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Biblical counselors have worked for decades to demonstrate that God’s resources in Scripture are sufficient to help people with their counseling-related problems. In Counseling the Hard Cases, editors Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert use the true stories of real patients to show how the truths of God’s Word can be released to bring help, hope, and healing into the lives of t Biblical counselors have worked for decades to demonstrate that God’s resources in Scripture are sufficient to help people with their counseling-related problems. In Counseling the Hard Cases, editors Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert use the true stories of real patients to show how the truths of God’s Word can be released to bring help, hope, and healing into the lives of those who struggle with some of the most difficult psychiatric diagnoses. From pastors and academics to physicians and psychiatrists, a world-class team of contributing counselors share accounts of Scripture having helped overcome bipolar, dissociative identity, and obsessive compulsive disorders, postpartum depression, panic attacks, addiction, issues from childhood sexual abuse, homosexuality, and more. The book also shows how the graces of Christ, as revealed in the Bible, brought powerful spiritual change to the lives of such people who seemed previously burdened beyond hope by mental and emotional roadblocks. Contributors include John Babler, Ph.D., Kevin Carson, D.Min., Laura Hendrickson, M.D., Garrett Higbee, Psy.D., Robert Jones, D.Min., Martha Peace, RN, Steve Viars, D.Min., and Dan Wickert, M.D.


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Biblical counselors have worked for decades to demonstrate that God’s resources in Scripture are sufficient to help people with their counseling-related problems. In Counseling the Hard Cases, editors Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert use the true stories of real patients to show how the truths of God’s Word can be released to bring help, hope, and healing into the lives of t Biblical counselors have worked for decades to demonstrate that God’s resources in Scripture are sufficient to help people with their counseling-related problems. In Counseling the Hard Cases, editors Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert use the true stories of real patients to show how the truths of God’s Word can be released to bring help, hope, and healing into the lives of those who struggle with some of the most difficult psychiatric diagnoses. From pastors and academics to physicians and psychiatrists, a world-class team of contributing counselors share accounts of Scripture having helped overcome bipolar, dissociative identity, and obsessive compulsive disorders, postpartum depression, panic attacks, addiction, issues from childhood sexual abuse, homosexuality, and more. The book also shows how the graces of Christ, as revealed in the Bible, brought powerful spiritual change to the lives of such people who seemed previously burdened beyond hope by mental and emotional roadblocks. Contributors include John Babler, Ph.D., Kevin Carson, D.Min., Laura Hendrickson, M.D., Garrett Higbee, Psy.D., Robert Jones, D.Min., Martha Peace, RN, Steve Viars, D.Min., and Dan Wickert, M.D.

