Science in Christian Perspective

Book Review

Counseling, Mental Illness
and Sin

W. George Perkins, ASA Member
7096 Glen Hills Dr. NE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

From: PSCF 52 (June 2000): 146.

In his review of Unholy Madness: The Church's Surrender to Psychiatry, Dr. Musselman alluded to the argument that the church should be more involved in caring for those with emotional problems and cited, among others, Larry Crabb. Musselman also expressed his difficulty in accepting that "there is no such thing as true mental illness."

I wish to call to the attention of the readers the existence of the Biblical Counseling Foundation (BCF) of Palm Desert, CA, which has espoused the concept of nouthetic lay counseling in churches since the mid-to-late 1970s. Much of the authority for lay biblical counseling is taken from Paul's letter to the Romans ("And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another" Romans 15:14 NASB, updated--emphasis added). The BCF offers training materials for use in churches, and leads short courses throughout the United States.

There seems to be little doubt that there are physiological illnesses that affect mental processes. It seems to me, however, that the most serious "mental illness" that affects Christians has another, much older, name--sin. Strict Bible-based counseling has an amazing effect. When the Christian is brought to the realization that his or her behavior is sinful, that provides the first step toward forgiveness and cleansing. (See 1 John 1:9.)

It is also worth noting that much of the basis for biblical counseling is contained in the writings of Jay Adams. I would commend his works to the readers of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.]