Wonderful Counselor: A Return to Truth by Dr. Ab Abercrombie and Rev. Kerry Skinner. The review is authored by Dr. Paul Martin Henebury, President of Veritas School of Theology in Granbury, Texas (www.inquiroveritas.com). We are grateful indeed to receive such a powerful and positive endorsement.
I think this is one of the very best introductions to Biblical Counseling one can buy.
This book by two experienced biblical counselors seeks to provide believers with a reliable guide dealing with life’s problems. In ten chapters the authors skillfully explain the rudiments of a Christ-centered approach to counseling.
The first chapter, “Foundations for Biblical Counseling” lays down a solid theological underpinning for the method which follows. To begin with a definition of biblical counseling is given which focuses attention on the will of God and divine assistance for individuals (13), instead of how one professional can help a counselee. There is much in this chapter to commend, including its examination of the faulty methodology of secular models of therapy (17-19, 21-24), and the identification and ‘ownership’ of personal sin and worldly ways of thinking (28, 30, 32-36).
Chapter Two examines the spiritual tools for change, the sin-focus that is essential to use them, and the need for us to give up our sinful autonomy and live a Spirit-controlled life (see esp. 50-52). Then a very helpful section on “The Preparation of the Biblical Counselor” makes wise use of 2 Tim. 2:24-26.
Chapter Three reminds the reader what biblical counseling is and is not. Christians are to rely upon the wholly sufficient Word of God (76-77), and this includes the personal commitment of the counselor (80-86). What is impressive here is how the authors use theology to draw out the functions of the biblical counselor from his/her spiritual characteristics (86-95). This is a Bible study in itself and provides excellent teaching on the connection between personal sanctification and practical ministry.
The next chapter completes what might be called the methodological foundations in the book. An admonition about listening to the client is given before providing four Case Studies. These example cases are given to show how the counselor can move the counselee toward giving answers which require a biblical response (see 100-101). This greatly aids the counselor in identifying where a person is spiritually and what steps need to be made for them to come into line with God’s Word. This process is illustrated in the last part of the chapter.
Picking out one of these chapters for comment we see that in Chapter 7 Abercrombie and Skinner warn the reader not to be diverted from seeking a spiritual solution by the things they may meet with or any suspicions they may have ((167-170). The section on “Divide and Conquer” is an excellent discussion of the way a particular person in a family can be “opened-up” away from the critical glare of the other family members (e.g. 171). Three cases are included to show the effectiveness of this approach in certain situations. However, when all members of the family profess Christ the counselor has an opportunity to disciple them while addressing the problems and applying actions leading to solutions (187-202). Good use is made of Romans 12 at the start of this section. The Case Study with Tim and Belinda (189-192) and their children is outstanding. One can almost feel the tension in the air! Noteworthy is the way the counselor repeatedly brings this Christian family back to their responsibilities as God’s children towards each other. The aim, as in every counseling scenario, is repentance.
In summary, Wonderful Counselor makes a great contribution to the literature on truly biblical counseling. It demonstrates the healing role of the body of Christ in subordination to the Person of Christ and His Word. It was a most practical and edifying read.