Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Review: Counseling One Another

In Counseling One Another: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship, Paul Tautges "counters the problem [of the acceptance of integrationism in the ministry of counseling] by replacing it with a biblical theology of discipleship that is truly God-centered," (Kindle location 200).  He defines biblical counseling as "an intensely focused and personal aspect of the discipleship process, whereby believers come alongside one another...to help the other person consistently apply Scriptural theology...[to] warn their spiritual friend, in love, of the consequences of sinful action, and [to] lead that brother or sister to make consistent progress in the ongoing process of biblical change," (Kindle location 258).

Shortly after his biblical counseling definition, Mr. Tautges goes to say that "[a]uthentic biblical counseling is nothing more, and surely nothing less, than the fulfillment of the Great Command [the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19] to make disciples of Jesus Christ by the delegated authority of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit," (Kindle location 289).  This statement is at odds with his earlier definition of biblical counseling.  The author conflates salvation and sanctification when he forces biblical counseling into the Great Commission: "the content of the Great Command demands a commitment to biblical counseling since discipleship is the very core of counseling...True biblical counseling is that which functions within relationships which exist as fruit of the ongoing command to make disciples of Jesus Christ by moving others farther down the road of obedience to His Word...Discipleship is helping another believer make biblical change toward Christlikeness--helping others in the sanctification process," (Kindle location 347).  A person is not saved through biblical counseling, but through the foolishness of preaching (1 Cor. 1:21).  The Great Commission involves the preaching of the Word of God to bring salvation to the elect of God.  Biblical counseling deals with the sanctification of that person once he is saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).  It does no good to counsel a lost person with the things of God; he is at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7) and the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14).

In addition, Mr. Tautges's definition of sin is weak and very man-centered: "Sin is willful independence from God," (Kindle location 650), "Sin, in reality is self-worship," (Kindle location 663), and "Sin is more than a choice: it is also the powerful influence...which holds the sinner in voluntary bondage," (Kindle location 696).  You cannot adequately counsel someone when you're not willing to identify the problem.  In addition, if your talking to an unregenerate person, he can do nothing BUT sin; he is a slave to sin until the Holy Spirit regenerates his heart and gives him a new nature.  From the Baptist Catechism, Question #17 What is Sin?: "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God."

Finally, here is an example of the author's conflation of salvation and sanctification when giving advice for biblical counseling: "It is clear that that warning in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is very useful in biblical counseling.  All who practice these sinful lifestyles will not 'inherit the kingdom of God' (v. 10).  Paul's point is that these sins will keep a person out of heaven because they are worthy of condemnation and therefore must be treated seriously and repented of as sin, not excused as 'sickness'," (Kindle location 931).  However, a justified person is someone who has true saving faith; he will sin because he still has a sin nature, but he will work toward holiness through the sanctification process.  This person will never lose their salvation because of sin.  If he walks away from faith, then he was never truly had saving faith (1 John 2:19).  On the other hand, if a person is not a true believer, then yes, sin will keep him out of heaven.  Mr. Tautges is not clear as to which person is being counseled; therefore, his advice is confusing and not helpful in any counseling situation.

Since I do not agree with the author's exposition of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, his definition of sin, nor his biblical counseling advice, I cannot recommend this book for any Christian.

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen," (Matt. 28:19-20).