Some possible solutions to the problems of nouthetic counselling within the context of the church and society.
In recent years there has been much debate amongst evangelical Christians involved in pastoral counselling and care surrounding attempts to produce a biblical model of counselling. Related to this debate has been the question of whether the psychological sciences have a place in Christian counselling or not. Currently one of the most prominent evangelicals involved in this debate is Jay E. Adams, Dean of the Institute of Pastoral Studies and Director of Advanced Studies at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Adams has developed what he regards to be a distinctively biblical method of counselling. He calls his method Nouthetic counselling. This term is derived from the Greek verb Noutheteo, to admonish and the related noun, Nouthesia, admonition. Adams has sought to develop a counselling model that is not only comprehensive but one which is based on the Bible alone. For this reason Adams insists that the psychological sciences are not necessary in Christian counselling for in the Bible the counsellor will find all he needs to assist people with problems. To promote the principles of Nouthetic counselling, Adams has written many books and publications and has also established The Christian and Counseling and Education Foundation, which publishes The Journal of Pastoral Practice. As a consequence, Nouthetic counselling has developed into an influential movement in the United States and even in South Africa. Not everyone has accepted the counselling principles espoused by Adams. Nouthetic counselling theory has become the subject of much criticism, not only from the more liberal Christian counsellors, but also from those who would share Adams' commitment to the authority of the Bible. The main areas of criticism are, Adams' rejection of the psychological sciences, the dangers of biblicism, his neglect of the psychological aspects of human nature and consequently his simplistic approach to pathology and his confrontational approach to counselling. Adams' rejection of the findings of the psychological sciences and his neglect of the psychological aspects of human nature have resulted in serious limitations in the application of Nouthetic counselling methodology to complex problems. At this point, Adams is out of step with evangelical theology, which, on the basis of the doctrines of General Revelation and Common Grace, recognises the validity of the findings of science. Furthermore, in his attempt to develop a comprehensive, one model approach to counselling, Adams has overlooked the complexity of human nature. Adams' concern for a biblically based counselling model and the stress he lays on the importance of the spiritual dimensions of counselling have been a major contribution to the development of pastoral counselling and care in the evangelical sector of the church. Whilst recognising the need for a biblically based counselling approach, recognition must also be given to the insights of the psychological sciences and the need for a multi-modelled approach to counselling.