• 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.


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