Introduction to Biblical Counseling

By John MacArthur Jr., and Wayne A. Mack
Dallas : Word (1994). 408 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Richard Mayhue
5.2 (Fall 1994) : 222-223

John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, and some of The Master's College faculty have combined their vision and expertise to produce a definitive statement on biblical counseling that will provide an alternative to both secular psychology and so-called Christian psychology. Biblical content saturates the volume, yet its conclusions reach all the way into the ministry of the local church with guidance principles for those whose lives need redirection/rebuilding.

The volume is divided into four sections: Part 1-"The Historical Background of Biblical Counseling"; Part 2-"The Theological Foundations of Biblical Counseling"; Part -"The Process of Biblical Counseling"; and Part 4-"The Practice of Biblical Counseling." In addition, the appendix provides a Personal Data Inventory which should be a very helpful tool for those doing biblical counseling. Three indices` authors, Scriptures, and subjects`will make it easy for the reader to locate specifics in the book.

This volume presents a system of biblical truth that brings people and their problems together with the power of God to transform their lives. According to the authors, Introduction to Biblical Counseling rests on three convictions: (1) God's Word should be a Christian's counseling authority; (2) counseling should be a part of the basic discipling ministry of the local church; and (3) Christians can have training in how to counsel effectively. This book will be of equal value to pastors and laymen in the church. It will also serve well as a basic text at the seminary level, in a Bible college, or for counseling training in the local church.

Introduction to Biblical Counseling is rooted and grounded in a high view of God and Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture, and a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Part 1, "The Historical Background of Biblical Counseling," sets the stage for the remainder of the book. After a general introduction to the subject of "Rediscovering Biblical Counseling," which establishes the value of biblical counseling over any other kind of counseling, two more chapters follow. First, the approach to counseling used by the Puritans and, second, "Biblical Counseling in the 20th Century." This latter chapter provides helpful insights into understanding the "why's" for the writing of this volume.

Part 2, "The Theological Foundations of Biblical Counseling," encompasses six helpful chapters. "Counseling and the Sinfulness of Humanity" and "The Work of the Spirit and Biblical Counseling" stand out as perhaps the most significant contributions. Part 3, "The Process of Biblical Counseling," describes the day-by-day life of the biblical counselor. Mack, who has been involved in biblical counseling for over two decades, provides seven very helpful and practical chapters to deal with everything from developing a right relationship with counselees to implementing biblical instruction. If the potential reader has a vital interest in real life counseling, these chapters should be of immense help because they have been written out of the rich reservoir of one who not only has studied the subject extensively, but has been personally involved in counseling at the pastoral level for many years.

The concluding section, "The Practice of Biblical Counseling," deals with many helpful subjects such as "Spirit-Giftedness and Biblical Counseling" and "Preaching and Biblical Counseling." Readers will find "Resources for Biblical Counseling" to be of immense help as it lays out what the authors believe are the most helpful pieces of literature available today to complement Introduction to Biblical Counseling. As with most books of this nature, it is not possible to cover every subject evenly, so it has pulled together a number of issues in the final chapter, "Frequently Asked Questions about Biblical Counseling."

Introduction to Biblical Counseling is thoroughly biblical, well written, theologically grounded, and immensely practical. Every church and every Christian school should consider using this volume as a basic text for their ongoing instruction in biblical counseling.