- CCEF-East, now located in Laverock, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1968 in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Key in its founding and in the initial development of its Biblical counseling principles (dubbed "nouthetic counseling" and defined as confronting the believer with the Word of God for the purpose of change) was co-founder Dr. Jay E. Adams. Eight years after the establishment of CCEF, Dr. Adams left Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he was a faculty member, and after an approximately six year "writing" period in Georgia, took a similar position with Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California. Apparently due to the lack of the direct influence of Dr. Adams at CCEF after 1976, and under the leadership of CCEF's co-founder and Adlerean director, John Bettler, the faculty and course offerings at CCEF have become increasingly psychological in nature. (See the sub-reports detailing CCEF-East faculty member' credentials and association memberships, and an analysis of CCEF-East's course offering descriptions.)
- CCEF was founded primarily because of Jay Adams' concern that pastors needed a site where counseling was actually taking place, where they could learn to counsel, and then return to their congregations. (Last year [fiscal 1993] almost ten thousand counseling sessions were conducted at the Laverock headquarters and its Bethlehem, Princeton, Cherry Hill, and Reading branches. This is a part of our objection to CCEF; it operates as a para-church ministry, outside the authority of any local church.) CCEF has grown as an institution under John Bettler's leadership. Besides training counselors for degree programs at Westminster and at Biblical Theological Seminary, CCEF offers short-term Certificate and Diploma programs for pastors and other church workers, and conducts workshop and week-long Summer Institutes.
In the process, CCEF has become big business bringing in big money. In CCEF's fiscal year ended 8/31/94, CCEF received more than $395,000 in total contributions, up from $248,000 in fiscal 1993. This 60% increase was apparently the result of CCEF's aggressive fund raising efforts -- in October of 1993, CCEF started LAUNCH 2000, a $500,000 capital campaign to expand its programs and facilities (Spring 1994 Pulse). CCEF also charged more than $427,000 in counseling fees in fiscal year 1994 (versus approximately $550,000 in fiscal 1993), and received educational/seminar income of approximately $250,000 (versus $270,000 in fiscal 1993). From over $1.1 million dollars in total 1993-94 revenue, CCEF paid its faculty and staff over $750,000 in salary and benefits! (Fall 1993 Pulse and from CCEF's Form 990 federal tax returns).
[Counseling fees for 1996 approximated $500,000 once again, a portion of which were reimbursements from insurance companies for psychological services rendered. Ed Welch, the Director of Counseling Services at CCEF, is a licensed psychologist, expected by the insurance companies to function within the scope of his license as a psychologist by providing psychological services to his clients, and he must even provide mental health labels for the treatment.]
- John Bettler has been CCEF-East's full-time director since 1974. Since Bettler is in charge of CCEF, he must bear final responsibility for its psychological integrationist position. Bettler is a member of the North American Society of Adlerean Psychology (NASAP) and a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). These organizations are purely and simply psychologically-oriented groups. (See the attached "Faculty Credentials and Associations" sheet for more details on these two organizations -- why would anyone supposedly committed to "Biblical counseling," instead of psychological counseling, be interested in belonging to these organizations, meeting their requirements for membership, or even attending their conferences?)
NASAP calls itself "the home of Adlereans," reflecting it as an association that patterns its counseling methods after the teachings of humanistic psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937). Bettler's bent for Style-style integrationism became quite clear at CCEF-East's June 1993 Summer Institute. Bettler delivered three messages on "Dealing with a Person's Past." [Bettler reiterates these teachings in "Towards a 'Confession of Faith' on the Past" (The Biblical Counselor, July 1993) and in "Counseling and the Problem of the Past" (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Winter 1994, pp. 5-23).] Bettler's argument for exploring the past and his proposed use of the past in counseling not only reveal his Adlerean background, but show his commitment to integrating Adler without even referring to Adler or crediting him in any way.