30 review for Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kez

    Where to even begin? My primary thought on reading the final page of this book was, "Thank God it's over." The second thought was "My review on Goodreads is gonna be long." As a Christian psychology major, this book made me want to bang my head against a wall. It begins by setting up a false premise of there only being three types of counselors - those who believe Scripture is all that is needed to solve all problems, those who believe psychology is all that is needed to solve all problems, and Where to even begin? My primary thought on reading the final page of this book was, "Thank God it's over." The second thought was "My review on Goodreads is gonna be long." As a Christian psychology major, this book made me want to bang my head against a wall. It begins by setting up a false premise of there only being three types of counselors - those who believe Scripture is all that is needed to solve all problems, those who believe psychology is all that is needed to solve all problems, and those who believe both Scripture and Psychology are good, but that Psychology ultimately trumps Scripture. This right away eliminates the existence of all the counselors who believe psychology can be an invaluable, God-given tool to help us counsel, but believe Scripture to be the final authority. Then the book goes on to present several example "hard cases" which prove the sufficiency of Scripture to fix any problem no matter how severe. However at the end of many of these individual stories, a small disclaimer reads that the story was not actually a real case but taken from numerous cases and clients over the years and jumbled together to prove their point - which in my opinion makes those stories little better than fiction. Counselees and their issues are not interchangeable. You can't take 1 issue from 5 different counselees, pretend they all happened to one counselee, claim you cured that "hard case" using a particular method, and then tag on a disclaimer that the "hard case" was actually a bunch of smaller cases jumbled into one big one to prove your method works. Another issue I had with this book is the total lack of non-Christian counselees. Every counselee in this book is a Christian who wants to be a better one. Are we not to try and help non-Christians at all? What hope can we offer those with hard issues who are not yet Christians? This is not addressed even once. The women with issues in this book (which interestingly is 70% of the "hard cases" presented) are often shown as being irrational, fearful, selfish, incompetent, and well... "hysterical" would be a good word for how they come across. Their husbands are repeatedly presented as caring, innocent, hard working guys who just want their suicidal wife to get her act together enough to cook a meal and have it on the table by the time he gets home from a long day at work. Oh, and also keep the house clean and look after the children. This book was published in 2012, but it often reads as if it were written in the 1950s. The rejection of mental illness diagnoses throughout this book is reminiscent of the 1950s too. And this is where the book becomes dangerous. There is an utter rejection of and misrepresentation of all of psychology: its "labels", its medications, its counselors, and its science. All the worst of early psychology is paraded out as proof that psychology as a whole is evil, untrustworthy, and damaging (recovered memories of sexual abuse and demonic rituals, shady hypnosis, over-prescribing of medications, and even using some of Freud's wackier theories) with no regard to the truth that Psychology has largely and long since rejected many of these ideas from the field. There is an over arching theme that mental illness medications are bad and unnecessary. While the writers are careful never to come out and say a counselee should come off their medication, there is an emphasis on how every single counselee does quit their medication by the end of the story. One counselor even admits to having to coach a counselee on what to say to the doctor to convince him she was well enough to withdraw from her psychotropic medications. Another never corrects a husband who repeatedly is stated to believe that a "true Christian" wouldn't need medication and "a growing Christian can handle life without them". This kind of stuff along with statements about a counselee "getting grace" to not need medications in her struggles and instread leaning on Jesus for help and "the Spirit of God (breaking) through with the gospel and (leading a counselee) to discontinue her secular-based therapy" (for example) give a reader the sense that medications for mental illness problems are shameful, unnecessary, weak, and unhealthy, psychology is unChristian, and even worse that mental illness itself does not truly exist. These are incredibly dangerous and naive views to hold to - especially for so-called counselors. Other issues problems with this book: - Symptoms of "depression and anxiety" are called "sinful" and are pointed out as proof of the counselee "going off track and following worldly things". - Diagnoses of psychiatric illnesses are labelled "hope-destroying" and those "stuck" with them are "damaged goods" - even while those labels are brushed off as just fancy names for heart problems. - Inaccurate definitions and symptoms of psychiatric disorders are given and then poked full of holes. - A wife tells the counselor repeatedly that she is afraid of her husband and he brushes it off as her just being vengeful because the husband is always on her to get all her "homemaker responsibilities" done. With the open support of the counselor, the same husband confiscates his wife's keys so she can't leave the house while he is at work. When she finally leaves, the counselor sits down with the couple's young children and tells them their mother is not "obeying God right now". When she quits counseling, the counselor sets up a coordinated church effort to inundate her with phone calls calling for her to repent and return home. In closing, this particular quote from the book basically sums up how bad this book is: "(After quitting psychotropic medications cold turkey) Julie slid into an out-of-control mania that could not be overcome even by hours of biblical talk. All of our efforts to talk her down—face-to-face or by phone—were fruitless. On one occasion, from 12:45–1:30 in the morning we sat by the phone as I repeatedly sought (to no avail) to center her mind on Ps 121:1–2: “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD , the Maker of heaven and earth.” Thankfully, this episode was short-lived, and Julie was soon stabilized with the help of her prescribed medication."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    This is a must have & a must read for all pastors. I was going to say a must read for all pastors who do counseling but then all pastors should be doing counseling; if they are not there is a real problem with their ministry that needs to be addressed. (For some pastors there is a fear and/or a lack of confidence either in the Word or their ability to handle hard cases, this book will be an encouragement to you, a big time encouragement.) This book centers on the sufficiency of Scripture. The ine This is a must have & a must read for all pastors. I was going to say a must read for all pastors who do counseling but then all pastors should be doing counseling; if they are not there is a real problem with their ministry that needs to be addressed. (For some pastors there is a fear and/or a lack of confidence either in the Word or their ability to handle hard cases, this book will be an encouragement to you, a big time encouragement.) This book centers on the sufficiency of Scripture. The inerrancy of Scripture is fundamental & most important Christian doctrine that must be defended with the utmost fervency. Yet, if the inerrancy of the Bible is defended & the necessity & sufficiency are neglected, then there is no victory, no joy & no hope. The contributors & editors all believe that the Bible is comprehensively sufficient to deal w/any problem that requires counseling. It is also important & should be stressed that the descriptions & prescriptions of human problems found in God’s Word are far superior to anything that secular psychology has to offer (far too many people, even pastors, do not believe or accept that). There are two kinds of pastors who avoid counseling, 1) the kind who does not fully understand and/or believe in the Bible & the sufficiency of Scripture, 2) the kind who do not want to send the time necessary to help people w/serious & specific problems, they simply do not care about people the way Jesus exemplifies & commands. This book helps with number 1. However one should know that “Counseling the Hard Cases” was not written to provide a step-by-step account of how to counsel different situations, but to show how the Word of God properly applied to a person's life brings about change. This book is helpful for anyone wanting to know more about what biblical counseling looks like & who wants to see how the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is applied to the everyday life of all sinners. This book is strong on how each counselor reframes the problems dealt with as sin in a biblical worldview rather than as a disorder or a disease. This is not a light read, & it is hard to prepare for the overwhelming experience of reading this book. While the book is extremely helpful, there is a certain weightiness involved in reading it. At the same time, it allows readers to feel some of the weight & fears of biblical counseling while simultaneously providing both biblical instruction & hope that Christ is building His church through the most ordinary means. There is so much more I could say but I’ll stop, get the book & read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Bunce

    Very helpful to those studying Biblical counseling, those who want to offer help and hope to those around them, and for the sceptic who may wonder, "what kind of help could the Bible provide for those with difficulties, personality disorders, etc.?" The sufficiency of the Bible is on full display and what a glorious picture it is to see the Word of God, used by the people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God to effect genuine change, bring healing, and inspire hope in the hearts of believers. Very helpful to those studying Biblical counseling, those who want to offer help and hope to those around them, and for the sceptic who may wonder, "what kind of help could the Bible provide for those with difficulties, personality disorders, etc.?" The sufficiency of the Bible is on full display and what a glorious picture it is to see the Word of God, used by the people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God to effect genuine change, bring healing, and inspire hope in the hearts of believers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bo Cogbill

