I’ve had an interest in counseling ever since I took a class on biblical counseling at Word of Life. Then, I majored in psychology at Liberty University. Ever since then, I’ve come back frequently to think through issues of integrating psychology and theology and how counseling works in the local church. Along the latter lines, I was able to get a review copy of Paul Tautges’ Counseling One Another: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship. This is a slightly revised and expanded version of the 2009 book by the almost same title (and different publisher). In it, Paul Tautges argues for not just biblical counseling over against integrated models of counseling, but also for the importance of one another counseling in the local church.
Helpfully, Tautges begins each chapter with a thesis about authentic biblical counseling. In his estimation it:
- Is nothing more, and surely nothing less, than the fulfillment of the Great Command to make disciples of Jesus Christ by the delegated authority of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (23).
- Stands in awe of the power of God’s gospel to convert thoroughly sinful men and women from thoroughly sinful thoughts, actions, motives, emotions, and desires to Spirit-generated new creations that reflect the beautiful love and holiness of Jesus Christ – the Lord we are now called to follow (41).
- Recognizes God’s holy calling for the believer and the disciple’s personal responsibility for self-discipline, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live in a manner worthy of his or her high position as a new creature in Christ (67).
- Lives out God’s redeeming love through believers as we take initiative to restore brothers and sisters who are experiencing spiritual defeat in the battle with indwelling sin (99).
- Chooses no other foundation to build its philosophy and practice upon than the Scriptures: the will of God faithfully revealed to man by the Spirit from the living Word, Jesus Christ (113).
- Grips the wisdom of God embodied and revealed in Jesus Christ and refuses to surrender the higher ground of the Holy Spirit’s revelation of Truth in the gospel to the inferior wisdom of man (133).
- Requires the nurturing power of stimulating relationships with other Spirit-indwelt believers in the context of a community of living faith that pursues the beauty of God’s holiness and revolves around the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ (157).
On a positive note, I think this book is useful for giving an account of how discipleship can incorporate the one-anothers of the New Testament. As believers in the local church are better equipped to give wisdom counsel in the mundane moments of everyday life, crisis counseling might be less needed. The meat of the book (chapters 2-6) covers this and because of the follow up discussion questions in each chapter, might make a good small group resource.
On a negative note, I think too much is made in this book of the dangers of secular psychology. It is cited as a main motivation for the writing of the book (detailed in chapter 1) and then fleshed out in more detail later (chapter 7). The stance is rather combative and probably won’t convince anyone who is on the other side. I am generally sympathetic to biblical counseling models over against some integrationist accounts and I found some of the rhetoric kind of off-putting and unnecessary (not to mention philosophically problematic). I think the book could have lacked this material and still fulfilled the vision of the title and provided an excellent resource to help small groups disciple their members better.
Paul Tautges, Counseling One Another: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, February 2016. 195 pp. Paperback, $14.95.
Visit the publisher’s page
Thanks to Shepherd Press for the review copy!