In his third message from "Dealing with a Person's Past," Bettler employed the typical integrationist technique of taking a psychological concept, changing its name to disguise its origin, and then distorting Bible verses to show that this concept has been in the Bible all the time, but not heretofore recognized as such without the help of the "Christian" psychologizer. Bettler borrows godless psychologist Alfred Adler's concept of "style of life," renames it "manner of life" ("a person's creative interpretation [Adler again] of past influences ... the way of doing things that you return to again and again") and teaches that this is what Paul meant in Eph. 4:17-23 [NASB] (rather than "sin")! But since Bettler does not credit Adler in any way, those unfamiliar with Adler's teachings are led to believe that Bettler's proposed use of the past comes solely from Scripture. Instead, Bettler twists Scripture to support his Adlerean beliefs. For example, in his final talk, Bettler says:
"If you're going to do counseling, you've got to know the person's 'manner of life' ... the way he has processed all of those things that have happened to him and brought him into a 'style of life' [an Adlerean slip?]. He needs to repent of the wrong kinds of conclusions and 'styles' he's developed over the years. ... It's pretty dangerous to give assignments [to counselees] if you don't understand 'manner of life' [not sin patterns?]."
Bettler should have been up front about his use of Adlerean psychology. Since his teachings are an excellent example of integration (euphemized as "recycling" at CCEF), he should have identified them as such, both for the sake of honesty and for the purpose of demonstrating how "recycling" works to supplement and interpret Scripture with the wisdom of men. Bettler "recycles" Adler's style of life theories and thus integrates the idea of repentance. Bettler's teaching about "manner of life" implies that God does not have the means to transform a person from darkness to light without the insights gleaned from Adler and other theorists who seek to peer into the soul and fix it from the inside out. Bettler goes outside Scripture to find a psychological system that purports to do the inner work. Bettler's doctrines of using the past to discover a counselee's "manner of life" did not come from careful Biblical analysis, but from proof-texting with Adlerean notions. (See Chapter 6 of Bobgan: Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible [pp. 119-162] for a more thorough analysis of Adler's teachings and Bettler's integration of them.)
[In the Fall 1990 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology there was an article titled "Alfred Adler's Influence on the Three Leading Cofounders of Humanistic Psychology." Perhaps someone should write an article titled "Alfred Adler's Influence on Biblical Counseling." Jay Adams, David Powlison, and others affiliated with CCEF have publicly stated their belief that Bettler's "recycled" teachings about using the past are Biblical ("25 Years of Biblical Counseling," The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 1993; and "From the Editor's Desk: Do You Use This Journal?," The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Winter 1994). They have obviously joined the rest of the integrationists who call themselves Biblical. (CCEF's desire to devise a form of Biblical counseling that will fix the inner man is what apparently made Adlerean/Maslowian/Freudian psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb so appealing to CCEF. See the report summarizing Bettler's 10/91 message delivered at the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors [NANC] Convention in Lafayette, Indiana, wherein Bettler indicates his fondness for Crabb's teachings.)]
- David Powlison is a Lecturer in Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and is the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling (formerly The Journal of Pastoral Practice -- it has a circulation of about 1100, distributed in 48 states and 26 foreign countries.) Powlison is also a highly regarded faculty and counseling staff member at CCEF-East. But, because of the subtlety of his methods, he is in our opinion, one of the most dangerous psychologizers of all -- Powlison claims to be within the mainstream of nouthetic/Biblical counseling, yet he writes, speaks, and teaches an integrationist agenda.
For example, in 1984 Powlison wrote an article titled, "Which Presuppositions? Secular Psychology and the Categories of Biblical Thought" (Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 12, No. 4 : 270-278). (This article is still being recommended for reading by various members of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors [NANC], of which Powlison is also a board member, and by faculty members at John MacArthur's Master's College.) Powlison erroneously writes that psychology is true science, that there is considerable value in looking for truth and "insights" in psychological systems of thought, and that psychology is worthy of "creative integration" with theology. This article clearly affirms Powlison as an integrationist who finds value in using psychology in counseling.
In another article, "Crucial Issues in Contemporary Biblical Counseling" (Journal of Pastoral Practice, Vol. 9, No. 3 : 53-78), Powlison details his plan to "redeem error" from the secular counseling theorists. It sounds like he's saying that we are to search through secular theories and therapies to discover what truth they have found but distorted, and then undistort them according to the Bible. Powlison's plan to "redeem error by placing distorted bits back within their proper biblical framework," is just a fancy way of saying he's really an integrationist. In fact, on page 76 of "Critical Issues ..." Powlison comes right out and says he is: "... we, of all people, are the ones who successfully will 'integrate' secular psychology ... reframe everything that psychologists see and hold dear into biblical categories." Powlison concludes the article by authoritatively quoting from a personal letter from John Carter of Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology. Carter is as clear an enemy to Biblical counseling as one could find. But this would be consistent with Powlison's integrationist position.
