The authors deal with the difference between seeking biblical counseling and professional therapy. The problem with this therapy culture, according to Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, is the way it has made therapy into a way of life. People are encouraged to define themselves as victims who have suffered at the hands of others. As long as people are encouraged to seek professional counseling to help them with everything from dealing with an unpleasant incident to raising their children, argues Furedi, individuals become disinclined to depend on each other in the normal routine of relationships. Relationships are increasingly ‘professionalized.’
This book (Total Church) is a call to a dual fidelity to the gospel word and the gospel community. It is our conviction that the gospel word and the gospel community do not fail us when it comes to pastoral care! (125)
The sufficient gospel word
Does the Bible give us an accurate and sufficient analysis of the human condition and an effective response or ‘treatment’? Have we created a dichotomy between the ministry of Bible teaching and that of pastoral counseling? The former is considered the preserve of the ‘minister’ while the latter is for qualified (in a secular sense) members of the wider community.
At the heart of historic evangelicalism is a commitment to the Bible as “the final authority on all matters of faith and conduct.” This confession has been summarized as the sufficiency of Scripture and this is where the debate is centered. There seems to be a view that argues that God has given us two books through which to understand the world: Scripture and Nature. Another view sees the Bible as unique and altogether distinctive in the way it defines what we are as human beings.
‘Simply by being Christians, we have access to everything we need to live a life that pleases God.’ This is the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture and this is what gives us confidence in our pastoral care as we expose each other to the gospel word. (125-27)
The efficient gospel community
If our primary identity is as persons-in-community, then our ability to thrive will be shaped by our involvement in a community…Pastoral care in a Christian community is not merely one ‘therapy device’ among many. It is the context in which any other pastoral care takes place.
So much formal pastoral engagement takes place outside of the community and one of the reasons for this is disengagement from the community…While the need for specific counseling sessions in a more formal environment will remain, healthy engagement with others in committed relationships will deal with so many of the presenting issues and underlying causes of her problems.
Dealing with marriage issues: a significant element in divorce rates is individualism. In a culture in which the rights and desires of the individual are sacred, bringing two individuals together in a relationship as close as marriage is bound to create problems. We live in a society with a disposable attitude toward relationships in general and this affects attitudes to marriage.
The breakup of the extended family with increased mobility has contributed significantly to the strain placed on marriage. We no longer live in an “it takes a village culture.” We leave child raising to a couple (and many times a single person). There is no better place for marriages to be nurtured than in a communal setting for two principle reasons.