• The Best of Books on Theology and Counseling

    Posted on August 30th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Kellemen’s Christian The Best Of Guide

    The Best of Books on

    The Theology of Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation


    Kellemen’s Christian The Best of Guide: Making your life easier by finding, summarizing, evaluating, and posting the best resources on a wide variety of topics from a Christian perspective.


    The Twenty Most Influential Books on

    The Theology of Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation


    Note: The following books focus on a theology/theory of biblical counseling and spiritual formation. They do not highlight methodology/practice. They focus on a broad theory of people, problems, and solutions. They do not highlight specific “issues” in “counseling” (such as depression, anxiety, etc.).


    Note: For the sake of space, I have not reviewed each of these books. However, I do have a 55-page document that reviews over 125 books on Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation: http://bit.ly/sYx1U. The fuller document explains that I do not endorse everything in all the books below. That’s why my subtitle to this post is: “The Twenty Most Influential” rather than “The Best Of.”




    Adams, Jay E. A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.


    Anderson, Neil T., Terry Zuehlke, and Julianne S. Zuehlke. Christ-Centered Therapy: The Practical Integration of Psychology and Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.


    Bredfeldt, Gary J. and Harry Shields. Caring for Souls: Counseling Under the Authority of Scripture. Chicago: Moody, 2001.


    Clinton, Tim and George Ohlschlager, eds. Competent Christian Counseling, Volume One: Foundations and Practice of Compassionate Soul Care. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2002.


    Collins, Gary. Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide. Revised edition. Nashville: Nelson, 1988.


    Crabb, Larry. Understanding People. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.


    Eyrich, Howard A. and William L. Hines. Curing the Heart: A Model for Biblical Counseling. Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2002.


    Fitzpatrick, Elyse. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2001.


    Johnson, Eric. Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007.


    Jones, Ian. The Counsel of Heaven on Earth: Foundations for Biblical Christian Counseling. Nashville: B&H, 2006.


    Jones, Stanton and Eric Johnson, eds. Psychology and Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000.


    Kellemen, Robert W. Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. Revised Edition. Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 2007.


    Lake, Frank. Clinical Theology: A Theological and Psychiatric Basis to Clinical Pastoral Care. Vol. 1. Lexington, KY: Emeth Press, 2006.


    Lane, Tim, and Paul Tripp. How People Change. Second Edition. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2008.


    MacArthur, John F., Jr. and Wayne A. Mack. Introduction to Biblical Counseling. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 1994.


    McMinn, Mark. Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1996.


    Peterson, Eugene. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.


    Powlison, David. Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2003.


    Pugh, John. Christian Formational Counseling: The Work of the Spirit in the Human Race. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing, 2008.


    Tripp, Paul David. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2002.


    Important Stuff


    *Your Guide: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, is the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries (www.rpmministries.org) through which he writes, speaks, and consults to equip God’s people to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. He blogs daily at http://rpmministries.blogspot.com.


    *My Necessary Disclaimer: Of course, I don’t endorse everything in every article, book, or link that you’ll find in Kellemen’s Christian The Best of Guide. I report, you decide.


    *Your Suggestions Are Welcomed: Feel free to post comments and/or send emails (rpm.ministries@gmail.com) about resources that you think deserve attention in various categories covered in Kellemen’s Christian The Best of Guide.

  • What Is the BCSFN About?

    Posted on August 27th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    One Perspective on the

    Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network


    By John Pugh, Ph.D.


    Here is how I (John Pugh) would state the purpose of the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN) of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC): to identify the work of the Christ manifest by the work of the Holy Spirit in any given counselee’s life and to use this information in a manner that will successfully advance these counselees through their recovery and change process.


    While some might regard the ideas of BCSFN as too narrow of a focus by the variety of observed dysfunctional human behavior, on the contrary, a BCSFN perspective on the counseling activity actually involves a much broader, more dynamic view of human beings than traditional secular theories would propose. The counseling perspective that judiciously employs BCSFN ideology would involve a more rounded and comprehensive description of how human beings respond and change.


