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A Theology of Christian Counseling connects biblical doctrine with practical living. Salvation, that central concern of Protestant theology, is often too narrowly defined. It is thought of as “being saved from the consequences of sin.” But God is doing much more. He is making something new out of the old sinful nature. He is, in Christ, making new creatures. “No counseling A Theology of Christian Counseling connects biblical doctrine with practical living. Salvation, that central concern of Protestant theology, is often too narrowly defined. It is thought of as “being saved from the consequences of sin.” But God is doing much more. He is making something new out of the old sinful nature. He is, in Christ, making new creatures. “No counseling system that is based on some other foundation can begin to offer what Christian counseling offers. . . . No matter what the problem is, no matter how greatly sin has abounded, the Christian counselor’s stance is struck by the far-more-abounding nature of the grace of Jesus Christ in redemption. What a difference this makes in counseling!” In this book the reader will gain an insight into the rich theological framework that supports and directs a biblical approach to counseling. And the connection between solid theology and practical application will become compelling. This book is one-of-a-kind.


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A Theology of Christian Counseling connects biblical doctrine with practical living. Salvation, that central concern of Protestant theology, is often too narrowly defined. It is thought of as “being saved from the consequences of sin.” But God is doing much more. He is making something new out of the old sinful nature. He is, in Christ, making new creatures. “No counseling A Theology of Christian Counseling connects biblical doctrine with practical living. Salvation, that central concern of Protestant theology, is often too narrowly defined. It is thought of as “being saved from the consequences of sin.” But God is doing much more. He is making something new out of the old sinful nature. He is, in Christ, making new creatures. “No counseling system that is based on some other foundation can begin to offer what Christian counseling offers. . . . No matter what the problem is, no matter how greatly sin has abounded, the Christian counselor’s stance is struck by the far-more-abounding nature of the grace of Jesus Christ in redemption. What a difference this makes in counseling!” In this book the reader will gain an insight into the rich theological framework that supports and directs a biblical approach to counseling. And the connection between solid theology and practical application will become compelling. This book is one-of-a-kind.

30 review for A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    There are some real gems in this work, but the whole suffers from imprecise theological writing, “word study syndrome,” and imbalance. At too many points, he presses the need for more writing on various subjects from a “biblical/nouthetic counseling” perspective, and he is overly defensive against his (unworthy) critics. The most glaring problem is that there is only one place in the whole book that I would characterize as distinctively trinitarian. The appendix on counseling unbelievers is help There are some real gems in this work, but the whole suffers from imprecise theological writing, “word study syndrome,” and imbalance. At too many points, he presses the need for more writing on various subjects from a “biblical/nouthetic counseling” perspective, and he is overly defensive against his (unworthy) critics. The most glaring problem is that there is only one place in the whole book that I would characterize as distinctively trinitarian. The appendix on counseling unbelievers is helpful. There are some truly useful and well-put passages, but this is the weakest JA book on counseling I’ve yet read. Though he sets out to systematize biblical counseling as a theologian, he tends to systematize theology as a biblical counselor. That’s not an unworthy task to prosecute, but his failure to pursue it with self-awareness weakens his work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Competent to Counsel, The Christian Counselor's Manual and A Theology of Christian Counseling were instrumental in my journey toward becoming a biblical counselor. This is the theological why behind the what of counseling.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I really enjoyed the subject matter of this book and found it very enlightening. What annoyed me the most was the fact that Adams kept inserting random phrases into his writing. Although most of the stuff he inserted was true, it was not necessary to the book and made it harder to read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bo Cogbill

