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Who is the Ken Ham of the Biblical Counseling Movement?
My friend Heath Lambert tells me there are thousands of “Ken Hams” in the biblical counseling movement. Given the counseling expertise, I suppose I’d hoped for a less defensive-offensive (in the sporting sense) response, and more of a receptive-listening-learning-constructive stance. But I seem to have touched a sensitive spot here, and for my temerity I’ve been consigned to the outer darkness of being “outside the biblical counseling movement.” Hope no one tells my employer who’s hired me to teach our biblical counseling courses.

The Ten Commandments: Nothing New
Joseph Franks argues that the Ten Commandments were revealed and observed before Sinai and concludes: “Therefore, let us discern the difference between the permanent and the temporary laws of God, and let us strive to keep God’s universal and permanent commandments.”

Death to Healthy, Wealthy & Happy
Ed Welch: “I hate the prosperity gospel or any teaching that suggests good Christians will be healthy, wealthy and happy. As a counselor I see its wretched fruit. I hate it, and I am not alone. The number of haters is reaching a critical mass, maybe even a tipping point. But I can understand why this pernicious teaching endures. In many places, Scripture seems to teach it, so there will always be a contingent of prosperity folks among us.”

I Love a Church That Sings Badly
Oh, for more of them!

Pastor, Are You Speaking in Tongues During Your Sermon
What a day! Within a few hours I’m excommunicated by the biblical counseling movement and then find out that I’m a charismatic.

Why are we still on Facebook?
Good question. I must admit I’m so close to pulling the plug. Maybe this week.


6 Stabilizing Truths for Anarchic Times

In 1994, Robert Kaplan wrote an article “The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet.” Now, twenty years later, with a few minor tweaks, he’s saying, “See I told you so!”

In Why So Much Anarchy? Kaplan says that “significant portions of the earth, rather than follow the dictates of Progress and Rationalism, are simply harder and harder to govern.” He focuses especially on the current anarchy enveloping and sinking the Arab world and sets out to explain the roots:

  • The End of Imperialism. It may not have been fair, and it may not have been altogether civil, but imperialism, the mainstay of stability for human populations for thousands of years, is now gone.
  • The End of Post-Colonial Strongmen. Colonialism continued for decades in the guise of strong dictators, who had inherited state systems from the colonialists.
  • No Institutions. The key element, is the lack of institutions that fill the gap between the ruler at the top and the extended family or tribe at the bottom.
  • Feeble Identities. With feeble institutions, such post-colonial states have feeble identities.
  • Doctrinal Battles. As state identities weaken, sectarian and other differences within Islam come to the fore, often violently.
  • Information Technology. While smartphones and social media can help topple governments, it cannot provide a coherent and organized replacement pole of bureaucratic power to maintain political stability afterwards.

Kaplan believes this anarchy will be with us for a long time to come, but also warns of even greater anarchy if current anti-authoritarian sentiment continues to spread in Russia and China. But we don’t need to look beyond our own land to see some laws ignored and others not applied.

When the world is in such an unstable world, it’s good to remind ourselves of five stabilizing and comforting truths:

1. Our sovereign God is on the throne of the universe, before whom nations, super-powers, and empires are like a drop in a bucket or a speck of dust on the balances (Isa 40).

2. God decides which nations will strengthen and rise, and which nations will disintegrate and fall (John 76:7).

3. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, is independent of this world, and is coming regardless of which country’s name is on each piece of ground (John 18:36; Rev. 11:15).

4. We can enjoy the peace and presence of God in our souls even when all around us the “mountains” are being cast into the midst of the sea (Ps. 46).

5. Each individual Christian is in the hand of God and although our physical safety is not guaranteed, we are spiritually and eternally safe (John 8:28-29).

6. The increasing anarchy may well be one of the “signs of the times” that remind us of the imminent end of all time, and the beginning of the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness not anarchy will dwell. (Matt. 24:7; 2 Peter. 3:13)


Schizophrenia Helped by CBT

Research published in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, reveals that Cognitive Behavior Therapy [CBT] could be an effective treatment when schizophrenics refuse antipsychotic drugs:

  • CBT is an officially recommended treatment, but is available to less than 10% of patients in the UK with schizophrenia.
  • About four-in-10 patients benefit from taking antipsychotic medication.
  • But the drugs cause side-effects such as type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
  • Up to half of patients with schizophrenia end up not taking the drugs.
  • CBT reduced symptoms, and improved person and social function
  • CBT worked in 46% of patients, approximately the same as for antipsychotics.
  • Most patients were agreeable to trying cognitive therapy.
  • Drugs and CBT combined were the best treatment.

The authors are at pains to point out that those presently taking meds should not stop taking them. The research conclusions are primarily aimed at helping those who will not take meds, are irregular in taking them, or who suffer too bad side-effects from them.

See summary of research here.

For a simple explanation of CBT, see Six Steps to Better Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions.


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Preparing Your Teens for College
Here’s a book to look out for in a couple of weeks, Alex Chediak’s follow-up to Thriving At College.

What Great Artists Need: Solitude
Pastors too! Persevere with this until later in the article.

Gifts of the Spirit in the Old Testament
This is an excellent article on an important subject.

