by RuthAnne Irvin
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Affirming the sufficiency of Scripture in biblical counseling is a “radical idea,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at the school’s first Counsel the Word Conference.
The conference, co-sponsored by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), featured popular practitioners Paul David Tripp, David Powlison, Heath Lambert and others during the two-day event.
“If we’re going to think about biblical counseling and we’re going to understand that it must be premised upon the sufficiency of Scripture, we must recognize what a radical idea that is,” Mohler said during the Sept. 18-19 conference. “We must be certain the sufficiency of Scripture is the theological foundation of our understanding.”
Mohler opened the conference lamenting how few counselors commit to the sufficiency of Scripture in today’s church. The nature of biblical counseling, he said, necessitates a conference like Counsel the Word because the sufficiency of Scripture is so neglected.
Tripp, popular author and founder of Paul Tripp Ministries, offered three principles for counseling from Psalm 27 during his message. He began by asking what it means to counsel biblically, then moved to his principles.
First, he said, “people do not live life based on the facts of their experience, but based on the interpretation of the facts.” Second, the Bible is not arranged by topic. Third, counseling “is profoundly more than exposing sin and telling people what to do instead.”
Tripp used the example of David in Psalm 27 as he faced trouble and pointed himself to the God of his salvation. He said difficulties in life often reveal how Christians interpret life and Scripture.
“You will only ever properly understand the trouble in your life when you look at the troubles through the stunning beauty of your redeemer,” he said.
Closing his sermon, Tripp gave four words for personal reflection and to use in counseling others: gaze, remember, rest and act. He encouraged listeners to remember their identity in Christ while gazing on the beauty of the Lord, calling their hearts to rest in God and also to act “because God is wise and is all that He is for you by grace.”
Powlison, executive director of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) and editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling, spoke about “working toward God’s goal in us.”
Scripture is sufficient for identifying important decisions in a person’s life, to inhabit reality and to equip Christians for ministry, he said.
Powlison cautioned Christians to avoid making false assumptions about the sufficiency of Scripture, providing biblical counterparts. He also suggested they could use Psalm 23 as a tool to counsel themselves or others.
Lambert, president of ACBC and counseling professor at Boyce College, emphasized the commitment to Scripture’s sufficiency is the source of the counselor’s authority.
“You get the power you need for your life as you get to know Jesus and trust His promises,” he said.
The conference also featured a panel discussion and breakout sessions about counseling topics like anxiety, bipolar disorder, brain injuries, anger issues and homosexuality.
Audio and video from Counsel the Word is available at sbts.edu/resources.
RuthAnne Irvin writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.