Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture Paperback – Oct 31 2003
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About the Author
Powlison is the editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling and a member of the faculty and counseling staff at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
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Powlison points out that "secular psychology" views "human problems" simply as "things that are not working right," this is because the Bible was not utilized to understand the core issue of all humans, which is their "alienation from God" (192). He explains that if sin is seen as a "willed action" then "complex inner troubles" will be classified under "other categories" (194). In fact, psychiatrists will not explain that a paranoid schizophrenic is yielding to sin, but rather he or she is experiencing a psychosis. Powlison states that paranoid schizophrenia is a "defensive behavior" and actually refers to it as the personification of "powerful unconscious defensiveness" (193). Powlison explains that the underlying issues for schizophrenics are pride and "hiding" (195).
Powlison admits that biblical counselors are seen as "bizarre spiritualizers" because they rely on God, repentance, and faith as their main focus in counseling (251). He speculated that the premise of Jay Adams (the founder of Nouthetic counseling movement) was not fully understood when he said, "to be feeling-oriented is the central motivational problem in people" (215). Powlison believes that the problem with current counseling practices is that the counselor is seen as "primary" while God (if He is even considered at all in the process) is usually "secondary" (178).
This book has helped me to understand the stance of Nouthetic counselors, and to comprehend the reason why they say sin is the core issue of human disorders. However, I did not get a clear indication of Powlison's position regarding psychotropic medications. Powlison's perspective on counseling is a good start in the right direction, but his book does not outline the direction. There is something missing. To counter society's view of biblical counselors as "bizarre spiritualizers," Powlison suggests, "We have work to do to protect and build up the body of Christ" (251). This is not a solution-it is merely a generalized statement. In order for others to see biblical counselors as competent practitioners, they need to find a way to truly bridge the gap between traditional and biblical counseling.
The "new eyes" are the eyes enlightened by faith in Christ and restored to sight by confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture to explain life and relationships. "Seeing with New Eyes" offers a theological-intellectual defense of "Nouthetic Counseling" as a biblical counseling model seeking to understand truth about God and humanity through God's eyes as revealed in Scripture.
It is an excellent introduction by perhaps the leading theologian in the Nouthetic Counseling movement. However, the book is also a compilation of many previous articles by the author. Thus at times it reads more as a string of excellent artilces than a tightly woven and thematically consistent book. That aside, Powlison is to be commended for his articulate explanation of the human condition through the lens of Scripture.
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and the forthcoming "Beyond the Suffering: The Story of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."
The book speaks to both the reader's personal walk with God and to how we can accurately see and minister to others. Each chapter is on a specific theme, from comfort to worry to God's love to "defense mechanisms." In each Dr. Powlison shares warm and rich insights that are both Scriptural and practical. There are dozens of quotable passages to deeply think through, such as:
Many of the people we counsel live inside a black hole of self-will, misery, and confusion. They need God to break in on their shadowland from which sin has erased the light of the personal and living God.
Seeing With New Eyes is a volume to read, and read again, to fully absorb its God-saturated wisdom and to be changed by it.
I don't think I've ever felt as challenged about my views and motives nor as in absolute awe of what Christ's death on the cross as was revealed by this book. Unlike many books this is not one big idea padded out, this is real meat as each chapter addresses different aspects of our psychology with the sharp blade of scripture.
I just hate it when you're taught things at church and by well meaning Christian friends that are actually so against the beauty of the cross and our ongoing sanctification. I loved that Powlison addressed much of the popular advice and how their small presuppositions lead people off track on big matters. If there's anything this book will do it won't let you finish it with your pride intact.
I would say if you want to know what counseling that is empowered by understanding the bible, God's character and our place in his scheme then this book is my suggested starting point.
For the sake of your ministry, even if you're just a member of a church, please read this book!
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