Our View of Counseling

We firmly believe that the truth revealed in Holy Scripture is entirely sufficient to meaningfully and relevantly address and fulfill every person’s spiritual needs in every situation, in every period of time.

Due to its inspired nature, Scripture is “living and active” and therefore able to discern “the thoughts and intentions of the heart” of every living person (Hebrews 4:12).  Whenever evil intentions are discerned by the Word and properly confessed and turned away from, the Spirit revives and makes that human heart wise with truth contained in the Scriptures(Psalm 19:7).[1]

This wisdom is applied specifically to each person in association with the general purpose for which mankind was created:  the glorification and enjoyment of God.  God is glorified and enjoyed by each person as he/she seeks to fulfill all of his/her positions and roles in accordance with Scripture.

Because the authority of Scripture has been brought into question by those who profess to be Christians in these perilous times in which we live, we believe it is necessary to declare what we believe concerning God’s Holy Word itself.  This declaration will be followed by statements indicating what we believe about its sufficiency to address man’s spiritual needs, as well as its ability to serve as a “lens” to evaluate various propositions of truth (knowledge) propagated within counseling-related fields.  The essence of the statements which will be shared are not wholly original[2] or exhaustive.

Declaration Concerning the Authority of Scripture

  • We believe that each of the 66 books which comprise the Canon of Scripture are verbally inspired by God in their entirety. Holy Scripture is therefore infallible[3] and inerrant.[4]
  • We believe that all of the teachings and promises contained within Scripture are altogether true and without fault. They are completely trustworthy and are therefore a sure, safe, and reliable guide in all matters.
  • We believe Scripture represents God’s authority and viewpoint in all of the matters it touches upon, including its literary origins, God’s acts in creation, the people spoken about within its pages, and the events of world history. It is entirely faultless and trustworthy in all its assertions.

Transitional Statements

  • Holy Scripture can only be inwardly authenticated and believed in human hearts, as well as properly understood and applied to any matter, through the work of its Divine Author, God the Holy Spirit.
  • Special revelation (Scripture) and general revelation[5] are of divine origin.
  • The Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) of the universe spoke everything into existence in the span of six days. He sustains and governs all things by His Word of decree, including the progressive insights He allows mankind to individually and collectively gain concerning His omniscience omnipotence, and omnipresence as expressed through the created order.
  • No human being can properly understand the things revealed in general revelation without the aid of the Holy Spirit and the proper use of His divinely inspired instrument,[6] the Holy Scriptures.[7]

Statements About the Sufficiency of Scripture

  • Holy Scripture is entirely sufficient to meaningfully and relevantly address all of man’s spiritual needs in every situation in every period of time.
  • Holy Scripture is the only sufficient means whereby a comprehensive system of counseling principles and practices that can affect genuine change in the human heart can be derived.
  • Holy Scripture is sufficient to be used as a lens to discern truth from error in all of the fields of knowledge.  The “Spectacles of Scripture” alone provide for the human mind a world and life perspective which will enable one to think correctly about and critically evaluate information and actions from any human source, whether that be a thought or a system of thought derived from an individual or a collective entity.
  • Scriptural truth is timeless and comprehensive in wisdom and is therefore sufficient in its ability to aid the regenerated mind in understanding, ordering, and applying all truth in all places at all times.

Concluding Statements about God’s Truth as it Specifically Applies to Biblical Counseling

  • All truth in the realms of special and general revelation is God’s truth and should be used for the glory of God and the good of His people in all of our counseling-related endeavors.
  • Jesus Christ is the Head of the church and the member of the Trinity in Whom all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are revealed (Colossians 2:3).  Biblical counselors are utilized by Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring the truth of Scripture to bear in the lives of counselees for their regeneration,[8] edification, and particularly sanctification.  God is glorified through the truth of special revelation as counselees respond to it by faith and are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
  • Biblical counselors are used by Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring applicable truths from general revelation to bear in the lives of counselees, in order to minimize the effects of sin and the Fall and/or restore the bodily components of the capacities associated with various aspects of the Primary Dominant Domains.  Such work can and often does positively affect the regenerated person’s soul, thereby enabling it–along with his/her body–to be more productive in service to God.

Distinctions in IRBC’s Counseling Model

The Sovereignty of God

  • IRBC is thankful to be part of a tradition of counseling that emphasizes the centrality of Scripture.  There are two major distinctions in our way of counseling that set us apart from the way that others within the broader field of biblical counseling do their work.  One pertains to our philosophical model and the other to our methodological model.  Concerning the latter, while some within the broader field bring various teachings about the sovereignty of God to bear in their counseling practice, we believe this doctrine is of paramount importance.  It, therefore, serves as the first step of counseling in our model.  This step is called: Provide Perspective

    The 7 Dominant Domains of Origin for Human Problems.

