Sept. 21 Towers — Paul David Tripp Q&A: part 1 of 2

Communications Staff — September 22, 2009

The Sept. 21 issue of Towers, which can be accessed online here, or downloaded here, highlights the topic of biblical counseling.

Stories related to biblical counseling include:

  • Q&A with Paul David Tripp
  • Article on Tripp on marriage
  • Article interviewing Robert Cheong, pastor of home and counseling at Sojourn Community Church, about the importance of centering all counseling on the Gospel and of conducting counseling in the context of a local church.
  • R. Albert Mohler Jr. on the Gospel and moralism.
  • Testimonial about Tripp’s new book “Broken-Down House,” by Jeff Robinson.

Other stories:

  • 3 questions with Richard Land.
  • Faculty profile: Chuck Lawless, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern.

Here is the first installment of a two-part Q&A with Tripp:

By Jeff Robinson

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization, whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” Tripp also serves on the pastoral staff at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Penn., where he preaches on Sunday evenings and leads the Ministry to Center City.

Tripp is the author of several books, including “War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Our Communication Struggles,”(P & R Publishing: 2000), “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” (P & R: 2002) and “Broken Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad,” (Shepherd Press: June 2009).

Question: Would you agree that if you don’t accurately understand the fallout from Genesis 3, then you won’t understand accurately the nature of the world around you?

Paul David Tripp: Yes. This is precisely what motivated me to write the book (“Broken Down House”). I just had this thought again and again as I was pastoring people and counseling people: their choices of behavior and their interactions were what they were because they didn’t understand the fall.

In previous writing, I sort of waved the wand of the significance of the fall, but I thought, ‘This needs a work of its own.’ I think a minimizing of the fall results in a couple of things. One is unrealistic expectations. People go into life minimizing the impact of the fall on their environment, their relationships, their history and their personhood, so they are constantly disappointed, constantly unprepared for what they are facing. The second thing is naiveté to seduction; they don’t understand how this world in its brokenness is seductive and alluring. It draws me into thinking that what God says is less is actually more. And if the enemy can point to less and convince me it is more, he has got me.

Q: Why do Christians so often get the doctrine of man wrong? Don’t you think we often overestimate our own holiness and in so doing, we underestimate our need for God’s grace?

PDT:  If you get to the bottom line of my struggle with the fall, my own sin and my tendency to minimize that, it’s my struggle to believe that I am as desperately broken, desperately needy and desperately rebellious as I actually am. It is very hard for me to embrace that what I see in the mirror of the Word of God is actually me. I think that much of evangelicalism is people looking into the mirror and denying what they actually see. I think that’s a huge struggle.

I lived for years in my marriage as an angry man and I was deeply persuaded that the problem in my marriage was a wife who was discontent. The reality was that the Bible elaborately described what I was struggling with, but I couldn’t believe that it was me. In that moment where the Spirit of God, through the help of another person, began to break through and show me myself, it was difficult for me to look and see what I have said and watch what I have done and to believe that it was me. I was so convinced that I was better than I actually was. I think that is propelled by a culture that says, ‘The last thing you want to do to human beings is to make them feel bad about themselves,’ rather than the culture affirming that there is something dramatically broken inside of me, dramatically wrong with me. Getting hold of that is a pathway to help.

Q: Why does the church typically go to the world when it comes to counseling?

PDT: I think that our response to therapy and our willingness to refer soul care to the world is another rendition of the same old sacred-spiritual dichotomy that has always been in some rendition of the church. And so we say, “The Bible speaks to the domain of a person’s spirituality and religiosity, but its domain is not this domain of human psychological functioning” instead of saying, “The Bible addresses the whole enchilada because if life is lived in these two communities – the community with God that lives in a community with other people – then everything is spiritual, everything is about God.” So, there is no domain that this book (the Bible) doesn’t speak to in some way. I think you just have that dichotomy always rearing its ugly head in a new rendition with every generation of the church.

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