Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Rachel Miller

  1. Definition

Secular perspective

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is experienced by those who have witnessed in person or been the victim of an event that threatens death or serious injury. It is often exhibited by those who experience trauma on the level of a singular event, or acute trauma, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, shootings, or rape. It is also exhibited by those who undergo trauma as a life-style, or chronic trauma, such as domestic violence, war, or homelessness. It manifests itself in the person’s life through “re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms.”[1] 

DSM-5: PTSD is expressed in a myriad of ways.  The DSM-5 offers the following criteria in order to qualify for diagnosis.

“Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:” [2]

  • Direct experience
  • In-person witness of trauma experienced by others
  • Learning of a traumatic event experienced by a family member or close friend
  • Repeated exposure to the details of traumatic events, such as experienced by first-responders

“Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:” [3]

  • Recurring intrusive memories of the event
  • Recurring dreams related to the event
  • Flashbacks to the related event in which the person feels or acts as if they are experiencing it again
  • Intense stress triggered by cues that resemble aspects of the event
  • Physiological reactions triggered by cues that resemble aspects of the event

“Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:”[4]

  • Avoidance of internal reminders of the event such as memories, thoughts, or feelings
  • Avoidance of external reminders of the event such as people, places, conversations, activities, or objects

“Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:”[5]

  • Forgetfulness of significant aspects of the event
  • Exaggerated negative beliefs about oneself, others, or the world
  • Twisted memories of the event putting blame on the individual or others
  • Constant negative emotional state
  • Disinterest in significant activities
  • Estrangement from others
  • Inability to experience positive emotions

“Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:”[6]

  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Reckless or self-destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep

“Duration of the symptoms is more than one month.

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition.”[7]

Recommended secular treatment and therapy includes:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)- “CPT teaches you how to evaluate and change the upsetting thoughts you have had since your trauma. By changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel.”[8] CPT involves organizing the thoughts of the counselee through writing and evaluating the conclusions they’ve drawn about their experience. The goal is to change distressing thoughts they may have about relational connection, power and control, and self-esteem by changing the way they view the world and their trauma.
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)- PE “teaches you to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations that you have been avoiding since your trauma. By confronting these challenges, you can decrease your PTSD symptoms.”[9]  PE involves exploring memories by verbalizing them in writing and in speech in order to begin to get used to them and control them rather than the memories controlling you.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)- EMDR “can help you process upsetting memories, thoughts, and feelings related to the trauma. By processing these experiences, you can get relief from PTSD symptoms.”[10] The counselee is asked to reimagine their trauma while following the movement of the therapist’s finger or a laser with their eyes. It is unknown whether the effectiveness of this therapy comes from the eye movement or the exposure.
  • Medication- “PTSD may be related to changes in the brain that are linked to our ability to manage stress. People with PTSD appear to have different amounts of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in the brain than people without PTSD. SSRIs and SNRIs are believed to treat PTSD by putting these brain chemicals back in balance.” [11] Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) act as antidepressants and are usually prescribed whether the counselee is depressed or not. Antipsychotic drugs and prazosin (which lowers blood pressure) are used to alleviate insomnia and nightmares.


In the late 19th century, the symptoms of PTSD were diagnosed as hysteria. Hysteria was used by men to describe all strange, mysterious, or unmanageable behavior in women. Eventually, a French neurologist named Jean-Martin Charcot identified the cause of such behavior to be psychological trauma. Sigmund Freud also contributed to its study and claimed hysteria originated from sexual abuse. However, he later disavowed this theory due to social pressure and the implications this had on the actions of many men of high class.

Observed symptoms of PTSD became an area of interest again after the first World War. As soldiers returned home, they experienced mental breakdowns due to the constant exposure to the horrors of war. It was initially attributed to what is known as “shell shock,” or the physical concussive effects of exploding shells. Eventually, it was also recognized to result from psychological trauma. Its main early contributors were two British psychiatrists, Lewis Yealland and William Halse Rivers. After the Vietnam War, veterans developed “rap groups” where they met together to provide support and talk therapy for their symptoms. The increased awareness in the aftermath of the wars led to the official recognition of PTSD as a real diagnosis and its insertion into the DSM-III in 1980.

Biblical perspective

Curtis Solomon provides a summary definition of PTSD as,

A whole personed response to traumatic events that encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual being of those affected. It results in significant disruption of life at home, work, school, and church, and it often draws on anger, fear, sadness, shame, and guilt to disrupt family relationships, friendships, careers, and Christian service. Those who are affected will often compensate the best way they can in ways that often compound the struggle they face.[13] 

PTSD is used to describe a variety of responses to traumatic suffering that affect every area of the counselee’s life.

PTSD is largely an interpretive disorder, “meaning that the way one perceives the threat determines their response to the threat.”[14] The sufferer must contextualize their suffering in light of the truth of God’s Word in order to respond to it in a way that honors the Lord. Those suffering with symptoms of PTSD are responding to traumatic events in normal, not abnormal, ways. [15] Scripture demonstrates this by giving countless examples of people who experienced traumatic events and the subsequent symptoms, with some dishonoring and others honoring the Lord in their response.

A disobedient response to suffering from PTSD includes trying to either physical or mentally avoid and leave unpleasant situations to the point of sinning. [16] A few biblical examples of this are:


  • Noah lived in a world of total wickedness, likely seeing and experiencing horrific events (Genesis 6:5)
  • Whether he heard their screams over the storm or not, he knew that while he was in the ark the rest of mankind was drowning
  • He responded by becoming drunk (Genesis 9:21)

Israel in the wilderness

  • While they were not touched by the ten plagues, they viewed their effect on the Egyptians (Exodus 7-12)
  • Nearly died by the hand of the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Exodus 14)
  • Experienced extreme hunger and thirst in the wilderness (Exodus 16:1-3; 17:1-3)
  • Faced nations of great might in battle (Numbers 13-14)
  • Continually distrusted and disobeyed God in order to pursue comfort and security


  • Killed many men in gruesome battle (1 Samuel 18:7)
  • Was troubled in spirit (1 Samuel 16:14-23)
  • Allowed feelings of fear and paranoia to rule, seeking to rid himself of the perceived problem (David) to the point of murder (1 Samuel 18:6-16)

An obedient response involves persevering through suffering, entrusting oneself to the Lord, and doing what is right before him even in difficult situations.[19] A few biblical examples of this are:


  • Nearly killed by his brothers (Genesis 37:18-24)
  • Sold into slavery (Genesis 37:26-28)
  • Nearly sexually assaulted (Genesis 39:6b-12)
  • Unjustly thrown into prison (Genesis 39:13-20)
  • Responded in obedience and faithfulness to the Lord in each situation
  • Trusted in God’s purposes and faithfulness in the midst of trauma (Genesis 45:5-8)


  • Faced, defeated, and mutilated a giant (1 Samuel 17)
  • Killed many men in gruesome battle (1 Samuel 18:7)
  • Betrayed and chased by close friends (1 Samuel 18:6-16; 2 Samuel 15:12; 16:23)
  • Responded to sleepless nights by meditating on God’s greatness (Psalm 77)
  • Responded to fear by trusting God (Psalms 27; 55; 56; 57; 121)


  • Viewed the destruction of his city by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:1-2)
  • Taken into Babylonian captivity (Daniel 1:3-7)
  • Faced many near death experiences (Daniel 2:12-13; 6:16-18)
  • Remained faithful to God even at personal risk (Daniel 1:8; 6:10)


  • Numerous near-death experiences at the hands of man and of nature (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)
  • Saw suffering as a source of rejoicing (Romans 5:3-5)
  • Saw suffering as a means to encourage others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
  • Found comfort in God’s presence (Philippians 4:5-7)
  • Dwelt on God-honoring thoughts (Philippians 4:8-9)
  • Relied on God’s strength for contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13)
  1. Evidence of the Problem

The one struggling with PTSD must interpret and respond to their circumstances according to truth rather than according to their feelings. God’s Word is truth and the measure of truth, and it is authoritative over feelings and experiences. Feelings are created and experienced by God and are useful for indicating what may be going on in the heart, however they do not always reflect reality and are often difficult to interpret. Dr. Greg Gifford illustrates the roles of truth and feelings with the analogy of a chain. When truth, the first link in a chain, is allowed to lead, the rest of the links follow in an orderly fashion. When feelings are allowed to lead, they push the other links in a disorderly fashion and life gets messy.