5 Biggest Hiring Mistakes
Michael Hyatt: “Having learned the hard way, I have gotten better at hiring over time. Whenever I get ready to hire someone new, I now have a defined process. It is designed to avoid these five mistakes:”

Learning to Think Outside the Box
Creativity becomes an academic discipline. (HT: Marc Cortez)

The Discipleship Growth of Jesus
Barry York: “Recognizing the development of Christ can have a profound impact on our own approach to discipleship.  On the one hand, it means we have a Savior who can identify with us in every stage of our development.  He knows what it is like to be a child growing up into adulthood. Thus, whether we are a child, teenager, young adult, or person of maturity, we can be encouraged that Jesus understands the challenges unique to those stages of development.”

Fulness of Joy Helps Healthy Aging
A recent study found that joy keeps people healthier as they age. “Researchers found that people who enjoy life tend to maintain better physical function” and had a greater sense of wellbeing.


Where is Biblical Counseling’s Ken Ham?

Heath Lambert has a fine article here on the Ham v Nye creation debate and the way worldview determines how we all look at the same evidence.

Halfway through, he points out how in this respect the “Counseling Wars” are so similar to the “Origins Wars” and then says:

I know of no single biblical counselor who rejects the observations of secular psychiatry. Biblical counselors embrace the same facts as secular counselors, integrationists, and Christian psychologists. Biblical counselors are not distinct from these other approaches in their embrace of the facts but in their approach to and understanding of these facts.

I think this is true in principle, but I don’t see much evidence of it in practice. That’s where I’d like to see the biblical counseling movement mature and develop, and it could do so by taking a leaf out of Ken Ham’s book.

Informed Interaction
When compared with biblical counselors, Ham and his creationist colleagues seem to be much more informed about the science they are interacting with and much more capable and courageous in entering the scientists’ world, taking the scientists’ facts and findings, and re-framing them within the biblical worldview.

I don’t see so much evidence of that in biblical counseling, a field I read a lot in, teach in, and do almost daily as well. What is much more common is disinterest in, hostility towards, or even outright rejection of the whole field of psychology and pharmacology IN PRACTICE. Note these last two words. I don’t doubt the “we embrace the same facts” theory, as Heath Lambert ably articulates it. But where’s that actually being practiced and who is actually practicing it?

Criticism and Condemnation
Instead, whatever is claimed, the most frequent Christian note with respect to psychology and pharmacology seems to be criticism and condemnation.

Yes, there are exceptions to this. For example, Ed Welch’s Blame it on the Brain? though brief and now a bit dated is helpful. Bob Kellemen’s post on counseling someone with serious depression who wants to try meds, though couched in cautious terms and lacking any “good news story” about medication, is also welcome, although I would not recommend Hodges book to someone in that desperate situation.

So, yes, there are exceptions. But here’s the question: If our biblical worldview is so sure and so strong, why do we rarely see anyone entering the lecture halls, Psychology journals, science labs and research facilities, returning with current facts, figures, and findings, and presenting them from a biblical worldview, as Ham and others do so well in the area of origins. Is there nothing positive to find, learn from, and apply?

If our worldview is so sure and strong, why can’t we more frequently recognize, praise, and use findings, advances, practices, and even meds that secular scientists and psychologists have discovered and have used to help others?

Embarrassing
Some Christians might be embarrassed by Ham’s worldview and presuppositions (I’m not, by the way), but you cannot be embarrassed by his current knowledge of the field he is critiquing. I’m afraid that’s not the case in many areas of biblical counseling. If I hear the ancient concession line about the thyroid gland being repeated one more time, my eyes and veins will pop without any thyroid problem!

How about some current brain research? How about some good news stories about medications and how they helped a Christian? How about working much harder to study current secular theories and therapies and finding even the odd grain of helpful truth in them?

I’d love to see a counseling debate along the same lines as the creation debate. But for all the gifted theologians, sound exegetes, and compassionate carers that we have, I don’t know if we have anyone anywhere near as able a champion as Ken Ham on our side; someone who knows enough about our worldview opponents to stand toe-to-toe with them in an informed debate, and debate knowledgeably and respectfully with an opponent of a contrary worldview.

It’s certainly not me, but if you’re out there I’d love to meet you.


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John Piper Explains Why He Tries for Ethnic Unity
“Piper, a white man who grew up in the South, might not seem like the obvious choice to consult on race relations. But he has contributed his time, pen, wisdom, and life to the goal of racial harmony. ”

9 Lessons From Entrepreneurship from the Shark Tank
Although, given my calling, I’m unlikely ever to put any of these into practice, I still found these lessons fascinating especially when I look back at a couple of businesses I was involved in an earlier life.

The Cornerstone of Winston Churchill’s Time Management
Matt Perman: “It is fascinating that when you study the most effective individuals throughout history, you see the same theme coming back again and again in how each of them managed their time. The key was focus and concentration on a few very significant priorities, always keeping in mind what is centrally important at the moment (that is, what’s best next).”

Do You Feel Tension in the Christian Life?
Jason Helopoulos presents 17 seeming contradictions that help explain the Christian life.

In Defense of the Christian Private School Bubble
Andrea Palplant calls us to give parents grace in a complex educational landscape.

You Give Them Something to Eat
Tim Brister applies the feeding of the 5,000 to pastoral ministry: “Should we not, then, follow our Master to minister in word and deed to those around us, welcoming them with the same gracious hospitality He has afforded us? Should we not embrace the challenges and messy situations, knowing that His mercy is greater than their messes? Should we not reconnect with our Master to believe that His work done His way through His people will also come with His supply? If so, then let us give them something to eat. Let us show the world around the greatness of His grace, having tasted and seen that the Lord is good!