    The BCSFN perspectives extend counseling theory well beyond the concepts that describe human pathology so that it more comprehensively lays the foundation and purpose for all human behavior whether or not the pathology can be identified that, in effect, create a more fully developed concept for counseling theory. BCSFN does not just modify traditional counseling methods; it creates a whole new focus for the life change process that might be used to truly help any counselee.  


    Christian Spiritual Formation concepts have been used to describe the Spirit’s work within the life of a human being beyond that of institutionalized religion to that of a more personal form of experience with God while living in this world as a human being. It focuses on human beings who are in a living synthesis of their faith, or the lack thereof, through their everyday life experiences. The BSCFN division of AACC is especially relevant to counseling practice in light of this Christian Spiritual Formation definition because spirituality is seen in terms of its practical manifestations of personal struggles that human beings face in their everyday experiences that reflect their personal response to the Spirit’s work regardless of their personal background or orientation.


    The ultimate objective of BCSFN, as I see it, is to consider the whole counsel of God’s Word and to review the Spirit’s work in the daily living of any person by looking for patterns that start with the typical responses that human beings give to the Holy Spirit’s work and how those responses may impact the person’s self-concept, behavior, and their social and emotional functioning extensively. The Spirit’s work may be observed in daily living as well as in the counseling practice.


    As the practical manifestations of the Spirit’s work are considered, certain response patterns related to the spiritual dimension within human life will emerge. BCSFN will continue to pursue knowledge and information that may describe these patterns and how they might impact our traditional views of formal personality theory and how that modified point of view might also reformulate counseling practice.


    BSCFN will comply with the views of theological anthropology in a very real and practical way. While the study of theological pneumatology traditionally carries the study of the Holy Spirit to higher-level theological explanations that involve a greater understanding of how human experiences are transformed by the work of God, BCSFN perspectives will pursue an understanding of the person that observes these transformations through the practical evidence of the Spirit’s work on the level of human experience.


    The ideas set forth by this division may also have varied responses. Some may respond in a way to indicate that the specific concepts set forth in this work would amount to an over-spiritualization or an over-moralization of the typical problems that people face. This reaction may be due to the desire to separate, that which is spiritual from the realm of what is deemed to be psychological.


    This objection would likely be given in order to draw a hard line of distinction between work of professional counseling or psychology and the work of professional ministry. There is little comfort to be found in such a distinction because the same objection reveals that within this perspective there is an inadequate understanding of what Christian Spiritual Formation brings to the subject of defining human personality.


    A true psychology and accurate perspective on human personality theory would not rule out such an important feature that would give a more comprehensive view of what human beings generally experience with God whether or not the person is so oriented in faith. The Christian Spiritual Formation perspective on human beings embraces the realm of true psychology rather than being distinct from it.


    At the same time, others might critique the BCSFN focus as not being “biblical” enough. That perspective might disparage any reference to professional counseling or psychology as having nothing valid to offer. It is true that the counselor in training needs to have more than a psychological training to be effective, but the truly competent counselor should utilize everything that could help the counselor gain a greater understanding of people placing every item of information about human beings into the arsenal of understanding including research. But a more comprehensive understanding of the human personality generated from a theological perspective is essential for an effective strategy to be effectively implemented. It appears that the present human need and especially the future prospects for helping others in counseling will demand more training broadly rather than less training to be effective. Ultimately our learning must be from God regardless of the source of information as Proverbs 1: 7 admonishes, “the fear of Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”


    By John Pugh, Ph.D.


  • Free From Accusation

    Posted on August 20th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am To Christ, Part Five—Free from Accusation


    Christ-Esteem: The world talks about “self-esteem.” But God’s Word teaches us about “Christ-esteem”—how God views us, sees us, accepts us, and loves us through Christ. Knowing how God relates to us because of our relationship to Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully.