            Greater Christ-likeness                              [20]

     Figure 1a. Truth vs. Feelings Led

                Greater Christlikeness                                  [21]

Figure 1b. Truth vs. Feelings Led

This is seen in several common emotions expressed by those struggling with PTSD:

Led by FeelingsLed by Truth
Fear- directed toward circumstances, past experiences, and emotions resulting in a fight or flight response such as hyper-arousal or avoidance. [22]   Anxiety- a selfish distrust in God seeking control over future problems and temporal matters. (Matt. 6:25-32)     Guilt- a subjective emotion informed by man’s standards that leads to penance and attempts to minimize, mask, or deny the feeling.     Anger- caused by sinful lusts and passions and displayed by outward bursts of ventilation and internalized moodiness and irritation, leading to evil and folly.  (Jas. 4:1-2; Ps. 37:8)Fear- directed toward God in obedience to his commands and leads to a response of faith. (Prov. 14:27; Heb. 11; 13:6; 1 Pt. 2:21-23)     Anxiety- a selfless trust in God’s control while taking responsibility for the necessities of today and pursuit of eternal matters. (Heb. 13:5; Php. 4:6-7; Matt. 6:33)   Guilt- an objective declaration by God of all men informed by God’s standards that leads to repentance and is resolved through trust in the work of Christ and confession. (Rom. 3:23; 2 Cor 7:9-10; Rom. 8:1; 1 Jn. 1:9)   Anger- caused by righteous indignation or passion.  The wise hold back from ventilation of sinful anger, leading to peace. (Mk. 11:15-18; Eph. 4:26; Prov. 29:11; 15:8)

In allowing truth to lead rather than feelings, the thought life of the counselee must be submitted to truth of God’s Word. Rather than giving the mind free rein to dwell on that which it pleases, the counselee must learn to take their thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), dwell on that which honors the Lord (Php. 4:8-9), remember God’s work in the past (Deut. 8:2; Isa. 46:9), and set his mind on “things above” (Col. 3:2; Ps. 1:2).

  1. Etiology

Spiritual causes

PTSD is often caused by a lack of trust in the sovereignty of God and a desire for personal control. The sinful pursuit of control may lead to attempts to control intrusive thoughts through sinful methods such as alcohol or drugs and to control circumstances through avoidance and escape methods. When control cannot be acquired, the response to uncontrollable circumstances often involves anger, fear, or anxiety.

Physical Causes

PTSD is influenced by physical factors as well.  Those who suffer from PTSD often have a damaged sympathetic nervous system, or “fight or flight” response system.[23] It engages at the wrong time, such as attacking a loved one when woken in the night.  It also engages for longer than it should, resulting in hypervigilance. PTSD leaves one prone to lack of sleep, migraines, stomach pain, back pain, and even heart disease. [24]

  1. Examining the Heart

Possible Heart Themes

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Revenge

Possible Heart Idols

  • Control
  • Comfort
  • Biblical Solutions

Recommended books and articles

Babler, John. “PTSD, Memories, and Biblical Counseling.” Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. October 24, 2019.

Dunham, Dave. “Conceptual Issues in Counseling Those Who Fear Their Feelings.” Biblical Counseling Coalition. December 19, 2018.

Fain, Jim. “Facing Giants by Fixing Gaze: Eyes on the Covenantal King Rather than Self as the Means to Victory in Terrifying Circumstances.” ACBC Essays II (2019).

Gifford, Greg. Helping Your Family Through PTSD. Eugene OR: Resource Publications, 2017.

Jones, Robert. “Distinguishing Between Guilt and Guilt.” Biblical Counseling Coalition. July 18, 2017.

Mehl, Scott, and Heath Lambert. “Christians and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. April 5, 2017.

Scott, Stuart. Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective. Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing Inc., 2009.

Solomon, Curtis W. “Counseling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Plotting the Course.” ACBC Essays II (2019).

Viars, Stephen. Putting Your Past in Its Place. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011.

Recommended homework resource

The following resource can be used to help the counselee understand their suffering and response according to the truth of God’s Word, aiding in the process of contextualizing their suffering.  The passage shown in the example may be swapped out for any helpful passage of Scripture depending on the situation.

The Enemy’s Lies vs. God’s Truth: 1 Corinthians 10:13[25]

The Enemy’s LiesGod’s Truth
“Your problems are unique, bigger, and tougher than other peoples’.” (List problems in your life that you have thought about this way.)“You are dealing with common temptations.” (List the daily temptations you face that are not unlike others’ temptations.)
“God has forgotten you.” (List the places where you have tended to feel forgotten.)“I am faithful.” (List evidences of the faithfulness of God in your life.)
“Your problems are more than you can bear.” (Where have you felt overwhelmed or overburdened?)“I will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (What are the resources for dealing with your problems that are already present in your life?)
“You are trapped and there is no way out.” (List the problems you are facing that seem unsolvable.)“I will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (Identify changes in you that would enable you to deal with the difficulties of your situation.)

[1] Greg Gifford, Helping Your Family Through PTSD (Eugene OR: Resource Publications, 2017), 9.

[2] American Psychiatric Association, DSM-V Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013), 271

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 272.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, last modified August 10, 2018,

[9] “Prolonged Exposure for PTSD,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, last modified August 10, 2018,

[10] “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for PTSD,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, last modified August 10, 2018,

[11] “Treatment Comparison Chart,” Decision Aid, last modified June 2017,

[12] Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1997), 10-28.

[13] Curtis W. Solomon, “Counseling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Plotting the Course,” ACBC Essays II (2019): 47.

[14] Gifford, Helping Your Family through PTSD, 21.

[15] John Babler, “PTSD, Memories, and Biblical Counseling,” Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, October 24, 2019.

[16] Gifford, Helping Your Family through PTSD, 49.

[17] Curtis Solomon, “Demystifying PTSD: Part 2,” Biblical Counseling Coalition, August 11, 2018,

[18] Ibid.

[19] Gifford, Helping Your Family through PTSD, 49.

[20] Ibid., 31.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Jim Fain, “Facing Giants by Fixing Gaze: Eyes on the Covenantal King Rather than Self as the Means to Victory in Terrifying Circumstances,” ACBC Essays II (2019), 20.

[23] Solomon, “Counseling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” 46.

[24] “How PTSD can Cause Physical Pain Symptoms,” The Oaks Treatment, accessed April 1, 2020,

[25] Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Phillipsburg, NJ; P&R Publishing, 2002), 349.

Heath Lambert

by Rachel Miller

I. Known for

Heath Lambert is the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville FL, serving there as pastor since 2017.  He was the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) until 2018.  He is married to Lauren Lambert and the father of their three children.

II. Biography

Lambert was born on September 13, 1979 and grew up in Kentucky.  He was raised by an alcoholic and abusive mother who hated him and kept him from his father whom he loved.  He faced many near-death experiences at the hands of his mother and had an acute fear of going to hell when he died, but he did not know the message of salvation.  A lady at his high school shared the gospel with Lambert and he put his trust in Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  He soon came to understand that God required him to let go of his hatred and forgive his mother.  Over the course of many years, he shared the gospel with her. She eventually accepted it and was radically changed.[1]

Lambert attended Gordon College and received his Bachelor of Arts in biblical and theological studies and political science.  He went on to study at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and received his Master of Divinity in Christian Ministry and his doctorate in biblical counseling and systematic theology.[2]  He also taught at SBTS and at Boyce College as an Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling.[3]

III. Theological views

Lambert pastors First Baptist Church of Jacksonville which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and holds to their doctrinal statement as published in 2000.[4]  He adheres to the biblical counseling methodology of soul care, which believes in the sufficiency of Scripture to equip believers to handle all problems they may face in a way that honors the Lord.  He served as the Executive Director of ACBC, whose doctrinal position can be read here.

IV. Works/Publications

A. Books

The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams ­– Heath Lambert

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace ­– Heath Lambert

A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry ­– Heath Lambert

Transforming Sexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change – Denny Burk and Heath Lambert

Counseling the Hard Cases – Ed., Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert

B. Pamphlets

The Gospel and Mental Illness ­– Heath Lambert

Can Jesus Heal Mental Illness? ­– Heath Lambert

Sufficiency: Historical Essays on the Sufficiency of Scripture – Heath Lambert, Wayne Mack, Doug Bookman, David Powlison

C. Articles

A list of articles by Heath Lambert for the Biblical Counseling Coalition can be found here

He has also written many articles for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

D. Interviews

Heath Lambert’s Testimony

V. Influence on Biblical Counseling

Heath Lambert has written several resources contributing to the field of biblical counseling, such as A Theology of Biblical Counseling, and he serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Family Ministry, and The Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.[5]  He held the role of Executive Director of ACBC for many years, and he is a founding council board member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.[6]  He aided in training the next generation of biblical counselors as a professor at SBTS and Boyce College for many years.


VI. Bibliography

Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. “I Will Bear Witness: Heath Lambert’s Testimony.” Published April 16, 2015.

Biblical Counseling Coalition. “Heath Lambert.” Accessed May 21, 2020.

First Baptist Church Jacksonville. “Meet Our Pastor.” Accessed May 21, 2020.

First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. “Who We Are.” Accessed May 23, 2020.



[1] “I Will Bear Witness: Heath Lambert’s Testimony,” Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, published April 16, 2015,

[2] “Meet Our Pastor,” First Baptist Church Jacksonville, accessed May 21, 2020,

[3] “Heath Lambert,” Biblical Counseling Coalition, accessed May 21, 2020,

[4] “Who We Are,” First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, accessed May 23, 2020,

[5] “Heath Lambert,” Biblical Counseling Coalition.

[6] Ibid.

Idols of the Heart (Publication)

Idols of the Heart: Publication

By. Marianne Castillo

I. Overview

Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone is a Christian book written by Elyse Fitzpatrick. On the back of the book Elyse Fitzpatrick says that she writes Idols of the Heart for the many people who “desired to live godly lives but feel trapped in habitual sin. This book reveals that at the heart of every besetting sin lies idolatry”. [1] The chapters focus on revealing what the reader loves and worships. [2] Idols of the heart helps readers identify the false gods in their hearts, thoughts, and affections. [3] Each chapter ends with hope, that “God changes hearts”. [4] Idols of the Heart teaches the reader God is the answer to being free from false Idols.