    Hope in What Feels Like the a Hopeless As a pastor, I so often feel overwhelmed by the various counseling situations, but this book offered testimonies, not of profound insight but of biblical faithfulness. God's word and gospel basics really do penetrate even the most "impossible" of cases. This is a great book that should be read by counselors and counselees alike to remind us all that there really is hope to be found in Christ and the good news of His life, death, and resurrection for all sinn Hope in What Feels Like the a Hopeless As a pastor, I so often feel overwhelmed by the various counseling situations, but this book offered testimonies, not of profound insight but of biblical faithfulness. God's word and gospel basics really do penetrate even the most "impossible" of cases. This is a great book that should be read by counselors and counselees alike to remind us all that there really is hope to be found in Christ and the good news of His life, death, and resurrection for all sinners, even the hard cases.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Ventura

    Pretty good. Each chapter is a different counseling case and retells how a counselor did "biblical counseling" to help the counselee repent and seek restoration from Christ. The scenarios are relevant to the common sin problems of our day and include the frequent complications of bodily ailments, psychiatric drugs, and secular diagnoses. The counselor gathers information and then seeks to re-diagnose the situation based on God's Word. Pretty good. Each chapter is a different counseling case and retells how a counselor did "biblical counseling" to help the counselee repent and seek restoration from Christ. The scenarios are relevant to the common sin problems of our day and include the frequent complications of bodily ailments, psychiatric drugs, and secular diagnoses. The counselor gathers information and then seeks to re-diagnose the situation based on God's Word.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bronwen Wilson

    Wow, just wow. I am currently attending a biblical counseling course and am listening to this alongside the theology portion of the course. I know that God's word is the answer to our problems, but I did wonder how this is worked out in extreme cases. This audiobook is a testament to the power of the bible, God's redeeming work, and the gift of biblical counseling. Covering extreme mental health issues, addictions, infidelity, marriage, eating disorders, OCD, and much more, this book is a must f Wow, just wow. I am currently attending a biblical counseling course and am listening to this alongside the theology portion of the course. I know that God's word is the answer to our problems, but I did wonder how this is worked out in extreme cases. This audiobook is a testament to the power of the bible, God's redeeming work, and the gift of biblical counseling. Covering extreme mental health issues, addictions, infidelity, marriage, eating disorders, OCD, and much more, this book is a must for those interested in biblical counseling or just the power of Jesus and the gospel and how it changes us and intersects with this very fallen world. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    GiGi

    Extremely interesting. Gleaned a lot of tools and info to use while counseling.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

    Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert, eds, Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015), 318 pages. Overview In Counseling the Hard Cases one finds the sufficiency of Scripture displayed on almost every page. Whether directly addressed (as in chapter one), or indirectly displayed in the various case studies (a total of ten), there is no doubt in the respective authors’ or editors’ minds that God’s Word “is suffic Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert, eds, Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015), 318 pages. Overview In Counseling the Hard Cases one finds the sufficiency of Scripture displayed on almost every page. Whether directly addressed (as in chapter one), or indirectly displayed in the various case studies (a total of ten), there is no doubt in the respective authors’ or editors’ minds that God’s Word “is sufficient because Christ is sufficient, and God shows us in his Word how to encounter him in all of life’s complexities.” (13) The first chapter seeks to provide an overview of the counseling debate within the church. This involves different worldviews as well as differences in one’s view of Scripture. The chapter is a helpful history of the development and extent of biblical counseling. Chapters 2-11 are written by individuals actively involved in biblical counseling. As the authors note, the cases may be actual individuals (whose names have been changed), or a conglomeration of individuals that, taken together, provide an overview of the issues and solutions. (xiii) These case studies follow a general structure: • An introduction to the individual(s) and their problems • A presentation of the help they have received from others • A reorientation of the problem from a biblical worldview • A discussion of the progress and changes throughout the counseling period • A summary of the help and growth in the counselee(s) • A concluding section discussing the strengths, weaknesses, and differences each counselor would take at the present While these are not found in every chapter, they do provide a highlight into the general structure of the book. The editors end the book summarizing the reasons why biblical counseling is the means by which God has equipped believers to address the complexities and problems of life within a biblical worldview. Strengths For a book on the topic of biblical counseling in general, and one that addresses complex issues such as bipolar disorder, addictions, dissociative identify disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, to name a few), I was shocked at the preciseness (the book is only 307 pages in length, with an accompanying contributor, name, and Scripture index adding 9 pages). The book deals with a deep subject (counseling in general), but does so that the average Christian can pick it up with little difficulty. They define terms (see page 3 for example) in a way that individuals with little to no experience in counseling can grasp. The limit the case studies to pertinent topics, only including what is pertinent in that particular counseling setting (for example, “Jackie” in chapter 8 only brings in additional details that help the counseling sessions progress). Another strength is the notable, consistent application of biblical counseling norms. Without being exhaustive, I found the following consistently represented: Counseling Methods Journaling 41, 69, 72, 134, 150, 157, 243, 263 Reading Books 39, 109 (in footnote), 131, 158, 179, 230, 249, 254, 262-263, 264, 279 Gathering Information 69, 112, 125, 143, 176, 179, 207 The Gospel in Counseling 73, 123, 126 Confession & Repentance 74, 106, 128, 158, 272 Progressive Sanctification 42-44, 74, 160 Scripture 41, 75-76, 93, 101-102, 127, 214-215, 262, 265, 278 Gospel Indicatives & Imperatives 77, 214, 218, 244, 253-254, 264 Accountability 51, 80, 178, 196, 222, 265, 277 Hope 67-69, 113, 146, 148, 207, 234-235, 243-246 Homework 114, 139, 151, 223 Again, one can see that this list is not exhaustive. However, it does provide an overview of the normal practices of biblical counselors. In many instances, additional examples could be provided. However, this strength demonstrates the didactic nature of the book without being purposeful. That is, you begin to learn the ins and outs of biblical counseling without being aware of it. Another strength of this book is the rawness presented in the case studies. These are real people with significant problems (though their names have been changed). Consider the depth of this introduction to Mariana, “Mariana’s father, an alcoholic, molested her for the first time when she was four years old.” (26) “In her adolescent years Mariana started cutting, turned to anorexic and bulimic behaviors, and struggled with depression…She habitually stayed awake all night to avoid having nightmares in a room with others and avoided showering or dressing in anyone’s presence.” (26) These are heartbreaking issues, and they are found with each one of the counselees. It is graphic emotion and real pain. I see this as a strength because Christians too often separate life from life. That is, we deal with the pleasantries of Sunday morning church while ignoring the evilness of sin and the despair that afflicts many. When asked, “How are you?” we customarily reply, “Fine!” Though inside a war may be raging, though our marriages may be on the rocks, though our health may be bad. A final strength is the way in which the authors present the sufficiency of Scripture in contrast with the methods and ideologies of modern, secular psychology and psychiatry. Though examples could be provided from each case study, I want to focus on Dan Wickert’s section. After presenting the background of his counselee, Mary, Dan offers a brief treatment of medication and counseling. Without dismissing medication completely, Dan balances the extremes with two carefully worded questions that, in my estimation, will greatly benefit any biblical counselor. He asks, “Why do you want to stop [i.e., taking medication]?” (120) Unfortunately, many churches, pastors, and Christians look down upon those who utilize medication for mental and physical issues. This question addresses the ease to which counselees can often give into the fear of man. The result, of course, is not only sinful fear but also a potential medical problem. Another question he asks is, “How are you handling life on the medication?” (121) This is such a helpful way to look at this delicate situation. He goes on to write, “Are they handling the normal problems of life in a biblical, God-honoring way while they are on the medication? If not, then taking them off the medication usually will not help the counselee to please God.” (121) In the rest of that section and the following section, Dan provides more insightful comments balancing a particularly tough topic. Weaknesses While I have elaborated on the strengths (though certainly not in any exhaustive way), I would like to discuss two weaknesses. Though not directly stated, I think the book can imply that any Christian can pick up the Bible and address the complex issues presented through these hard cases. While that statement is not necessarily false, I think it can give the impression that if one is a Christian and can read the Bible then they are equipped to counsel any situation. I know that the authors would deny this. They would encourage a deep study of the Scriptures as well as an active faith. However, some who read this book may do more damage than good if they are not watchful for their own lives and doctrines (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16). A second, though small, weakness is the failure to include an organize structure of the counseling process. While it is presented general (as evidenced by the table above), I think they book would be further strengthened if the authors provided a bullet-point summary of the counseling process. Obviously, this could be overwhelming to the reader, so discretion would need be applied. However, for many counselors this would prove to be an additional benefit. Who should read it? The book is written to a Christian audience, and I think it should be read primarily by Christians. I also think anyone involved with counseling (secular, integrationist, or biblical) would do well to read the book. For the secular counselor, this book may help present the foundational principles of biblical counseling in a language they speak. It also may alleviate any unnecessary objections to biblical counseling. The integrationist should read this work as well. Unfortunately, we often speak past one another in our discussions of counseling. This book serves to clear up some confusion on part of the biblical counseling movement. It also presents an often-distorted view of biblical counseling’s understanding of medication (see, for example, chapter 5). Finally, any biblical counseling (lay or professional) would benefit greatly from this work. It is written, as I have already mentioned, in clear and precise language. It provides insight into the process of biblical counseling. It also encourages the counselor that these hard cases, though certainly not easy, are within the realm of the sufficiency of God’s Word.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lendl Meyer

    "Is the Bible sufficient for _______?" This is the most potent question raised by this book for me, and I am thankful for its resounding answer from 2 Peter 1:3: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is i "Is the Bible sufficient for _______?" This is the most potent question raised by this book for me, and I am thankful for its resounding answer from 2 Peter 1:3: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." This book did an excellent job of showing how the truths of scripture are sufficient for not only addressing challenging/complex symptoms through counseling situations, but ultimately changing counselees' hearts. I was personally challenged by several of the accounts as I recognized similar heart/belief problem in myself as were described in the counselees. This made the scripture shared with counselees even more impactful to me. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kottman