    Good Introduction to How Systematics Informs Counseling For those wondering if Theology has anything to contribute to counseling, this is a great intro. Adams does a good job covering the basics of systematics and showing how they can and should inform every counseling situation. All suffering is from sin, even if it's only Adam's (first man, not Jay), and as such the gospel is the only news that can bring about healing. Adams begins with the Doctrine of God, moves into the Doctrine of Man, Salva Good Introduction to How Systematics Informs Counseling For those wondering if Theology has anything to contribute to counseling, this is a great intro. Adams does a good job covering the basics of systematics and showing how they can and should inform every counseling situation. All suffering is from sin, even if it's only Adam's (first man, not Jay), and as such the gospel is the only news that can bring about healing. Adams begins with the Doctrine of God, moves into the Doctrine of Man, Salvation, Sanctification, the Church, and Eschatology. Adams argues that a biblical understanding of each of these topics is vital for the counselee to find "more than redemption," and therefore the counselor must equip him/herself accordingly. I especially appreciate Adams's conviction that if these doctrines are embraced and obeyed by the counselee, he/she can actually trust that their situation won't just be "fixed," but that they will find themselves in an even better place than they were before the need for counseling presented itself. As someone who struggles with fear of man, I also appreciate Adams's ability to call sin sin. I know his personality can rub some folks the wrong way, but I, personally, can learn to be more like him in this way. I also believe Adams is right, that pastor(s) should be the best counselors, but I find myself intimidated by the professionals. I often struggle with insecurities, particularly in this sphere, but Adams work helped me see those feelings are rooted in my lack of faith in the sufficiency and authority of God's Word. This book was a good reminder that God really has given us all we need for life and godliness, and He's done so in His Word and by His Spirit. If you want an overview of basic theology and help applying a biblical framework to your life, all Christians could benefit from A Theology of Christian Counseling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    TJ

    In many ways, this book can be seen as a handbook that addresses the many different facets pertaining to biblical counseling. It is a bit of a heavier read, but it is incredibly resourceful for those who put the time into reading it. Given how comprehensive it is, it is hard to provide any particular quote that would do this book justice (but I gave one anyway). If you are serious about becoming a better biblical counselor (whether professionally or informally), I strongly recommend this book. - In many ways, this book can be seen as a handbook that addresses the many different facets pertaining to biblical counseling. It is a bit of a heavier read, but it is incredibly resourceful for those who put the time into reading it. Given how comprehensive it is, it is hard to provide any particular quote that would do this book justice (but I gave one anyway). If you are serious about becoming a better biblical counselor (whether professionally or informally), I strongly recommend this book. - The stance of the Christian counselor is a fundamentally asymmetrical; what he promises (and seeks to get the counselee to anticipate) is always more than he ever had before - a better situation than ever existed in the past. In some ways, a recognition and utilization of this fact in counseling is the greatest contribution that this volume can make; that is why the title strikes this note. The Christian counselor must never attempt to patch up what has fallen apart in his life, marriage, etc. Nor does he even offer a salvation like that of the JWs, who say that in Christ we have been returned to the state that Adam lost. The Christian counselor does not believe, strictly speaking, in mere renewal, or restoration or redemption (of what was lost); biblically, he believes in more than redemption. As a platform, upon which he develops his stance, he looks to a verse like Rom 8:20b. In that verse, Paul makes it plain that what Jesus Christ obtained for His people (by both His active and passive obedience) was more than they lost in Adam's sin and the fall of the human race. Sin and its effects are great (misery, death, etc) - and no biblical counselor ever minimizes the abounding nature of sin - instead of minimizing sin and its effects, he maximizes Christ and His redemptive work. Grace cannot be compared with sin - it (grace) "far more abounded".