    The primary distinctive in our philosophical model is an instrument we have begun and continue to develop called The 7 Dominant Domains of Origin for Human Problems.

    The seven domains represented in the instrument are divided into The Internal Dominant Domains™ (IDD) and The External Dominant Domains™ (EDD).  The PDD’s represent several of the prime capacities with which God has endowed man–capacities which need to be taken into consideration when counseling if one is to get a comprehensive picture of the problem.  These prime capacities are expressed as distinct domains in IRBC’s model.  They are the spiritual, mental, emotional, social, and bodily domains.  At times, the problems with which people wrestle are directly related to sin, the misuse, or disordered functioning of one or more of the various capacities with which they have been endowed.  At other times, they arise in numerous ways within the various environments in which they live and interact.  The following diagram provides a thumbnail sketch of the seven domains we utilize in our counseling model.

    The Place of the Church

    The primary and fullest expression of a counseling ministry should occur in a local congregation under the oversight of elders.  This is not being said to discount the value of like-minded para-church counseling organizations.  Many counselors within these entities have been used greatly to bless members of our congregations who have struggled with various types of issues.  Many of them have also been greatly used to rightly emphasize among members of our churches, the importance of using the Bible in our counseling.  But there are some major disadvantages to such ministries.  For the sake of time, we will only speak of three of them.  The first is related to aspects associated with community, the second, authority structure, and the third, accountability.

    • Community – People were made in the likeness of the Triune God Who exists as Three Persons living in community. Christians best reflect the Trinity as they live and grow within the context of the covenant community.  It is by God’s design that we live together as brothers and sisters in Christ in our respective communities of faith.  We are to come under the public preaching of the Word and observe the sacraments as we gather together for public worship being led by Jesus Christ, our Chief Prophet, who ministers to us through the operation of the Holy Spirit utilizing the spiritual gifts of the pastor in this community.  We are to be governed and watched over together as a flock by Jesus Christ our Omniscient King, who ministers among us via the Holy Spirit working particularly through the gifts of the elders, along with the pastor in this community.

    We together experience the benevolence of King Jesus as He ministers via the Spirit, particularly through the office of Deacon when we become materially distressed in this community.  Jesus Christ dwells among us and ministers to our needs via the Holy Spirit working in and through those who occupy the visible offices as we live together in community.  Along with ministering to us through the visible offices, He ministers via the Spirit through each one of us as we let the word of Christ dwell in our lives richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (Colossians 3:16).  The fullest expression of a counseling ministry will always occur in local church communities where the pastors and elders, along with the members, are equipped to minister effectively to the needs of each other.  The ministry of counseling belongs in the church!

    • Authority Structure – The ministry of biblical counseling is a personalized form of the ministry of the Word, and for this reason belongs under the oversight of the elders.
    • Accountability – Direct accountability of both counselors and counselees is ensured when the counseling ministry functions under the authority of the church. If the counselor should become delinquent in doctrine or practice, the Elders are there to correct and restore or remove the person from the position being occupied.  If a counselee is dealing with a spiritual matter involving sin and stubbornly refuses to repent and submit to the biblical admonition being given by the counselor, his/her case can be turned over to the Elders. They can then utilize church discipline within the authority structure of the church to restore the person.

    [1] “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple…” Psalm 19:7 ESV.
    [2] Some of the statements in this section are modifications of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s Confessional Statement.
    [3] Infallible signifies the quality of being incapable of erring or leading someone into error.
    [4] Inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all error.
    [5] “General Revelation refers to God making Himself known in creation, providentially orchestrated history, and conscience” (i.e., in conjunction with the moral law). Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), p. 154.
    [6] The proper use of Scripture involves using sound principles of interpretation. The historical background as well as the context and the grammatical rules of literature must be considered before rendering an interpretation.  Sound interpretation also involves taking words for what they mean in their normal or plain sense (literal) and interpreting according to context as well as comparing Scripture with Scripture.
    [7] “…Empty is the man in whom there is not the knowledge of God, whatever other learning he may possess; yea, the sciences and the arts, which in themselves are good, are empty things, when they are without this groundwork.”  JohnCalvin, Commentary on the Book of Romans.
    [8] The counseling venue is excellent for evangelizing the lost.