THE DOCTOR IS IN!

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Paul identified three aspects of our makeup that correspond to the three categories of counseling just noted: 



“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).




What are the distinctive features of these parts of the human being?  The human spirit is the immaterial aspect of a person that includes the faculties of conscience, intuition, and communion.  The soul is the immaterial part of us that includes the faculties of mind, will, emotions, and affections.  The body, of course, is the material aspect of our makeup, which includes our organ systems, senses, appetites, etc.  These parts of the human being also have distinctive roles in our relationships.  We primarily relate to God via the human spirit (Rom 8:16, John 4:23,24); we primarily relate to other people via the soul, and we primarily relate to the material world through the body.  Although we are one in personhood, these aspects of our makeup need to be accurately discerned.3



Although much pastoral counseling is eclectic and psychology-oriented, the biblical role of pastor/discipler leads to a model of counseling that is Christ-centered and grace-oriented.  Such ministry should function as remedial discipleship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit—the ultimate Therapist.4


In his book, Called to Counsel, John Cheydleur identifies the value of interpersonal counseling and then notes pastoral counseling's relationship to the spiritual life:



Pastoral counseling often includes the concerns of other counseling disciplines, but the purpose is holy and requires a more complete sensitivity than the other three approaches psychiatry, psychotherapy, and clinical social work.  The focus of spiritual counseling is nothing less than the reconciliation of the three dimensions of life with the powerful and critical fourth dimension of the spirit.5



One’s view of redemption and sanctification is foundational to clarifying one’s counseling strategy.  Note this observation by a secular writer on the centrality of one’s belief system in determining the right counseling model:


It is my conviction that our views of human nature and the basic assumptions that undergird our views of the therapeutic process have significant implications for the way we develop our therapeutic practices...a central task is to make our assumptions explicit and conscious, so that we can establish some consistency between our beliefs about human nature and the way we implement our procedures in counseling or therapy.6



B. Simpson’s book, Christ in You:  The  Christ-Life and the Self-Life deals directly with the issues of deeper life sanctification.  Commenting on Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17, Simpson observed,



“This was the last prayer that Christ offered for His people:  ‘That I myself may be in them’ (v. 26b)…Oh, if we want this prayer fulfilled, we must enter into the meaning of this message and never stop short of its actual experience.”7 



Drawing on the heritage of deeper-life writers, Dr. Charles Solomon developed a model of counseling that focuses on sharing this message and helping believers appropriate their union with Christ experientially.  He formulated a strategic, short-term model of biblical counseling following his own spiritual breakthrough.8  This process helps the counselee understand:



1.  The root cause of problems such as inferiority, inadequacy, insecurity, worry, doubts, and fears;
2.  Basic spiritual needs that only God can meet;
3.  The formative influences of being overtly or covertly rejected by others;
4.  The root causes of emotional tension (depression,
anxiety), and mental dysfunction (fantasy, paranoia, obsessive thoughts etc.);

5.  The role of personal identity;
6.  The biblical teaching of the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension;
7.  The necessity of applying the work of the Cross in exchanging the “self-life” for the “Christ-life”.9