In recent weeks I've been writing about the relationship between faith and science, largely in relation to the upcoming observance of Evolution Sunday (February 12). I've been doing this in large part out of concern for the consequences of a rejection or marginalization of science in the Christian community if we embrace either Intelligent Design or Scientific Creationism. Issues like the environment and stem-cell research have been effected, but now it's psychology and pastoral counseling.
In an article by David Winfrey published in the most recent but not yet posted online Christian Century we learn that Southern Baptist Seminary, is revamping its counseling program and replacing psychology and pastoral counseling with "Biblical Counseling." Biblical Counseling, my psychology professor said back years ago is neither biblical nor counseling -- and is the brainchild of Jay Adams. Ironically the field of "pastoral counseling" was born at Southern Baptist Seminary, as Wayne Oates sought to integrate theology and psychology. Now Oates's home base has effectively repudiated him and his important work.
Already in place at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, this simplistic method of counseling, akin to Bill Gothard's "Basic Youth Conflicts" rejects the diagnostic tools of psychology and puts in its place a proof texting method that focuses on rules, regulations, and reminders that one is a sinner. Such rejections of sound science not only promise failure, but can be extremely dangerous. Loren Townsend of neighboring Louisville Presbyterian Seminary offers clear evidence of this with a story of a woman suffering from spousal abuse who was advised by her "biblical" counselor to stick out and submit. She ended up suffering from psychosis.
What is clear from this article is that not only is Fundamentalism taking over the SBC, but this takeover is going back to the dark ages. What is also clear is that not only are they blind to the benefits of science -- including psychology and psychiatry, but they are also blind the their own interpretative schema of Scripture. To say that Scripture is sufficient to treat all of our dysfunctions is to not recognize that God gives us brains to learn and grow and apply all the knowledge possible to benefit our lives. If biblical psychology is sufficient then surely biblical medicine and even biblical forms of transportation (to really get silly) are sufficient. My prayer is that the church members within the SBC will see the light and reject this backwards move. Remember, Jay Adams is no Wayne Oates!