This classic has helped thousands of pastors, students, laypeople, and Christian counselors develop both a general approach to Christian counseling and a specific response to particular problems.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
%Using biblically directed discussion, nouthetic counseling works by means of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in the personality and behavior of the counselee. As the author points out in his introduction. "I have been engrossed in the project of developing biblical counseling and have uncovered what I consider to be a number if important scriptural principles. Immediate problems been resolved, but there have also been solutions to all sorts of long-term problems as well.
%First published in 1970, this book has gone through over thirty printings. It established the bases for an introduction to an approach to counseling that is being used in pastors' studies, in counseling centers, and across dining room tables throughout the country and around --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
However, there are several notable shortcomings. First, Adams adopts a simplistic approach to mental illness - one that has potential to do considerable harm if misapplied. While he rightly differentiates between faux non-organic "illnesses" and bona fide chemical brain disorders, he neglects a significant in-between region that consists of deeply troubled individuals whose cognitive make-ups or personality organizations make responding positively to simplistic and direct confrontation unlikely. The nuances of relationship-building that are an important component of therapy and discipleship appear to be lacking.
Second, to say this is a reformed perspective on counseling appears to misapply the meaning of "reformed." Reformed theology acknowledges the Lordship of Christ in all things, including psychology and psychotherapy. To exclude some theories, practices, and methods simply because they are extra-biblical (not anti-biblical, just not in the Bible) denies the Christian's ability, even the command via the Cultural Mandate, to examine the truth in God's world and apply it in faith and wisdom. It is best embodied by Kuyper's insistence that there is not a square-inch of creation over which Christ does not say "mine!" Unfortunately, Dr. Adams seems to miss this wider application of reformed theology in favor of a vehement rejection of theories that are becoming historical relics and an application of Biblical behaviorism. Adams is unable to maintain a sense of consistency in his own model: he rejects some secularists but praises the reality therapy of Glasser and Mouwer.
Whether Adams intended for this to occur or not, his book has become a rallying point around which to bash psychology and psychotherapy. There is without question some truly unbiblical stuff in historical psychology and some truly hideous stuff in contemporary pop psychology. However, the study of the workings of the human mind, human thought processes, emotions, and behaviors, is as important an endeavor as studying any other aspect of creation. We cannot simply toss the whole discipline out because those who pioneered its study rebelled against God and sought to suppress His truth in unrighteousness. This is the classic ad hominum argument. As Christians, we should do better.
I am grateful that Dr. Adams has given us a starting place to recognize the dangers of the likes of Freud and Rogers (he should have come down hard on Jung - he's both dangerous and looney), the high value of Scripture in providing counsel for wisdom, comfort, and therapy as needed, and the importance of examining psychology closely to separate truth from error. However, it is time to move on. Let's elevate the dialogue and stop knocking down the straw man. He's about out of straw.