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Fields

    When I was in Bible college I had to read a variety of systematic theologies throughout my various classes. I read Basic Theology by Charles C. Ryrie, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, and Understanding Christian Theology by Swindoll and Zuch. There are three main problems all systematic theologies face: 1) in their zeal for getting theology right they can often forget or neglect to make it practical for the every day Christian, 2) they tend to be very lengthy, and 3) they excel in using large When I was in Bible college I had to read a variety of systematic theologies throughout my various classes. I read Basic Theology by Charles C. Ryrie, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, and Understanding Christian Theology by Swindoll and Zuch. There are three main problems all systematic theologies face: 1) in their zeal for getting theology right they can often forget or neglect to make it practical for the every day Christian, 2) they tend to be very lengthy, and 3) they excel in using large words and theological jargon. All of these issues combine to make most systematic theologies unapproachable to the average person. The end result is that most Christians never end up reading a systematic theology as they do not help with the everyday hardships of life and are too long and complex to grasp. Both Grudem and Swindoll and Zuch make strong efforts to be helpful to the every day Christian, but they still end up being over 1000 pages each. Whereas Ryrie in is brevity missing many useful points of theology. When I picked up Jay E. Adams book on the theology of Christian counseling, I was blown away. I exclaimed to my wife frequently that this was a more powerful book than all the theology books I read in college. I exclaimed that this is the best systematic theology I've ever read.* Why is that? Adams targets practicality with his book; he targets usefulness to the average Christian. The goal of counseling is to find practical ways to solve everyday issues and Adams brings those to light throughout Scripture. I went to a college that taught integrationist counseling methods. When we went through our psychology classes we were taught both ends of the spectrum, the views espoused by naturalist physchologists like Freud, Skinner, Erickson, Pavlov, and Rogers. And we were also briefly introduced to the ideas of Adams. I remember being told that Adams was completely against all secular psychology as he believed that all answers to life's problems can be found in the Bible. We discussed how many different things we've come to know about the world are not expressly taught in the Bible, but are merely assumed (math being a prime example). I along with the whole class embraced the stupidity of the argument that the Bible is sufficient to solve all our problems. The biggest issue here is that in their attempt to prove integrationism correct, our teachers did not go in depth on how Adams would have addressed things like depression or anxiety. They did go quite in depth with secular psychologists, but breezed through this theologian. When you read his book, you can easily see that the answers to many of life's questions are found blatantly in the pages of Scripture. You can see that simplistic teaching I was shown in school of this view is reductionist and causes the whole of the Adam's philosophy of counseling to be missed. I remember the teachers inability to answer some of our questions about Biblical Counseling, which makes me think (in retrospect) that my professor never studied the system he was tearing down. Adams spends large portions of the book pointing at all the different counseling options available in his day and showing how they are based more on philosophical insights into how we as humans operate than they are on science. And here's the thing, he's not wrong. Both secular and theological scholars agree that Freud's psychology was based on his own sexual fantasies more than anything else. If our counseling is going to be based on philosophies, as Christians, we ought to found them on Scripture. To this end, Adams scores Scripture and develops a systematic approach to counseling based on the words of God. One of the main points Adams brings out is that habits are a strong part of our life. We form habits to do many menial tasks like brushing our teeth, getting dressed, or making a sandwich. Without those habits, we would have to rethink how to do the simplest tasks each day. Getting dressed would become much more of a chore: Would it be quicker to put the left leg in or the right? Or perhaps I should do both at once? If habits are such an important part of our life it would be very weird for the Bible to not address them in any fashion. "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." ~Matthew 5:27-30 One thing that was amazing to me is how influential Adams has been even among people who have never read or heard of him. If you've ever heard Matthew 5:27-39 or 18:7-9 preached as a prescription for "radical amputation" you've been influenced by Adams. He coined the term in this book when he was talking about the process of sanctification (becoming more like Christ). He taught from Matthew 5 that sanctification had four parts: 1) Recognition that we will be tempted to repeat our sin. 2) Preparation to meet and defeat our sin. 3) Radical amputation - if part of the sinful process can be avoided, cut it out of your life. 4) Nothing must be spared in the amputation process, it must be a radical change. Only in making a radical change does the sinner distance himself from the sin. The goal is to make it extremely difficult for us to sin in the same way again. This book provides chapter after chapter of gut punching truths to the sins we commit daily. Adams talks up the power of Scripture and compares it to the secular psychologists of his day, showing the weaknesses in what they bring to the table. If I have one criticism for this book, it's that I think he sometimes goes to far in his criticism. While he lacks grace and compassion in some of his statements, it must also be said that he was the first one through the wall... breaking into a new area of study, helping to lay the groundwork for modern Christian Counseling. The first one through the wall always get dirty. *I should point out that this is not a systematic theology in the fullest sense. While it does tackle counseling from both a holistic and systematic method, it does not address all theological matters in that way, making a it a systematic theology of counseling book, not a full systematic theology like the others discussed above. To see more reviews check out my blog: This Sporadic Life

