that I hear I will venture to say that the following, at least in part, may answer your question.
First, I have been outspokenly against the eclectic borrowing that has been the norm for Christians ever since the 40s. Since I began to write in the 60s, I have attacked this trend as unbiblical. To say that, of course, is to say that what its practitioners are doing displeases the Lord. As people awaken to what they drifted into unwittingly and become aware of their errors, they usually respond in one of two ways: they repent and change their ways or they get their dander up. “Don’t tell me I am doing something that displeases God. Why, my whole intention is to help people. That pleases Him, doesn’t it?” That’s how the latter may respond. When we say that God wants them to help others–but do it His way, not theirs, unless they change their minds at that point, they are likely to become even more infuriated. That sort of thing, I suspect, is happening all the time. People don’t like to be shown that they are wrong.
Another possibility is that a person has so much invested in what he is doing that to make a change would be revolutionary. The change is too great to contemplate. Schooling, learning the ins and outs of a system, affiliation with a group, writings, and you name it. How would you like to admit you are wrong and have to change all these things? Indeed, if a given person becomes a Nouthetic counselor, he would probably be dropped off the staff of some counseling center to which he belongs.
A third possibility is that becoming a Nouthetic counselor might mean jeers and disparagement by one’s associates. Others, in addition to themselves, have laughed at “those silly counselors who think that they can get all the information they need from the Bible alone!” Many people don’t like to be a part of an unpopular cause.
Some, affiliated with educational institutions want to be thought of as “scholarly.” The idea that Nouthetic counselors might be involved in anti-intellectual efforts because they write simply (see the article above) galls. They like academia better than the work of helping people.
In the paragraphs above I have sketched a few reasons why I think that some speak harshly about Nouthetic counseling. I have attributed no motives to any individual. If the shoe fits someone, he should wear it. If it’s the wrong size, let him ask, “What is my problem with Nouthetic counseling?” It would be interesting to know if he can articulate it.
Of course, Nouthetic counselors are not always popular as persons either. Some of them, like others in all of the various camps, turn people off. I can only say that over the forty-some years that I have watched the movement grow from a handful into the thousands, those I have known well, almost without exception, have been persons of deep loyalty to the Lord! And they have been easy to work with. That is one of the reasons that almost all of those who were a part of the original crowd are still eager participants in the movement today. One thing that I would like to urge is to get better acquainted with us. That might change quite a few minds!
Nouthetic counselors are far from perfect. Like other Christians, they are growing. But one thing they have going for them—the principal textbook they study is the Bible. That has the effect of nurturing their own lives as they study to help others. Wouldn’t that sort of study be great for you too? If you have doubts about what you are doing—or have been trained to do—it would be wise to make the effort to look more into the Nouthetic movement. In spite of the animosity of some, you may find there exactly what you have been looking for.
Jay E Adams
Are you affiliated with any of the other organizations that have the words “nouthetic” or “biblical counseling” in their title?
If you do a web search of the word nouthetic you will come up with all sorts of websites. Some are fine organizations, some are very strange and weird. While we are not organically connected with any of them we do have a working relationship with ACBC, the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors). Jay Adams is one of the founding fathers of the organization. Each of our faculty members is a certified member of ACBC. We urge each of our graduates to go on and seek certification with ACBC.
There are many organizations with whom we maintain a happy friendship. There are others, however, from which we must purposefully distance ourselves.
BE WARNED! There are some unscrupulous people and “schools” out there on the web who purport to offer training in counseling. We would cite them by name here but the list would soon be outdated as these people come and go and change their names frequently, often using names that are very similar to those of very fine and reputable institutions. Some even offer “degrees” in counseling but are little more than unaccredited diploma mills. This is the only place you can study under Dr. Adams himself.
If you are interested in seeking an academic degree in Biblical Counseling, we urge you to consider Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. All courses are offered
Certainly, but be aware that for most questions about specific cases our answer will begin like this, “We are glad you called and we are thankful that you would have the confidence in us to ask for our advice but without being involved in the case ourselves or having the ability to ask questions of the counselee we simply cannot give counsel about a specific case. Now, if you have a question about some general principle which may or may not apply to your specific case we will do all we can to help.”
Perhaps. Go to the ACBC website to see if there is an ACBC member near you. Still, beware to do your due diligence. ACBC certification is not a guarantee you have found the right counselor for you.