[In this same "Critical Issues ..." article cited above, Powlison even disparages Jay Adams' position on psychology. Through selective (and clearly deceptive) quoting from Adams' book Competent to Counsel (p. xxi), Powlison would have us believe that Jay Adams is also an integrationist and a psychologizer. On page 74 of "Critical Issues ..." Powlison contends that Adams agrees with him that "there is a legitimate role for psychology" in nouthetic/Biblical counseling! See also page 30 of "Critiquing Modern Integrationists" (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Vol. XI, No. 3, Spring 1993) and page 366 of Introduction to Biblical Counseling (MacArthur, Mack, et al., 1994), wherein Powlison again selectively and deceptively quotes Adams from Competent to Counsel to make it sound like Adams believes that "psychology can be a 'useful adjunct' to biblical counseling ... 'for the purposes of illustrating, filling in generalizations with specifics' and ... 'challenging wrong human interpretations of Scripture, thereby forcing the student to restudy the Scriptures.'" What Adams actually says on page xxi of Competent to Counsel is that science could be a "useful adjunct," not psychology. We know that Adams is not speaking of psychology as science (unlike Powlison) because Adams' last sentence of the paragraph (which Powlison conveniently leaves out of what he quotes in all three articles) says, "However, in the area of psychiatry, science has given way to humanistic philosophy and gross speculation." (See also Adams' footnote to this sentence.) Powlison's misquoting of Adams once could be forgiven, but misquoting in the same way three times must be viewed as highly questionable at best and dishonest at worst. (Although Jay Adams is supportive of CCEF-East and its staff and programs, we are still reluctant to label him an integrationist or a psychologizer in the same class as a Powlison or a Bettler. However, if Adams remains on CCEF's Board after reading Against Biblical Counseling, Chapters 5 and 6, then one can draw no other conclusion.)]
While others have integrated in a non-Biblical way, Powlison and CCEF think they will be the ones to integrate in a Biblical way! Powlison does not see that he is advocating out and out integration because he sees it as a superior/Biblical form of integration! Knowingly or not, Powlison has provided an academic, not Biblical basis, for psychological integration. Somehow he believes it is possible to incorporate psychological ideas and techniques into Biblical categories in such a way to avoid integration. That is nonsense! And, in our opinion, anyone who holds this point of view cannot rightfully call himself a "Biblical counselor." After reading Powlison, one can come to no other conclusion -- Powlison is an integrationist. [See also Powlison's contribution to the Michael Horton edited book Power Religion ("Integration or Inundation," specifically pp. 212-213) for more of Powlison's accommodations to integrationists.]
Powlison's articles are a sad testimony to what is wrong with CCEF. CCEF contends that we must explore the "neglected riches" of psychological theories and therapies in order to find bits of distorted gems to use to construct a form of counseling that is fully Biblical. Without such an integrated model, Powlison and CCEF assert that nouthetic counselors will appear to be superficial and poorly equipped to deal with matters of heart motivation and human suffering. Powlison and CCEF have compromised the clear message of true nouthetic counseling and have in effect denied the sufficiency of Scripture! [See Chapter 5 of Bobgan: Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible (pp. 109-117) and/or the two PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries critiques on CCEF/David Powlison for a more thorough analysis of Powlison's integrationist teachings. See also "CCEF Catalog Course Descriptions" for analysis of Powlison-taught courses CC42 and CC44.]
- David Powlison was once an active member of COR (Coalition on Revival), a Reconstructionist/Dominionist organization dedicated to a social gospel/activism agenda that proposes to impose Biblical standards (e.g., Old Testament law) on unbelieving peoples and institutions. Powlison was also a Steering Committee member of COR. COR has stated that "Unity of the Body of Christ in any city as non-optional," thereby making it necessary to "rebuild [a] city's entire society upon the Bible." COR says that its documents (see below) were created "to give the Church a proper foundation," and that "no denomination, church, organization, or mission can completely fulfill its God-assigned tasks unless it stands firmly on the biblical truths represented in these documents ... the Church must stand on these truths or remain ineffective" (July 1997, "The Vision for the Coalition on Revival").
