- The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) is a fellowship of Christian pastors and
laymen who have banded together to promote and develop "counseling that is thoroughly
the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice." The stated purpose of NANC's founding (1975)
was "to certify counselors and counseling centers, to build a referral network of trustworthy counselors
and institutions, to provide fellowship with others who stand in the mainstream of biblical counseling,
and to provide continuing education." Though NANC was founded by anti-psychological integrationist
Dr. Jay E. Adams (the widely recognized "father" of the "nouthetic"
Biblical counseling movement), and
though NANC continues to verbally proclaim an anti-integrationist position, its cross-pollination over
the years with the integrationist Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation
(CCEF), the neo-evangelical, psychologically-oriented General Association of Regular Baptist Churches
and the psychologized ministries of John MacArthur's Master's Fellowship, have left it slowly sinking in
a psychological quagmire. (NANC's 14-member Board of Trustees has only four members affiliated
outside these three organizations, and NANC's director, Randy Patten, is the
former head of the Indiana
- We also have a problem with Jay Adams' nouthetic method: nouthetic counseling is a law-oriented confrontational type of approach. In his booklet, Godliness Through Discipline, Adams states: "Liberty comes through law, not apart from it. Godly, commandment-oriented living comes only from Biblical structure and discipline." In Competent to Counsel, Adams says: "Nouthesis presupposes a counseling type of confrontation in which the object is to effect a characterological and behavioral change in the counselee. Nouthetic confrontation, in its Biblical usage, aims at straightening out the individual by changing his patterns of behavior to conform to biblical standards. Personality change in Scripture involves confession, repentance, and the development of biblical patterns" (p. 46). (Emphasis added.) The nouthetic theory of working to change a person's personality by establishing patterns of living from the outside in, is the heart of the problem with counseling in general and specifically with NANC (Miles Stanford, 11/94 paper on Biblical counseling).
- NANC holds an annual conference each year where "Biblical counseling" aficionados gather to attend plenary and workshop sessions over a 48-hour period; the meetings purport to deal with a wide range of counseling issues. Typical of the agenda and speakers at such conferences was the 1994 NANC Convention held 10/3/94-10/5/94 at NANC headquarters in Lafayette, Indiana. [NANC moved its headquarters to Indianapolis in February of 2002.] It featured five plenary session speakers and 23 workshop speakers. John MacArthur was one plenary session speaker (two messages), as was psychologizer Wayne Mack of the Master's College (formerly of CCEF) and CCEF's director/Adlerean psychologizer John Bettler. Of the 28 speakers on the program, four were from MacArthur's ministries, five from CCEF, and eight from GARBC-affiliated churches. [In addition to the annual conference, NANC's other recurring events include its On-The-Road Training Conferences, One-Day Symposiums, Parenting Conferences, and Couples Conferences.]
The 2002 Convention was held in Rolling Meadows, Illinois; plenary
speakers included John MacArthur and the ecumenical Charles Ware. NANC recognized 22
newly certified Biblical counselors, bringing the total to 275 certified
counselors, with over 250 persons in the process of certification. At its 2001
Convention, NANC announced that there are now
only 16 states that have no NANC-certified counselors. Also in 2001, NANC expanded its Trustee
Board by one member -- adding former MacArthur assistant Lance Quinn. The 2003
conference is to be held in Little Rock, AR (at Quinn's church). Scheduled plenary
speakers include NANC director Randy Patten and psychological integrationist David
- Prior to the 10/88 NANC Convention held in St. Louis (and in prior years as well), NANC
sponsored a 10-hour, one-day training seminar teaching pastors and lay counselors the use of the
Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis (TJTA) test. (The TJTA is a psychologically-based personality
test that has been proven to have no adequate statistical validity in either measuring personality traits
nor in using such results to successfully predict marriage compatibility, occupational fitness, child
success in school, etc., etc. (See the Bobgan's book Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality
Testing, pp. 131-172, for an excellent analysis of the worthlessness of personality testing.)
Prerequisite for the course was a degree in Social Sciences (i.e., sociology or psychology!) or a
seminary degree. Worse yet, the TJTA course was taught by Lloyd Jonas, a board member of
NANC! This is just one example of NANC declaring one view (anti-psychology/anti-integration) and
practicing another (encouraging NANC member use of a psychologically-based personality test). This
difference between what NANC says and their true beliefs pervade the organization.
[At the 2001 NANC Convention, Jonas was named to the "Academy of NANC," a very
prestigious ranking. In NANC's 26 year history, only four people have been named
to this position. This position is reserved for those who have distinguished
themselves in significantly advancing the cause of Biblical counseling,
especially through training others. Lloyd has started and developed seven
church-based counseling centers and was one of the founding board members of
- NANC publishes a bimonthly newsletter, The Biblical Counselor (circulation 14,000). Its 7/93 issue carried an article by CCEF's Adlerean director, John Bettler: "Towards a 'Confession of Faith' on the Past." The article, though short, gave enough information to reveal Bettler's integration of Adlerean psychology that it should have invoked a protest immediately after its publication. A call to NANC's Executive Director a few months after the appearance of the article revealed that there was not even one complaint. Therefore, we think it is fair to say that there has been wholesale acceptance of psychological integration, exemplified by Bettler's teachings on the past, among those affiliated with NANC who call themselves Biblical counselors.
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." Yet, NANC board members Jay Adams and David Powlison (CCEF), as well as others affiliated with NANC, have publicly stated their belief that Bettler's teachings about using the past are Biblical (see Bobgan: Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible, Chas. 5 & 6). NANC, therefore, has obviously joined the rest of the integrationists who call themselves Biblical.