Since we first posted our web site we have received a number of these kinds of e-mails. Proverbs 18:13 warns us that it is foolish to seek to answer a matter before hearing and understanding it. No one needs the counsel of a fool to complicate what is already a major problem. People’s lives are just too important for us to give quick, uninformed answers. To be able to help we would have to be able to sit down with a counselee, ask the questions we want to ask, hear and observe responses, and ask questions that arose out of those answers. Our response to these e-mails will always be to point you to your pastor. If he does not believe he can help then he is the kind of man we are seeking to reach with our training. We would be glad to help him.
Of course not. From the outset of the Nouthetic movement we have worked closely with physicians. We feature them in training programs, publish their books, and refer people to them regularly. That is a totally false charge that is often made against us. Now, we are careful to distinguish between true disease and that which does not have an organic etiology. We are concerned to see that medicine not be used to obtain pain relief while by-passing non-organic causes of some difficulty in living.
Roughly speaking, there are two types of medicine. One is supplementary to bodily output. For instance, if the body is not producing insulin as it should, we think it is proper to add insulin from the outside. Or, if one is suffering from atrial fibrillation we believe in taking a beta-blocker in order to achieve a normal, steady heartbeat. The use of medicine in such cases helps the body to function as it was supposed to function.
The use of psychotropic drugs, on the other hand, inhibits the body from functioning as it should. It is that use of medicine that we deplore. Mood-changing drugs affect a person in such a way that the benefits of pain and other unpleasant feelings are not realized. Discomfort was designed to call attention to some underlying problem (organic or non-organic) so that it might be dealt with. One would hardly want to desensitize the nerve endings on his fingers because he has found that touching a hot stove hurts. If he did, the first he would know of the fact that he was resting his fingers there would be when he smells meat cooking! To desensitize these nerves, in the long run, would cause serious damage to the body. As an alerting system and warning device, then, pain is a friend. We do not believe in masking such pain with drugs.
There are, of course, many organically-caused problems. Our counselors regularly refer counselees to physicians whenever they suspect that something organic may be behind their behavior. They do not want to miss a brain tumor, an aneurysm, or anything else that might require medical treatment. While Nouthetic counselors refuse to diagnose, since we are not trained to do medical work, whenever we suspect that something more than heart-motivated behavior is operating, we will send counselees to a physician for a medical checkup.
Jay E Adams
Our bookstore is now powered by Amazon. For the past several years, we used a third-party order fulfillment service that was a subsidiary of the folk who print our books. But after continual frustration with the level of service they provided our customers, we concluded we had to find a different solution.
The book-buying customer has come to expect Amazon-level service from online retailers but often fails to realize that only Amazon can provide it. We have concluded this is the only way we can meet those expectations.
If Amazon fulfills your orders, why shouldn’t I just go directly to Amazon myself? That is certainly an option for you. But it helps us if you will go to our bookstore, click on the book there, and finish your order at Amazon. We have cut a deal with Jeff Bezos and he has agreed to give us a cut from everything ordered through our bookstore. It will cost you nothing more, Jeff Bezos won’t miss it, but it will be a help to us.
In the address window when you click on an order in our bookstore, somewhere as part of their secret code, you will find this embedded—nouthetic09-20. That code tells the Amazon machine to set aside a small amount for us. It is not much, but it adds up quickly when combined with everyone else’s orders.
INS Publishing is the publishing ministry of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. We are primarily tasked with bringing back into print the writings of Dr. Jay E. Adams. We believe that 100 years from now our descendants will be reading, studying, and discussing Jay Adams in the same we look back and study the works of Calvin, Spurgeon, Machen, and C. S. Lewis. We want to be sure Dr. Adams’ books are available to them.
As Jay Adams neared the end of his life he asked Donn Arms and the Institute for Nouthetic Studies to become the stewards of his books. Mid-America Baptist Seminary (through the Institute) entered into a relationship with Dr. Adams and his family in which the Institute was assigned all the copyrights to his books and tasked with putting and keeping Dr. Adams’ books in print.
No, while we are now the steward of all of Dr. Adams’ copyrights, the publishing relationships he had developed with several other publishers continue. Zondervan continues to publish the key, foundational books of Nouthetic Counseling as well as other important works. P&R Publishing also continues to publish several books as well. Those relationships will continue as long as those publishers choose to keep Dr. Adams’ books in print.