As an indication of what the people affiliated with COR believe, the following is from a brochure announcing the 12th Annual Northwest Conference for Christian Reconstruction. Does this not sound like a different gospel? With this unbiblical world view, is Powlison the kind of man qualified to do "Biblical counseling"? (All emphases added):
"The Christian Reconstruction movement believes that the Bible contains not only a message of personal salvation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross, but also a comprehensive law structure which is alone able to provide a just basis for society. It is committed to the view that sovereignty and thus government belong to God, and that all delegated government, whether to family, church or state (civil government), is to be exercised in obedience to the law of God's covenant. Furthermore, salvation involves every aspect of man's life and thus also the relationships he sustains to the world around him. The exercise of dominion in accordance with the terms of God's covenant is therefore basic and vital to the Christian faith. To neglect this is to deprecate the extent of Christ's victory at Calvary."
That Powlison has no problem identifying with this movement is a bit disconcerting to say the least. (For details of COR's unbiblical strategy for "taking the world for Christ," see COR' documents titled A Manifesto for the Christian Church, Forty-two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian World View, and Twenty-five Articles of Affirmation and Denial on the Kingdom of God. These three documents, along with COR's 17 Sphere/World View Documents, make up what COR calls its "20 COR World View Documents.")
- At one time, CCEF-East distributed and recommended materials from a mail order catalog entitled Christian Study Services. (The Christian Study Services organization was closely affiliated with CCEF, if not outright owned and operated by CCEF, but "went out of business" in 1991. From 1983-1991, the catalog referred to here was available to anyone interested in ordering from it.) Significant is the fact that a large number of the books in the catalog were authored by avowed psychologizers (e.g., Crabb, Hoekema, Narramore, Solomon, Wright, Minirth & Meier, Collins, Dobson, LaHaye, Tournier, Trobisch, etc.) -- a full 30% of the total offerings in the combined "General Subject Index" and "Recent Books of Interest" sections of the catalog were books that specifically profess and teach a psychological gospel! Worse yet, many of these psychologically-oriented books were noted as "especially helpful for counseling assistance" or as "must have books"!
- At CCEF-East's 1990 "Summer Institute" (The Summer Institute of Counseling Studies, held each summer for three to five days each in San Diego and Philadelphia), CCEF's director, John Bettler, spoke on the topic of "Sex in the Sanctuary," in which he gave credence to the idea that pastors can become sexually "addicted" (which thereby implies that personal responsibility is not a factor in such "addictions"). (See 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency/Recovery Heresies, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1991, 247 pages, for the Biblical view of such so-called addictions.)
Other CCEF featured speakers have included Larry Crabb (in 1988 and again in 1989) and Paul Vitz (in 1988). Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs that supposedly motivate all behavior; this system has been derived from Freudian (the "unconscious") and humanistic (a hierarchy of needs) psychology, with great emphasis on so-called emotional needs. Since there is no question that Crabb has been an integrationist from his earliest writings to the present, why did CCEF invite him, listen to him, and then invite him again? Wouldn't one exposure to Crabb be enough? As for well-known integrationist Paul Vitz, he proudly testifies of being a Roman Catholic, and believes that Jung, Freud, etc. were correct in their descriptions of human behavior, but that Jesus is the answer because "Jesus is the anti-Oedipus" (Journal of Psychology and Theology: Vol. 12, No. 1, 1984). Vitz wrote: "... in the long run I believe it will be possible to 'baptize' large portions of secular psychology; that is, to use what is valid in them, while removing their anti-Christian threat" (The Christian Vision: Man in Society, Lynne Morris [ed.], 1989, p. 80). CCEF said they were "especially pleased to have him [Vitz]" speak there. It is also true that Fuller Graduate School of Psychology was pleased to have him speak there. It's understandable why integrationists would be "pleased to have him," but why a professing anti-integrationist institution?