    This book is excellent. The purpose of the book is to show that the Scriptures truly are sufficient in every counselling situation. Whether a person is bipolar, OCD, schizophrenic, a sufferer of abuse, etc. Through the Scriptures God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. It is encouraging to read the cases here, and how people were helped by careful application of God's Word. It goes deeper than slapping a verse onto someone, it is bearing with people in the ministry of the This book is excellent. The purpose of the book is to show that the Scriptures truly are sufficient in every counselling situation. Whether a person is bipolar, OCD, schizophrenic, a sufferer of abuse, etc. Through the Scriptures God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. It is encouraging to read the cases here, and how people were helped by careful application of God's Word. It goes deeper than slapping a verse onto someone, it is bearing with people in the ministry of the Word. This is a book that pastors should read. We pastors are too quick to out-source counselling to professionals. Certainly we need to grow in our understanding of how to counsel people, but this is a ministry of the church.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    While interesting, I did not walk away from this book convinced that the sufficiency of Scripture precluded the contributions of secular psychology. I think the dichotomy is a bit exaggerated. I praise God that the people in this book were helped by their counselors. That said, I'm not sure that some kind of integration or Christian psychological position wouldn't be better. Something that holds Scripture as primary but not exclusively could do a better job of recognizing that we are whole indiv While interesting, I did not walk away from this book convinced that the sufficiency of Scripture precluded the contributions of secular psychology. I think the dichotomy is a bit exaggerated. I praise God that the people in this book were helped by their counselors. That said, I'm not sure that some kind of integration or Christian psychological position wouldn't be better. Something that holds Scripture as primary but not exclusively could do a better job of recognizing that we are whole individuals (mind, body, soul) and not just people who need to kill idols in our hearts. I hid that opinion when I read this because the editor of this book was my counseling professor. Shh...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tom Talamantez

    I have revisited this book a few times, but now reading in full once again to update my review if necessary. To read the first review, see my blog at https://foundationalknowledge.wordpre... I have revisited this book a few times, but now reading in full once again to update my review if necessary. To read the first review, see my blog at https://foundationalknowledge.wordpre...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Introduction In Counseling the Hard Cases, Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert have assembled a treasure-trove of examples from multiple pastors, authors and counselors that help define what biblical counseling is and how to properly apply it in the lives of real people. Both Scott and Lambert are professors of Biblical Counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and through my personal interaction with Stuart Scott, I know that he himself has spent many years as a Introduction In Counseling the Hard Cases, Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert have assembled a treasure-trove of examples from multiple pastors, authors and counselors that help define what biblical counseling is and how to properly apply it in the lives of real people. Both Scott and Lambert are professors of Biblical Counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and through my personal interaction with Stuart Scott, I know that he himself has spent many years as a pastor of a local congregation, elder at another, and counselor to many. Summary Churches around the world are filled with believers and non-believers alike that face a variety of problems in their everyday life. For much of the twentieth century, pastors of congregations would help where they could, but if these problems ventured into a “taboo” area, or entered into the realm commonly handled by psychologists, they would often outsource the problem to a “professional” outside of the church. In the 1960s this began to change, as an author named Jay Adams started to write about how counseling can sufficiently be done using the Scriptures as the only necessary source for counseling (3). Over the next few decades, lines were drawn between various counselors, and today a basic division can be made between the secular psychologists, the Christian counselors, and the Biblical counselors (5). In brief, the secular psychologists see the Scriptures as irrelevant for counseling, Christian counselors see the Scriptures as relevant but insufficient, and Biblical counselors see the Scriptures to be both relevant and sufficient (6). In order to defend Biblical counseling against the naysayers that have ridiculed the movement as too simplistic, Scott and Lambert seek to defend this position based upon two foundational elements (7). First, in order to unpack the difficult challenges that many people face, a redefinition of secular psychology's diagnosis needs to be made in light of Biblical terminology. This is addressed because secular psychology seeks to adjust the external situations in one's life, i.e. anxiety, addiction, or fear, rather than addressing the internal turmoil, which is spiritual and theological in nature. Secondly, to avoid simplistic assumptions and the out-of-context Scriptural applications made by many, a careful examination of the Biblical texts must be made. Biblical counselors do not see the Bible as a scientific text, nor do they think that it provides all of the information on a given topic that one may desire. Instead, they view it as sufficient to provide everything that one may need to address all of the problems of the inner-man (16). Following an introduction that fills out what I summarized above, the book highlights ten different “hard cases” where the contributing biblical counselor was involved with a believer during a very difficult time in their life. These cases are presented as being real-life situations, with names changed to ensure privacy and sometimes a slight modification to paint a fuller picture based on that author's experience with similar situations. For the most part, each author employes a very similar framework when dealing with a problem. After spending some time learning about the client's personal life and whether he or she is a Christian, the counselor will slowly work through the Gospel to remind the believer of who they are in Christ. Depending on the situation, this may involve reading a devotional on the Gospel, journaling, and/or memorizing verses. Following this, counselors typically shift towards analyzing heart-issues by seeking to expose false idols that remain in the believer's heart. Each counseling case addressed in the book brought a completely new aspect of our fallen world into play by addressing topics such as childhood sexual abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, paralyzing fear, anorexia, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, homosexuality, addictions and adultery. Critical Evaluation I must admit that I did not expect this book to be very “gritty”. After reading the introduction I casually moved into chapter two, titled “Mariana and Surviving Sexual Abuse” by Laura Hendrickson. Within the first three paragraphs I found myself saddened by the hurt that Mariana has carried for much of her life. Having little girls of my own caused me to stop and pray for them and wonder who around me has faced similar pain. The care and gentleness expressed by the counselor taught me much about applying the Gospel into the life of another. As Mariana's pain continued to be exposed I was interested to learn how false idols had taken over much of her life, giving her brief satisfaction but never bringing true peace. After many months of examining Scripture, working with a Biblical counselor, and re-evaluating her thinking, Mariana started to see and believe the truth. This, in turn, led to a growing transfer of worshipping false idols to more faithfully worshiping her God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I read through the cases I was continually struck by the time and devotion it took for each of these counselors to see fruit from their efforts. Often the weekly meetings would last for an hour or more, continuing for around ten months. In the case titled “Julie and Addictions and Adultery”, the counselor worked with Julie for over two years from start to finish. This devotion of time has made it apparent that Biblical involvement in the lives of others is truly a sacrifice. Rather than being satisfied with mere behavioral modifications, each case first drove towards heart modification which, in turn, led to behavioral modification. My one critique is in the area of “failed counseling”. It would have been helpful if each contributor briefly provided an analysis of the mistakes that they have made throughout their counseling years. Conclusion Without a doubt, this book has been a blessing to me and Lord-willing to those around me. I was able to interact with many of my own problems as I read this book, writing down notes and suggestions to better examine myself, God's Word, and the sin that entangles me. The contributors brought much wisdom to the table as they regularly showed support for medical examinations and expressed extreme caution when discussing any drugs that a client may be taking. In conclusion, their efforts showed me that believers often need the help of other believers to see clearly during our battles against sin and idolatry so that we can further worship God who provides all joy and peace.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bret Legg