INS Publishing now publishes, or will publish, all of Dr. Adams’ books except for these:
- Competent to Counsel
- Christian Counselor’s Manual
- Theology of Counseling
- The Christian Counselor’s Casebook
- How to Help People Change
- Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible
- Handbook on Church Discipline
- Solving Marriage Problems
- Preaching with Purpose
- Shepherding God’s Flock
- Ready to Restore
- How to Handle Trouble
- How to Overcome Evil
- Christian Living in the Home
- The Meaning and Mode of Baptism (which a Baptist Seminary was happy to have someone else publish!)
- The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, & Self Image
Print-On-Demand is wonderful new technology that allows us to publish books without having to invest capital in, and maintain, large inventories. Instead, books are printed as they are ordered and shipped directly to the customer. We also save by having others fill orders and ship for us. In the case of Amazon, the printer puts the book in an Amazon box and ships them directly from the plant. It is a bit more expensive way to publish each individual book, and we have to reformat each book in order to publish this way, but our savings outweigh the cost.
We still maintain a small inventory of books that we obtained from Timeless Texts, but as those books sell out, they will be moved to Print-On-Demand.
With Print-On-Demand technology we have to create new electronic files for each book. This is not easily done from hard copies. We have to scan each book from the original and re-edit and format. This is a significant investment we have to make with each title, but once it is done, we can easily upload revisions and create eBooks.
You will also note that most books we publish share a common cover template. This, again, is a money saver for us. Designing a new cover for each book would be expensive. Many publishers do the same. Zondervan’s titles share a common template as well.
We have divided Dr. Adams’ books into five categories and the covers are color-coded for each category:
- Gray — Bible Study
- Green — Christian Living
- Blue — Counseling
- Yellow — Preaching
- Maroon — Theology
Unless you are still using a Commodore 64, almost any computer will suffice as long as you use an up-to-date browser and have a good, high-speed internet connection. You can use almost any tablet as well. We recommend that you use the most recent version of Chrome, but any other browser should work fine. The key is to have a good, high-speed internet connection. If your internet connection is slow the videos will stop often to buffer.
No, and no. Upon completion of the coursework, graduates will be issued a Certificate which will indicate he has completed the course of study with us. While there will be homework assignments (mostly outside reading) we will not be administering tests or requiring research papers in order to measure the student’s progress. Those who enroll in INS will not be doing so in order to earn a degree. They will be motivated by the desire to be a more effective minister of the Word of God.
Completion of our certificate program would be, however, a significant addition to anyone’s ministry resume. Having studied under Dr. Adams would be as welcome a credential as any degree to those who recognize and understand Dr. Adams’ contributions.
We ARE a certified training center by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.
Dr. Adams’ own translation of the Greek New Testament (CCNT) is a treasure. You can read his forward here where he explains his motivation and translation philosophy. Jay Adams was one of the foremost Greek scholars of his day having majored in classic languages at Johns Hopkins University.
We are not able to publish the CCNT using print-on-demand. It has a beautiful bonded leather cover and a sewn binding. Thus it had to be printed the old-fashioned way requiring a large investment upfront, and maintenance of the inventory. Our only avenue for selling it is through the Seminary bookstore.
I am looking for one of Dr. Adams’ books but I do not find it listed in your bookstore. Why is this?
If a book you are looking for is not listed in our bookstore, it is out of print and awaiting the day when we can bring it back. If you are especially interested in an out-of-print title, please let us know. Books that are most often requested will receive priority.
I am looking for a specific book by another author but I do not see it listed in your bookstore. Why not?
There are many good books being written for biblical counselors these days, for which we are thankful. But sadly, there are also countless bad books seeking a place on your bookshelf as well. Many books are carefully written by thoughtful authors who have something profitable to add to the corpus of thought in our circles. We want to sell and promote these titles.
However, we have found that books marketed to the biblical counseling world sometimes fall into one of these categories:
- Many books, written by well-meaning authors, are just not well written and are a chore to read.
- Some books simply say things that others have already said before—but usually not as well.
- Our greatest concern, however, are those books that claim to promote biblical counseling but in reality promote an eclectic mix of secular psychology, poor theology, feeling orientation, straw men, and anecdotes. Often these titles will even have the term “biblical counseling” in the title. Sometimes these books will boast endorsements by well-known personalities whose names are either being used without their permission or who did not really read the book before offering their endorsing blurb. These books are the bane of our movement.
