(B&H Academic 2012, $32.99), Stuart Scott and Heath lambert, eds.

“The Bible isn’t a scientific text book, right?” Such a statement carries the commonly held notion that because the Bible speaks primarily to theological and spiritual matters — in pre-modern, non-scientific language — it does not provide the church with resources sufficient to handle the problems con- temporary American society sees best left to secular professionals.

In the volume Counseling the Hard Cases, editors and Southern Seminary professors Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert seek to disprove this notion both in theory and by example, demonstrating Scripture’s competency to speak to the most difficult and complex problems, which they contend are theological at heart.

“Biblical counselors have argued that Scripture is comprehensive. Scripture does not contain every last bit of information that can be known. Scripture contains all things that bring the counseling task into focus like a pair of glasses. Scripture is relevant to the counseling task like a compass that reorients every problem,” writes Lambert in the book’s introduction (emphasis original).

In the introduction, Lambert sets forth the book’s purpose and addresses the issues related to the ongoing discussion between biblical counselors and those who represent the Christian counseling, integrationist and Christian psychology movements. The 10 remaining chapters each present accounts of how biblical counselors were able to help, admonish, correct and encourage those struggling with difficult and complex problems.

“None of us views the sufficiency of Scripture as an abstract doctrine,” Lambert and Scott write in the conclusion. “Rather, sufficiency has everything to do with whether we as ministers of Christ possess a firm hope that we can offer to those who are sinking into despair.”

Ten chapters document cases of sexual abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia, homosexuality, addiction, adultery and more. Scott and Lambert are among the book’s contributors, as well as Martha Peace, John Babler, Laura Hendrickson, Robert Jones, Steve Viars and others. For those wanting to read about how the proverbial “rubber meets the road” in biblical counseling, Counseling the Hard Cases is book filled with employed theory, a work especially helpful for those who learn by means of sustained example more so than long-form prescription. Counselors from all approaches should pay attention to this release. —review by Josh hayes


Excerpts from the book:

  1. “These arguments have persuaded our contributing authors (and many others) that Scripture is comprehensively sufficient to do ministry with people experiencing profound difficulties in their lives,” writes Lambert in the books introduction.
  2. “When you take time and listen well, [postpartum depression] becomes understandable. When you push past the scary headlines and read the details of the story, the frightening buzzwords give way to understandable themes: rest, nutrition, practice in acquiring skills, and — most importantly — Jesus’ power to slay sin and bring solace in suffering,” writes Lambert in his chapter, “Sarah and Postpartum Depression.”
  3. “The purpose of this book is vigorously to highlight the resources in Scripture. We are also compelled to drive home the high calling and sacrificial commitment to love people,” write Scott and Lambert in the book’s conclusion.

See also this post: All About the Bible’s Sufficiency: Lambert Talks About His Book, Counseling the Hard Cases