On the back of the book two authors and one pastor have expressed their recommendations/opinions of the book Idols of the Heart:

Martha Peace says “With great clarity and intriguing biblical illustrations, Fitzpatrick explains how idols in our hearts compete without affection for God. In a gentle way, she tells how by God’s grace to turn from your idols to whole-hearted love for God”. [5]

David Powlison, “ Demonstrates how ‘false gods’ generate the garden- variety sins of irritability, self- pity, escapism, and anxiety, as well as anger, despair, addictions, and panic. Fitzpatrick shows how Jesus Christ retakes our lives from these idols, setting up his reign over our attention, loyalty, and affection”. [6]

Dr. Ed Bulkley says, “If you are struggling with desires, addictions, and harmful behaviors that seem too strong to overcome, perhaps you are worshipping an idol of the heart. Fitzpatrick explains what those idols might be and how to deal with them in a biblical way. Idols of the Heart I not just another self-help manual”. [7]

Idols of the Heart begins with a dedication to Elyse Fitzpatrick’s husband that reads “To Phil his steadfast love and patience: It’s because you laid down you life day after day that I was able you do this”. [8] Then follows the table of contents that show where to find the: List of illustrations, acknowledgements, introductions, chapters 1-12, appendix A-C, notes, and an index of scripture. [9] Each chapter has a consistent structure of a title, a verse that corresponds to the content of the chapter, a monologue that relates to the chapter, as well as 1-7 “further thought questions” at the end of the Chapter. The further thought questions encourage the readers to open up their bibles, read a passage of scripture, self examine ones heart, and spend time in prayer asking the Lord to help them grow in what they have read.

The Notes and Index of Scripture are resources that Idols of the Heart contain in the back of the book. The notes section clearly list the resources in each chapter that Elyse Fitzpatrick uses. [10]  The Index of Scripture are all the verses that Elyse Fitzpatrick refers to in Idols of the Heart. [11] These two resources are useful to the reader who would like to do further reading.


II. History & Impact

Idols of the Heart was published 2001 in Phillipsburg and New Jersey by P&R Publishing. [12] Idols of the heart is Elyse Fitzpatrick’s second book written in 2001 and her fifth book out of twenty-three. Elyse Fitzpatrick acknowledges many people for helping her and inspiring her to write Idols of the Heart. George Scipione for training her; Dave Powlison who took the time to guide her thinking about idolatry; Pastor Dave Eby for his sermon note that Elyse Fitzpatrick used throughout Idols of the Heart. The Evangelical Bible Book store employees who suggested her books for resources, close friends that supported her; as well as her mother who not only supported her but did some grammatical editing. Elyse Fitzpatrick last thank you went out to “Barbara Lerch at P&R, who believed that it is time for reformed woman to be heard on this topic”. [13]

Idols of the Heart is impactful to women and men all over. Goodreads have three full pages of positive reviews from men and women.

Amanda gave four stars on October 27, 2014 leaving a comment that reads “This is a really good book, convicting me about the idols in my life and helping to change my thinking and therefore actions to worship God better”. [14]

Ian with four stars on February 6, 2016 says “I highly recommend his book. Each chapter ends with ‘Further Thought Questions’ which help you digest the content and apply it to yourself”. [15]

Melanie Gurnette left a five star review on February 4, 2014 saying “I have learned a lot about how I have been worshipping my heavenly father, and how quite frankly it has been lacking. I am thankful to writes like Fitzpatrick who bring understanding and action to the scripture I have read my whole life’. [16]

Greg Froster, a writer for one of the articles in CrossWay, believes that books are primary. He explains that books allow readers to view someone else’s perspective/ experience on the world. Grey Froster says “This is what gives books their profound and mysterious power”. [17] John Piper believes that Christian writers are influential. He expresses that a way loving people is by influencing them. Idols of the Heart is an impactful Christian book. John Piper says, “You should be writing in such a way as to make God look better than anything else in the world, to make the path of sin look worse than anything else in the world, and to make the path of righteousness look beautiful in spite of all the difficulties that the path of obedience might bring.” [18] In Idols of the Heart Elyse Fitzpatrick makes the sin of idolatry look evil and encourages her readers to know that the Lord will “develop whole hearted love and devotion in you- all for His glory and praise!” [19]


III. Works/Publications


IV. Bibliography

Fitzpatrick, Elyse. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001.

Froster, Gregg. The Importance of Books in Christian History. Article. USA: Crossway, 2019.

“Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.” Goodreads, Goodreads, 1 Jan. 2002,

Piper, John. How Important is a Christian Writer’s Influence? Interview. Desiring God, 2013.


[1] Elyse Fitzpatrick. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone (New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001), 241

[2] Ibid, 16

[3 Ibid

[4] Ibid, 17

[5] Ibid, 241

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid, 5

[9] Ibid, 7

[10] Ibid 217

[11] Ibid, 233

[12] Ibid, 4

[13] Ibid, 11

[14] “Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.” (Goodreads, 1 Jan. 2002)

[15] Ibid

[16] Ibid

[17] Gregg Froster. The Importance of Books in Christian History (Article. USA: Crossway, 2019)

[18] John Piper. How Important is a Christian Writer’s Influence? (Interview. Desiring God, 2013)

[19] Elyse Fitzpatrick. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone (New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001), 18






Alasdair Groves

Alasdair Groves

By Alyssa Rodriguez

I. Known for:

Alasdair Groves is most known for being the executive director for the New England branch of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, also known as the CCEF. He is also known as the director of the Christian Counseling Educational Foundation School of Biblical Counseling. [1]


II. Biography:

Alasdair was born son of Alan and Libbie Groves, his father was the late Westminster Theological Seminary professor who was an Old Testament professor at Westminster. He grew up outside of Philadelphia and went to college at Dartmouth them later attended Westminster and  the Christian Counseling Education Foundation school to get his master’s degree of divinity and counseling emphasis. Between both schools he met his wife Lauren and they ministered together for two years with the Navigators. When Alasdair finished seminary, he spent a whole year on staff as a counselor with the CCEF and was also a interim director of pastoral care at Westerly Road Church in Princeton. He finally became a faculty member at Christian Counseling education Foundation in 2010 but then soon left Philadelphia to found CCEF in New England on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont. Alasdair still lives there today with his wife Lauren and three kids, Emily, Adara, and Alden. He served as a director of the Christian Counseling Education Foundation School of Biblical counseling in addition to his teaching role for the last two and a half years. He published his first book Untangling Emotions earlier this year by Cross way, he also published more than six articles in the Journal of Biblical Counseling and helped achieve a chapter to an e-book for pastors that was published by Covenant Eyes. In New England and even beyond, he taught many seminars, Christian Counseling Education Foundation  podcasts, and produced several videos, audio resources and blogs. Fun facts about Alasdair is that is a fiction enthusiast, loves to produce good music and food, and loves ultimate frisbee[2][3]


III. Theological views:

His belief is what prompted his book Untangling Emotions, were he talks about how we engage with God. He believes that we must listen to our emotions and see what they are telling us about what we value, see what we are doing with them or what we are doing to escape them, letting ourselves sit and examine what is happening in our heart and what we value, and how we are overall handling it. Then realizing that we cannot examine our own emotions without bringing them to the Lord. He believes that once we bring them to the Lord, they backfire because our emotions were made help us share God’s heart. To love what He loves and hate what He hates, to be passionate about what excites God and grieve the things He grieves, and delight in what delights Him. This being said He believes that our emotions are fundamentally an opportunity for us to share in His heart, so then every emotion whether it is sadness, guilt, anxiety, or joy it is the perfect opportunity  for us to hear His promises speaking into the situation. Hearing God’s heart of compassion or lovingness, whatever it might be. He believes that all emotions are meant to lead us into a relationship with the Lord just as we are to connect with each other through sharing of emotion. Because of this belief Alasdair also sees it as seemingly impossible to experience true joy of anything [4]including a sunrise or sunset without acknowledging that this is what Christ has made and that He is greater than us all.


IV. Works/Publications

Alasdair Groves most well-known publication is his book Untangling Emotions published on March 14, 2019 by Crossway with 240 pages only found in the English language. It is under the genre of Self-help and Christian Literature. This book was completed with Alasdair and a man named Winston T. Smith as the authors. On the CCEF page he has over ten articles published. His most recent article was published on March 11,2020 that he called Anxiety, Waiting and the coronavirus. All of these articles are three to ten minutes long about practical things such as ways to deepen time in your devotions, treasuring others, parents who have lost their children, mothers, friendships, and anger. He has several other digital books that he wrote with others. Him and three other men wrote a book on Apologetics published in 2016 by the CCEF with 159 pages. He also helped write another book published in 2016 on Methodology, and Lastly, he helped publish as co-director a third “Must Read” on Sexuality once again published in 2016 with a total of 123 pages by the CCEF. [5]


  • Untangling Emotions
  • Must Reads on Apologetics
  • Must Reads on Methodology
  • Must Read on Sexuality


  • Anxiety, Waiting on the Corona Virus
  • Five Ways to Jump Start Your Devotions
  • Help! I Keep Losing My Temper
  • Family Devotions
  • Treasuring Others
  • Engaging Our Emotions, Engaging with God
  • The Ultimate Treasure Hunt
  • To Parents Who Have Lost a Child
  • Do You Listen When You Apologize?
  • A Few More Thoughts for Moms at Home This Winter
  • For the Moms Stuck Inside
  • Hungry for Friendship with God? Me Too


  • Dynamics of Biblical Change



V. Influence on Biblical Counseling

Alasdair Groves has influenced Biblical Counseling in Northern England as the co-founder where has served for over ten years as the executive director. He also served for three years as the director of CCEF’s school of Biblical Counseling for 3 years. [6]


VI. Bibliography

“Alasdair Groves.” The Gospel Coalition. Accessed April 24, 2020.