Now, just because you do not see a specific book listed here, please do not conclude that we believe it falls into one of the above categories. It could be that we are just unaware of the book. We don’t get out much. It is also possible that we just have not had an opportunity to review it yet.
Finally, you should know that we do list some books on our site that we do not like. Why would we do this? Because it gives us an opportunity to post our review along with the book explaining why we don’t like it. We do not believe we are the final word on what you should or should not read. We are just glad for the opportunity to tell you what we think about books. Thoughtful readers will, of course, agree with our assessments.
If you need to order in quantity use the order form under the “Bookstore” tab. It lists the books that we publish. The titles published by Zondervan or P&R are out of our hands.
The best way to contact us is by email at [email protected]. We do not have a full-time staff taking orders so please be patient with us. We will do our best to respond within 48 hours on weekdays. You are welcome to try calling us but if you get our machine, please consider emailing us instead of leaving a message so you can be sure we are able to understand your message. Our phone number is (864) 399-9583.
Bookstores can order small quantities through their Ingram account. For larger orders, we can probably give you a better discount directly. Use the order form under the “Bookstore” tab. Again, we can only help you with titles we publish.
Sorry, I should have said this earlier. Unless clearly indicated otherwise, everything you read on this site, including these Q & A’s, are the thoughts and musings of Donn R. Arms, the General Editor of INS Publishing and the Director of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies. I alone am responsible for the typos and bad grammar you find here. Opinions expressed in book reviews, and on other matters, do not necessarily represent the views of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
No, we do not require any specific training prior to enrollment. We are working hard to strike a balance in our courses. One of our target students is the pastor with good pastoral training who was never exposed to, or was insufficiently trained in, the area of biblical counseling while in college or seminary. On the other hand, we believe any thoughtful and growing layperson, deacon, pastor’s wife, Sunday School teacher, youth worker, Christian School teacher or administrator, elder, or full-time homemaker will be able to profit from our curriculum–not only helping them grow as biblical counselors to others but in their own walk with their Savior!
We consider our entire curriculum to be our Fundamentals course. Yes, we know it consists of more than ACBC requires as their minimum. The typical INS student wants to do more than meet the minimum requirement and will, instead, desire to be much more thoroughly trained before moving into the testing and supervision phases. Supervising Fellows report to us that there is a pronounced difference in the competency level between students who have merely had a 30-hour “Fundamentals” course and those who have taken a more robust curriculum.
Does the completion of your “Certificate Program in Biblical Counseling” mean I will then be ACBC certified?
No. Our certificate simply indicates you have completed our course of study. ACBC certification is an entirely different issue. Their certification process also involves testing and supervised counseling experience. Check out the ACBC website for more information about their certifying process. We encourage all of our students to seek ACBC certification upon completion of their studies with us. As an ACBC certified training center, our curriculum satisfies (and far surpasses) the training requirement for certification.
Yes, but our curriculum goes far beyond the minimum ACBC requires. Most ACBC training centers offer a 30-hour “Fundamentals” course which are designed to satisfy the ACBC minimum requirement. If your only goal is to receive the minimum amount of training ACBC requires so you can check off that box in the application process, this is not the curriculum for you.
Our curriculum is much more robust! It is comprised of over 140 hours of instruction plus the reading of over a dozen books. We want our students to complete our entire curriculum before moving forward with the ACBC certification process, and be much better prepared to be a Competent Counselor.
If I have taken courses at other places can I skip some of your courses that cover similar information?
No, we have no way to evaluate what you have taken or whether you slept through the training or took good notes. You will profit greatly even if you hear similar material from several different perspectives. Again, we want you to be as well trained as possible, and what could be better training than studying with Dr. Adams?
Of course, the above only applies if you wish to receive a certificate at the end of your studies. You are free to take any course at any time. But each of our courses must be taken to receive our certificate which you can present to ACBC as fulfillment of the training requirement for certification.
I am interested in several of your courses but do not wish to commit to taking the entire curriculum. Can I just take two or three select courses that I am interested in?
Yes, but all of our courses build on information that we assume you have learned from previous courses. We want our students to have a complete and balanced understanding of the issues presented. We urge you to take the courses in the order listed and not skip any course. Please, however, take the Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling first. Do not skip it. Regardless of how much previous counseling training you may have received, it is vital that you study this material with Dr. Adams himself.
