Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hubris in Christian Counseling

What other vocation bears with it such ambiguity? Read this:

"As a counselor, my job is to model Christ to my clients. This seems somewhat obvious because as Christians we are supposed to be constantly formed into the image of Christ...In many practical ways we show our clients what it means to experience God here and now...It is not enough to make clients read Scriptures to show them the realities and characteristics of the Almighty, Loving God. We must bring this to life in the therapy session." Bryan Ray, 2006, The practical face of integration, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Vol 25, (1), p. 75.

Now, in one sense the fisentenceance is true. But so is, "As an accountant, my job is to model Christ to my clients."

Frankly, I don't think my job is to show my clients "what it means to experience God here and now." I think that my job is to help clients see how they are getting in their own way, to teach them about how human beings learn and unlearn so as to apply it to their own undesirable behavior patterns, to help them think clearly, etc.

Does this strike anyone else as hubris?

It bothers me that some of us assume tbecauseuase we have gone through advanced training that we are in a special "ministry". There is but one ministry, that of Word and Sacrament. It bothers me that some people assume a mantle that has not theirs to take. I have not been called by the Church to do ministry.

There is a lot of talk of late about spiritual disciplines and using religious ritual as a healing practice in counseling. This makes me profoundly nervous.

I'll admit, I've pointed clients back to their Baptism and encouraged them to attend the Table. I've tried to disabuse clients of faulty conceptions of the Faith and of God. I've prayed for clients. If I were in a hospital situation, I may even be willing to absolve in an emergency. My station simply does not bear with it the rights and responsibilities given to Christ's Under-Shepherds by our Lord himself.


Blogger John said...


It could be hubris or woeful ignorance of biblical truth.

As John Murray says, "The difference between truth and error is not a chasm, but a razor’s edge.” Psychology is a calling from God (a.k.a. "vocation"). The sacred/secular dichotomy of the Roman Catholic Church was corrected during the Reformation. Martin Luther provided the Church with a renewed and robust doctrine of vocation.

Bryan cannot/should not administer the sacraments or preach the Word. Yet, he should labor in his vocation under the Lordship of Christ. He should have a distinctive worldview composed of norms, goals, and motivations distinct from his non-Christian peers. He is to follow the Apostle Paul's command, "...Do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

It is pride or ignorance. Perhaps a good bit of both.

10:37 AM  

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