“J. Alasdair Groves.” Crossway. Accessed April 24, 2020.


Lowe, Julie, Alasdair Groves, and Aaron Sironi. “Alasdair Groves: Authors.” Christian

Counseling & Educational Foundation, April 23, 2020.

Lowe, Julie. “Board Appoints Next Executive Director.” Christian

Counseling & Educational Foundation, September 4, 2019.









  • External Links


[1] Alasdair Groves

[2] Board Appoints New Executive Director

[4] Engaging with God in our Emotions

[5] CCEF Alasdair Groves

[6] Alasdair Groves

Competent to Counsel (Publication)

Competent to Counsel (Publication)

By Lauren York

I. Overview

Dr. Jay Adams is widely respected as the Father of the Biblical Counseling Movement. Beginning his work as pastor, professor, and church planter, he has experience behind the pulpit as well as the desk. After studying counseling thoroughly both individually as well as under the supervision of a highly respected psychologist of the 20th century, Adams felt led to write about his findings. In the seventies when this book was written, counseling for the Christian looked too much like counseling for the non-Christian. Did God’s Word have a role in the specific lives of troubled believers? Or were they doomed to temporary solutions and stick-on bandages for soul-deep wounds? In his finest work, Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, Jay Adams explores the sufficiency of Scripture for all areas of life. He reevaluates traditional, secular approaches and instead teaches believers how they can become qualified to help others in the counseling setting through effectively wielding the Scriptures.

II. History

In the preface of Competent to Counsel, Adams discusses his background in ministry. Despite being prepared to lead in the church, he had a feeling of inadequacy when it came to the bigger problems of life—the areas psychologists were supposed to deal with. One day after and evening service, a man from his church approached him, burdened by some struggle. He grasped for words, but finally sent the man home with a still heavy heart. Less than a month later, the man died. Adams felt like a failure. After this tragedy, he saw a deficiency in his qualifications and devoted himself to the study of counseling. However, as he borrowed from secular textbooks and listened to recommendations from Christian counselors, he eventually found his way to one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century: O. Hobart Mowrer.

A noted research psychologist, Mowrer was honored with the Presidency of the American Psychological Association for his radical perspective on learning theory. He challenged mainstream beliefs, questioned institutionalized psychiatry, and even ventured to declare current psychiatric dogmas to be false. By the late 1950s, Mowrer had abandoned psychology as a theory as well as practice. Instead of adopting and accepting the common Medical Model for understanding human behavior, he proposed the Moral Model. In Mowrer’s Moral Model, he showed how the assumption of personal responsibility usurped any ideas claiming mental illness as the culprit for deviant behavior. Having worked closely with the OSS, community groups, students, the severely troubled in mental institutions and many other control groups, Mowrer was exposed to the most “diseased” of society. He supposedly was plagued by severe mental illness as well. Yet, he held to his convictions that people are not sick in the head—they are behaviorally immoral.

In the summer of 1965, Jay Adams was privileged to work alongside of Mowrer in a sort of internship setup. Adams refers to this time as “an unforgettable experience.” Adams was pricked by Mowrer’s theory of personal responsibility in the face of guilt or clinical insanity. He began to feel challenged by this viewpoint which claimed the problem stems from within the man, not outside. Adams explains that it was this radical belief system which drove him to ask, “What do the Scriptures say about such people and the solution to their problems?” As a Christian minister, he stood in stark contrast to Mowrer. While their deep distaste for psychology was a connection, Adams’ adherence to Scripture as the ultimate source of truth set him apart from his superior. He was so stirred by his time studying under Mowrer that he launched his own counseling and education center the following year, and in 1970—within just five years of his “unforgettable experience”—Adams had written and published his first edition of Competent to Counsel.


III. Impact

The publication of this book was the subject of heated debate and broad controversy among churches. Since “widespread conservative and religious distrust of psychology persisted even into the 1960s,”[1] Adams’ theories were not quickly adopted by the church. However, Adams’ early exposure to a Mowrer “go against the grain” type of approach stuck with him and made an impact on the Christian community as a whole. Whereas he largely lost interprofessional acceptance, he gained followers among pastors and their parishioners overtime. Psychology had previously taken a transcendent role in the job of soul care, but now, the task was redelivered to the hands of ministers of the soul. The Father of the Biblical Counseling Movement essentially replaced the Father of American Psychology. In an interview with Tabletalk Magazine, Jay Adams quotes, “I never say that Christians are competent. I say that they ought to become competent. That’s why I have taught counseling both in writing and in classes for so many years.”[2] No longer is the realm of counseling set aside for trained psychiatrists; it is set aside for those who have answers for the soul. Through the comprehensive usage of Scripture to effect lasting change, he shows in this book just how intimate the counselor’s understanding of the Word must be in order to directly apply it to the counselee’s life.

After his revelatory experience working under Mowrer, Jay Adams’ sole goal was to take the truths he had gleaned about man’s need for responsibility and pair that with the Word of God. Thus, Competent to Counsel became a text dedicated to helping people learn how to be qualified for the task of instructing. In the book, Adams writes that he is not only fully aware of the problem of “old eclecticism with a Christian coating,” but that he attempts to reject it. This statement directly addresses the controversy about the medical versus the biblical that arose as a result of his publication. People were wary of Adams’ approach to the Scriptures and his claims about becoming “competent” to counsel. The role of the Pastor and Christian is to talk about religion, not mind or life problems, the culture claims. But his early exposure to Mowrer’s sharply contrasted belief system with that of the day prepared Adams for the unwavering stance of the Biblical Counselor. He credits his former teacher with driving him to the conclusion that the “mentally ill” can be helped with the Word of God.

Psychology is so engrained in the mind of the culture that it is hard to escape, but he thoroughly combats the assumption that sin issues are strictly mental issues.  The very idea of integrationism in counseling is appalling to him. The denouncement of these forms of instruction such as Christian Counseling helped to form a clear distinction between the truly biblical and unbiblical. His method of counseling focused on instruction, which is why he gave it the title of nouthetic counseling (nouthetic means to “admonish, correct, or instruct”).[3] As believers began to grasp the relevance of the Bible for life and the need for it in the counseling setting, the line was being drawn. There is no mistake now about the focus as well as the effects of Biblical Counseling which elevate it from any other type of “soul-care.” Adam’s derives his methodologies and instruction directly from the Word of God, and this is certain to have a deep impact.


IV. Works/Publications

Aside from Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams has authored over 100 books. Some of his most prominent works are as follows[4]:

  • The Christian Counselor’s Manual
  • Theology You Can Really Understand
  • Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible
  • Shepherding God’s Flock: A Handbook on Pastor Ministry, Counseling, and Leadership





V. Bibliography


Adams, Jay Edward. Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publ. House, 2002.


“Adams, Jay E. 1929.” [WorldCat Identities], Last modified January 1, 1970.


Bob. “Competent to Counsel?” RPM Ministries, Last modified December 9, 2009.


“Competent to Counsel: An Interview with Jay Adams by Jay Adams.” Ligonier Ministries. Accessed May 5, 2020.


Gifford, Greg E. “Jay E. Adams.” The Encyclopedia of Biblical Counseling, Last modified July 11, 2019.


“Jay Adams’ Heritage: How Jay Adams Is Connected to the Father of American Psychology.” Biblical Counseling Coalition, Last modified May 3, 2019.


Powlison, David Arthur, “Competent to Counsel? The history of a conservative Protestant anti-psychiatry movement” (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9712988.


Page, C. (2017). Preserving guilt in the “age of psychology”: The curious career of O. Hobart Mowrer. History of Psychology, 20(1), 1–27.


[1] History of Psychology, Preserving guilt in the “age of psychology.” 1-27.

[2] “Competent to Counsel: An Interview with Jay Adams by Jay Adams.” Ligonier Ministries.

[3] Powlison, David Arthur, “Competent to Counsel?”

[4] “Adams, Jay E. 1929.” [WorldCat Identities].


Edward T. Welch

Edward T. Welch

By Elisa Hurley

I. Known for:

Edward T. Welch M.Div., Ph.D. or better known as Ed Welch, is known for being a biblical counselor and author of many well-known Christian books, his most popular being When People are Big and God is Small[1].

II. Biography

Dr. Ed Welch grew up in a Christian home with a believing father who struggled with depression and had to be hospitalized on and off throughout his childhood[2]. Although, Welch grew up in a Christian home, he was not interested in the Christian life. In an interview with IBCD, he said, “Throughout most of my life I believed that the facts were true, I believed that Jesus was the Messiah and I believed that He came to conquer death, but I didn’t want to follow Him.” It wasn’t until the end of his time in University, when looking at the life ahead of him, things seemed to have less meaning, purpose and depth than he anticipated. Between that and reading through the Scriptures, over the course of a few months he found himself confessing sin and coming to Christ.

