All about the Bible’s sufficiency: Lambert talks about his book, Counseling the Hard Cases
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, Heath Lambert talks with SSM contributor Josh Hayes about Counseling the Hard Cases, a book Lambert co-edited with Southern Seminary’s Stuart Scott. Lambert is assistant professor of pastoral theology at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern.
JH:What trends in the counseling world compelled you to put together Counseling the Hard Cases?
Heath lambert (Hl): There were two realities. The first has to do with what biblical counselors have written about the sufficiency of Scripture. So much of it has been wonderful, but it is almost all written theoretically and in the abstract. Biblical counselors have tended to defend sufficiency by making arguments. This is important work, and I am thankful for it, but when you place those arguments next to the lives of troubled people they can seem abstract.
The second reason has to do with my students. When I teach about the sufficiency of Scripture it is a guarantee that several people will raise their hands asking, “What about the hard cases though? What about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and panic disorder? Is the Bible sufficient for that?” We wanted to address each of these issues by showing how the sufficiency of Scripture comes to life with real persons who have these extreme difficulties.
JH: Why is one’s understanding of the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture important for how a person approaches counseling?
Hl: Denying the sufficiency of Scripture is one of the most unhelpful things you can do in ministry. The extent to which we limit the Scriptures in counseling is directly related to the extent to which we limit the help available to those who come for help. Whenever you do counseling you need to understand what is wrong with people, and you need to be able to chart a path forward concerning how to fix what is wrong. Scripture is the only book that reveals God’s authoritative, powerful and sufficient understanding of each of these things.
JH: How do you hope Counseling the Hard Cases benefits people within the local church?
Hl: First, I want to encourage pastors on the front lines of gospel ministry with the truth that the Word of God they preach on Sunday is the same Word that is powerful to counsel from on Monday.
Second, I want to serve the many Christians who are interested in counseling, but unsure of which counseling model is the best. Though many Christians desire to invest in counseling others, they wonder if the Bible is really sufficient for the work. I pray this book shows them that it is.
Finally, I want to serve the many committed Christians who love Jesus and the Bible, but do not believe that Scripture is sufficient for the hardest counseling cases.