- CCEF-East publishes a quarterly newsletter, Pulse. The Summer 1990 issue published an article composed of excerpts from a May 9, 1990, talk to a CCEF Alumni Conference by CCEF-East faculty member, counselor, and certified social worker (A.C.S.W.) Leslie Vernick. Her talk dealt with "scriptural guidance for counseling adults who were sexually abused as children" ("When Sexually Abused Children Grow Up, What Do the Scriptures Say to Them?" Summer 1990, Pulse). The article is an amalgamation of psychology and Bible, with many Freudian psycho-subtleties, such as ventilation techniques for repressed emotions, the probing for influences from the so-called unconscious past, etc. In this article, Vernick not only misrepresents the research on sexual abuse of children, she also promotes her own psychological ideas and mutilates Scripture to "prove" her position. By her Freudian orientation and psychological methodology and language, she demonstrates a great commitment to psychology and a woeful lack of commitment to the Scriptures for dealing with problems of living. The mere fact that CCEF chose to publish Ms. Vernick's article, let alone its policy to employ such a person as a teacher and counselor in the first place, is a clear indication of just how far down the psychological road CCEF has traveled. (For a more in-depth analysis of the Pulse article by Vernick, see the Bobgan's Fall 1991 PsychoHeresy Update and/or Chapter 5 of Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible, pp. 106-108.)
Then in the Fall 1990 issue of Pulse, which followed the issue mentioned above, under a headline asking "Does Your Childhood Abuse Still Hurt?," CCEF's main office announced "a new counseling program ... Group counseling." And the group leader was Leslie Vernick! A phone call to CCEF also revealed that Vernick recommended the AA model of 12-Steps, and that she planned to use a 12-Step type of spiritual approach with this new group! It was also revealed that Vernick recommends for women who have suffered abuse The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender (Larry Crabb's associate at IBC in Colorado) and The Door of Hope: Recognizing and Resolving the Pains of Your Past by Jan Frank. Evidently, CCEF must be in agreement with the books and the 12-Step group therapeutic approach to permit this. Yet at the same time, they claim to understand the dangers of psychological counseling. [Amazingly, this rank integrationist [Vernick] is not only still on CCEF's staff, but she also writes for CCEF's academic journal! (e.g., "Getting to the Heart of the Matter in Marriage Counseling," The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Vol. 12, No. 3, Spring 1994, pp. 31-35).]
- Ed Welch is another CCEF-East staff member (Director of Counseling) whose ties to the psychological counseling world are greater than to Biblical counseling. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and is a licensed psychologist. Welch claims that he maintains this membership and license in order to maintain access to secular organizations and their publications that he would not otherwise have. This seems a weak argument, but even so, if CCEF really stands for Biblical counseling, why list an organization on your "résumé" which stands for problems of living being solved by anything but the Bible? Does not listing this affiliation and license communicate some commonality and professional credibility? "Such affiliations represent more than a thread of compromise with the promoters of psychological counseling theories and therapies; it demonstrates a lack of full confidence in the biblical way" (PsychoHeresy Update, Winter/Spring 1992, pp. 3-4, and Against Biblical Counseling, Chapter 5, p. 106). [Welch has also mentioned before that he is favorably impressed with the work of C.J. Jung, an anti-Christian and occultist! (message at a 6/87 CCEF-West conference); and that he "appreciate(s) lots of things that Larry Crabb has done" (message at the 1987 CCEF-East Summer Institute).]
- One of our many concerns about CCEF is that one of their counselors (Leslie Vernick) recommended the Alcoholics Anonymous model of 12 Steps and used a 12-Step type of approach. In response to that criticism, David Powlison responded, "I can't imagine any CCEF staff person mentioning the 12 Steps, since we ruthlessly critique it" (letter from Powlison, 1/29/93, emphasis added).
Two books have been co-authored by CCEF's Director of Counseling, Ed Welch, and were published in 1995. The book titled Addictive Behavior is written for the "counselor," and the book titled Running in Circles: How to Find Freedom from Addictive Behavior is for the "counselee." Both books are supportive of 12-Step programs and recommend some of the very books against which Christians should be warned.
In Running in Circles, Welch and his co-author, Gary Steven Shogren, discuss support groups (pp. 85-86). They conclude: "To almost all Christians who ask me whether they should go to a Twelve-Step group, my answer is "yes." The benefits will outweigh the disadvantages" (p. 87). The "Resource List" in Appendix A, the books listed in their section "For Further Reading," and their list of "Recovery Devotional Guides" are more than enough to condemn this book for Christian consumption. Without an appropriate warning, Appendix B displays "The Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions of AA."