Shortly after his conversion, he decided to go to seminary, not necessarily because he wanted a career in ministry, but he knew that no matter what he was going to do he wanted Scripture to be the foundation. “The bible changes people and I wanted to study it more.” His second year at CCF, he took a counseling course, and “it just took me.” Welch said, “I enjoy speaking with people individually, probably more than publicly. It was suited to me.” Because of his interest in counseling, he decided to take a detour into graduate school for a few years and then returned to CCF after that.

Ed Welch went on to earn a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and also a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. He has been working for Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) outside of Philadelphia since 1981, as a teacher, counselor, and writer[3]. About which he said, “I couldn’t imagine a better job. To consider how does this ancient text come alive in our present struggles… to have that as my job description for 35 years and to have people who come to me for counseling. I’ve always found that to be an odd thing that people to simply come to me not even knowing how I am and yet at the same time I’m honored by that and to have an opportunity to see the Spirit working in the details of people’s lives is just invigorating.”[4]

Welch and his wife Sheri have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and eight grandchildren[5].

III. Theological views

Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, that Ed Welch is a part of believes that:

  • “The triune God—Father, Son and Spirit—have always known reciprocal fellowship and unity, and he has created us to participate in that fellowship. He welcomes us to himself through Jesus Christ. The Spirit connects us to Jesus, and Jesus is the only way to the Father.”

“The Spirit presses the very word of God into our hearts. He reveals Jesus. In Jesus, we find all wisdom and goodness. No one else can so deeply nurture and sustain us.The Spirit applies Scripture to our hearts. “The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:10)”[6]


IV. Works/Publications

A. Books

·      Men: Pursue Others Like Jesus Pursues You

·      Samson: For Us

·      10 Things You Should Know about the Priesthood

·      Desire for Approval

·      Is Scripture Sufficient for Counseling?

·      Listening is…

·      Faith as Sight

·      The Solid God

·      “A time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl 3:4)


  • Desiring God

·      Two Underused Strategies for Addiction

·      Doubt Your Own Anger

·      Six Ordinary Lessons for Mental-Health Issues

·      Darkness Does and Will Descend

·      Does God Really Love You?

D. Interviews

·      CCEF for Pastors with Ed Welch

·      Anger with Ed Welch and Myriam Hertzog

·      Pathological Liars with Ed Welch

·      029 Interview with Ed Welch


E. Audio

V. Influence on Biblical Counseling

Edward Welch as an author has written books that are very widely used throughout the biblical counseling movement. He is also a speaker at biblical counseling conferences and assists in training younger biblical counselors.


VI. Bibliography

CCEF. “About us.” Accessed April 23, 2020

CCEF. “Ed Welch.” Accessed April 23, 2020

Welch, Edward T., “Interview with Ed Welch.” Interview by Jim Newheiser and Bob       Goudzwaard, IBCD Website, Date accessed: April 23, 2020.


YouTube.  “CCEF’s Ed Welch shares why he studied depression.”  August 22, 2013


  • External Links


[1] CCEF.

[2]“CCEF’s Ed Welch shares why he studied depression”, YouTube,, (date accessed: April 23, 2020)

[3] IBCD.

[4] Edward T. Welch, “Interview with Ed Welch.” Interview by Jim Newheiser and Bob Goudzwaard, IBCD Website, accessed: April 23, 2020.

[5] “About us,” CCEF, accessed April 23, 2020,

[6] Ibid.

George C. Scipione

George C. Scipione

by Hannah Caranta

I. Known for

George C. Scipione was involved in biblical counseling for about fifty years, founded and directed the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD), pastored for forty-four years in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and directed the Biblical Counseling Institute of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. [1] He has written books both on theological matters and on biblical counseling (see list of books below).

II. Biography

A. Early Life

Scipione was born on May 21, 1946. [2] He attended Temple University and graduated in 1967. July 8th, 1972, Scipione married his wife Eileen, who has also done work in biblical counseling. They have five children and two grandchildren. [3]

B. Education

AB from Temple University, BD from Westminster Theological Seminary, MA from Temple University, ThM from Westminster Theological Seminary, PhD from Whitefield Theological Seminary, DMin studies from Westminster Theological Seminary. [4]

C. Death

Scipione died January 22, 2020 at the age of 73 in Pittsburgh, PA. [2] His death has been honored by online tributes from various institutions, students, and friends.

III. Theological views

George C. Scipione’s theological views are primarily Presbyterian, but is Protestant Christian at large. According to a tribute from ACBC by Jim Newheiser, Scipione’s theology is committed to God’s Word as supreme and authoritative in counseling. In addition to the supremacy of Scripture, Scipione had a commitment to the church being Christ’s work now and that translated into his teaching. [5]

IV. Works/Publications

A. Books

Timothy, Titus & You: A Study Guide for Church Leaders, 1975.

Timothy, Titus & You: A Workbook for Church Leaders, 1975.

The Battle for the Biblical Family, 2000.

The Sword and the Shovel, 2002.

The Pauline Concept of SUNEDEISIS

B. Articles

The God of All Comfort, 2019.

JBC Volume 7:4 PDF, Psychological Seduction by W. E. Kilpatrick Book Review.

JBC Volume 10:1 PDF, Self-Esteem is Sweeping over America.

JBC Volume 9:4 PDF, Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo: Is Biblical Counseling It or No? George C. Scipione

JBC Volume 8:3 PDF, Who Owns the Children of Divorce?

JBC Volume 7:2 PDF, The Limits of Confidentiality in Counseling.

C. Interviews

Counseling Difficult Cases, 2010.

Confessing our Hope: The Podcast of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, #183- Author Interview with Dr. George Scipione.

Care and Discipleship Podcast: 034 Interview with George Scipione.

D. Audio

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Counseling.

Identity Crisis (TI19): You are a Prophet, Priest, and King.

Identity Crisis (TI19): You are Your Gender.

Identity Crisis (TI19): You are Your Calling.

Addictions (SI17): The Necessity of Individualized Counseling.

Addictions (SI17): The Attributes of a Christ-like Counselor.

Disordered Desires (SI16): Gender Blending and Confusion.

Disordered Desires (SI16): Keys to Evangelism in a Sexualized Culture.

Disordered Desires (SI16): Male Leadership in a Genderless World.

Equipped to Counsel (SI15): Difficult Cases and Wisdom in Counseling (Part 1).

Equipped to Counsel (SI15): Difficult Cases and Wisdom in Counseling (Part 2).

Making Peace with the Past (SI14): Confessions of a Biblical Counselor: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Making Peace with the Past (SI14): Help for Jesus, You, and Your Counselees.

Making Peace with the Past (SI14): Hope for Peter, You, and Your Counselees.

Making Peace with the Past (SI14): Help and Hope for You and Your Counselees in the Midst of Overwhelming Hopelessness.

Churches Equipped to Care (SI13): Counseling People with Psychological Disorders.

Churches Equipped to Care (SI13): The Inner Man and Outerman Balance in Counseling.

Churches Equipped to Care (SI13): What is Man?

Changed by Grace (SI12): The Importance of the Local Church.

Changed by Grace (SI12): A Biblical View of Personality.

Changed by Grace (SI12): The History of the Biblical Counseling Movement.

Keeping a Passion for Christ (SI10): Abiding in Christ.

Keeping a Passion for Christ (SI10): Help for Hoarders.

Keeping a Passion for Christ (SI10): A Breath of Fresh Air for Chokers.

Keeping a Passion for Christ (SI10): Repentance – Don’t Counsel Without It.

Making Peace in a World of Conflict (SI09): Nouthetic Gentleness.

Making Peace in a World of Conflict (SI09): Problems that Prevent You from Being a Peacemaker.

Making Peace in a World of Conflict (SI09): Sexual Purity in Men 1.

Making Peace in a World of Conflict (SI09): Sexual Purity in Men 2.

Helping the Hurting (SI08): Counseling People Struggling with Life-Dominating Sin.

Helping the Hurting (SI08): Counseling Men Struggling with Sexual Sin.

Helping the Hurting (SI08): Counseling the Hurting from 1 Peter.

Helping the Hurting (SI08): Ask the Counselor.

Blame It on the Brain (SI07): The Heart of the Issue is the Issue of the Heart.

Blame It on the Brain (SI07): Preparation for Counseling from the Pastoral Epistles.

