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HOW I STUMBLED ONTO TRUE BIBLICAL COUNSELLING

Having been, for many years, interested in the wide diversity of personalities that there are, I began wondering what makes me and other people really "tick? What decides how we act in the many circumstances we have to go through in life?" I have always tried to see "the broad picture" and underlying patterns in all sorts of interests that we all have over the years. This gradually led me to read a wide range of books on human behaviour, amongst them Vance Packard's "The Waste Makers" of the advertising world - and other similar books on behaviour. I had heard about the counselling books by Jay Adams, and one day in the local Christian bookshop, looking for another book, I saw a book by Adams. Flicking through it, I realised that he had researched in depth the whole of Christian counselling and cast it in a totally new light. Within a few days I had devoured this book and went back for any other works by Adams.
Realising that he had the key to Christian counselling, in order to spread his teachings to the Christian church locally, I circulated all the churches to a meeting in the local library that was addresed by a pastor who had been using Adam's methods for some time. From this arose a group that I led for three years (in the 1980's) during which we studied only Adam's books and tapes. Beginning with about 30 members, this gradully dropped to about 6 by the end of the three years when I closed it.
After about two years, we began to look at his "Christian Counselors Casebook". On the left page he gave a very brief outline of a counselling situation, and on the right page were questions about how we would deal with this case and blanks that we had to fill in our answers.
As a group, we really struggled with trying to answer these questions. I would note what the members said, write them up as "model answers" and give them out at the next meeting.
After we had gone through five of these cases, I happened to have my "model answers" all laid out before me and was reading them. As I looked at the first case, then the others, I sensed that there was a common theme running through ALL these cases. It did not take long for it to suddenly dawn on me that at the root of ALL their problems was the PRIDE of the counsellee that had made him make a bad, selfish and self-centred decision in dealing with his problem. He had run away from it or hidden it from others and blamed others for the situation that he now found himself in.
I cannot tell you how much this was a "Eureka" moment for me, not just about solving these cases, but in realising where the root of ALL our personal problems stem from. I had absorbed C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and his chapter on the Cardinal Sin of Pride in the list of the Seven Deadly sins, so I was well prepared for this discovery. After this, the cases were easy to deal with.
I began to first see the weaknesses and facades in my own life, and then how others can also adopt attitudes and behaviours that result in them presenting a "front" in order to hide their real feelings behind the walls that they then build around themselves - lest others should ever discover the real ME behind them. These barriers to genuine contact and friendship (love?) between people can ultimately result in a complete breakdown of their personality and they finish up in a mental institution or commit suicide.
I became deeply concerned to open people's eyes to the fact their problems were of their own making, and that they COULD make a start in changing their attitude to life's problems by not running away from them and dealing with them in a mature (Christian?) way. Several years later I contacted Rev. Dr. Robert Law and found that before entering the Anglican church he was a doctor who had worked in psychiatric hospitals and had come to exactly the same conclusions that I had. From this came our book "Breakdowns are good for you". Let me explain the title - we will ALL face a breakdown at some time - either -
(i) when we become Christians and humbly accept Christ's death as freeing us from condemnation for our willful rebellion against a Holy God,
OR
(ii) have the breakdown when we face God himself, when it will be too late to change!
I had to call our approach TRUE Biblical Counselling because almost all conventional biblical counselling includes secular models that their students can use if they consider them "appropriate". We, however, reject ALL secular models as they are basically not just unChristian but even anti-Christian for they teach precepts that are completely contrary to the true Christian doctrines.
Malcolm Bowden
March 2012.

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