  7. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Weber

    To begin our pursuit toward certification as biblical counselors, my husband and I selected this title from a book list provided for the first phase of our study. The author lays out a defense for biblical counseling, as opposed to either secular or integrationist counseling, and he gives an overview of how various biblical doctrines relate to counseling practices. He deals with the doctrine of God, of man, of sin, of salvation, and more. Although his writing is unapologetically dogmatic and at To begin our pursuit toward certification as biblical counselors, my husband and I selected this title from a book list provided for the first phase of our study. The author lays out a defense for biblical counseling, as opposed to either secular or integrationist counseling, and he gives an overview of how various biblical doctrines relate to counseling practices. He deals with the doctrine of God, of man, of sin, of salvation, and more. Although his writing is unapologetically dogmatic and at times dry, it was thought-provoking and a helpful first step toward developing my own understanding and philosophy of counseling. He often refers readers to his other books and writings on various subjects, which is understandable because he has written extensively on some of the topics, but made this book feel incomplete. I appreciated the author's heart for upholding the word of God and for providing hope to counselees in even the most difficult circumstances. I'm sure it will be a handy reference for years to come!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Falck

    I was disappointed by this book which is somewhat foundational to biblical counseling. First, it is not printed in an appealing way as all the text is packed on the page. Second, the author spends too much time focusing on what he is against, rather than showing what he is for. That makes for a laborious read. I was particularly interested in the section on suffering which was super short and unsatisfying. If you are serious about biblical counseling, I would still recommend this as it does have I was disappointed by this book which is somewhat foundational to biblical counseling. First, it is not printed in an appealing way as all the text is packed on the page. Second, the author spends too much time focusing on what he is against, rather than showing what he is for. That makes for a laborious read. I was particularly interested in the section on suffering which was super short and unsatisfying. If you are serious about biblical counseling, I would still recommend this as it does have some good points and it raises insightful questions but would encourage you to supplement your reading from another author.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beth Peninger

    Originally I gave this title 4 stars. I am revising my stars to zero. The reason I am doing so is that since reading this title, several things about my faith journey and expression have changed and I no longer subscribe to evangelical ideologies. Additionally, I was trained to be a lay counselor using this bible-based (only) method and I have first-hand experience as a counselor and counselee that this method does more harm than healing, promotes toxicity, enables inequality between women and men Originally I gave this title 4 stars. I am revising my stars to zero. The reason I am doing so is that since reading this title, several things about my faith journey and expression have changed and I no longer subscribe to evangelical ideologies. Additionally, I was trained to be a lay counselor using this bible-based (only) method and I have first-hand experience as a counselor and counselee that this method does more harm than healing, promotes toxicity, enables inequality between women and men, and more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    For a book written almost 40 years ago, this book is still relevant for applying God's Word to real life situations. Believing that God has given us the Bible to help us understand our thoughts and desires and lead us to redemption, this book helps you apply Scripture to real life problems. A key take away, is that true heart change only comes from God; any other change is a work of the flesh, no matter how effective.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Rice

    This book should be in each Christian’s home. Adams teaches through foundational Christian doctrine, like forgiveness, which passively disciples each reader in an age where “ignorance is bliss.” It would be best read with a small group in your local church where the Christian life could be walked out together.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    This is a really, thorough book that explores various parts of the christian faith and practical examples of how to help counsel. Many thoughts were extremely helpful including work, forgiveness, and interactions within the church. He can tend to spend lots of time to refute secular theorists but he also gives examples of situations to counsel which I find, extremely helpful

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bledar

    The book is a cut between a book of theology and counseling. It is more in terms of how theology makes sense in the context of counseling.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Pretty good. Worth reading again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    An excellent manual on the biblical, theological principles of using the scriptures and the power of God's Spirit to counsel. It will give church workers and Christians interested in counselling their brothers and sisters the confidence that, with sufficient Bible study on their part and the power of the Spirit working in them, they will be able to effectively counsel others. When you have read this book, you will desire to read other counseling books by Jay Adams.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Butch

    A very practical look at how good theology can provide a strong underpinning to the process of helping others with their problems. In the process, as with all these books, I found much practical help for me and my problems. Not difficult to read at all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Love his down to earth folksy style as if he is speaking right to me. These reference books will be immeasurable assistance to me in the coming years.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Great book and very useful. I just forgot to mark it read

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Hornek

    Puts theology in simpler terms and informs the counselor how that theology will be used in counsel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    Valuable reference, in many parts turning conventional thinking on its head.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Adam Johnson

    Jay Adams has an ability through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to make the Scriptures very practically apply to our lives. It will greatly benefit you to read this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mari

  23. 4 out of 5

    julie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eunji

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Davis

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Leckvold

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nate Claiborne

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Keating

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Mccollum

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lew Jessup

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