Philosophy of Counseling

The Holy Scripture, being God’s law and testimony, is true and should therefore serve as the Christian’s standard for all
matters of faith and practice (Isaiah 8:19-20; 2 Peter 1:3). There is no authority that is higher than the one found in Scripture.
Wherever and on whatever subject Scripture speaks, it must be regarded as inerrant, authoritative, sufficient, and superior to
human counsel. There have always been people who have affirmed the inerrancy and authority of Scripture in matters of faith
and practice but who would not affirm the sufficiency of Scripture for understanding and resolving the spiritual (non-physical)
problems of man. They acknowledge Scripture to be the Word of God, and in this they are correct, but when it comes to
understanding and resolving many of the real spiritual issues of life, they think that Scripture has limited value. Therefore, it is
crucial that we clearly articulate a definition of biblical counseling according to Scripture. There are four distinguishing features
of truly Christian or biblical counseling as explained below.

Christ-Centered Counseling

Biblical counseling is conscientiously and comprehensively Christ-centered. It focuses on who Christ is and what He has done
for us in His life, death, resurrection, and in sending the Holy Spirit. Christ-centered counseling also focuses on what He is
doing for us right now in His intercession at the Father’s right hand and what He will do for us in the future. In biblical
counseling, the Christ of the Bible is not an appendage or an “add on” for living in the fast lane. Rather, He is the center and
the circumference (and everywhere in between) of counseling. Christ-centered counseling involves understanding the nature
and causes of our human difficulties. It involves understanding the ways we are unlike Christ in our values, aspirations, desires,
thoughts, feelings, choices, attitudes, actions, and responses. Resolving those sin-related difficulties includes being redeemed
and justified through Christ, receiving God’s forgiveness through Christ, and acquiring from Christ the enabling power to
replace un-Christlike (sinful) patterns with Christlike, godly ones. As we are transformed to be more like Christ, we overcome
sin and are better-equipped to deal with the effects of sin in this fallen world with a primary focus on glorifying God,
proclaiming the gospel, and advancing His kingdom (Ro 8:29; 1 Co 10:31; 2 Co 3:18; 5:9).

Gospel-Centered Counseling

A biblical counselor is also conscientiously and comprehensively Christian in his outlook on life. Genuine biblical counseling is
conducted by individuals who have experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and have come to Christ in
repentance and faith, acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior of their lives. These are also people who want to live in
obedience to Him, people whose main concern in life is to exalt Him and bring glory to His name. They are people who
believe that, since God did not spare His own Son from the cross or the suffering He experienced there but, delivered Him up
to the cross and death for us on our behalf and in our stead, as our substitute. Through Christ, He will freely give us all that
we need for effective and godly living and transform us to be like His Son in the totality of our being. Biblical Christian
counselors also acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit in regenerating, saving, and sanctifying the believer. Truly biblical
counseling is carried out by those whose theological convictions influence, permeate, and control their personal lives along
with their counseling theory and practice.

Bible-Centered Counseling

Genuine biblical counseling is conscientiously and comprehensively based on the Bible and derives from Scripture its
understanding of who man is, the nature of his primary problems, why he has these problems, and how to resolve these
problems. In other words, the counselor must be conscientiously and comprehensively committed to the sufficiency of
Scripture for understanding and resolving all the non-physical personal and interpersonal sin-related difficulties of man.

Church-Centered Counseling

Another distinguishing feature of genuine biblical counseling is that it will be conscientiously and comprehensively church
centered. Scripture makes it clear that the local church is the primary means by which God accomplishes His work in the
world. The local church is His ordained instrument for calling the lost to Himself and the context in which He sanctifies and
changes His people into the likeness of Christ. According to Scripture, the church is His household, the pillar and support of
the truth, and the instrument He uses in helping His people to put off the old manner of life or self and to put on the new way
of living and new self (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:1-32). Credibility in counseling is established when it is conducted under
the authority of the church and its properly appointed leadership.

Theological Distinction

The Graduate Studies in Biblical Counseling Department stands firm on the sufficiency of Scripture, specifically, that the Bible
is everything a person needs to address the spiritual problems people face (2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). As a result, our degree
programs take the doctrine of sign gifts seriously and holds to a cessationist position. It is the counselor’s responsibility to help
a counselee change based on the standard of God’s Word. If other forms of revelation, such as prophecy or tongues, are
allowed in biblical counseling, the sufficiency of Scripture is undermined and called into question. We welcome those who are
unsure about the gifts as result of not being taught thoroughly about them to study in our MABC program. The MABC
program offers clear instruction on these issues. D.Min. BC students are expected to have strong biblical convictions
consistent with our program about these foundational doctrines upon beginning their course of study.

However, the following consequences could result for those who are approved to enter the MABC program and maintain a
non-cessationist position on sign gifts for the duration of their studies in the program and who remain unconvinced of the
cessationist position by the end of their studies in the program. First, a student may score lower on the ACBC exam which
includes questions about the doctrine of sign gifts. It is also possible that a non-cessationist position will prevent a MABC
/D.Min. BC student from obtaining Certification or Fellow/Assistant to a Fellow status with ACBC. This applies to any
student who changes to a non-cessationist position after beginning the program as well. Second, a student may score lower on
certain assignments and in certain classes. Third, maintaining theological positions on these and other essential doctrines that
are different from a Graduate Studies program may prevent a student from being certified with ACBC or graduating with an
MABC or D.Min. BC degrees.