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.