Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009
Part 2: Trends 5-1
Note: For Part 1 and trends 10-6, please visit here.
It’s hard to believe that the first decade of the 21st century has come and gone.
As the decade ends, I’ve been pondering the top ten positive trends over the past ten years in biblical counseling.
It’s exciting to reflect on what God is doing as He empowers His Church.
Enjoy trends five-to-one (in reverse order to heighten the anticipation!). And please join the conversation and let me know what your selections would be.
5. Culturally-Informed Approaches
There was also a time when “modern biblical counseling” consisted of “a bunch of white guys.” Thankfully, the “movement” is maturing due to the contributions of a growing multiethnic group of women and men. Elyse Fitzpatrick, Lucy Ann Moll, and Susan Ellis are just three examples of women leading the way in biblical counseling. Pastor Deepak Reju of Nine Marks Ministries, Dr. Elias Moitinho, Pastor Dwayne Bond, and the Black African American Association of Christian Counselors (BAACC) are representatives of a multiethnic group of individuals and associations promoting biblical counseling. My own books, Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, and Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith each seek to teach biblical counseling from a multicultural perspective. There’s also an encouraging movement of international biblical counseling with Wayne Vanderweir’s Overseas Instruction in Counseling being just one such examples.
4. Comprehensive Models
Once upon a time, biblical counseling could be labeled one-dimensional with a focus on combating the impact of the fall/sin on human nature. Today, biblical counseling comprehensively examines creation (understanding people from God’s original design), fall (diagnosing problems resulting from sin), and redemption (prescribing God’s solutions through our salvation and sanctification in Christ). Models also formerly tended to highlight the behavioral aspects of growth in grace. Today they emphasize our relational (spiritual, social, and self-aware), rational (images and beliefs), volitional (motivational and behavioral), emotional, and physical nature in a comprehensive manner. Eric Johnson’s Foundations for Soul Care, and my work Soul Physicians are just two examples of books written in the past ten years to offer comprehensive theological foundations for biblical counseling.
3. Progressive Sanctification Focus
Current models of biblical counseling have made great progress in teaching that the counseling process is simply a sub-set of the discipleship process, both of which God designs to assist us to grow in grace. The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) has spent the past decade equipping pastors and lay people to assist God’s people in the progressive sanctification process. The mission of the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN) is to link biblical counseling and spiritual formation to develop theological models and methodological approaches leading to progressive sanctification.
2. Sufficiency of Scripture Emphasis
Rather than harp on what’s wrong with other models, over the past ten years there has been an increasing focus on the sufficiency, relevancy, profundity, and authority of God’s Word for Christian living. David Powlison’s Seeing with New Eyes and Speaking Truth in Love, Michael Emlet’s Cross Talk, and my Spiritual Friends all practice the sufficiency of Scripture by teaching why and how to saturate biblical counseling with scriptural explorations and spiritual conversations
1. Christ-Centered Purpose
Biblical counseling over the past ten years has re-committed itself to the primary purpose of glorifying Christ. It’s all about Him. For instance, the use of Scripture (sufficiency of Scripture) to assist one another to grow in grace (progressive sanctification) has as its final goal helping one another to exalt and enjoy Christ now and forever. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Counsel from the Cross exemplifies this type of Gospel-centered biblical counseling.
We can bring together these top ten trends of the past ten years to offer a working definition of biblical counseling.
Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through the Christian soul care arts of sustaining and healing) and sin (through the Christian spiritual direction arts of reconciling and guiding) to empower people to exalt and enjoy God and to love others (Matthew 22:35-40) by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ.
Join the Conversation
What top trends would you add to this list?
What individuals, groups, and books would you add to trends 5-1?
In 75 words or less, how would you define biblical counseling?