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Showing posts from November, 2012

The curative power of a good relationship

Last time we saw that Trinitarian theology shows how pastoral counselors participate in the ongoing counseling ministry of Jesus, the wonderful counselor. It's important to note that Jesus does not "fax in" his counsel from afar. Rather, through his continuing incarnation (by which he is united to all humanity), in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is God with us (Emmanuel). His counseling ministry is thus fundamentally incarnational--a "with us and for us" ministry ofpresence.

Though most pastoral counselors utilize a particular counseling (therapeutic) mode (and there are many), research indicates that the mode itself accounts only for only about 15% of the efficacy (curative power) of the counseling. Of greater importance is the counseling relationship. Counselees most frequently experience positive counseling outcomes when their counselor is compassionate, empathetic, attentive and thus nurturing. The counselor's caring presence is a primary fa…

Trinitarian theology and pastoral counseling

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One of the ways pastors and other ministers share in the mission of our triune God, is by joining with Jesus Christ, the wonderful counselor, in his ministry of counseling, in the power of the Holy Spirit, through the church. That being so, we appropriately ask, How does Trinitarian, incarnational theology inform pastoral counseling?

I've been thinking about this for some time, studying Holy Scripture and books like Theology & Pastoral Counseling (a new interdisciplinary approach) by Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, who teaches pastoral counseling at Princeton Theological Seminary. She helpfully describes an interdisciplinary approach to pastoral counseling, which draws upon the Trinitarian theology of Karl Barth and psychodynamic theories of psychology. I find her approach both sound and useful.

According to Hunsinger, "Pastoral counseling, as a ministry of the church, is essentially interdisciplinary. Becoming equipped for this ministry requires both psychological and the…

The inclusion of all humanity in Christ

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As we look through the lens of a Trinitarian, incarnational theology, the central truth of the gospel comes into clear focus, declaring that God the Father, through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, has reconciled the world (including all humanity) to himself (see 2 Cor. 5:19). In Christ, through the Holy Spirit, all people are forgiven, accepted and included in God's triune love and life. This central truth is unpacked by Baxter Kruger in The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream. I recommend it highly.

In the book's appendix, Baxter offers quotes that speak to a Trinitarian, incarnational understanding of the gospel. Here are a few of them, and for others, see the relevant quotes page on this blog.

From Paul S. Minear, Images of the Church in the New Testament:
In the context of his statement [2 Cor. 5:17] Paul located this transition from the old to the new at a single point: the death of all …