The Problems with Jay Adams’ Nouthetic Counseling Works-Sanctification Doctrine

Before 2008 I was vaguely aware of Jay Adams’ nouthetic counseling. But in 2008 I read his little booklet Godliness Through Discipline, and I was incensed.

At that time my understanding about abuse and abuse enablers was microscopic, but I had been studying the Scriptures, and I knew this teaching was wrong and would lead people away from Jesus instead of toward Him.

(Only later did I understand the dynamics of how this wrong teaching could lead to abuse enabling and blaming and shaming of victims.)

So I wrote a passionate refutation of the booklet. But I didn’t know what to do with that refutation. I didn’t have any place to publish it. I didn’t even have a blog yet. And when I did start my blog the following year, it was a devotional blog, and this passionate critique didn’t quite fit there.

Finally, in 2013, I realized I could post it as a book review on Amazon. (It is by far the book’s longest review.) In 2014 when I and some friends started the BJUGrace blog, I posted it there in 3 parts.

Since Here’s the Joy took a turn to speak out for the oppressed in 2016 or so, I’ve written to refute Jay Adams Nouthetic Counseling (often called “Biblical counseling”) many times. Many others are also speaking out about it, for which I’m very thankful. Mostly the conversation centers around the abysmal and utterly destructive counseling that is given to abuse victims and abusers about repentance, forgiveness, bitterness, etc, which certainly does merit much discussion.

But the Jay Adams presentation of sanctification merits discussion as well. It is also destructive in its way.

Here is my 2008 critique in its entirety (with only a few small edits), for anyone who wants to better understand what Jay Adams teaches about sanctification and why I believe his teachings are deeply detrimental to our Christian lives.

Because this critique is from 2008, it doesn’t mention abuse and trauma. Perhaps in the comments we can discuss how it applies to the current discussion.

Here is my review of Godliness Through Discipline. Continue reading “The Problems with Jay Adams’ Nouthetic Counseling Works-Sanctification Doctrine”

Why “Metanoia” Is So Much Greater Than “Repentance”—And Why That’s Important

Long ago Martin Luther read the Latin translation of the Greek New Testament called the Vulgate. He saw that John that Baptist and Jesus called out to their hearers, “Do penance! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Really? he thought. Did they really call for their hearers to do acts of self-mortification, contrition, confession to a priest, and other acts involved in trying to achieve absolution for sin?

But Luther found that the meaning of the original Greek word metanoia didn’t involve doing any acts of piety. Rather, he found, it meant “change your mind.”

Unfortunately, at least in English versions, the Latin Vulgate has exerted far more influence than it should have. The original Greek word got translated “penitence” or “repentance,” which some would argue wasn’t as far off from “penance” as it needed to be.

What does the “change of mind” mean? And why would I agree with some great thinkers that repentance is not an acceptable translation?

And why do I believe this truth is vitally important for all of us? Continue reading “Why “Metanoia” Is So Much Greater Than “Repentance”—And Why That’s Important”

“Jesus Didn’t Have Boundaries, So I Shouldn’t Either”

The Called to Peace Ministries Women’s Retreat will be happening April 7-10 in the Asheville, NC, area. Joy Forrest, the founder and director, has said that the response in recent years has been so overwhelmingly positive that she and her team have decided to do it every year. Attendees have found it refreshing, joyful, and thoroughly Christian.

I’ll be doing a breakout session on principles for Untwisting Scriptures. I would love to see some of my Here’s the Joy subscribers there.

Early Bird registration ends on February 6th, so don’t delay! You can go here to register. And scholarships are available, so don’t let lack of funds keep you away.

***

Christmas of 2007 my husband gave me the book Boundaries. I had never heard of it.

A couple of weeks later we had a long car drive to a wedding, and I read that book all the way there. I was crying. Suddenly I back-hand slapped my husband on the arm and said, “Why didn’t you give me this book a long time ago?” Continue reading ““Jesus Didn’t Have Boundaries, So I Shouldn’t Either””

The Shame of the Bleeding Woman (guest post by Helena Knowlton)

Helena Knowlton writes at Confusion to Clarity, and within that website she offers a course and community called Arise. When this course opened last month I signed up, especially because Helena focuses on how the body can heal from the trauma that has affected it, and I continue to want to learn more about that.