The book Addictive Behavior includes an "Addiction and Recovery Books" section, listing many of the same recovery books as are listed in Running in Circles. One of the many bad examples of what they recommend in both books is Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More. Here is the description given in Addictive Behavior: "The most popular of the codependency books. The problem is control, the treatment is self-love. Also by Beattie, Beyond Codependency" (p. 190). Not a word of warning. Not a suggestion here that there is anything wrong with self-love as the treatment.
Welch's blatant support of the 12 Steps certainly does not support Powlison's contention that "we ruthlessly critique it." (Source: November-December 1995, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter.)
- In CCEF-East's most recent Course Catalog (published in early-1991, but updated each "school year" with inserts of current course offerings), CCEF includes a section titled, "What Others Say About CCEF" (pp. 5-7). Included are the following testimonies about the value of CCEF's training program: (We assume that the views these individuals have about Biblical counseling would be compatible with those of CCEF, or why else would their endorsements be in the catalog? See also Against Biblical Counseling, pp. 116-117, for documentation of CCEF's listing with other integrationist counseling organizations in paid counseling directories.]
Judy Blore -- Formerly managed a Ronald McDonald House and is now a counselor for BASIS, a "Christian bereavement ministry." Counseling at BASIS is clearly psychologically-oriented, despite the facade of Christian terminology and claims to the contrary. For example, BASIS uses the "five stages of grief" in counseling the bereaved, a psychological scheme developed by transpersonal New Age transpersonal psychologist and occultist, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross; BASIS also recommends books by pop psychologist Dr. James Dobson.
Jerry Falwell -- This neo-evangelical, psychologizer, televangelist, and pastor says that he commends CCEF for their "commitment to biblical counseling and their desire to equip the church to counsel." Being that Falwell is one of the strongest proponents of the integration of psychology and the Bible in the entire professing evangelical church, CCEF's solicitation and use of Falwell's endorsement of CCEF's supposedly Biblical counseling program is shocking. Falwell heads a major university and two correspondence schools that offer highly psychological curriculums (i.e., Falwell advertises Liberty University's School of LifeLong Learning [LUSLLL] as "The PSYCH CONNECTION," and in October, 1989, established the Liberty Institute for Lay Counseling [LILC], in order to train laymen interested in helping "victims" with a multitude of "psychologically damaging afflictions.") Falwell also endorses the highly psychological, Rapha Hospital Treatment Centers. If LUSLLL, LILC, and Rapha are examples of what Falwell considers to be institutions that offer "Biblical counseling," then what kind of counseling is he really endorsing at CCEF? [Rapha is an organization that heavily promotes Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Step codependency/recovery programs as a "Christian" methodology for the cure of "dysfunctional" relationships. Rapha specializes in the "treatment" of so-called codependent and/or addicted Christians by employing an amalgamation of Adlerean/Maslowian need psychology and the Bible. Falwell is quoted as saying that, "It has been good to know that we now have a place to refer persons we counsel who are in need of hospital care for emotional, spiritual and substance abuse problems."]
Joseph K. Newmann -- Clinical Psychologist at a Veterans Administration Medical Center in Tennessee. Newmann claims that when he became a Christian in 1979, CCEF afforded him the opportunity to "integrate" his psychological "counseling training and experience with [his] newfound faith." Newmann says that, "God graciously led me to CCEF" and "left a real mark on my professional work"! It sounds as if Newmann is thanking CCEF for providing him the training necessary to amalgamate the godless teachings of psychology with the Bible! That CCEF's training (see companion report on CCEF course offerings) could facilitate such a godless endeavor (the integration of psychology and theology), and that CCEF's director is so proud of it that he publishes Newmann's laudatory comments about the CCEF program, speaks volumes about the true psychological nature of CCEF's training and counseling. [Apparently one of the concepts taught Newmann at CCEF was the value of psychological/personality testing. Newmann uses the Millon Behavioral Health Inventory in his work at the VA, despite its proven poor validity (see Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, Chapters 8-10).]
- Two of the many criticisms we have of the so-called Biblical counseling movement is the charging of fees and the separation of counseling from the Biblically ordained ministries of the church, especially to the extent of ones geographically separated from the church. CCEF can be criticized on both these counts. Charging fees is totally unbiblical and those Biblical counselors who do so should be taken to task. Any such predators on Christians who are suffering problems of living and crying out for help should be put out of business. And, that's what it is! A ministry turned business to produce an income for the counselor at the expense and disadvantage of the person being counseled. For how many more years will church leaders hear so-called Biblical counselors close in prayer and ask, "Will you pay by cash, check, or credit card?" before utterly condemning such a 20th century, never-heard-of-before church practice?
