to an article circulated that criticizes
the counseling model of Dr. Charles Solomon
This response is not required to vindicate Grace Fellowship International. Our aspiration is to have such a God-centered calling that we can echo Paul’s attitude: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself” (1 Cor. 4:3).
Nor do we insist that others use the GFI literature and counseling model. We recognize each one’s responsibility to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). The primary author of the article admitted to not fully reading Dr. Solomon’s books. If they are read with an unbiased attitude, they can defend themselves. If a more effective, more Scriptural approach to counseling is found, we recommend using it.
We are do not object to being held accountable for our ethics or doctrine. We desire to be above reproach in morals and as biblical as possible in applying God’s remedy for personal problems.
It is sad, however, that the common ground of love for Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, and the avoidance of psychotherapy have not been enough to maintain unity of fellowship: “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
a. Charles Solomon’s doctorate is not in psychology but a Doctor of Education in Spirituotherapy from University of Northern Colorado, 1972.
b. Grace Fellowship Int’l does not charge counselees a fee for counseling. The individual the critic interviewed was permitted to charge fees for his own practice within GFI for a while. However, this policy is a matter of personal conviction; we are not condemning others who charge fees (1 Cor. 9:4-12).
c. GFI is no longer a member of the N.A.E.
d. GFI does not do “personality testing” e.g., usining the D.I.S.C. (However, The Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis is used simply as a tool to gain data through180 diagnostic questions. It quickly aids the counselor in identifying how the counselee is functioning and thinking when they take the inventory. If the same questions were asked in an interview style, it would take much longer. Like any tool, the T.J.T.A. can be used properly or improperly.) Typically, the history-taking phase at GFI is only part of the first interview instead of several sessions.
e. GFI does not integrate secular psychology with Biblical counseling in applying God’s remedy to the counselee. The quote the critic used was apparently misunderstood. He included Dr. Solomon’s comment from Counseling with the Mind of Christ: “Rare, indeed, is the individual who employs psychology exclusively for purposes of understanding the psychodynamics of the behavior in question while allowing the Spirit of God to apply the Word of God to produce a child of God and that child being ‘conformed to His image’ (see Rom. 8:29). ” Notice that Dr. Solomon is hereby REBUKING those who DO integrate secular psychology in applying the remedy in counseling!
The counseling author quoted as a source in the article also uses psychological insights (to a lesser degree than GFI) in gaining understanding of people’s struggles (Cf. Martin & Deidre Bobgan, How to Counsel from Scripture, pp. 24,43,47,73,76-77). The Bobgans also note the similarity of Freud’s model and Scripture. “Psychological models basically distort the gospel, and some are light-years away from the truth. For example, Freud described man’s mind in terms of id, ego, and superego. These bear a strong resemblance to body, soul, and spirit respectively…”p. 23.
How can the critic assert that Spirituotherapy has its roots in Freud? Dr. Solomon’s quoted words declare the opposite: “Freud’s work was a counterfeit system in rivalry to God …” To totally avoid basic vocabulary used in psychology, however, would needlessly inhibit counseling comprehension and education.
The crux of our difference with this critic is this: Do observations about human thoughts, feelings, and behavior by the behavioral sciences (psychology, sociology…) — rightly interpreted from a Christian worldview — contribute to the counselee’s understanding of the presence and causes of inner conflicts?
Even the most vehement critics of integration concede that some data on observable human development, thought, and behavior can benefit the counseling process.
Here are some examples of conservative evangelicals on a cautious and minimal use of observable of psychology in people helping:
“I readily admit that some of what integrationists write is helpful and biblically solid. The danger is the integrationist foundation, which rests upon the psychological concepts of man rather than on the scriptural precepts of God.
I do not dispute the fact that biblical counselors can glean from psychology some helpful ideas, observations, illustrations, and generic methods with which to communicate God’s solution for mans problems. But these are not the same as accepting psychological findings as essential truths about man’s nature, problems, needs, and solutions.”
– Dr. Ed Bulkley,Why Christians Cant Trust Psychology, (Harvest House) P. 28, 32.
“[Christian counselors] may have considerable knowledge of psychology, nevertheless realize that psychologists may be only good observers of behavior. The psychologist may (or may not) have garnered some accurate principles about the behavior of man through laboratories, surveys, and research studies, but he is not qualified to draw accurate conclusions to man’s problems. Man’s mental and behavioral problems are spiritual and must be solved spiritually (1 Cor. 2:14). To solve counselees problems, the effective Christian counselor decides to use only Bible principles in solving the non-organic or non-medical problems of those whom he counsels.”
– Walter and Trudy Fremont, Becoming an Effective Christian Counselor, (Bob Jones University Press), P.3
“Any teaching or techniques that contradicts that basic truth [Gods Word] is to be shunned. There is, however, much in the secular field of psychology about how to help people understand their true needs in their search for God’s creation and our understanding of it [data discovered by valid science] have been marred by the Fall, but Christ still shows us His wisdom and work through it [Col. 1:16,17]. As John White suggests, the study of mankind is similar to a broken mirror: it reflects, but not perfectly. It does give us some accuracy and some distortion about who we are.”