V. Influence on Biblical Counseling

George C. Scipione has contributed greatly to biblical counseling. He worked in the biblical counseling field for most of his life. He taught at various institutes, directed his own institutes, wrote theological works, and provided resources for biblical counselors around the world. He was a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and was a Supervising Fellow, board member, and member of the Academy. His work in founding the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD) trained both ministers and laymen to counsel. A quote found in the faculty list for Scipione at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) shows his beliefs about counseling: “I believe counseling is a subset of discipleship. Therefore, counseling is a spiritual duty and for select persons, the exercise of a spiritual gift. The elders are God’s main counselors, while gifted laymen will help them, and all exercise this duty. All non-organic problems must be solved biblically under the oversight of the elders. Organic problems need the best available medical care in conjunction with the pastoral care of the elders.” [4]

VI. Bibliography

[1] “George Scipione”, George Scipione,

[2] “George Charles Scipione Obituary”, Legacy,

[3] “Today in OPC History”, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church,

[4] Academic Catalog 2019-2020, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Volume 48, 111,

[5] “George Scipione- A Tribute”, ACBC,

Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse

by Ann Maree Goudzwaard

I. Definition

A. Biblical perspective

1. Biblical definitions, explanations, & underpinnings

  • The two words “domestic abuse” are not found side by side in Scripture. A biblically informed definition of this modern-day issue would be: The misuse of an individual or individuals by someone with influence or control over another individual or individuals. The dominant person is able to exert power over those who are vulnerable to their care. The dominant person abuses their power and control by subjecting those at risk to threatening circumstances. This may be someone in whom the susceptible person trusts and loves. The goals of the abuser are to use these persons as objects for self-indulgence and/or personal gain (see passages below).
  • Both men and women may employ tactics for achieving this goal; however, women are disproportionately affected.[1] Male domination includes a heightened demonstration of fear. “Fear is the painful emotion that arises at the thought that we may be harmed or made to suffer. This fear persists while we are subject to the will of someone who does not desire our well-being.”[2]
  • The inherent nature involved in the following one-time events implies that this type of behavior can be interpreted as ongoing.
  • The sense in which the word abuse is used in Scripture includes physical, emotional, spiritual, and verbal misuse. In the Old Testament, abuse is used to describe the way in which one deals with another, whether that entity is God, nations, or individual men and women. The implication is that one is overly severe with the other. Abused is also a particular condition in which someone may find themselves. In 1 Samuel 11:2, Israel is brought into a state of “shame” (abuse) by Nahash the Ammonite who makes a treaty with them, threatening to gouge out all their right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on Israel. Ezra 9:7 speaks to physical, mental and emotional abuse, “From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today.” Proverbs 9:7 tells us that derisive speech is abuse, and the person who responds to the wicked man who uses it is in danger of injury. Proverbs 22:10 says that, to drive out a scoffer means that quarreling and abuse will cease. And Ezekiel prophesies to Israel that they will no longer hear abuse from the nations, indicating that it is verbal in nature. “And I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord God” (36:15). Abuse is also found in Scripture in the form of cursing. In 2 Samuel, Shimei curses David. This grievance is of such a nature against God’s appointed king that David’s servant asks to take Shimei’s life, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head” (2 Sam 16:5, 9). In the New Testament, Paul instructs Timothy regarding the type of elder/pastor he should look for. “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Tim 3:7). Paul implies here that even the thoughts and opinions of men can be disgraceful insults. The NT emphasizes the maltreatment of people made in the image of God by the harmful, intentional misuse of words. Matthew relates verbal abuse to persecution, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (5:10, 11, 44). Matthew and Mark emphasize the severity of speaking cruelly to one another, “For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die’” (15:4). In John 9, the Pharisees abuse the blind man by using Scripture to “revile” him, “And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses” (13-28). Peter instructs exiles to have a keep their consciences clear so that, when they are slandered, those who revile their good behavior in Christ might be put to shame (1 Pet 3:16).

2. Brief systematic theological review

  • Genesis 19:1-8; Ex. 1:10-11; 23-25; Jdg. 19:25; Esther 1:10-11; 1 Sam. 25:3; 2 Sam. 11:2-4. While these narratives in Scripture do not provide us with liberal details regarding the issue of domestic abuse, they do provide a snapshot of the experience.
    1. In Genesis 19:8, Lot offers his daughters to the men of Sodom to do with as they please. Lot (a father in whom his daughters trusted) violated his position of power by treating them as property.
    2. In Exodus 1:10-11, the king of Egypt calls together his people and proposes the way in which they will be able to control Israel. “let us deal shrewdly with them…afflict them with heavy burdens…oppress.” In Exodus 2:23-25, God acknowledges the severe maltreatment of his people (see also Deut. 26:7).
    3. In Judges 19:25, the concubine under the care of her Levite husband is given over to the cruelest form of abuse. The abuse is not from the hand of her husband; however, the Scriptures tell us that she is offered up as an object in order to secure the safety of her husband and his host.
    4. In Esther 1:10-11, King Xerxes demands that his wife Vashti perform a lewd act in order to impress his banquet guests. His command comes at the culmination of an event designed to display the magnitude and beauty of the king’s many possessions. Queen Vashti is simply one of many of those possessions of which he feels entitled to do with as he pleases.
    5. In 1 Samuel 25, Nabal –the husband of Abigail—is described as harsh and badly behaved in his dealings (v. 3). The Hebrew qashah is translated as cruel, evil, severe, harsh, and stubborn. This description of Nabal is used in association with his wife. The Scriptures call this type of man “worthless” (v. 17), one who is ungodly (Deut. 13:13; 1 Sam. 2:12).
    6. In 2 Samuel 11, David “took” Bathsheba for himself. Nathan later charges the King with taking something (someone) into possession that was not his to take (2 Sam. 12).
  • What makes the issue abusive in nature is found in the following Scripture. The Old Testament uses “abuse,” three times while the New Testament uses it twice. Qālāh in Proverbs 9:7 and 22:10 means “reproach, to make a mockery,” and in Judges 19:25 it describes a physical assault.
  • In the New Testament, epéreazó means to be threatened or verbally mistreated (Lk. 6:28), while blasphémos, from which we get the word “blaspheme,” means to demean, denigrate, or subject to foul language (2 Tim. 3:2).

B. Secular perspective

1. DSM

  • A psychiatric diagnosis for domestic abuse might be best stated as, “A system of abusive and violent behaviors [used] to control the victim for the purposes of the abuser.”[3] The DSM-5 categorizes adult maltreatment into four different manifestations (seen below).
  • “The term ‘domestic violence’ includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.”[4]


2. Psychological/psychiatric diagnoses and terminologies


  1. Physical, spouse or partner violence are “non-accidental acts of physical force that result…in physical harm.”[5] This includes any act that invokes significant fear, such as shoving.
  2. Sexual abuse includes any forced or coerced sexual act against a person’s will.
  3. Neglect is an act that deprives a dependent person of basic, physical or psychological needs.
  4. Psychological abuse is non-accidental verbal or symbolic act that will result in harm to the well-being of another person’s mental or emotional state.

All of these categories describe abuse between spouses, partners, nonspousal, or nonpartner adults. Other terminology involved in domestic abuse includes coercive control, domestic violence, intimate partner violence (IVP), abuse of power and control, partner violence, domination, male privilege, narcissism, or coercive threat.

C. History

    1. Domestic abuse has existed since the Fall of mankind. In Genesis 3:16, God tells Eve that, as a result of her sin, her husband will “rule over” her. The fall distorted God’s design in marriage, and a sinful desire to control ensued (Gen. 3:16; 4:8; Judg. 19; Ps. 82:3-4; James 4:1-3). Behind the abuse of power and control by men in the home are sinful thoughts, emotions, and actions. The men who abuse their partners are not men with a mind for Christ. At the core of this issue is the fact that the abuser has lost sight of his love and faithfulness to God. It is from within this void that his evil actions find life. “For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue; all night their anger smolders; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.” (Hosea 7:6) This is not the gentle leadership originally intended in the man’s headship.[6] It is likewise not a command for the husband to exercise dominance in marriage any more than it is for the woman to exercise a desire to control her husband. Both the woman’s pain in childbirth and desire to control her husband, as well as the husband’s toil in work and rule over his wife, are statements of fact that will occur as a result of the Fall.[7]

II. Evidence of the Problem

A. Common themes & patterns observed in the lives of those who have been diagnosed with this problem.[8]

  • The message in a home where abuse is taking place is that the husband is more important than the wife and that she exists to serve him.
  • The abusive man is the main frame of reference for how the woman behaves. The victim’s thinking is shaped by the perpetrator; his perceptions, his beliefs, and his actions.
  • Physical abuse may be unnecessary for the abuser to achieve his desired outcomes.
  • Threats are sometimes unspoken, but consequences for resistance are fully understood.
  • The type of abuser who resorts to coercive techniques has a thorough disrespect for truth and individuals.
  • Abusers (in marriage) tend toward their systems of coercion unconsciously. They likely have more awareness of desired outcomes rather than methods to achieve them.
  • The abuser’s goal is to get what he wants and to do this, he tries to control the victim’s heart and mind.
  • The abuser is the most powerful person in the victim’s life.
  • It is useless for the victim to try and challenge the abusive partner.

B. Common expressions of this problem[9]

1. Intimidation

Making the victim afraid by using looks, actions, gestures

Smashing things

Destroying the victim’s property

Abusing pets

Displaying weapons

2. Using Isolation

Controlling what the victim does, who the victim sees and talks to, what the victim reads, where the victim goes

3. Emotional Abuse

Putting the victim down

Making the victim feel bad about themselves

Calling the victim names

Making the victim think they’re crazy

Playing mind games

Humiliating the victim

Making the victim feel guilty

Limiting the victim’s outside involvement

Using jealousy to justify actions

4. Using the Children

Making the victim feel guilty about the children

Using the children to relay messages

Using visitation to harass the victim

Threatening to take the children away

5. Minimization, Denial, and Blame

Making light of the abuse

Not taking the victim’s concerns seriously

Saying the abuse didn’t happen

Shifting blame for abusive behavior

Saying the victim caused it

6. Male Privilege

Treating the victim like a servant

Making all the big decisions

Acting like the “master of the castle”

Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.

