Perhaps you’re aware, or perhaps you’re not, but there is a battle going on within our churches, our seminaries, indeed, within all of Christianity right now — a battle concerning the sufficiency of Scripture, particularly related to the acceptance or rejection of man-centered wisdom known as Psychology. John MacArthur put it this way back in the early 90’s:
“There may be no more serious threat to the life of the church today than the stampede to embrace the doctrines of secular psychology. They are a mass of human ideas that Satan has placed in the church as if they were powerful, life-changing truths from God … The result is that pastors, biblical scholars, teachers of Scripture, and caring believers using the Word of God are disdained as naive, simplistic, and altogether inadequate counselors” (John MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, 59-60).
For the past few decades, the battle has waged on. There are those who argue for what is known as integrationism, where the church should integrate psychology with the Bible. Then on the other side are those who argue strongly for what is called Biblical Counseling, where the Bible alone provides what is needed for all things to do with life and godliness.
A New Book
Though there have been many great books on the subject, and more are still coming out, there is one new book that I want you to know about that enters into the debate in a clear and compelling way, with a bit of a twist. The book is written by Paul Tautges and is titled, Counseling One Another. The twist that the book gives, the necessary ingredient that it adds to the many works on the issue, is the emphasis on biblical counseling being a primary part of biblical discipleship, and something that every believer should be involved in, not just the pastors or the “trained counselors.” Tautges says,
Believers in Jesus Christ must be taught and trained to be richly indwelt with the Word of God, to live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to be driven by the gospel, to express dependence on God through prayer, to be motivated by love for God and neighbor, and to be moved with compassion to help one another make progress in the ongoing work of sanctification. This is authentic biblical counseling. Therefore, in this book, counseling will be presented as a targeted form of discipleship, an intensely focused and personal ‘one-another’ ministry aimed at the serious development of serious disciples” (18).
So how does Tautges help the reader in understanding (a) what biblical counseling is, and (b) how every believer should be involved in biblical counseling as a means to disciple and see others grow in the sanctification process?
After introducing the book in Chapter 1, he begins in Chapter 2 by looking at the Great Commission, showing very clearly that “biblical counseling is a matter of fulfilling our God-given command to make disciples” (24). He breaks down the great commission in Matthew 28, showing that biblical counseling and discipling are really synonymous in the sense that their goals are the same thing. Biblical counseling, rightly understood, is simply targeted discipleship. Therefore, Tautges says,
“Biblical counseling is not an option. It should not be something that some churches do while others do not. It is a universal mandate to all biblical churches committed to carrying out the word of Jesus Christ — to produce obedient Christ-followers by coming alongside people to bring them to Jesus and to help grow them in the personal application of faith to their lives” (38).
Following his explanation of counseling being a fulfillment of the Great Commission, Tautges lays out a clear understanding of the Gospel and God’s powerful, sovereign grace to save sinners in Chapter 3, and a call to disciplined godliness in Chapter 4.
Then, in Chapter 5, he offers a helpful reminder that biblical counseling should be done with the compassion of brotherly love. We are not seeking to tear people down, but to build them up and help them see life change. In the chapter, he looks to Galatians 6:1-5 for a plan to disciple/counsel in such a way.
In Chapter 6, the reader is reminded of the supreme authority of the Word of God in this process. Though this may be something that some of us take for granted as a given, it certainly is not in the larger world of churches and counseling. So Tautges reminds us: “Authentic biblical counseling chooses no other foundation to build its philosophy and practice upon than the Scriptures: the will of God faithfully revealed to man by the Spirit from the living Word, Jesus Christ” (113).
Following that chapter on the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word, Chapter 7 turns its attention to the battle that we face against worldly psychology. Tautges says:
“Authentic biblical counseling grips the wisdom of God embodied and revealed in Jesus Christ and refuses to surrender the higher ground of the Holy Spirit’s revelation of Truth in the gospel to the inferior wisdom of man … Therefore, we must resist the integration of worldly psychology into Christian theology, which conceals Christ and undermines faith in the sufficiency of the Word of God for life and godliness. Thus, Christian psychology must be viewed for what it is: another gospel, luring believers away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ” (133).
Finally, Tautges reminds the reader in Chapter 8 of the importance of the local church for being the community that stimulates faith, and the context in which such counseling/discipleship should take place.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from the beginning to the end. Not only did I enjoy it, but I also found it incredibly helpful and edifying to me personally. I think that it is a very important book on a very important topic, and one that many in our churches — pastors and lay people alike — should be reading to equip themselves to participate in biblical discipleship. I give it my wholehearted recommendation to it as a book that I will definitely be using for myself and those I lead in the very near future.
In the concussion of the book, Tautges offers a great summary of what he has sought to accomplish in this book:
“The overall theme and objective of this book is the sanctification of the church. Specifically, it establishes a biblical theology for the work of discipleship which occurs in the context of relationships with other believers. Making disciples of Christ is not merely about leading people to saving faith in Him by means of evangelism, but it also requires a more personal ministry — a coming alongside those who believe, to help them live out the reality of their new position in Christ by learning to walk in obedient faith. This is authentic biblical counseling, and this enabling process is the work of the church” (177).
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Cross Focused Reviews and Shepherd Press for providing me with a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.