    As a committed Christian, I appreciated the authors emphasis on the Scripture in the counseling of others, and the power of the Word of God to change a person's life. But I found their view of Christian counselors who not only call upon the truths of Scripture but also upon certain truths of psychological study (that may not be "revealed by Scripture" yet are corroborated by Scripture) overly generalized and "humbly" arrogant. Their statement on page 9 of their introduction that says, "biblical As a committed Christian, I appreciated the authors emphasis on the Scripture in the counseling of others, and the power of the Word of God to change a person's life. But I found their view of Christian counselors who not only call upon the truths of Scripture but also upon certain truths of psychological study (that may not be "revealed by Scripture" yet are corroborated by Scripture) overly generalized and "humbly" arrogant. Their statement on page 9 of their introduction that says, "biblical counselors have consistently stated that the observations of secular psychology can often fill in gaps for - and provoke counselors to more careful biblical reflection about- all manner of issues." Yet they go on to demonize most secular contributions. They also take issue with the "labels" used by secular psychology, while promoting their own labels. This seems a little disingenuous. I agree that there are many slants and interpretations of secular psychology that don't square with my faith. I also agree that there are some psychological systems and theories that approach things from an atheistic or agnostic foundation. But none of this means they are devoid of all truth...even if they have labeled it or attributed it to the wrong source. I appreciate their zeal but feel that their book is an example of their own "proof text" with only successful case studies of Christians. I will take away things from this book that I will continue to use. But there are many things I will leave in this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Brackbill

