I have heard the name of Jay Adams a lot at our local church. His books “Competent to Counsel” and “The Christian Counselor’s Manual” are both on my list of soon-to-be-read works, and I found his commentary on 1 Peter particularly helpful when I preached through it a couple of years ago. With a growing concern for my own capacity to counsel well from the Bible, I was more than excited to be furnished by Crossway Books with a copy of Heath Lambert’s new work, The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams.
The Biblical Counseling movement is an area of church life that I am often engaged with, whether through blogs, books or videos, and my wife and I are considering some courses through CCEF in the future. The book is best considered as an analysis and review of the Biblical Counseling Movement from Adams through to present times. Some have stated they feel like Lambert has gone after Adams too harshly, with little effort made for expressing appreciation and admiration for the man’s work. I find that claim, having read the book myself, a little far-fetched. Certainly the book details areas of Adams’ work that have improved by greater focus from more people, but the general sense I got was of great thankfulness for what was started through the ministry of Jay Adams, maintaining respect and admiration with descending into unhealthy and uncalled for sentimentality. Through Jay Adams, something powerful, robust and essential was kick-started. What Lambert seeks to do is show how the second and third generation of counselors, instructed and inspired by Jay Adams, have gone on to expand and further the work begun in the 1970s.
The book is laid out in six main chapters as follows:
1) The Birth of a Biblical Counseling Movement and the Need for Growth
2) Advances in How Biblical Counselors Think About Counseling
3) Advances in How Biblical Counselors Do Counseling
4) Advances in How Biblical Counselors Talk About Counseling
5) Advances in How Biblical Counselors Think about the Bible?
6) An Area Still in Need of Advancement
There is also a conclusion and an interesting Appendix that features a full reprint of an article Jay Adams’ wrote as a response to a critique by Ed Welch.
In effect, we end up with a history of the movement, a study in main areas of advancement in the movement (both in its content and its way of doing counseling), a review of engagements with other branches of counseling (which have, for the most part, been hard battles), a refuting of claims that the old guard and new wing of counselors have differing views on the sufficiency of Scripture and a final chapter that Lambert lays out as an area needing more attention (that of heart idols being only a sub layer of a greater issue involving self-worship).
The writing is clear, engaging and amazingly well referenced. The use of ample amounts of quotes from original sources, and the tracing of discussion between the great minds at work leading the movement, is fascinating, informative and a really great way to get an overview of the movement, its goals and its methods. It is also a book that, by virtue of the topic it analyses, spurs on my passion to study and develop in the pastoral work of counseling from the Scriptures, and renews my confidence in the sufficiency of the Scripture to bring counsel to the sinner and the sufferer alike.
It seems that the area of nouthetic counseling and the Biblical Counseling Movement is one that raises a lot of passions. Some people will feel compelled to come to the defense of Jay Adams but if one thing should be clear from the is book, Jay Adams is a man capable of making his own defenses, and I believe a defensive attitude would miss the heart of this work: Lambert veritably rejoices at the life of the movement begun by the courageous convictions of one man who pioneered a movement that is transforming lives and ministries across the world.
My copy of this book was provided by the publisher at no charge for participation in their blog review program. No effort was made to coerce a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.