There is no justifiable reason to charge for such counsel, and any Biblical counseling ministry that charges a price is unbiblical. Whether one agrees with Biblical counseling or not, it is a ministry. It is designed to minister the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit by one who knows Christ to one who will receive it. It is unbiblical to require a direct charge for such a ministry. There is no example in Scripture that justifies charging a fee for ministering the Word of God by the grace of God to a brother or sister in Christ. (Someone might protest that a minister is paid a salary. But that is a false analogy. The true analogy would be charging someone a fee to attend church. We hope no one would even think of doing that!)
This pay for service makes any Biblical counseling grossly unbiblical. A simoniac is "a person who practices simony," and simony is "the buying or selling of sacred or spiritual things." Charging fees for counseling is a prime example of charging for a church ministry. Filthy lucre (1 Pe. 5:2) is the great financial fuel that drives both the psychological and Biblical counseling movements. Without the charging of fees or the hope of receiving payments in the future for those being trained, the Biblical counseling movement would be decimated. If every Biblical counselor stopped directly charging and receiving fees, it would literally cripple the movement as it currently exists.
CCEF would say, "We're not 'the ultimate church sponsored model,' but it's okay to charge fees because we 'are training centers.'" But, can't any "Biblical counseling" center separated from the church be a training center and thereby justify its existence? As said earlier in this report, CCEF receives about $500,000 annually for counseling fees. Maybe these fees are also justified by virtue of being a "training center."
Because CCEF participates in and supports the extracting of money and the degrading of the Biblically ordained ministries of the church, we recommend against the organization. We think it has drifted too far for too long to be salvageable. The principles and practices of CCEF weaken the position of the church, the role of pastors, the role of church leaders, and even the ability of lay people to minister to one another. The church of Jesus Christ is clearly worse off because of the seriousness of these practices. (Adapted from "Biblical Counseling: Simoniacs and Pharisaics," PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, January-February 1995, pp. 1,3.)
- In conclusion, for all the reasons stated in this report, we believe those at CCEF-East have compromised the clear message of Scripture and have sold their birthright for some psychological pottage. What was meant for CCEF to be a solution to the influx of psychology into Christianity has drifted into a compromise with it. What was meant to be a return to Biblically-based pastoral care and mutual ministry slid back into a reflection of the very problem it was meant to solve. We need more, not less, separation from secular psychology and all those who have attempted to integrate it. We believe Biblical counseling should be opposed, particularly para-church Biblical counseling as practiced at CCEF. CCEF has done nothing more than taken Biblical principles and molded them into a twentieth-century format to provide a replacement/alternative for psychological counseling. This has encouraged and facilitated a therapeutic mentality and given credence to a technology of change. Instead, Christians should be encouraged to minister to one another through the Word of God, the guidance and enabling of the Holy Spirit, and the Bible-based ministries of the local church (Bobgan: Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible, pp. 117-118 & 168-191).
* Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, 1790 East Willow Grove Ave., Laverock, PA 19118. CCEF-West in San Diego, CA is under the same general "CCEF umbrella" (formerly termed a "branch" office by CCEF-East), but operates as an independent entity under the directorship of George Scipione. Other CCEF branches are located in Bethlehem, PA (Mike Bobick), Princeton and Cherry Hill, NJ (John McConaughy), and in Reading, PA (Earl Cook). The comments in this report, unless otherwise stated, do not necessarily apply to all CCEF branches, although the Bethlehem, Princeton, Cherry Hill, and Reading branches are certainly much more closely tied, operationally, to Laverock than is CCEF-West (although Scipione [CCEF-West] is on CCEF-East's Board of Directors).
[Some of the material in this report has been adapted and/or excerpted from Chapters 5 and 6 of Martin & Deidre Bobgan's 1994 book, Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible (EastGate Publishers, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110). We have also drawn from two special reports written by Martin Bobgan ("A Critique of CCEF-East" [31 ppgs.] and "A Second Critique of CCEF-East: A Response to David Powlison" [24 ppgs.]), also available from EastGate/PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries in Santa Barbara. Readers should consult these materials for even more details and analysis of CCEF-East's psychological leanings.]