Westminster Difference: Biblical Counseling

September 03, 2010

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
Colossians 3:16

Westminster Theological Seminary, in partnership with the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), seeks to provide men and women all the necessary tools for restoring counseling to the Church, and in encouraging others of the Scriptures' application to all areas of life.

"Your sphere of action, your ministry in the service of Christ is marked out by the gifts Christ has given you.  The gifts of Christ's grace are like a majestic stained-glass window in his church.  Each Christian is set in place like a piece of jeweled glass , so that the radiance of God's grace may shine through him to add a beam of crimson or emerald or azure to the orchestration of color blazing within."

Dr. Edmund P. Clowney, Called to the Ministry (p. 29)

An excerpt from "Why I Chose Seminary for Training in Counseling" by Dr. David Powlison:

Should you go to a theological seminary to train in counseling? Should young men and women with counseling promise pursue studies at a seminary or Bible college? Twenty-five years ago, this might have seemed like a nonsense question. Should you go to Virginia to study the geology of Vermont? Order a Big Mac at Burger King? People went to seminary to study Bible, church history, theology, and preaching. They went there to become preachers, missionaries, chaplains, and Bible professors. But counseling? Serious, intentional, one-on-one talking to people was the property of secular graduate schools. Seminary was about proclamation, not conversation.

But twenty-five years ago I did go to seminary to train in counseling. And—with appropriate cautions—I heartily recommend the same today. There was no counseling degree offered at the time, but the theology and Bible courses were strikingly relevant to a young man who came with counseling questions and aspirations. I was taught about human nature; about suffering and God’s providence; about the work of Christ’s grace to forgive and remake us; about the way fallen thought suppresses true knowledge of self, God, and circumstances; and so forth. Though most of the courses didn’t make “counseling applications” in any detail, they were unmistakably about the “stuff” counseling deals with. What I learned of theology and the Bible, even of church history, has been as significant as the formal counseling courses for my maturing as a counselor.

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CCEF Faculty: Drs. Emlet, Powlison, Lane, Welch, and Smith