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In order to complete my M.A. in counseling I needed to have 100 hours of counseling experience. I counseled at several different rescue missions. My concern was that most of the missions and other Christian drug and alcohol programs did not recognize mental illness. Everything was based on spiritual problems. If a person confesses their sins, and accepts Christ as Savior, all their problems will disappear. Jay Adams promotes the view that there is no such thing as mental illness. It is all spiritual and any person who knows the Bible can be Component to Counsel, as discussed in a book Adams wrote. At one mission I gave certain people in the D&A program the MMPI. It indicated that I one them had schizophrenia. Since schizophrenia was considered just a spiritual problem, I could do nothing but make recommendations about it in my notes. One director got very upset that I suggested that a certain person had mental problems.
I remember sitting in on one of Jay Adamís classes when he taught at Westminster Theological Seminary. I was required to read his books for counseling. It was not until my advanced studies in counseling, especially in Abnormal Psychology, that I realized Jay Adams was wrong. Jay Adam's main tool of counseling is confrontation. Find out what sin the person has committed then confront the person so he will confess and repent. One counselor at a mission would give hour lectures at the person being counseled. Counseling seemed so simple. Just find the sin, confess it, repent, and you will be spiritually and mentally healthy. This sin could be wrong thinking, wrong feeling, or wrong doing.
I also remember hearing Larry Crabb speak at Westminster Theological Seminary for a special seminar. I was working with drug addicts at the time. Crabbís message stressed how wicked and helpless man is in counseling. The drug addicts already know this. They need some hope, not a lecture on their wickedness.
Another main concern is that any one taking a medication, especially one for your mind, is looked down upon as weak (in faith) or wrong. Taking an antidepressant medicine is frowned upon. Some how you have weak faith. You just need to snap out of that depression.
Myth of the Christian marriage.
This myth states that a Christian marriage will last longer, but the divorce rate among Christians and non-Christians is about the same. The family that prays together stays together is not always true.
The myth of the perfect mate.
God has one and only one person that is the perfect mate for you. After the honeymoon many wake up thinking "I married the wrong person". I had a roommate in seminary who was looking for the perfect wife who did not wear makeup which was evil, and did not wear pants which was an abomination (wearing a veil over her face was optional, of course without any makeup the veil sounds like a necessity to me). My wife and I are exactly opposite in almost everything and every way. There is a very interesting book entitled Opposites Attract/Attack. There is also the popular book Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus.
The myth of the perfect children.
My wife thought that since we were both Christians and in Christian ministry, we would have perfect children. The first baby who came out screamed for several months, dashed these dreams.
The myth that God will supply for your family.
I know one couple that has 7+ children. The father thinks that God will automatically supply for as many children as they have. God will automatically give you a better job. Birth control is looked down upon, and sex is only for procreation.
The myth that sparing the rod will spoil the child.
The Christian families that I know that were very strict on their children have produced a higher proportion of agnostics and atheists. Many when they become teenagers rebel and run wild. Some will drop back in the church when they start to have a family. Many misinterpret the book of Proverbs as promises of God that he must keep, when they are only general principles. For some this becomes an excuse for abuse.
The myth of the Christian School.
Most who attend a Christian School will not go on to a Christian college. Christian schools seem to think that they must be a year or two ahead of the public school to justify their existence. More material must be covered at a faster pace accompanied by much homework. This is supposed to make one smarter. I taught fourth grade in a Christian School for a year. It was terrible. Covering the material seemed more important than actually learning as if the more material and homework you cram down their throats the more they will learn or at least spit back out to you on a test. There is a vast difference developmentally what a child can learn at age 5 and 10 years old. Some minds develop faster than others. Rarely are they taught to think for themselves.
The myth of the Christian College.
Most who attend a Christian College will not end up in Christian ministry. First of all there are not enough churches and finances to support every graduate. One church that needed a pastor received over 100 letters from prospective pastors.
The myth of perfect Christian Missionaries.
I attended a missions conference for new missionaries, and was stunned with what I heard. One missionary took off with a $40,000 new missionary helicopter, and has not been seen since. Another missionary gets year round support for just taking a two week vacation to Bermuda to pass out tracks. Many Christian missionaries can not get along with other missionaries. Missionary children are separated for long periods of time from their parents in boarding schools. It is far more economical to train and support local pastors on mission fields.
The myth of the perfect pastor.
Pastors are held up on a pedestal of perfection. Pastorís wives and children are also expected to be perfect. Going into any Christian ministry means sacrifice, very low pay, and long hours.
The myth of Godís perfect will.
There is only one perfect job for you in this life. Many people today change jobs. The economy changes as well as the jobs. Youth pastors last about one year or less at a church.
The myth that God will supply.
One only needs to pray like Praying Hyde. Do not even make your requests known to others. God will miraculously supply, if you are in Godís perfect will. George Mueller ran an orphanage in England this way that seemed to justify this, but many times they were in need which could have been avoided by letting people know his needs.
Extremes in Christian Counseling
On one extreme are the faith healers who reject all forms of medicine and blood transfusions (see Faith Tabernacle). Some faith healers like Oral Roberts had a hospital. Others reject faith healing, but see any type of psychology as evil. In the middle are those who blend Psychology with the Bible. Usually they will deny this saying it all came from the Bible. Jay Adams does not believe in mental illness. One must confess your sin, repent, read your Bible every day and go to church and your mental illness will disappear. At the other extreme are those who say the the Bible was not meant to be a text book on psychology. What we call mental illness today was probably referred to as demon possession in Bible times.
Christian Counseling Organizations
- A look at James Dobson's web site
- James Dobson's War on America
- James Dobson's Gospel
- Gary Ezzo and GFI
- Neil Anderson
- Psychohersey Awareness Ministries
- A look at Larry Crabb
- Nouthetic Counseling
- Phil Johnson's Bookmarks: Biblical Counseling
- Institute in Basic Life Principles
- Promise Keepers
- Gary Smalley
- Minirth and Meier
- Stephen Arterburn
- Clyde Narramore
- Gary Collins
- Tim LaHaye
- Nancy Missler
- American Counseling Association
- Professional organizations
- Christian Answers Net
- Churches That Abuse
- American Association of Christian Counselors