Just finished my paper presentation at the Counseling, Psychology, and Pastoral Care section meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society–meeting in frigid Providence, RI. Had the pleasure of hearing David Powlison talk about the various errors of evangelical biblical counselors and professional counselors shortchange scripture (e.g., treat it atomistically or ignore its richness altogether). He gave several case studies trying to put words to what many counselors intuitively know about the best uses of Scripture in counseling. I followed him and talked about two major problems: treating the text as a compilation of timeless truthes and missing the varied ways God is writing us into his story and the problem of either treating Scripture as a tool or a diagnostic manual–which both lead to some dangers.
I then presented one case study of what I call a narratival approach, using Scripture to meet and validate the present experience of the counselee and so make room for two things (that meeting God and seeing self may or may not change our current mental state AND that we can begin to see how God is writing a different story that we tend to imagine in our fallen states).
John Franke then gave a good talk on how a plural way of looking at Revelation supports an inerrantist model of Scripture but avoids the ONE way of articulating doctrines. He said that this way of thinking would impact counselors by: Continuing to anchor christian care in the normative foundation of Scripture, that we would resist absolutizing THE christian counseling model but find unity amongst diversity, that counseling then must be driven by wisdom and the Spirit, that counseling must be engaged in a constructive and critical dialog with secular psychology. He wants us to avoid seeing our diversity of christian counseling models as bad but facets of God’s guidance.
Well, intellectually stimulating to say the least. Now, I’m done and off to be a spectator. I’ve run into several old friends and am making some new ones as I write.