The advent of modern psychology was initiated by Sigmund Freud in the early 1900's. The movement has since grown and spawned sister branches so much so that it is now a global movement. One of those sister branches of modern psychology is the professional counseling movement. Prior to the modern psychology movement, life counseling was considered to be the responsibility of the clergy (MacArthur & Mack. 1994. p.8). Freud, an unbeliever, removed the study of humans from the spiritual realm by devising humanistic explanations for man's behavior. By the middle of the twentieth century Freudian psychology had infiltrated American society so deeply that psychologists were boldly stating that a pastor was no longer equipped to counsel his parishioners ((MacArthur & Mack, 1994. p.xiv.). They were instead instructed to send the parishioner to the local psychologist who would professionally treat their deviant behavior.
Not all was well within the evangelical church at this time. Weary from a long battle with the liberals over the inerrancy of scriptures, pastors were not motivated to battle with the psychologists. Even though they were uncomfortable being considered second class to the psychologist, they capitulated and began sending their parishioners to them. Unrest over the situation began returning to the evangelical pastors. In 1970, Jay Adams, unwilling to endure the situation any longer, published his first book titled Competent to Counsel (Adams. 1970). This was the first published evangelical effort to combat the encroachment of secular psychology into the evangelical church. The years that followed were filled with controversy between the secular counselors and biblical counselors. A few Christian counselors tried to find some common ground integrating secular psychology with biblical truth. Larry Crabb is one such example (MacArthur & Mack. 1994. p.11-12). Today the secular counseling profession has become so large and well organized that they have developed a superior attitude over the ill-prepared, ill-trained, and under skilled Christian counselor. The average Christian continues to look at the Christian counselor as not equal to the secular psychologist or psychiatrist. But that perception is changing. With an increase in interest in Christian counseling along with the ineffectiveness of secular counseling we are seeing Christian counseling become a spiritual force in the Church today.
In my next post I will consider the Biblical position and qualifications of the Christian counselor.