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”

Here’s How “Choosing to Believe” Differs from Actually Believing

(First, a word about my upcoming book.)

Thanks to the help of some excellent pre-readers and others, Untwisting Scriptures #3 Your Words, Your Emotions, is aiming for a November 1st 2021 publication date. Several pre-readers will be seeing themselves in print there, because they kindly granted me permission to use some of their insightful thoughts to make the book even better.

Next week, hopefully Monday October 11th, I’ll be sending out an email to my blog subscribers to offer a free pdf of the book for any subscribers who agree to read it and then write and post an Amazon review. This offer will be exclusive for blog subscribers, and it will be time sensitive (only 24 hours allowed for response), so be on the lookout for it!

Here are some words from a few of the pre-readers, who granted me permission to quote them: Continue reading “Here’s How “Choosing to Believe” Differs from Actually Believing”

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?”

“We Are Just as Vulnerable”: A Response to The Gospel Coalition

The tragic Ravi Zacharias story

Friends, it usually takes me quite a while to process before I’m ready to comment on a horrific story.

Many others have already written, and written well, about the fall of Ravi Zacharias from his high standing in the Christian world. But for those of us who have been paying attention in the last 3 years or so, this latest revelation was a surprise not in fact, but rather in scope.

That is, I was knocked back by the vast numbers of women that Zacharias was preying on.

So then, as the report is released and some post it on social media, predictably others want to have none of it.

I understand. Zacharias was highly respected and trusted by many. (So much so that he and his family became millionaires on the donations of the faithful who thought they were giving to help the Word of God go out around the world.) Continue reading ““We Are Just as Vulnerable”: A Response to The Gospel Coalition”

Here’s Why “Gratitude Motivation” Isn’t Biblical—and What’s Better

I’m grateful

It’s the season of Advent. “The Coming.”

I’m preparing for “the coming” of all four of our children, with their spouses, together for Christmas for the first time in 6 years. Maybe “the coming” of a new little niece, our second granddaughter, might be at least part of the reason they’re eager to gather.

While I prepare, I’m enjoying wonderful songs about that First Coming, the birth of our Savior. Continue reading “Here’s Why “Gratitude Motivation” Isn’t Biblical—and What’s Better”

Blessings Are Not Sweet Little Things (Guest Post by Deborah Brunt)

Deborah Brunt is an abuse survivor who blogs at Key Truths.

*****

In the Deep South, you know you’re in trouble when someone says, “Bless your heart!” It means, by translation, “Wow! What a hopeless mess you’re in!” or, “Wow! What a hopeless fool you are!” or, “Wow, am I glad I’m not you!” 

The person who speaks the “blessing” may feel genuine sympathy for you. Often, though, they want  a “nice” way to say something belittling.

Those times when people might bless our hearts, God wants to bless our lives. For real.

But we will likely miss the blessing if we have a wrong idea of

What’s the Best Way for Us to Bring Glory to God?

This is a burden on my heart (that I pulled from yesterday’s post because it deserved its own) because I believe this understanding is crucial to becoming the people of God He has called us to be. I pray it will help someone the way similar teachings helped me in the 1990s.

Spoiler alert: I believe the Bible teaches that the best way for His people to glorify God is to live in the New Covenant.

This isn’t just distant theory. For example, the harmful theology of what has been called “Biblical patriarchy” is based on living in the Old Covenant.

The power of living in the New Covenant (in which all our sanctification is found in Jesus Christ) has tremendous practical application for us right now.

I believe far too few Christians understand the crucial difference between the Covenants and what that difference means, even though it’s explained right there in the New Testament. Continue reading “What’s the Best Way for Us to Bring Glory to God?”

Here’s What’s Wrong With God Looking Through the “Filter” of Jesus to See His Children

It’s supposed to be encouraging when we hear that God the Father sees His children through the filter of His Son Jesus Christ. I’ve seen Christians almost come to tears when they talk about how God the Father is wearing “blood-colored glasses” to look at us, seeing the righteousness of His Son instead of our sinfulness. Continue reading “Here’s What’s Wrong With God Looking Through the “Filter” of Jesus to See His Children”