- The psychological leanings of NANC can also be readily ascertained by examining its Resource List and Catalog; numerous books and tapes from a bevy of neo-evangelical psychologizers fill the pages: Linda Dillow, Ed Wheat, Ed Buckley, Lou Priolo, Lloyd Jonas, John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, Stuart Scott, Ed Welch, David Powlison, John Bettler, Charles Ware, Dorie Van Stone, etc. The teachings of many of NANC's "resources" are not only antithetical to the Bible's, but in some cases, are identical to those emanating from psychology.
One example of many
is Lou Priolo, a long-time NANC counselor and head of an Atlanta Biblical
counseling center. He has written a psychologically-oriented book titled The
Complete Husband (1999); i.e., with regard to the specific talk and
interaction between a husband and wife, the instruction/teaching given in The
Complete Husband is essentially the same as in James
Dobson's What Wives
Wished Their Husbands Knew about Women. That is, where the rubber meets the
road (desirable, "Biblical" talk and behavior), there is no essential
difference between what the two books teach, other than the fact that The
Complete Husband actually facilitates/invites the wife to accomplish what
Dobson's book says she may have difficulty doing due to the husband's resistance
and sin. Dobson's book has building the wife's self-esteem at its goal. Priolo's
book tells the husband to do the things that will facilitate what Dobson wants
wives to do in order to have their husbands build their wives self-esteem.
Most "Biblical Counselors" will agree that it is sinful to behave in
ways that build self-esteem, using
Dobson's methods or any similar methods. Therefore, there must be something
radically wrong with the teaching in Priolo's book. The same behavior cannot be
both sinful and righteous.
- 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. NANC 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.
- Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana (a GARBC-affiliated church) is the home of Faith Baptist Counseling Ministries, and until February of 2002, was the home of NANC. The former director of NANC, the late Dr. William Goode, was also senior pastor of Faith Baptist Church. Dr. Bob Smith, the head of Faith Baptist Counseling Ministries, is a member of Faith Baptist Church and a member of the boards of both CCEF and NANC; he also set up the so-called Biblical counseling program at John MacArthur's Master's College. Former NANC Director Goode has said:
"The basic position of NANC is that the ideal in Biblical counseling model is one where troubled people receive counseling from their pastor and or church family. We would not tout Faith Baptist Counseling Ministries or CCEF to be 'the ultimate Church sponsored model.' They are training centers. A church where pastor and people are involved in counseling is the ultimate model" (letter on file).
The dictionary definition of Pharisaic is: "1. of the Pharisees; 2. emphasizing or observing the letter but
not the spirit of religious law; 3. pretending to be highly moral and virtuous without actually being so;
hypocritical." Does Goode's remark sound Pharisaic?
NANC would say, "We're not 'the ultimate church sponsored model,' but it's okay 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? Both NANC and CCEF approve of charging fees for counseling. Maybe the fees are also justified by virtue of being a "training center."
Whether one is dying in the hospital or "dying" from the sins and heartaches of life, there is absolutely no Biblical reason to charge for ministering to one another in the Body of Christ. Goode would not have dared directly charge the members of his church for worship services or for private pastoral consultation or for hospital visitation. He wouldn't have dared even suggest or hint at "cash, check, or credit card" for ministry in his church. Nor would he have dared attempt to justify charging for worship services and pastoral care by making his church a "training center." Then why dare charge for ministry given at Faith Baptist Counseling Ministries? Why does NANC not only approve but encourage such practices?
Because NANC 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 NANC 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.) [It is reported that as of 1/1/95, Faith Baptist Counseling Ministries no longer charges counselees for counseling. Nevertheless, NANC maintains its close affiliation with CCEF (has members on CCEF's board and vice versa), which reaps over $500,000 annually in counseling fees and continues to derive over 50% of its income from counseling fees. Therefore, for whatever reason FBCM stopped charging counseling fees, it is not so opposed to the practice as to separate from an organization that literally survives on it.]
- NANC claims
to be "on the leading edge of holding up the Word of God as not only
inerrant, but also sufficient." Underneath this statement are a number of
serious issues and questions, all having Biblical implications. None have been
discussed at NANC annual meetings, and probably will never be discussed at NANC.
Below are seven issues as examples of what NANC is unwilling to discuss
A case can easily be made by some that the above
practices are not Biblically supported. Others would say just the opposite.
These are issues that should be confronted and discussed by any organization
that claims to be "on the leading edge of holding up the Word of God as not
only inerrant but also sufficient." All of the above are prolifically
practiced throughout the Biblical counseling movement, but have not been
addressed at NANC conferences. Those who differ with the status quo will not be
given a chance in NANC's leadership; neither will they be permitted to conduct
workshops on these issues. We wonder if such individuals dare even suggest such
workshops. It is our impression that NANC functions on the basis of cronyism.
Those who rise to leadership are those who will keep an unwritten commitment to
supporting current leadership and not rocking the boat. Not rocking the boat
includes a willingness to avoid controversial issues, never challenge what
leadership says, and just follow the good ole boy practices of secular
organizations. (Source: "NANC
& the APA," Sep-Oct '98, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter.)
*For a good overview of what is wrong with the Biblical counseling movement in general, see Martin and Deidre Bobgan's book Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible, EastGate Publishers, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110. Some of the information in this report has been adapted and/or excerpted from this source. This report should be read in conjunction with BDM's report on CCEF; BDM reports on John MacArthur and GARBC will also give background information concerning the people and organizations closely affiliated with NANC.