. . . If it weren’t so shockingly sad!

These days a spate of books and/or articles declaring that we are in the second generation of biblical (nouthetic) counseling has been appearing. These, typically, declare that we have moved on from earlier concepts and approaches and now have opted for more kindly and thoughtful views. What would be amusing, if it were not so sad, is that those who are labeled with “first generation” thinking have, themselves, moved beyond their earlier works while their critics have not.

The “sad” part about this is that they so severely misrepresent the situation for people who are just now awakening to the existence of a biblical counseling movement.

Take one example. There is in more than one place a decrying of the supposed “fact “ that no notice is taken of the idea that truth may be received from other sources than the Bible. Yet, some time ago, for instance, I wrote a book entitled Is All Truth God’s Truth? based on Gaebelein’s famous statement. This is but one instance of failure to use all the sources available.

This sad sort of scholarship that avoids sources and then complains about the lack of attention given to subjects that have definitely been covered is typical. Complaints about lack of concern about suffering, for instance, neglect to refer to the series of pamphlets I wrote that are widely used by funeral parlors to help people in all sorts of grief situations, a homiletical commentary I wrote on 1 Peter to help pastors preach on the subject of suffering, my little book How to Handle Trouble which shows from the book of Philippians how to deal with problems that are not of the counselee’s own making, and many others. There is a book on the importance of faith in counseling—never referred to by those who like to stress its importance. And so it goes!

These are but some of the areas in which “scholarship” has been seriously lacking. I am not saying that all of these writings (and many more not mentioned) are the best materials that could be made available, but simply that they exist!

So, be warned when you are told that a second generation has set forth more advanced teachings that modify previous ones that were neglected before. The neglect is on the other side! The fact is, some of those criticized who were of the first generation are also of the second and have continued to think and write about counseling. They lived too long, I guess! Others, failing to recognize this phenomenon, have too often neglected these writings and confined their comments to a very few earlier books.

Truly, this is sad! Don’t buy into it. Unless you have read the many more recent materials available you will not have the whole picture!

(originally posted 5/27/15)


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One Comment

  1. Fred Bucci May 27, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Jay thank you for bringing clarity to the misrepresentation that is going on about the “First Generation”. I have observed the first generation in the areas you described above. I have not agreed with the “Second Generations” ideas of needing to develop undeveloped teaching on ministering to suffering people. There is always room for expansion of biblical teaching on the subject. I am indeed concerned about exalting the pain in suffering as if Gods sovereign providential hand was not in control of both good and evil. I am concerned with the idea of relieving suffering with “management” medically. I have seen the teaching of bearing up under pressure go to the wayside. We surely need compassion to minister to the suffering but you have taught that from the beginning. I appreciate you speaking soberly from your heart about this matter. I pray we do not go back to some pre-nouthetic mindset that infiltrated the church in the 1960s and 70s. The Scriptures and Jesus are totally sufficient. I appreciate you and your impact on these truths to the church of Jesus. I have been learning from you since 1990. Thanks dear brother.

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