Lip service to creedal statements regarding the authority of Scripture is too common and meaningless. Counseling is one arena where the contest for the sufficiency of Scripture is being waged most fiercely. Contenders for the faith find great allies among truly Biblical counselors. 959 such counselors came together in Lafayette, IN, in October for the annual meeting of The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC).
The theme, “The Superiority of the Scriptures in Counseling” dominated their time together this year. NANC is a fellowship of Christian pastors and laymen who have banded together to promote and develop Biblical counseling. NANC was founded in 1975 to certify counselors and counseling centers which are exemplary in their ministries and to provide a referral and fellowship network for them. NANC has been uncompromising in promoting and sustaining high standards of ethics and proficiency in ministry.
This year’s conference created an excellent opportunity for fellowship with others who stand in the mainstream of Biblical counseling. The men and women in attendance included those on the leading edge of holding up the Word of God as not only inerrant, but also as sufficient. Thirty-six workshops and seven plenary sessions provided in depth and practical training for those in the work of helping God’s people to change and grow. NANC firmly believes that, “Since the entire Bible is about change, the NANC counselor must be a learner who is growing and open to new ways the Word of God can be used as the Spirit’s agent of change.”
In presenting the theme of this year’s conference, Dr. Jay Adams, author of more than sixty books relating to the subject, asked: “The superiority of Scriptural counseling what does it mean? Does it mean that all versions are good but this version is better? Does it mean something like: ‘It would be nice to have a Corolla but a Lexus would be better’? No! Superiority in this sense does not mean the best of a good lot. Christian counseling is so much better in every way; it is head and shoulders above the rest.. it is unique.” He pointed out that in Genesis 3, Satan focuses his attack on the Word. “There are only two kinds of counseling: counseling from the Word of God and counseling from the ungodly.”
Biblical counseling is not an invention or NANC; it is simply a belief and application of the Word of God to the life of the believer as God requires for His glory and our own good. Dr. Adams noted that Scriptural counseling is superior in its conception, its purpose, its norms, guarantees, hope, framework, orientation, solutions, methodology and in its power and effect.
Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. delivered the keynote address: “The Vanishing Conscience.” MacArthur decried the condition of contemporary society which believes man is positively good and therefore any problem is the result of victimization or some other excuse; it is a society which encourages men and women to ignore the promptings of their own consciences. This mentality, promoted by the self-described Christian Counseling Movement, interferes with the true hope which God’s Word has to offer. Hope for man is in the redeeming work of Christ. Salvation results from the Holy Spirit convicting men of their sin. How sad the state of affairs when those who seek to serve God work against His purposes. Dr. MacArthur’s comments drove home the crucial importance of Biblical counseling rooted firmly in God’s Word. It is this type of counseling that NANC exists to promote.
Faith Baptist Church of Lafayette, IN (FBC), this year’s host, functions as the national headquarters of NANC. Nouthetic Counseling emphasizes church-based counseling ministries. Faith Baptist Church of Lafayette not only practices Biblical counseling, it actively trains others. From this single congregation over 4,000 pastors and laymen received their basic and advanced counseling training.
The NANC emphasizes certification of counselors and counseling centers to train counselors. While attendance at the conferences is spiraling, membership in NANC continues to grow steadily. Membership in NANC requires certification. Rev. Goode, Executive Director, attributes this to the Association’s determination not to compromise its standards. Certification with NANC is not for those looking for an easy certificate to hang on the wall. Rev. Goode reports that usually it takes 12–16 months to complete the certification process which includes theology and counseling exams, as well as 50 hours of counseling under the supervision of one of the Association’s Fellows. Members who complete the process have testified to its help in defining and improving their counseling.
The headquarters at FBC makes referrals and handles certifications as well as arranging for the annual conference under the direction of NANC’s board.
Rev. Scipione, president, announced at the business meeting of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors ( NANC) that Dr. Adams, Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church planter, and Rev. Goode of Faith Baptist Church were elected to the Association’s Academy for their lifelong contributions to the ministry of Biblical counseling around the world. NANC is on the leading edge of upholding the “Word of God as not only inerrant but also sufficient.” It believes that God has, “...given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us to glory and virtue...” (2 Peter 1:3).
NANC, 5526 State Road 26 East, Lafayette, IN 47905. (317) 448-9100.
Rev. Kevin Backus is a pastor in the Bible Presbyterian Church and serves as its Stated Clerk.