Many of our courses can be taken individually to satisfy the ACBC continuing education requirement. See the ACBC website for details.
We recommend that you take them in the order you see them listed, but it is not required that you do so. It is essential, however, that you begin with the Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling course. All other courses assume a familiarity with that material. If you have a special interest in a course and would like to proceed to it out of sequence, that is fine.
So then, you expect your students to take your entire curriculum. You do not allow students to transfer credits into the program, or take just the courses they want to take.
In order to receive our Certificate, yes. If that is not your goal, please feel free to take any of our courses that interest you. Many of our courses can be studied to satisfy ACBC’s continuing education requirements.
The entire curriculum includes about 140 hours of taped instruction. Add to that the amount of time it will take you to read the equivalent of about 15 books. From that, you will have to do the math figuring in how many hours each week you plan to devote to your studies subtracting the weeks you will be on vacation or not studying for whatever reason.
We have had some students complete the curriculum in a summer. We have other students who started ten years ago who are still making progress through the curriculum.
At INS, you study on your schedule and at your pace. We cannot promise that we will never sunset the courses you take, but after 15 years of offering our curriculum online, we have not seen the need to do so yet. We intend for the courses to be available to you indefinitely.
Tuition for our courses originally ranged from $95 to $180. Thanks to the generosity of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, we recently were able to slash the tuition to $35 per course. We intend for this to be a permanent price reduction. We believe this should make our curriculum affordable to all.
Yes, of course! However, if you both would like to receive a certificate at the conclusion of your studies, you will each need to register under separate accounts using different email addresses.
This false charge has been made by those who have a propensity to lump together all things that sound similar. Their problem—and it’s a serious one—is that they read and think carelessly. They have little power of discernment; they do not know how to make valid distinctions. “Adams speaks of ‘behavior,’ he talks about ‘reward and punishment.’ Ergo, he is teaching behaviorism.”
But long before Watson or Skinner ever drew a breath God was speaking of behavior, reward and punishment. Dare we call Him a Behaviorist? Hardly. God regularly traces outer behavior to the “heart.” By heart, He means the inner person. Outer action is but a result of the inner thinking, determining, etc. Nowhere is changing the outer person alone a solution to man’s problems. Rather, that is Pharisaism. Since sin is an “inside job,” salvation must be too. Inner regeneration is necessary to produce outer changes that please God. Works (outer behavior) must flow from faith (inner belief); neither is sufficient without the other.
Moreover, in behaviorism, the goal is to reward the desired behavior immediately in order to make it stick. In the Bible, true reward is delayed until eternity (Cf. Hebrews 11:13-16; 24-27). And, God-pleasing behavior is governed not by manipulation and “control,” but by inner desire to please God. Always keep in mind 1 Peter 1:14b-15, 18-19:
Don’t shape your lives by the desires that you used to follow in your ignorance. Instead, as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves must become holy in all your behavior…knowing that you weren’t set free from the useless behavior patterns that were passed down from your forefathers, by the payment of a corruptible ransom like silver or gold, but with Christ’s valuable blood.
See the difference? The conclusion? “Be deeply concerned about how you behave during your residence as aliens” (1 Peter 1:17). Nouthetic counselors will continue to do so!
Jay E Adams
What empirical evidence do you have that Nouthetic counseling is superior of other forms of counseling?
Quite frankly, none. Do you wonder at that? Let me tell you why you shouldn’t. To compare Christian counseling with other forms of counseling is to compare oranges to apples (no, let’s say, oranges and socks!). Consider the goal of Christian counseling over against that of others. Most counseling seeks to solve a person’s problem in order to bring relief. That is the prime goal. In Christian counseling, however, the goal is to honor and glorify God, whether or not relief is obtained. How, then, do you compare the outcomes?
Moreover, since the object of biblical counseling is to bring about change in the counselee that honors God, how would you test for that empirically? Would you put his soul in a test tube, shake it up, and hope it turns blue? How would you test whether God was honored, whether the motives of the counselee were sound (since God looks upon the heart; not merely on outward behavior) or whether he only made changes outwardly? How would you determine the extent of the Holy Spirit’s work in the counselee’s life so as to make the desired spiritual changes? In other words, there is no way to obtain empirical evidence. Since it is biblical attainments that are under consideration, it is impossible to get statistical evidence for the spiritual changes that the biblical counselor seeks to bring about.