I highly recommend Arise for Christian women survivors of abuse who would like to experience a guided healing journey for your heart, mind, spirit, and especially for your traumatized brain and body.

Besides the actual teaching course, Arise has so much more available. I’ve hardly scratched the surface.

When I listened to a certain lesson inside the course, I immediately asked Helena if I could make a guest blog post out of it, and she graciously agreed. Continue reading “The Shame of the Bleeding Woman (guest post by Helena Knowlton)”

When Does Sin Become Idolatry? A New Perspective on an Old Question

Last week I reposted (on my Rebecca Davis—Untwisting Scriptures Facebook page) my four-year old “Idol Factory” post, and again I received several heartfelt responses, both publicly and privately.

A reminder that this pernicious teaching is still actively tormenting upright Jesus-followers who love God. Continue reading “When Does Sin Become Idolatry? A New Perspective on an Old Question”

Did the Bereans Think Paul Was a Charlatan?

I’ve heard sermons extolling the Bereans for searching the Scriptures, but it’s a rare preacher indeed who will urge his listeners to themselves search the Scriptures to see if what he is teaching them is true.

When I’ve heard it, it’s often been about fact-checking him on details.

But when Acts 17:11 describes the Bereans searching the Scriptures, it wasn’t about fact-checking Paul. It wasn’t about looking at just one or two proof texts. Continue reading “Did the Bereans Think Paul Was a Charlatan?”

Casting Out Fear by Whistling a Happy Tune

A couple of years ago I wrote a series about “fear” (part one, part two, part three). But I knew there was much more for me to learn, and for me to share with others.

Not to mention that I want my next Untwisting Scriptures book to be (tentatively) subtitled Shut Your Mouth and Stuff Your Emotions.

Yesterday, a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I sat outside with my Bible and pondered “perfect love casts out fear” in 1 John (which I plan to blog about eventually). As I did, I thought about the typical ways believers are told to “cast out fear” and get on the right track with their “perfect love.”

All too often church leaders and other church people tell us that it’s by “choosing to do right,” our actions, our behavior, our internal decisions. Gritting our teeth and forcing ourselves. Will power. There may be some mention of the Holy Spirit, but it is often passing and incidental. Continue reading “Casting Out Fear by Whistling a Happy Tune”

6 Ways “The Gospel” Is so Much More than You’re Usually Told

OR “Why the Resurrection is Essential to Your Salvation” (in honor of Holy Week)

Much of my writing is presented to refute false teaching in the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian world. But I always want to point my readers to what is true, right, and good.

This Holy Week—the week that Christians especially honor the Lord Jesus Christ for all He has done for us, the week that culminates with a celebration of His Resurrection for us—I want to zero in on The Gospel.

Through the years that I’ve been in this evangelical world, I’ve pondered how much the term “gospel” is presented as vital, while at the same time how seldom those who use the term “gospel” have actually defined and described what they mean by it.

But understanding what “the gospel” is can mean the difference between death and life. Continue reading “6 Ways “The Gospel” Is so Much More than You’re Usually Told”

The Amazing Grace Cycle (Guest Post by Deborah Brunt)

Deborah Brunt is a friend who served in the Southern Baptist Convention for many years, as an author, teacher, and women’s leader. Long before others were doing so, she bravely stood against the abuses of power and belittling of women that she saw and experienced in her various capacities there.

A couple of years ago Deborah wrote her account of being ousted from her life-long denomination for refusing to simply go along with the program, continuing to question and challenge. She described how she was shamed, blamed, ignored, shunned, and thrust to the side. In today’s terminology, we would say she was “cancelled,” or at least that’s what they tried to do. Continue reading “The Amazing Grace Cycle (Guest Post by Deborah Brunt)”

4 Effects of Rules Without Relationship (From the Book of Romans)

NEWS

Untwisting Scriptures: Book 2 Patriarchy and Authority is available now! Subscribe to this blog to be the first to get notification of when the Kindle version (regularly $5.99) will be available as a free download.

And as you read this blog post, you’ll find an excerpt from the book sneakily inserted. And yes, it’s about Doug Phillips.

And now to our regularly scheduled broadcast . . . Continue reading “4 Effects of Rules Without Relationship (From the Book of Romans)”