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://bit.ly/7vaE


    As you read the following summaries:


    *Meditate on the verses and on the truth they share about you.


    *Reject the lies of Satan about how God views you.


    *Thank God for who you are to Christ.


    *Select one verse/truth per day and specifically apply it to your life and relationships.


    My Relationship to God through Christ


    Colossians 1:21-22—Once alienated from God, Christ has reconciled me to God.


    Colossians 1:22—I am free from accusation.


    Colossians 3:12—I am one of God’s chosen people.


    Colossians 3:12—I am dearly loved by Christ.


    Colossians 3:13—I am forgiven by Christ.


    1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13—Together with all the saints, we are brothers and sisters loved by God.


    1 Thessalonians 1:4—I am chosen by God.


    2 Thessalonians 2:13—I was chosen to be saved.


    2 Thessalonians 2:16—I am loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


    Hebrews 2:12—Together with all believers, Christ calls me, “My brothers.”


    Hebrews 3:1—Together with all believers, I am a holy brother/sister.


    Hebrews 4:16—I may approach the throne of grace with confidence.


    Hebrews 7:19—I have been drawn near to God.


    Hebrews 8:12—The Father has forgiven my wickedness and remembers my sin no more.


    Hebrews 9:6-14—I have a cleansed conscience: shalom.


    Hebrews 9:15—I am guaranteed an eternal inheritance in Father’s forever family.


    Hebrews 9:26—My sins have been done away with forever.


    Hebrews 10:2—I no longer have to feel guilty because I am cleansed once for all.


    Hebrews 10:17—My sins and lawless acts God remembers no more.


    Hebrews 10:19—I have confidence to enter the most holy place of God’s holy presence.


    Hebrews 10:22—I can draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance, having been cleansed of a guilty conscience.


    1 Peter 2:6—I will never be put to shame.


    1 Peter 3:18—Christ has brought me face-to-face with God.


    1 Peter 3:21—I have a good, clear conscience before God.


    1 John 3:1—God has lavished His love upon me.


    1 John 3:1—How great is the love of God that He has called me, together with all Christians, “Children of God.”


    1 John 3:16—Christ loved me so much that He laid down His life for me.


    1 John 4:9-11—The Father showed His love for me by sending His Son to die for me.


    1 John 4:17-18; 5:14—I have full confidence in approaching God’s presence.


    Revelation 1:5—I am loved by Christ.


    Revelation 19:7—Together with all believers, I am the Bride of Christ.


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://bit.ly/7vaE


  • One With Christ

    Posted on August 19th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am To Christ, Part Four—One With Christ


    Christ-Esteem: The world talks about “self-esteem.” But God’s Word teaches us about “Christ-esteem”—how God views us, sees us, accepts us, and loves us through Christ. Knowing how God relates to us because of our relationship to Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully.


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://bit.ly/7vaE


    As you read the following summaries:


    *Meditate on the verses and on the truth they share about you.


    *Reject the lies of Satan about how God views you.


    *Thank God for who you are to Christ.


    *Select one verse/truth per day and specifically apply it to your life and relationships.


    My Relationship to God through Christ


    Ephesians 1:4-6—I am accepted in the beloved.


    Ephesians 1:5—I was predestined to be adopted as God’s son.


    Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14—I am forgiven and redeemed.


    Ephesians 1:13—I have been included in Christ.


    Ephesians 1:13—I have been marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.


    Ephesians 1:14—I am God’s precious, treasured possession.


    Ephesians 2:10—I am God’s poem, opus, epic, masterpiece.


    Ephesians 2:13—Once far away, Christ has brought me near to God.


    Ephesians 2:19—Together with all believers, I am a fellow citizen of God’s kingdom.


    Ephesians 2:19—Together with all believers, I am a member of God’s family.


    Ephesians 2:22—I am a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


    Ephesians 3:6; 4:25; 5:30—Together with all the saints, I am a member of Christ’s body.