Then, further, why would we need any tests anyway? The One Who tries the hearts of men is the Lord. He infallibly knows what is happening within the person. We can look only at his outward behavior and listen to his speech. It is He Who tests; and that is all that counts. Besides, from the counselor’s perspective, success is measured not by the outcome of the counseling sessions but ultimately by whether the counselor did those things that were biblical, thereby honoring his Lord. Success may be measured in many ways; Christians should measure it in terms of how well the counselor followed the Bible in a given case. And once again, there is no way to test this except by comparing what he does with what the Scriptures require of him.
So, what does the Christian counselor have to demonstrate the effectiveness of Nouthetic counseling? Nothing, as I said before. And he is absolutely content to say so. He must do as well as he can to meet biblical requirements in order to please God, and then let the chips fall where they may. He knows that his performance as a counselor will be flawed since he is not perfect. But he also knows that when he asks for forgiveness for failure God measures his success by that as well as by the performance. So, given the goals, given the persons at work (the counselor and the Holy Spirit), and given the kinds of outcomes that are expected and achieved in the sight of God, it would be not only foolish but arrogant to attempt to test Nouthetic counseling by some human apparatus. We do not have to set results of the sort that they might wish before the world, so long as we honor and please God. On Judgment Day, He will reveal the statistics! Any counseling claiming to be “Christian” that makes much of statistics thereby invalidates itself as such by showing that its goals and outcomes are not thought of in biblical terms.
Since the human counselor is not the only one who is at work in Christian counseling, the Christian has an “unfair advantage” over other counselors. With the Holy Spirit enlightening the minds of counselees and enabling them to overcome sinful propensities that hinder growth, producing His fruit through His inerrant Word, what profit would there be in trying to determine how well a human counselor counsels? In effect, he is but a catalyst, ministering the Scriptures in ways that the Spirit utilizes to bring about change in counselees. The Spirit is the ultimate Counselor. The whole concept of empirical evidence, statistics and the like, begs the question. And the thought of attempting to obtain them is repugnant. Sorry, but that is how it is.
Jay E Adams
Now that is an interesting charge. I want to forestall all misunderstanding on the subject. Yes, I speak a lot about sin. So does the Bible. Others locate man’s problem in genetics, in environmental factors, in training, and so on. They limit their understanding of man’s difficulties thereby, and truncate the solutions that they might reach. They are like the blind men trying to describe the elephant.
All problems stem from Adam’s sin. Had there been no fall, there would be no remedial counseling. But Adam did sin, and if you were to trace genetic problems, environmental factors, and poor training back far enough, you would discover that it is because of the fall that these problems exist. Sin, then, rather than being a limiting concept, is the broadest of all. It covers the waterfront!
But not all of an individual counselee’s problems may be traced to some specific sin in his life. It may be that he has been injured by others, misled, and so on. While he bears responsibility for how he handles wrongdoing toward himself, nevertheless, he is certainly not responsible for everything that occurs.
In Competent to Counsel, published 40 years ago, I stated clearly that the cases of Job and the man born blind (John 9) are explicit examples of the fact that people do not always bring their problems upon themselves. In the providence of God, who knows how many illnesses, and other untoward circumstances, may accrue from transactions that take place in the unseen world? We are not privy to such information. The only thing that is important for us to say about such matters is that God held Job (and his four counselors) responsible for interpreting and dealing with his condition so far as they were able to do so.
In cases where no causal relationship between one’s behavior and his circumstances is apparent, that usually calls for a similar tact to be taken by Nouthetic counselors. They help their counselees to understand (so far as possible) what is happening, to face it with biblical attitudes and actions, and to learn how to grow more like Christ from doing so. Often, an exposition and application of Romans 8:28-29 to the counselee’s situation is in order. We certainly would not postulate some hidden sin where there is no evidence of it. Rather, with Christ, we would declare, “Neither did this man nor his parents sin (John 9:1-2).” We would also take our stand with Job against the accusations of the first three counselors.
I hope from this explanation, the calumny that has been leveled against us will be dispelled once and for all. We do not accuse every person of sin when he comes for counseling. In addition to those who have not brought trouble upon themselves, there are those who are neither in trouble nor are seeking to overcome sin in their lives. I speak of those who simply desire counsel about whom to marry, what school to attend, how to deal with life issues biblically, and the like. So, it is just not true that we go searching for sin in every counselee’s life. Nor is it fair or accurate to charge us with doing so.
