A Book Review: Competent to Counsel by Jay Adams

Adams contends, in his book, that the Christian is Competent to Counsel. “As far as I am concerned about you, my brothers, I am convinced that you especially are abounding in the highest goodness, richly supplied with perfect knowledge and competent to counsel one another.” Romans 15:14 (Williams)

Jay Adams did not use research of scientific findings to determine that Christians are competent to counsel. His method is presuppositional as he avowedly accepts the inerrant Bible as the standard of all faith and practice. Further, he recognizes that his interpretations and applications of Scriptures are not infallible. Also, he does not wish to disregard science, but rather uses it as an adjunct to Scriptural truths. The first chapter illustrates well the condition of modern psychiatry to the extent that he states, “Referral of any sort ought to be considered by a minister only as a last resort. The fact that the an individual has sought out a Christian counselor should itself be considered of some significance.” (p. 19)

Since counseling is the work of the Holy Spirit, one must seek His guidance in order to be effective. (John 14:16,17; Isaiah 9:6) “The Holy Spirit is God with us. Counselors and those seeking counsel alike must respect the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.” (p. 22) The textbook of Christian counselors must be the Word of God.

Adams reminds us that the Bible separates organic, physically based problems and those that stem from sinful attitudes and behavior.

After three chapters of “introduction”, Adams defines “nouthetic counseling” in his fourth chapter. “Jesus Christ is at the center of all true Christian counseling. Any counseling which moves Christ from that point has to the extent that it has done so ceased to be Christian.” Nouthetic confrontation is to be done by the whole church, not just the minister. (Colossians 3:16; Romans 15:14) “Nouthetic” is a transliteration. Translations for the Greek word include: admonish, warn, teach. There are three elements of nouthetic confrontation:

1) “implies a problem, and presupposes an obstacle that must be overcome; something is wrong in the life of the one who is confronted.”

2) “problems are solved nouthetically by verbal means.”

3) “the verbal correction is intended to benefit the” individual seeking counsel. (p. 44-49)

Consider these: II Timothy 3:16; Colossians 1:28; II Timothy 4:2; II Corinthians 11:29; I Timothy 1:5.

Qualifications for Nouthetic Counseling:

  • Goodness and knowledge – Romans 15:14
  • Wisdom – Colossians 3:16; Proverbs 1:7

After dealing with a number of other issues, Adams finishes his book by discussing “Christian School Teachers as Nouthetic Counselors”. “The Christian teacher (not a counseling specialist) is the key to counseling in the school. If the teacher is qualified to be a Christian school teacher, given the conviction and a minimum of the right sort of training and experience, that teacher can do more effective counseling than the self-styled experts.” “Like other Christians, the Christian teacher may draw upon all of the resources of God: Scripture, prayer, and the church, in the context of the Holy Spirit.” (p. 252)

The classroom is the ideal environment, on a daily basis with a penalty and reward system under the authority of God where the student is during the most productive hours of the day. Deuteronomy 6:7 and ll:19

Adams presents his case well and reminds Christians to trust the Holy Spirit to guide in this important work.

Competent to Counsel – available on: http://www.amazon.com