7. Economic Abuse

Preventing the victim from getting or keeping a job

Making the victim ask for money

Giving the victim an allowance

Taking the victim’s money

Not letting the victim know about or have access to family income

8. Coercion and Threats

Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt the victim

Threatening to leave the victim, to commit suicide, to report them to welfare

Making the victim drop charges

Making the victim do illegal things

III. Etiology

A. Spiritual Symptoms

  • “From a spiritual perspective, abusers, like false teachers warned against throughout Scripture, can only be identified by their fruit.”[10] “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15–20).
  • The marks of a true Christian, found in Romans 12:9-21, are
    • Genuine love
    • Abhorring what is evil
    • Holding fast to what is good
    • Loving one another with brotherly affection
    • Outdoing one another in showing honor
    • Not being slothful in zeal
    • Being fervent in spirit
    • Serving the Lord
    • Rejoicing in hope
    • Being patient in tribulation
    • Being constant in prayer
    • Contributing to the needs of the saints, and
    • Seeking to show hospitality.

The spiritual condition of a person who abuses their spouse is the opposite of these characteristics. These are people who do not walk by the Spirit (Rom. 16:18), but instead gratify the desires of the flesh with:

  • Sexual immorality
  • Impurity
  • Sensuality
  • Idolatry
  • Sorcery (one might consider abuse demonic, James 3:13-16)
  • Enmity
  • Strife
  • Jealousy
  • Fits of anger
  • Rivalries
  • Dissensions
  • Divisions, and
  • Envy (Gal. 5:19-21)

B. Physical Symptoms

Domestic abusers are people. “Every abuser is a person with value and worth. He, like all mankind, bears the image of God. In light of the gospel and Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, he is an individual in need of God’s saving, and sanctifying work.”[11] No two victims of abuse experience it in the same way. However, the basics of abuse are present in varying degrees with every abuser.[12]

  • They are entitled, and demand that their partner indulge them in their self-imposed standards of living. They insist that their world remain pleasant, their circumstances agreeable, and their importance acknowledged. Deviations from these standards are not their fault (they are typically the offending partner’s fault) and must be resolved immediately.
  • Criticism is never welcome.
  • Anyone fortunate enough to know them should be grateful.
  • Abusers believe that they have the highest degree of knowledge. All other opinions, perceptions, thought processes, and viewpoints are subject to evaluation by the abuser and generally trivialized as inferior and unworthy of consideration.
  • Abusive partners manage their control in part by mental gymnastics intended to keep the victim in a constant state of confusion, hysteria, madness, unreasonable thinking, or second guessing. The following are some of the maneuvers an abuser may employ:
    1. Withholding: the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen.
    2. Countering: the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately.
    3. Blocking/Diverting: the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts.
    4. Forgetting/Denial: the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. (Adapted from: Source) [13]
  • Abusers control both the mind and the behavior of their partner. They are the standard for how things should be done, and they insist that their partner adhere to the conditions that they determine. This includes how they interact with the abusive partner; however, this dynamic is equally focused on how the abuser wants the victim to think and to behave.
  • The type of person who is abusive is oblivious to the idea of being an abuser. “When blindness and boldness, ignorance and arrogance, weakness and willfulness, meet together in men, it renders them odious to God, burdensome to society, dangerous to their counsels, disturbers of better purposes, intractable and incapable of better direction, miserable in the issue.”[14]
  • They also know how to behave and speak so as not to let anyone know that they are mistreating their partner.
  • They are adept at analyzing their partner’s weaknesses and capable of magnifying those weaknesses in such a way as to make the victim look like the more probable abuser in the relationship.
  • Because of an attitude that objectifies women and considers them as simply possessions, most abusive men have an addiction to pornography and/or significant misunderstandings and practices in their sexual relationships.
  • Abusers believe that men are superior beings and women exist to serve them.
  • Abusers believe that women are power hungry and male haters. Men are meant to keep women in line.
  • Abusers are people who seem to have been wronged by everyone in their world. They find this as justification for doing what they do.
  • Abusers are satisfied when they can create fear in their partner.

IV. Examining the Heart

A. Heart Themes

  • Luke 6:43-45 helps our understanding of the heart involved in domestic abuse. An abusive partner reveals their heart by the fruit of their actions and speech. “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
  • Galatians 5:13–17 describes those who walk by the flesh rather than by the Spirit. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
  • Romans 1:17-32 is an accurate evaluation of what is happening in the life of abusive men who know truth, however they choose to suppress it (v. 17-23). The Lord then gives them up to self-worship (v. 24-31)

The righteousness of God is revealed in salvation, for salvation (v.17)

The unrighteous of men suppresses truth (v.18)

God reveals himself to man (v.19)

Man knows God’s power, deity, and glory but it condemns him (v.20)

God deserves honor (v.21)

Men who dishonor God are fools (and are blind of this fact) (v.22)

Immortal God deserves glory (v.23)

Foolish men glorify self (v.23)


God’s wrath is seen (v.24)

Sinful men are left to self-worship (v.25)

Self-worship is the foundation of domestic abuse.

Dishonorable passions (v.26, 27)

Debased mind, what ought not to be done (v.28)












Haters of God




Inventors of evil

Disobedient to parents




Ruthlessness (v.29-31)

B. Idols of the Heart

  • Why do abusers do what they do? James would tell us that it is because of what they want. A partner that would use any of the tactics listed above is one whose passions are at war within them. The predominant passion is pride, and at the center of that root of pride is the sin of self. Abusers fall prey to original sin over and over as they consistently chose self-worship over God-worship. “For the abuser, the shape of his world is him. So, all of his words, gestures, and attitudes (or worse) are intended to emotionally, spiritually and/or physically control his wife’s thinking and behavior. Whatever he does is meant to shape her heart and mind primarily toward him; his wants, his desires, his needs. His aim is to make himself supreme ‘on the throne of his own self-hood.’”[15]
  • In order to support self-worship, abusers must maintain control of their environment and relationships. The abuser who idolizes control assumes a position between their partner and Christ and takes His place in all rule, authority, power, and dominion in the relationship (Eph. 1:22).
  • Closely related to the idol of control is an idol of comfort. Control has, as its objective, shaping the abuser’s environment to accommodate the abuser’s comfort (Dan. 4:30).
  • Directly following the idol of comfort is an idol of privilege. In the kingdom of self, abusers believe they are entitled to be served rather than to serve (2 Sam. 11:1-4)
  • Other idols that feed self, control, and comfort include lust, pride, and fear of man. “On the surface, dominance appears to be blatant lust for power to facilitate self-indulgence. Lust and self-indulgence most certainly add fuel to the fire, but the source of the fire is pride. Pride pushes the individual to force others to acknowledge his or her superiority…Pride also generates fear of failure. Fear of failure demands ever greater dominance to attempt to ensure success.”[16]


V. Biblical Solutions

A. Counseling Agenda

  • Self-worship is considered a life dominating sin.[17] Counselors who work with men exhibiting this behavior focus on the heart by helping abusers restructure their thinking. Replacement of ungodly habits includes:
    • Putting off the old self, which belongs to a former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, and putting on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22–24).
    • It requires, continuous prayer, dependence on the Holy Spirit, hard work, and a long-term commitment.[18]
    • The heart of violence is not only be uprooted, it is also to be replaced with the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5).[19]
    • The abusive person is to look beyond their own interests and in humility considers others more important than themselves (Phil 2:3-4).[20]

B. Recommended books


  • Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (New York, NY: Berkley Books, 2002). For a comprehensive understanding of an abusive man, Bancroft’s book is essential to the counselor. While insight from his sociology is important, he has no biblical understanding of anthropology or sin, nor does he recommend any biblical solutions. Caution is advised due to foul language and utter lack of hope found throughout the book.
  • Rachel Louise Snyder, No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury Publishing: London, UK, 2019).Snyder’s book has been called a “tour de force” for understanding domestic violence in American culture. She is a recognized journalist and professor who approaches this topic with careful skill and razor-sharp detail: she “illuminates the dark corners” of what might be considered an epidemic in relationships today. One of the things that it is important to glean from No Visible Bruises is that we need to be asking better questions about violence in the home. It’s not enough to ask, “why doesn’t she just leave?” We must simultaneously be examining why men feel they have permission to resort to violence as a solution to their (perceived) problems, and how the church is uniquely poised to address that question head on. You won’t get that from Snyder’s book, however. She is not a Christian and extreme caution is advised. The language is raw and repulsive. But as victims of abuse will tell you—victims in Christian homes—they hear this type of language every day. Another important take-away from this book is the church’s potential naivety when it comes to domestic violence. Unless controlling behaviors are eradicated they will escalate—often times to extreme violence. Abusive tactics will intensify over time as the methods previously useful for achieving control diminish in influence. And “Christian” men can be just as dangerous as non-believers. Additionally, domestic abuse is not simply a difficulty that affects marriages: DA has been identified as a common factor behind most mass murders in the United States. The church is significantly behind the culture as far as examining the dynamics of domestic abuse. A final suggestion for how this book would be helpful is to encourage better discussions regarding how to go about preventing abuse in the home rather than simply how to respond to it. Snyder promotes her thoughts toward that end. But it’s likely we, as the church, should do so much better.