– Allan McKechnie, “Therapy and the Victorious Life” in Free and Fulfilled, ed. Robertson McQuilkin (Thomas Nelson), p.192,194.
If one still rejects the relevance of rejection and related data, he can ignore this material in Dr. Solomon’s writings and focus on the application of the Cross and God’s provision for abundant living (Gal 2:20; John 15:1-8; Rom 6:6-14; Gal 5:16). However, over four decades of counseling experience have demonstrated that the effects of living in a fallen world, including the absence of meaningful love (rejection) has a pervasive influence on the inner struggles of counselees. This observation, interpretation, and explanation gives hope to struggling believers. As they understand the roots of inferiority, insecurity, worry, doubts, etc., they become more receptive to the Biblical cure: “… which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
a. The accreditation with NBCC was to give continuing education credits to professional counselors who need such CEU’s for their ongoing licensing. It is offered as an incentive for them to gain Christ-centered training. However, NBCC no longer accredits GFI training due to our conservative model.
b. One’s view of sanctification is foundational to the Biblical counseling strategy. GFI believes that the most Scripturally accurate perspective is basically that known as the “Keswick” view. Although there is some variation about terms, we believe that precise definitions and doctrine are vital to KNOW that the “old man” was crucified with Christ” (Rom 6:6). Then we can more readily RECKON this true personally in daily living and so YIELD our bodies as instruments of righteousness (Rom 6:7-14). Books have been published that contrast various views of sanctification within biblical orthodoxy. (e.g., Five Views on Sanctification (Zondervan, 1987).These are distinctions but need not be divisions— certainly not heresy! Rather: “in essentials unity, in distinctives liberty, in all things charity.”
c. The source for the critic’s material against “one naturism” is from M.J.S. However, his polemics are targeted at a number of respected evangelical teachers and institutions. An internet site of his polemical papers include criticisms of:
Robinson, Haddon W.
Ryrie, Charles C.
Sandford, John L.
Saucy, R. L.
Showers, Renald E.
Smith, Hannah Whitall
Solomon, Charles R.
Stedman, Ray C.
Torrey, Reuben. A.
Tozer, A. W.
Wiersbe, Warren W.
Wilkin, Robert N
Issues/ institutions targeted include the following titles:
Christian & Missionary Alliance
Contemporary Christian Music
Dallas Theological Seminary
Independent Churches of America
Law as a Rule of Life
New Covenant Theology
Sermon on the Mount
It is beyond the scope of this article to evaluate the degree of validity in these polemical papers. Rather, they are listed to give a context to this crticism of what MJS calls “One Naturism.” For further stiudy on the use of “old nature” instead of the biblical terms “flesh” or “old “man” see https://gracenotebook.com/the-use-of-old-man-in-ephesians-422/, https://gracenotebook.com/the-relationship-between-the-terms-old-man-and-flesh/, https://gracenotebook.com/does-the-believer-have-two-natures/.
Ironically, GFI recommends Miles J. Stanford’s Green Letters, with the added clarification of the trichotomous model of man and the experiential crucifixion of the “old man” (Rom. 6;6; Col. 3:9).
d. It is puzzling that Covenant Theology is criticized as a supposed cause of “one naturism,” yet the counselor favorably quoted in the article commended the nouthetic counseling of Jay Adams, a proponent of Covenant Theology.
e. GFI does not teach “eradication” in reference to the old nature. That would imply sinless perfection. Rather, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Gal. 5:17). However, the flesh is not the same as the “old man” which was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6; Col 3:9). [See https://gracenotebook.com/definitions/ and David C. Neeham, Birthright (Multnomah, 1979 edition), appendix B and C]
The temptations of the devil (Eph 6:10-11), and the believer’s crucifixion of the “old man” (Rom 6:6) COULD be used as an excuse to sin (as the doctrine of salvation by grace was misused – Rom 3:8; 6:6) but such an excuse would be invalid. However, we do not change biblical doctrine in an attempt to prevent its misuse.
f. The critic scoffs at the idea that rejection affects babies as well. However, Scripture records the responses of babies in the womb (Luke 1:41). Solomon’s observations on scope of rejection’s effects is based on hundreds of counseling interviews.
We hope this dialogue will create more light and less heat. We accept the critical article(s) as an opportunity to review our message and methodology.
We give thanks that the many lives God has changed and set free over the years are not due to a patented type of “therapy.” The Holy Spirit is the Therapist (hence, “Spirituotherapy”). Many other ministries use these biblical principles in various ways. However, we are grateful that God has uniquely used Dr. Solomon to connect the deeper life devotional heritage with strategic Biblical counseling (Rom. 13:7).
May God give us grace to approach these differences with meekness and patience instead of the way the Corinthians did: “for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1 Cor. 3:3-6).
If you have a further questions, please contact us.
Sincerely in Christ,
Director of Counseling and Training