Book Review: Scripture and Counseling: Part Two: The Richness and Relevance of God's Word

The following is part two of my chapter-by-chapter review and interaction with the individual parts of Scripture and Counseling, the newest offering from the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and Zondervan Academic.

Scripture and Counseling: Chapter One: The Richness and Relevance of God's Word: Kevin Carson

The sufficiency of Scripture may be one of the most unifying principles for those within the biblical counseling movement. And, it may be one of the most divisive for those who stand opposed to its objectives.

But, what would we say about the necessity of Scripture, or its relevance to life? Is the Bible written clearly enough so as to be useful in counseling? Does it even have enough depth to reach the deepest levels of modern suffering? 

Or, as secularists would have us believe, is it merely an ancient book written to an ancient people, thereby rendering it obsolete in the face of more modern, sophisticated psychotherapy?

For the Living About the Living

Speaking to this issue, Kevin Carson opens Scripture and Counseling with a chapter that fulfills the books stated goal, which is to help the reader "regain [their] confidence in God's word as sufficient to address the real issues we face today." Simply put, Carson writes, "The Bible is addressed to the living about living" (p.29).

The title of Carson's chapter, "The Richness and Relevance of God's Word," reveals a clue as to the substance of his writing. It is the right opening salvo in a book dedicated to lifting up the centrality of the Gospel in biblical counseling. In this chapter, Carson lays a foundation for the chapters that follow.

While offering a wealth of theological reflection concerning the role of God's Word in counseling, tied together with a variety of biblical passages for the reader to consider, Carson helpfully provides a series of real-life counseling scenarios that bring home four critical points, namely, that Scripture is necessary, relevant, clear, and profound (p.31). 

Indeed, if Carson is correct in saying that the Bible is addressed to the living about living, then those who struggle with the effects of sin and suffering in a broken world must find hope for healing in its pages. Were this not possible, were it not true, then the argument for the Bible's sufficiency would be a broken cistern.

Unique Content and Character 

Carson, however, builds the readers trust in the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling by showing how both its content and character are unique (p.31). Concerning these two issues, Carson writes: 
  1. Without the Scriptures, it would be impossible to know our purpose in life or how to live out that purpose. 
  2. The supernatural character of the Bible highlights the Bible's authority, inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy.
As to the believer's purpose in life, Carson shows how God, working through the Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit intends for Christians to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. But, what Carson has to say on this issue isn't ethereal, but tangible, and therefore hope-giving:

The Bible plus circumstances provide the believer with the ultimate opportunity to grow and change. It is in these individual, yet essential, moments of life where the follower of Christ chooses between bringing glory to God--which is Christlike--or not. (p.34)

Rich and Relevant

This opening chapter to Scripture and Counseling provides the reader with an encouraging view of the Bible as God's special revelation of both Himself, and His counsel. It justifies the title, and affirms for the reader that Scripture is, in fact, both theologically rich, and utterly relevant for all of life, and all of life's problems.

For the counselor, Carson reminds that, "The Bible teaches us about God, people, and problems" (p.46). For the counselee, Carson encourages that, "God is doing more than just wanting us to change a thought or a behavior" (p.46). And, for the church, he exhorts, "The depth of God's wisdom given to us as believers surpasses the knowledge and insight that can be gained from any other source" (p.43).

A Needed Reminder

As a biblical counselor, Carson's chapter has re-filled my heart with enthusiasm for God's Word by reminding me of its necessity, relevance, clarity, and profundity. It is a chapter that reorients the heart away from "the nomenclature of secular psychotherapies to real, dynamic, true, and significant issues of life in Christ" (p.45).

Thanks to Carson, the biblical counselor can once again pick up the written Word of God, confident that what they hold in their hand is indeed sharper than any two-edged sword, and uniquely capable of discerning the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (Heb. 4:12).

Kevin Carson serves as pastor of Sonrise Baptist Church, professor of biblical counseling at Baptist Bible College, and is certified by the ACBC.