    Ephesians 3:6—Together with all the saints, I share in the promise of Christ.


    Ephesians 3:12—I may approach God with freedom and confidence.


    Ephesians 3:18—God’s love for me is wider than east and west, longer than north and south, higher than the stars, and deeper than the galaxy.


    Ephesians 3:19—I am filled with the fullness of God.


    Ephesians 4:12—Together with all God’s children, I claim the title, “God’s people.”


    Ephesians 4:30—I am sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of final redemption.


    Ephesians 5:1—I am a dearly loved child of God.


    Ephesians 5:2—Christ loves me.


    Ephesians 5:25—Together with all Christians, I am the Church, loved so much by Christ that he died for me.


    Ephesians 5:29—Christ nourishes me.


    Ephesians 5:29—Christ cherishes me.


    Ephesians 5:31-32—Together with all the saints, I am one with Christ.


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://bit.ly/7vaE

  • Book Review: Strength in Numbers

    Posted on August 7th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Strength in Numbers:

    The Team Approach to Biblical Counseling


    Book Details


    *Title: Strength in Numbers

    *Author: Dr. Mark E. Shaw

    *Publisher: Focus Publishing (2009)

    *Category: Church, Biblical Counseling, Ministry


    Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Beyond the Suffering, Sacred Friendships, and God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.


    Recommended: Strength in Numbers is a helpful introduction to biblical counseling done two-by-two by God’s people in the local church.


    Review: Biblical Counseling Two-by-Two


    Dr. Mark Shaw, author of Strength in Numbers, is passionate about team biblical counseling. By “team” he means counseling in tandem—in teams of two. The title, subtitle, and cover image (a team of eight holding hands) initially led me to think the book was about how to become a church where biblical counseling principles of Christian living infiltrate the DNA of everything a church does. Though Pastor Shaw’s writings support that concept, readers should realize that “team” in this book means co-counseling with one other person.


    Team Biblical Counseling


    Shaw builds his approach to two-person counseling from passages such as Luke 10:1; Mark 11:1-2; and Mark 6:7, where Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two. Shaw also uses Paul’s ministry with Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy to support his tandem counseling theory. Additionally, Shaw shares a litany of reasons why tandem counseling can be better for the counselors and for the counselee.


    What Shaw pictures and promotes involves two counselors in every counseling session. Sometimes his model would involve a “Paul/Barnabas” pairing of a more experienced biblical counselor mentoring a counselor-in-training. Other times his model includes a “David/Jonathan” pairing of two equally experienced counselors working together with a counselee in ongoing sessions.


    Wisely, Shaw acknowledges that “the Lord is not limited to one model of ministry…” (p. 41). In other words, while Shaw prefers and practices two-person counseling, he does not claim that it is the only right approach or that “traditional” one-person counseling is “wrong.” This is important since other verses could be marshaled that teach and illustrate one-to-one ministry, and theological and logical reasons could be offered in support of individual ministry. Also, church history is replete with examples of individual spiritual direction from the Church Fathers, through the Reformers, to the Puritans.


    What Is Biblical Counseling?


    Even before addressing team biblical counseling, Shaw introduces his readers to what he means by biblical counseling. First, he distinguishes it from secular psychological therapy and from “integrationist” approaches (which he defines briefly as “mixing” biblical truth and man-centered theory).


    Second, Shaw relates biblical counseling to soul care. “Biblical counseling reclaims the care of souls to the body of Christ” (p. 9). He seeks to reclaim the care of souls to the rightful owner—Christ and His church.


    Third, he offers definitions of biblical counseling. “The goal of ministry in a biblical counseling and discipleship context is to lovingly confront someone when their thinking is unbiblical” (p. 13). “The biblical counselor is called to speak the truth of God’s Word in the love of the Holy Spirit to hurting souls” (p. 18). “Biblical counseling is micro-discipleship, meaning that we focus upon one specific problem area at a time in an effort to help the counselee grow in Christ” (p. 33).


