I have just completed Jay Adams landmark book Competent to Counsel, and before I even get to the review, I want to start out by saying that I highly recommend it to any Christian that is serious about using the Scriptures in their lives to help other believers. Around the ’70’s, Mr. Adams was in the pastorate, and from his own failure to counsel one of his sheep, set out to guide the church back to the place it needed to be.
There are many who are very angry with the man, who disagree with how harsh he handled things. But since this is not a history lesson, I will keep it related to the book. Nonetheless, you need to know that there are many who will disagree with this controversial subject. There are people who believe that pastors are not capable of handling ‘real’ difficulties like depression and paranoid schizophrenia. People who believe that psychology is a science, and that we need to use their methods and techniques.
Jay Adams spends a large portion of the book debunking these myths and fables. He shows, time and again, that the Scriptures are sufficient for everything that pertains to life and godliness. But where to begin? This book covers so many different facets it’s not even funny. It delves into the failures and ungodly presuppositions of psychology, as well as going (relatively) in depth in how to do biblical counseling. He sites many credible sources such as Thomas Szasz, a secular psychologist who wrote the book titled, The Myth of Mental Illness, and shows that he has clearly done his homework very well.
One of the most important p0ints Adams gets across is the fact that there has never historically been 3 separate fields, but only 2 when it comes to healing. If you are physically broke you need a doctor. Anything else, you need a ‘soul doctor’ that is, a pastor. It was only recently that psychiatry made a false dichotomy of ‘spiritual problems’ differentiated from ‘mental and emotional problems.
I would say that though the book is written on an easy to read level, accessible to your average laymen, it is perfect, and I even suspect was meant, for seminary reading. Jay Adams, after all, was a professor at Westminster, teaching this very stuff, for a time.
I am not giving a full 10 out of 10 because I would not consider Competent to Counsel one of the most enjoyable reads, in and of itself. I love the topic, so I did find it enjoyable. Do not mistake me, it is a very important book. However, if all the authors I have read, I cannot say Adams is the most gifted writer. But my love for the book is because its success in defending the sufficiency of the Scriptures in our daily lives. I would listen to the most boring man in the world, if I had to, in order to learn more about such a great topic!