Jay E Adams
No, they do not. They are not interested in theories—of any kind. When it comes to human personality they are content to adhere to the biblical teaching about man. That is, of course, quite extensive, and it is accurate. There is no need for a theory when God has provided facts. That no systematic presentation of all the biblical material has been published by anyone in the Nouthetic camp is true. But generally speaking, Scripture, summed up in those sections of standard systematic theology texts that have been around for some time, provides those things that a counselor needs to know to counsel others. I refer to Hodge, Berkhof, Reymond, and the like.
Here is a great difference between biblical counselors and those who care little about theology. The church has a long, solid tradition of exegetical work setting forth the facts about man in the states of holiness, sin, and redemption. The world knows nothing about these. Indeed, theories of counseling that are not based on the Bible fail to acknowledge man’s sinful propensities by nature, his need for regeneration to know and please God, and his failure to have a clear purpose for or meaning of life apart from Jesus Christ. Salvation, in terms of the Christian hope, and the ability to change in the ways that please God, not being an element of non-biblical systems, is a foreign concept. Since it plays no part in such systems of counseling, they cannot be correct, their theories of human personality must be flawed and there is no reason whatsoever for believers to waste their time devoting themselves to the study of them.
Insights concerning human biology and other organic and truly hereditary aspects of human beings may be useful to Christian counselors in any number of ways, but a theory of personality—forget it!
Jay E Adams
I (Donn Arms) am available to answer your questions about coursework or any other aspect of our program. The best way to contact me is by email, especially if you have a simple question that can be answered in just a few sentences. If you would like to call, do not hesitate. Please be patient, however. If I am out of the office or unable to take your call, you may leave a message, but it would be best to simply try calling again later so I can avoid playing phone tag. If you find you are not able to get by my machine, it could be because I am out of the office for several days, or maybe even in the hospital! Send me an email that you are trying to call and I will try to respond as I am able.
What about licensing or certification by the state? Will your training satisfy any of the government’s licensing requirements that would lead to becoming a Licensed Social Worker, Professional Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, or other type of mental health professional?
Yes, this is really a frequently asked question. We would respond with questions of our own. What branch or agency of either the federal, state, or local government has jurisdiction over the ministry of the Word of God? Would you want there to be such a government entity? By what criteria should such an agency make its evaluations? What would you do if such an agency concluded you were not qualified to teach the Word of God? Would you then stop ministering God’s Word? If you are seeking to become a professional counselor in the world’s system apart from the church of Jesus Christ then frankly, you would not be happy with the training you receive from the Institute for Nouthetic Studies.
I have just started reading the Christian Counselor’s Manual where on page 12 Dr. Adams says counseling is pastoral work and that “persons with a life-calling to do counseling ought to prepare for the work of the ministry and seek ordination, since God describes a life-calling to counseling as the life-calling of a minister.” Does Dr. Adams mean a counseling ministry is not possible for women since women are not ordained?
Absolutely not. While all pastors should be counselors it does not follow that all counselors should be pastors. Listen to what he says earlier on the same page. “To say that the Christian minister is counselor and preacher, par excellence, means that he is called to these works as his function or office in the church. It does not exclude much teaching, exhortation, and counseling on the part of every Christian, incidental to his particular gifts and calling.” We know of no pastor who would not desire to have a cadre of well-trained women counselors in his church to call upon and refer other women to.
I can’t log in, there is no sound, your site won’t open, the video keeps buffering, my computer froze up, my password does not work, I can’t print out the notes—what is wrong?
We don’t know, but it is our experience that 99% of these problems are with YOUR computer, internet, or software. If you do not know how to troubleshoot computer problems and do not have a 12-year-old son or grandson who can help, please call us. Do not give up in frustration. The folk who host our site have done a great job of constructing a bug-free and user-friendly platform. We can help with most issues but will need to talk with you while you are in front of your computer in order to help.
Our courses are hosted by a local Greenville company named Pathwright. It was started by twin brothers shortly after they graduated from Bob Jones University. Today they are one of the premier companies that provide online educational services. We are proud to be one of their earliest customers.
That is our friend, Nouthetic Nancy, and no, you may not have her number.