    Shaw is to be applauded for his clear emphasis on both the truth and love components. Some biblical counseling has been caricatured as neglecting the relational, loving aspect. But Shaw consistently insists on integrating truth and relationship. “Let’s counsel others with the balance of compassion and doctrine. Let’s present the truth of God’s Word in the love of the Holy Spirit” (p. 13).


    Shaw’s definitions and illustrations in the book can give the impression at times that biblical counseling is only or primarily problem-focused (confrontation of unbiblical thinking, focusing upon specific problem areas, etc.). This is a common definitional emphasis issue in modern biblical counseling.


    Biblically and historically, “counseling” has been broader than sin-focused, confrontation-focused, and problem-focused. It has, instead, focused comprehensively on the person’s whole life through soul care that offers biblical sustaining and healing for suffering and through spiritual direction that offers reconciling and guiding for struggles against sin, both with the goal of personal sanctification that glorifies God.


    While Shaw’s emphasis on love, on hurting souls, on counseling as whole life discipleship, and on returning soul care to the church surely indicates a comprehensive approach to suffering and sin, readers might be better served by more expansive definitions and illustrations of the nature of biblical counseling. A Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed approach to spiritual friendship empowers biblical counseling to blend seamlessly into the fabric of the ministry of the Body of Christ.


    The Nuts and Bolts


    While Strength in Numbers will not teach readers how to “do” biblical counseling, it does teach pastors a model for implementing team biblical counseling in the local church. Like other books on lay counseling in the church, Shaw suggests a three-tiered ministry. The level one minister is the supervisor; the level two ministers are leaders-in-training; and the level three ministers are lay biblical counselors.


    Shaw outlines a step-by-step developmental process. The level one leader is to be trained, typically by an outside biblical counseling accrediting organization, and then brings that training back to the local church. That primary supervisor then recruits a team of leaders-in-training, duplicating the training received outside. That group then recruits lay people from the church who receive at least thirty hours of biblical counseling training. Once the training is completed, co-counseling begins. Ongoing theory/practice equipping is required. Shaw addresses issues of advertising, organizing, administration, assigning cases, and other nuts and bolts matters.


    Some Minor Formatting/Editing Issues


    While not central to the message of the book, Strength in Numbers has some minor formatting problems that can distract from the message. Some quotation marks are straight and others are cursive. Some book titles are underlined and some are not (most current books use italics for book titles). On some occasions when underlining is used for emphasis, the underlining goes to the end of the words while at other times it goes beyond the end of the words. Unlike most professionally formatted books today, Strength in Numbers double-spaces between paragraphs (accept the few times when this is inconsistent). A few times quotation marks are lacking at the beginning of a quote. A few times there are no spaces between sentences. At times exclamation points are used excessively. Again, these are formatting/editing issues and not content matters, but they can divert attention from the message. Hopefully future additions will give the book a more polished, professional look and feel.


    Team Biblical Counseling in the Local Church


    Strength in Numbers is a helpful introduction to biblical counseling done two-by-two by God’s people in the local church. It encourages readers to counsel based upon the sufficiency of Scripture and it encourages pastors to equip their people for the work of ministry. It is biblical, practical, and balanced. And, other than the aforementioned formatting issues, it is an easy, enjoyable read.


  • The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Science of Psychology

    Posted on August 4th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Science of Psychology


    Yesterday I connected with a new friend on Facebook. He posed some vitally-important questions to me about the sufficiency of Scripture and the science of psychology.


    These are much-debated and extremely-significant issues. His wording of the questions is the best, most succinct that I’ve seen.


    Questions to Ponder


    “Bob, I’d like your opinion about some things:


    1. Do you think there are any useful principles that the science of psychology has come up with that are in harmony with the Word of God?


    2. In your opinion are all of the truths that a Christian psychologist can effectively apply to his counselees found in the Bible?