    Very helpful. Through personal counseling accounts, the sufficiency of Christ in the word is illustrated, explained, and applied to real-life situations. Not only is this a helpful companion to books that argue for biblical counseling. It is a book I would consider giving to a "hard case" to read for themselves so they can see what Christ has done in other "hard cases." There are specific counseling stories told in the following areas: Sexual abuse, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depr Very helpful. Through personal counseling accounts, the sufficiency of Christ in the word is illustrated, explained, and applied to real-life situations. Not only is this a helpful companion to books that argue for biblical counseling. It is a book I would consider giving to a "hard case" to read for themselves so they can see what Christ has done in other "hard cases." There are specific counseling stories told in the following areas: Sexual abuse, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, paralyzing fear, anorexia, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, homosexuality, as well as addictions & adultery. The conclusion seeks to argue for a focus on God's Word both publically through preaching and privately through counseling. In so doing though in their appeal on this point they seem to swing from the error of saying preaching is all that a pastor should be doing to the false dichotomy that they were trying to avoid of either/or, instead of both/and. That critique aside, I found the appeal to focus on ministering top people personally through biblical counseling biblical and important.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    As a graduate student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary we had the privelige to read this book. Counseling the Hard Cases is a collection of stories from eleven contributors from varied occupational backgrounds including theological professors, medical professionals, and others who have recognized secular psychology did not address the cause of a problem, but the symptom. Conviction of the Sufficiency of Scripture is a central theme in active discipleship leading to change within indi As a graduate student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary we had the privelige to read this book. Counseling the Hard Cases is a collection of stories from eleven contributors from varied occupational backgrounds including theological professors, medical professionals, and others who have recognized secular psychology did not address the cause of a problem, but the symptom. Conviction of the Sufficiency of Scripture is a central theme in active discipleship leading to change within individuals for the glory of God. The book offers a glimpse into counseling challenges and approaches that different people have used in situations. The goal of biblical counseling is to aid the counselee in recognizing dependence upon God the Holy Spirit to work through His Word and is sufficient in the areas it professes (2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4) which is salvation and sanctification. Lambert’s introduction of biblical counseling’s reliance on the Sufficiency of Scripture in counseling is critical in introducing the book. It establishes that even the most challenging counseling situations can be overcome through the application of Scripture. The chapters that follow introduce different case studies giving a detailed account of a counseling situation and how a different contributing counselor addressed and facilitated change through Scripture. The Sufficiency of Scripture resonates as the central theme in each counseling session as God’s Word lives and is applicable today as it was when it was breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). The counselors and writers highlight the struggles with sin and are not isolated to one area of a person’s life, but rather each overlaps into several other areas of the person’s worldview. It is an excellent reminder that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6). In addition to communicating the stories within the case study, each author breaks down their process and considerations of counseling biblically. In doing so, the myth that biblical counseling is inferior to the secular counselor is dispelled. Lambert sums it up this way, “We must embrace it as an article of faith, trusting in our God of steadfast love, that his way of communicating with us is superior to other modes we might prefer (18). The strength of the book is the demonstration of the method of biblical counseling as it is practical and applicable for the “hard cases” as well as the frequent. Researchers often seek extreme cases in order to develop a fuller understanding of a specific phenomenon in order to lend credibility to a methodology. As a result, the reader is lead toward growth in Christ and glorifying God with the counselor as a guide. The cases highlighted reveal sin that is prevalent in society, rather than “rare” or foreign concepts including: sexual abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), postpartum depression, fear, and various addictions. It is the application of methodology that ties biblical counseling cases together. The patterns of identification of sin as the counselor patiently and lovingly listened while taking notes as instructed in Proverbs 18:13. Next, affirmation was provided that they are not alone in their struggle, temptation is as aspect of sinful person (James 1:13-15) and God desires to help (1 Corinthians 10:13). Hope is found in the Gospel and offered to encourage and trust God. Together the counselor and counselee reflected on issues of the heart. Each person is in need of transformation. Guided discipleship through reading and memorization of scripture and keeping journals allowed the team to track progress, and patterns, of temptation and struggle. Biblical terminology allows an issue to be addressed in light of the spiritual and theological confusion and resulting chaos. A careful examination of the Bible provides the resources necessary to address the problems of the inner-man. Churches are filled with believers that face a variety of situations. How one reacts to each situation may result in sinful behavior. The behavior is a symptom, sin is the cause. What heart attitude is causing one to sin? It is often a lack of biblical understanding. Counseling is focused discipleship. Where discipleship ideally teaches within the experience and consequences of sin, counseling focuses on change from sin. There are two divergent paths within counseling, the secular psychologist and Christian counselors. Biblical counselors view the Scriptures to be both relevant and sufficient to changing a person through the Holy Spirit. Confession and repentance with an understanding of progressive sanctification shows that the Word of God’s ability in both the one-to-one counseling setting and as a church community, highlight in chapter four concerning postpartum depression, to help one another. The book explains persons as psychosomatic unities of body and soul and their effects upon each other. From an apologetics perspective, the biblical counselors demonstrated the strengths of their view. However, would a Christian psychologist or pharmacist be persuaded, or encouraged to research biblical counseling further? Within evangelical counseling, the position of the Sufficiency of Scripture is the minority. Another aspect of clarification would be the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification, realizing the Holy Spirit is often misunderstood. Additional emphasis would be helpful. Counseling is hard work. It includes prayer and willingness on the part of the counselee, but God provides all that is necessary. It is a wonderful reminder of application of the Scriptures. Does one understand the guidance role of Scripture? Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert have successfully compiled articles that provide evidence that Scripture is Sufficient to deal with the hard cases.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marc Sims

    This was so helpful. Each chapter is devoted to a different counseling scenario involving everything from sexual abuse, anorexia, addictions, postpartum depression, and on and on. Each chapter shows how God’s Word is sufficient to help each case and makes a strong argument for pastors to lean primarily on Scripture and the Church for counseling, rather than psychiatric labels and diagnoses. Real helpful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This book was amazing. All the counseling books start their chapters with these heart-wrenching stories of people who have been through the worst of life. Then change the subject to teach some point. This book sticks with those hard cases, and walks through how they were helped. It breaks down what the counselors did, and makes everything seem like anybody could do it, because anybody can do it. This book was great for seeing that even the hardest of cases can be help. God really is good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Artur Sirk

    Wonderful and encouraging collection of stories that testify of how the teachings of the Bible along with the enabling of the Holy Spirit are sufficient for the Church to counsel any person with any issues. The only condition is vigilant study of God's truth, sacrificial love to understand every counselee's unique situation and a constant seeking after God's wisdom, direction and help in the counseling process. Wonderful and encouraging collection of stories that testify of how the teachings of the Bible along with the enabling of the Holy Spirit are sufficient for the Church to counsel any person with any issues. The only condition is vigilant study of God's truth, sacrificial love to understand every counselee's unique situation and a constant seeking after God's wisdom, direction and help in the counseling process.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Boowah

    Being a skeptic of Christian Counseling, this book expanded my perspective of the practice by detailing stories of real people who experienced profound positive change through the application of Scripture on their lives. Enjoyed it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Irene Heimark

    Not for the faint-hearted. Reserved for those particularly interested in biblical counseling.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Insightful. Well written.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wilma Coate

    A bit lengthy in places, but with informative and encouraging firsthand experiences.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Logan Prettyman

