A Comparison of Christian and Secular Counseling with a Bible Word Study Basis

Topics: New Testament, Bible, Old Testament Pages: 17 (5166 words) Published: April 24, 2008
A Comparison � PAGE �18�

Running head: A COMPARISON OF CHRISTIAN AND SECULAR COUNSELING

A Comparison of Christian and Secular Counseling

with a Bible Word Study Basis



Abstract

In order to arrive at a clearer view of Christian counseling, this paper examines the similarities and differences between secular and Christian counseling. It begins with a biblical word study to establish a basis for Christian counseling. The words counsel, comfort, and wisdom are examined in both the Old and New Testament. The Biblical view of counseling is compared and contrasted with the secular view. Relevant ethical considerations are examined, specifically related to the _Bruff v. North Mississippi Health Services, Inc.,_ 2001 case. The paper concludes with a discussion regarding future endeavors in professional counseling including how to integrate the best Christian and secular practices.



A Comparison of Christian and Secular Counseling

with a Bible Word Study Basis

Christian counseling has been difficult to define because there are two distinct kinds of counseling: spiritual counseling and mental health counseling (Bufford, 1997). Thus, there are many approaches for the practice of Christian counseling that range from the integrationist to the nouthetic position, which has made identifying distinctive features of Christian counseling a complex task. Counselors of the nouthetic approach claim that truth can only be found in the Bible, all counseling models must be exclusively from the Bible, and any integration of psychological theories must be rejected. The integrationists state that God reveals his truth universally. Hence, they accept and utilize both the techniques and the theories of psychology with Scriptural truth to help their clients heal (Carter, 1999). Realizing the need for both spiritual counseling and mental health counseling, Bufford (1997) defined seven distinctives of Christian counseling. Clinton and Ohlschlager (2002) proposed ideas for Christian counseling that they describe as a paracentric focus that seems to more accurately convey the essence of Christian counseling.

In view of all this effort to define Christian counseling, there is still much diversity of practice among Christian counselors. In an effort to understand the biblical views of counseling, and create a more distinctive picture of what is and is not biblical counseling, a word study on a variety of counsel terms is presented in this paper. Next, the conclusions from the word study are compared to the professional views of counseling including an examination of relevant ethical considerations. This paper will conclude with a discussion regarding future endeavors in professional counseling.

Biblical Words Related to Counseling

In this section, a word study was conducted to understand the biblical views of counseling. The words counsel, wisdom, and comfort were researched by first using the _Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible_ (Strong, 1996). The range of situations in which these concepts were used in the Old and New Testaments were researched using Richards' (1985) _Expository Dictionary of Bible Words,_ Vine's (1940) _Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,_ and the _Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology_ (Elwell, 1996). Several Bible commentaries were used to illustrate how these concepts were used in the Old and the New Testaments.

_Counsel_

The Hebrew words that best communicate "to counsel" or "to advise" are ya`ats and its derivative `etsah. Both words mean advice, counsel, purpose or plan. In the Old Testament, these words are used to describe both the counsel of God and the counsel of man. Ya`ats is used 80 times in the King James Version (KJV) of the Old Testament and `etsah is used 88 times to convey the concept of counsel or advice (Blue Letter Bible (BLB), 1996-2008). When ya`ats and `etsah are used as human counsel, it is usually in the context of counsel being...

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