    3. If not, can you give any examples of such truths that are not found in the Bible?”


    Your Thoughts?


    So what do you think? How would you respond to each of these well-worded questions about the relationship between the sufficiency of Scripture and the science of psychology?


  • Free Resource with 100s of Verses on Identity in Christ

    Posted on July 31st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am In Christ, Part Ten


    Knowing our identity in Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully.


    Download for Free the Entire Series of Verses:


    If you’ve enjoyed and benefited from our posts on Who I Am In Christ, then here’s a special gift for you. Go here for a free download of every verse from the entire series: http://bit.ly/eqNQ


    Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!


    You’ll also enjoy and be empowered by our next series of posts on Who I Am To Christ.


    Here’s how these two sets of verses and spiritual principles are related:


    1. Who I Am IN Christ: This is our position in Christ. It relates to our being saints. These verses focus on our regeneration—our new nature in Christ.


    2. Who I Am TO Christ: This is our relationship to Christ. It relates to our being sons and daughters of the King. These verses focus on our reconciliation—our new family.


    The Original Source: Soul Physicians


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://bit.ly/7vaE

  • Book Review: Seeing with New Eyes

    Posted on July 30th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Seeing with New Eyes:

    Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture


    *Title: Seeing with New Eyes

    *Author: David Powlison, Ph.D.

    *Publisher: P&R Publishing (2003)

    *Category: Church, Biblical Counseling, Ministry


    Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Beyond the Suffering, Sacred Friendships, and God’s Healing for Life’s Losses


    Recommended: Seeing with New Eyes offers a Christ-centered, comprehensive model for building a biblical theology of biblical counseling based upon a biblical psychology of human nature.


    Review: The Creator’s View of His Creation


    Author David Powlison is one of the foremost theologian-practitioners in the modern biblical counseling movement. Seeing with New Eyes compiles articles previously penned (over a period of two decades) by Powlison, all centered around the theme of a theology of biblical counseling.


    Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him


    Powlison defines counseling very practically as “intentionally helpful conversations.” His goal in Seeing with New Eyes is to equip readers to look at such spiritual conversations through God’s perspective—this encompasses the “new eyes” of the title. We see everything in life and ministry entirely differently when God’s eyes become our lens.


    Powlison uses the common and very helpful model of creation, fall, and redemption to unfold Scriptures’ view of people, problems, and solutions. It is through this three-fold conceptual grid that Seeing with New Eyes seeks to assist the church in the care and cure of souls.


    The premise is simply profound: Does God have a take on counseling? Powlison answers in the affirmative: God’s gaze has everything to say about the myriad issues counseling addresses. Seeing with New Eyes aspires to listen well, to look closely, and to think hard within the patterns of God’s gaze.


    Opening Blind Eyes


    Powlison organizes his thoughts in two parts: Scripture Opens Blind Eyes and Reinterpreting Life. In part one, readers enjoy a biblical theology of biblical counseling from three books of Scripture: Ephesians, Psalms, and Luke. In part two, readers benefit from a biblical psychology of biblical counseling: what is the nature of human nature and why do we do what we do?


    In several chapters on Ephesians, Powlison seeks to understand how Paul uses Scripture and thus how we should do so in practical theology. He then explores Paul’s view of God and the titanic difference our image of God must make in our lives and ministries. In a final chapter on Ephesians, Powlison uses Ephesians 5:21-6:4 as a model for understanding human relationships. Throughout this section Powlison artfully crafts a pastoral theology for real people with real life issues and a real God with real answers.


    Biblical counseling has sometimes been slow to emphasize suffering, instead focusing almost exclusively on sin. So it is encouraging to see Powlison spend two important chapters on the why and how of suffering, using the Psalms as his guide. These chapters provide a biblical sufferology useful both for the person going through suffering and for the person called along side to help the sufferer.