    This is a good and helpful read. Each chapter covers a different topic, so the reader can cherry-pick if necessary.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Klimek

    Great Resource for Biblical Counselors An excellent resource for the Biblical Counselor to use as they face difficult counseling situations. The book is extremely practical.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bret James Stewart

    The premise of this book is to demonstrate the sufficiency of Scripture in regard to the problems people face in the real world in the context of biblical counselling. The “hard cases” portion of the book seeks to show that even the most difficult of cases can be handled effectively by the grace of God as revealed in the Bible. The book provides actual cases involving sexual abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, debilitating chronic fear, anorexia, bipolar disorder, dissoc The premise of this book is to demonstrate the sufficiency of Scripture in regard to the problems people face in the real world in the context of biblical counselling. The “hard cases” portion of the book seeks to show that even the most difficult of cases can be handled effectively by the grace of God as revealed in the Bible. The book provides actual cases involving sexual abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, debilitating chronic fear, anorexia, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity (multiple personality) disorder, homosexuality, addictions, serial adultery, and mental disorders. The fact is, in the vast majority of cases, these issues are not the problem but a symptom of an underlying problem: failure to understand one’s identity in Christ and claiming the victory God has planned for His children., both of which are achieved via Scripture. I was amazed at the cases that I would have considered incurable through counselling that were alleviated by it, with lives and relationships restored, though occasionally with medical supervision. Although some of the Scripture is used throughout, different Scripture is pertinent in different cases. I like the book overall. It is laid out well, easy to read, and includes a name and Scripture indices. The one quibble I have with the book is in regard to the case of the woman struggling with anorexia. The counsellor prescribed a high-sugar diet and promoted a ridiculous “sugar is good” mantra that is ultimately damaging. Too much sugar acts like poison in the body, and switching from one bad thing (anorexic behaviour) to another (high sugar diet) in nonsensical. Other than this, the book seems fine. I recommend this book to pastors who have or are considering a biblical counselling ministry in their churches, those who perform biblical counselling, and those who are interested in the biblical counselling field, in general. Other than the sugar snafu, the information is on-target. Readers will be surprised at the way the Lord works in the favour of those struggling with these major life obstacles.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    This book is absolutely fascinating. Chapter one gives perhaps the best defense of the sufficiency of scripture I have ever read. The rest of the book gives real examples showing that it is true. Anyone wondering about the principles and efficacy of Biblical Counseling should (needs to) read this book. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book sits next to Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling on those books that are essential biblical counseling reads. This book is absolutely fascinating. Chapter one gives perhaps the best defense of the sufficiency of scripture I have ever read. The rest of the book gives real examples showing that it is true. Anyone wondering about the principles and efficacy of Biblical Counseling should (needs to) read this book. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book sits next to Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling on those books that are essential biblical counseling reads.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Great book. It shows us that the Scriptures are sufficient to counsel people in any situation. It also points out the short comings and deficiencies in psychology and psychiatry. And it does it all while illustrating these points by taking the reader through a series of counseling situations with people who are living in difficult life situations. Included are chapters on counseling people having been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, sexual abuse survivor, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpar Great book. It shows us that the Scriptures are sufficient to counsel people in any situation. It also points out the short comings and deficiencies in psychology and psychiatry. And it does it all while illustrating these points by taking the reader through a series of counseling situations with people who are living in difficult life situations. Included are chapters on counseling people having been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, sexual abuse survivor, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, paralyzing fear, anorexia, dissociative identity disorder, homosexuality, and various addictions and adultery.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Taylor

    I can't encourage Christians, especially pastors, enough to read this book. This book contains great examples of the power of God's Word to change people. For anyone who has every had any desire to help people change, or for anyone who has wondered if the Bible really is everything they need for their struggle, please read this book. Various authors show how God's Word is sufficient to counsel numerous different people with psychiatric diagnoses, such as: Dissociative Identity Disorder, Addictio I can't encourage Christians, especially pastors, enough to read this book. This book contains great examples of the power of God's Word to change people. For anyone who has every had any desire to help people change, or for anyone who has wondered if the Bible really is everything they need for their struggle, please read this book. Various authors show how God's Word is sufficient to counsel numerous different people with psychiatric diagnoses, such as: Dissociative Identity Disorder, Addictions, Anorexia Nervosa, OCD, homosexuality, postpartum depression, and Bipolar Disorder; along with other life struggles, such as: paralyzing fear, homosexuality, and surviving sexual abuse.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nate Brooks

    Currently this work is the definitive piece on biblical counseling in cases that supposedly require professional psychiatric help. Each chapter helpfully explains the theological principles behind the care given and how the progressively changing thinking of the counselee affected symptomatic relief. This is the kind of book the BC movement needs. Read it: If you are a counselor, are concerned about how the Scriptures interact with psychological issues, or are exploring the sufficiency of Script Currently this work is the definitive piece on biblical counseling in cases that supposedly require professional psychiatric help. Each chapter helpfully explains the theological principles behind the care given and how the progressively changing thinking of the counselee affected symptomatic relief. This is the kind of book the BC movement needs. Read it: If you are a counselor, are concerned about how the Scriptures interact with psychological issues, or are exploring the sufficiency of Scripture. 5 stars. 6 if it was possible.

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