How does God change people? Easy: through the Bible and by the Holy Spirit! But how does that happen?
Roger Hurding in his book The Bible and Counselling helpfully describes four models, seen in four different approaches to pastoral counselling. Each has an equivalent in secular counselling, the Bible and the Spirit play different roles, and there are different goals in view.
Here is my attempt to gather them together:
- Secular equivalent: cognitive-behavioural
- Bible: prescriptive
- Spirit: convicting and enabling
- Goal: changes in thought and action
- Secular equivalent: psychoanalytic
- Bible: visionary
- Spirit: illumining Scripture
- Goal: inner healing
- Secular equivalent: personalist
- Bible: formative
- Spirit: forming
- Goal: maturity
- Secular equivalent: transpersonalist
- Bible: imaginative
- Spirit: guiding
- Goal: wholeness and holiness
In his own words (p. 172, with my emphasis and splitting into bullet points):
- In prophetic counselling, the Spirit convicts of sin through the word and enables the client to repent and live out new patterns of thought and behaviour according to biblical principles.
- Through the various ‘journey back’ methods, God’s Spirit illumines Scripture to the prayerful, listening client and brings inner healing and deliverance through his gifts of wisdom, knowledge and healing.
- In pastoral counselling, word and Spirit join hands to prompt, persuade and shape lives through the counselling relationship, unblocking those things which hinder growth and spurring the client towards maturity.
- Finally, in spiritual direction, the Creator Spirit stirs the imagination as Scripture is contemplated, giving discernment and guidance on the road to Christlikeness.
My instincts are to place an emphasis on the prophetic model, but I can see that the other approaches have their merits too. Would it be fair to say that a healthy approach to pastoral care will be open to making use of all of them?