    His chapter on Luke is a sermon on Jesus’ sermon on worry. What Powlison does here is reflective of his entire purpose: he takes one section of Scripture and not only applies it, but models how we can apply it in biblical counseling.


    For readers wanting a full-blown, systematic, detailed theology of biblical counseling, Seeing with New Eyes may fall a little short. However, that was not Powlison’s purpose. However, for readers wanting an excellent introduction into how to view and use Scripture to begin to develop a biblical model of biblical counseling, Seeing with New Eyes is an excellent primer.


    What Is the Nature of Human Nature?: Why Do We Do What We Do?


    Having shared a foundational model of biblical counseling theology-building, Powlison now illustrates how to build a biblical psychology—a biblical view of “personality theory.” Put practically, he asks and answers the question, from the perspective of the Creator, “What makes us tick?”


    The strength of this section is found in Powlison’s insistence on building a view of human nature not coram anthropos (from the perspective of humanity), but coram Theos (from the perspective of God). We can understand people via people, or we can understand people via God. Powlison rightly chooses to understand the creature not through the creature but through the Creator.


    These nine chapters cover, in overview form, almost every issue a biblical counselor needs to ponder when developing a Christian approach to human nature. In each case, Powlison shows insight into the world’s perspective, shares his view of God’s perspective, and does both with a keen eye to practical application and ministry implications.


    Chapter 7 goes for the big picture of human motivation theory. It explores God’s “X-ray” of what He sees when He looks at why we do what we do. The 35 X-ray questions are worth the proverbial price of the book—practical, theological, psychological, motivational, convicting.


    Chapters 8 and 9 present a theology of desire and affections. Again, biblical counseling at times has been seen (and perhaps has been somewhat guilty of) to deemphasize desires, affections, and longings. These two chapters go a long way toward reemphasizing the biblical importance of and place of desire, rightly understood, in the Christian’s life. Powlison accurately demonstrates that desire and affection are good terms and core aspect of God’s design, but that because of the fall we must always battle the temptation to orient our desires away from God.


    No pie-in-the-sky theology, Powlison shows the practicality of a theology of desire/affection in chapter 10 when he addresses the question, What if your father didn’t love you? How does a Christian counselor deal with the legitimate but unmet desire (see James 4:1-4) of “father love”?


    Similarly, Powlison’s chapter What Do You Feel? explores another area that at times has seen limited press in modern biblical counseling. How do we understand emotions biblically and how do we mature as emotional beings? Powlison strikes a good balance between living for feelings and ignoring feelings.


    In his final chapter, Powlison attempts to address the complex issues surrounding bio-psychology: what is the role and relationship of the body to the mind? Powlison, in the space allowed, provides a nuanced approach. For instance, Powlison summarizes supportively the historic rule of thumb in biblical counseling, “See a doctor for your body. See your pastor, other pastoral counselors, and wise friends for your heart, soul, mind, might, manner of life, and the way to handle sufferings.” But perhaps because the mind/body issue is so complex in its God-designed interworking, this chapter at times felt a little less “deep” and a little too “definitive.” The possible interrelationship of mind/body, brain/soul at times seems a bit minimized. That said, Powlison does acknowledge the potential ambiguity and does encourage the biblical counselor to keep abreast of accurate medical research.


    Living Life Well


    Seeing with New Eyes is about living life well for God’s glory. It is a surprisingly cohesive book given that it pulls together over a dozen articles written over nearly two decades. It provides a consistent sampler of how to erect a biblical, God-honoring, God-following approach to people-helping. It  supplies a compass, a GPS, a directional marker, a map to guide, without being a straight-jacket to follow blindly. The gaze of Christ does in fact shape the spiritual conversations between real people in the real world.




  • Be Equipped to Change Lives

    Posted on July 17th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Be Equipped to Change Lives


    I’d like to invite you to join me (Bob Kellemen) at the AACC’s World Conference from Wednesday, September 16, 2009 through Saturday, September 19, 2009 in Nashville, TN.


    Our Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN) has many equipping events planned to empower you to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    BCSFN Pre-Conference


    The BCSFN will hold its first “Conference-within-a Conference” during the AACC World Pre-Conference on Wednesday, September 18.


    In the morning session from 9:00 AM to Noon, I (Bob Kellemen) will present on Developing a Theology and Methodology of Biblical Counseling. Learn seven essential biblical counseling competencies necessary to build a truly scriptural approach to Christian counseling.


    In the afternoon session from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, Ron Hawkins will present on Using the Bible Accurately and Effectively in Biblical Counseling.


    To register for the Pre-Conference go here http://tinyurl.com/nw5z2p

    and then select the Pre-Conferences by Kellemen and Hawkins to join others interested in biblical counseling and spiritual formation equipping.


    BCSFN Track Presentations


    During the AACC World Conference, from Thursday, September 17 to Saturday, September 19, the BCSFN has its own track, where we will be hearing from the following speakers:


    *Ian F. Jones, “Biblical Counseling in the Historical Church,” Thursday, September 17, 8:45 to 10:00 AM, Session 103.


    *Gary Moon, “Discipleship vs. Apprenticeship: An Experiential Approach to Spiritual Growth,” Thursday, September 17, 2:15 to 3:30 PM, Session 203.


    *Robert W. Kellemen, “How to Practice Comprehensive Biblical Counseling: Implementing a Dozen Dreams,” Friday, September 18, 8:45-10:00 AM, Session 303. Learn how to care like Christ by providing Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling and spiritual formation.


    *Scott E. Wiggington, “For Crying Out Loud: Reclaiming the Lost Language of Lament in Christian Counseling,” Friday, September 18, 2:15 to 3:30 PM, Session 403.


    *Phil Monroe, “Engaging Biblical Texts in Trauma Therapy,” Friday, September 18, 4:15 to 5:30 PM, Session 503.


    *John Thomas, “What’s Good About Feeling Bad: Developing a Theology of Suffering, Saturday, September 19, 8:45 to 10:00 AM, Session 603.


    *Rick Marrs, “Making Christian Counseling More Christ-Centered,” Saturday, September 19, 2:15-3:30 PM, Session 703.


    To register for the AACC World Conference Tracks, go here http://tinyurl.com/l284w6 and then select the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Foundations tracks when you sign-up.


    BCSFN Mixer


    Please join us on Friday evening for the BCSFN Mixer. Our time together will include fellowship, connecting, discussing the latest happenings in the BCSFN, and interacting about ways our division can better equip our members. We want to get to know you and benefit from your participation!


    Register for the AACC World Conference


    Please visit the following link to register for the 2009 AACC World Conference:




  • Who Are You in Christ? Part 2

    Posted on July 16th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am In Christ, Part Two


    Note: Knowing our identity in Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully. As you read the following summaries:


    *Meditate on the associated verses and on the truth they share about you.


    *Reject the lies of Satan about your identity.


    *Thank God for who you are in Christ.


    *Select one verse/truth per day and specifically apply it to your life and relationships.


    My Identity in Christ


    John 15:11—My joy is complete in Christ.


    John 16:33—I have overcome the world in Christ.


    John 17:16—I am not of this world.


    Acts 2:44; 4:32—I am a believer.


    Acts 5:20—I have new life in Christ.


    Acts 8:3; 2 Corinthians 1:1—Together with all the saints, I am God’s Church.


    Acts 11:26—I am a Christian, a little Christ.


    Acts 13:39; Romans 3:24, 26, 28, 30; 4:25; 5:1, 9, 18; 10:10; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:7—I am justified freely and fully in Christ.


    Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 6:11—I am sanctified in Christ.


    Romans 1:6—I am called to belong to Christ.


    Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 4:21, 22; Philemon 4; Jude 3—I am a saint.


    Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14—I am redeemed in Christ.


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://tinyurl.com/d8grf6