For understanding victims:

  • Joy Forrest, Called to Peace: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love (Blue Ink Press: Raleigh, NC, 2018).
  • Sydney Millage, Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2018).

For understanding abusers:

C. Recommended homework resources

For Victims

  • Michael Card, A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament (Quiet Times for the Heart)(NavPress: Colorado Springs, CO, 2005)
  • Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life (Crossway: Wheaton, IL, 2010).
  • Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament (Crossway: Wheaton, IL, 2019).

For Victims and Abusers

  • Greg Gilbert, D.A. Carson, What is the Gospel? (Crossway: Wheaton, IL, 2010).
  • Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love (Focus Publishing: Bemidji, MN, 2008).
  • John Owen, Spiritual-Mindedness, Editor, R.J.K. Law (Banner of Truth Publishing: Carlisle, PA, 2009).
  • W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (Harper Publishing: New York, NY, 1961).






[1]National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, National Data on Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking, (Accessed November 2019).

[2] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: Harper One Publishers, 1961), 99.

[3] E. Pence and M. Paymar, Education Groups for Men Who Batter: The Duluth model, (Springer Publishing Co, New York, NY, 1993) 30. As quoted in Mary Ann Dutton, Lisa Goodman, R. James Schmidt, Development and Validation of a Coercive Control Measure for Intimate Partner Violence Final Technical Report, Prepared for:

National Institute of Justice Office of Justice Programs U.S. Department of Justice 810 Seventh Street, NW Washington, DC 20531, December 30, 2005.

[4] United States Department of Justice, (Accessed 12 November 2019).

[5] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, DC, 2013), 720.

[6] John Calvin, & J. King Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis Vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 172 as quoted in Ann Maree Goudzwaard, Help[H]er, General Editor, Melanie Cogdill Beyond the Roles: A Biblical Foundation for Women and Ministry, (Lawrenceville, GA: CDM Discipleship Ministries, 2019), 131.

[7] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26 Vol. 1A, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers,1996), 248–252.

[8] The Guardian, “It’s like you go to abuse school’: how domestic violence always follows the same script.” follows-the-same-script?CMP=share_btn_link

[9] Chris Moles, The Heart of Domestic Abuse (Focus Publishing: Bemidji, MN, 2015).

[10] Sydney Millage, Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2018), 33.

[11] Millage, Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse, 33.

[12] Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (New York, NY: Berkley Books, 2002), 78-105.

[13]National Domestic Violence Hotline, What is Gaslighting? (accessed November, 2019) as quoted in, Healthy Place for your Mental Health, Natasha Tracy, Gaslighting Definition, Techniques and Being Gaslighted (accessed November 2019).

[14] Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1630, reprint 2011) as found in Millage, Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse, 34.

[15] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: Harper-Collins Publishers, 1961), 29 as quoted in, Ann Maree Goudzwaard, The Shape of Oppression, Part 2, (Accessed November 2019).

[16] Marshall and Mary Asher, The Christian’s Guide to Psychological Terms (Focus Publishing: Bemidji, MN, 2004), 63.

[17] Ibid, 108.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Moles, The Heart of Domestic Abuse, 97.

[20] Ibid, 98.

Paul David Tripp

Paul David Tripp

by Hannah Stokes

I. Known For

Paul David Tripp is a world renown Christian author, pastor, and event speaker.  Paul has published best-selling and award-winning books and has written over 30 books on what it looks like to live as a Christian.  Paul Tripp has planted a church, founded a Christian school, and has written worship songs.  His primary goal in life is to “connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life”.

II> Biography

Paul Tripp was born to Bob and Fae Tripp, on November 12,1950 in Toledo, Ohio.  Bob and Fae had been saved by grace not long before Paul was born, and they were thrilled to raise their child in a Christian home.  His parents held a time of family worship each day, and they were at church for every event that was held there.  Although his family strived to live in a home that was honoring to God, they went through a few very hard times.  Through these hard times, Paul grew a desire to see the gospel play out in a broken world.  At the age of nine, Paul understood and grasped the truths of scripture, and was saved by the Lords grace. After years of making friends, going to school, being involved in the church, and doing a variety of different things in Toledo, when Paul went to college, his parents moved to Southern California, therefore, Toledo was no longer home to him.

Paul married his wife, Luella Jackson in 1971, after meeting at Columbia Bible College, where they both studied.  In the same year that he married Luella, Paul started his first pastoral position at a local church.  After completing college, Paul decided to go back and complete his Master of Divinity degree at what is now called the Philadelphia Theological Seminary.  From the time that he and his wife got married, and when he completed his degree in Divinity, Paul and Luella had four children.  As Paul grew in his Christian walk, his love for ministry grew also.  This caused him to have a desire to help plant a church in Scranton, Pennsylvania through 1977-1987, and during this same time, he founded a Christian school.  Another thing that Paul did during his years in Scranton, was becoming involved in music, where he traveled with a Christian band and developed a love for writing worship songs.  As time went on, Paul also developed a love for biblical counseling, which resulted in him deciding to enroll in the D.Min program in Biblical Counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  After going through yet another few years of studies, Paul used what he had learned and joined the CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation).  He also decided to teach at the Westminster Theological Seminary and was a visiting professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Paul, his wife, and children moved to Philadelphia in 1987, where they built the rest of their lives.  They are currently and have for years, been involved in their local church (Tenth Presbyterian Church) where Paul preaches each Sunday and leads a ministry that they have that goal is sharing the gospel with people in the inner city.  Paul’s children have had joy in the fact that their father and mother have raised them in the church.  As a family, they have served together and have been involved in daily devotions, similar to how Paul was raised.  Paul’s wife, Luella, manages a commercial art gallery in the city, where she uses her talents to advance the gospel to people who have not ever heard it.  Paul as well as his wife, loves painting and has committed himself to using painting as yet another way for him to help people understand the Bible.

In the beginning of June, 2006, Paul started a nonprofit organization named Paul Tripp Ministries, which has reached millions of people across the world.  Paul is also the president of this ministry whose goal is to connect the transforming power of Jesus to daily life.  A year and a half later, in January 2007, Paul became part of the pastoral staff at the church that he has been preaching and faithfully attending to this very day.  Paul is also a Professor of Pastoral Life and Care at a seminary in Dallas, Texas.  He also works as an Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas.


III. Important Theological Views

Tripp’s denominational affiliation is Presbyterian, and although there are many types of Presbyterian, this specific church (Tenth Presbyterian) believes that God’s Word is without error and is the ultimate authority in the Church.  They teach that scripture is the only way that we can know who God is, who we are as humans, and how we can be saved.  When they said that their church is confessional, they mean that their church subscribes to the ancient Christian creeds and to historic, protestant, and Reformed theology as is taught in The Westminster Confession of Faith.  This church is also Presbyterian, which means that they are a church that is governed by elders who are called by God and elected by people in the church.  They believe that the governors of the church emphasize the character of the Church as is shown in the New Testament.  They preach the truth that humanity is inherently sinful, and that everyone who is living in the world deserves the wrath of God.  The church also believes and teaches that Jesus was a real person in history and that He came to the earth to die for his children (those he elected) because he loves us.  They believe in the Divine Trinity, and that each member of the Trinity is incredibly important and plays different roles in a believer’s life.


IV. Works/ Publications

Paul David Tripp has written over 30 different books, which are all written on theological views of lifestyle.  The most famous of which are; Instruments in The Redeemers Hands, How People Change, War of Words and Age of Opportunity. He writes each of his books with the purpose of encouraging others in different stages of life as they are striving to walk with the Lord.




“About Paul Tripp”

“Presbyterians: 10 Things to Know about Their History & Beliefs”


“Our Beliefs” Tenth.Org


“Paul David Tripp”

















Discontentment (Singleness)

Discontentment (Singleness)

by Lauren Koval

I. Definition

A. Biblical perspective

1. Biblical Definition

Discontentment in the single life, as Dr. Ernie Baker explains in reference to one case of a discontent single man, “He continually struggled with really loving the Lord as his first priority because he believed that to be happy, he had to be married.”[1] The desire to be married, and, often, start a family, becomes the ultimate hope and satisfaction of the single’s life, and the unhappiness of that “hope deferred” (Proverbs 13:12) becomes all-consuming for the single person. This can result in loneliness, depression, or resentfulness.[2]

2. Biblical Perspective

God is always working all things for the believer’s good and his own glory (Romans 8:28). God does not withhold anything good from “those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). Since singleness is also in the control of God, then discontentment or anger at God is a lack of trust in his goodness and sovereignty to provide what is good to those who love him. Discontentment or the quest for fulfillment from an external or earthly circumstance, like marriage, also shows dissatisfaction with God. Paul learned contentment through Christ who gave him strength (Phil. 4:12-13) because he had learned how Christ was of such surpassing worth (Philippians 3:8).[3] The dissatisfied single longing for marriage to create her happiness looks to a “broken cistern” that holds no water, and to an unfulfilling hope (Jeremiah 2:13). The solution is “living water,” that is, Jesus himself (John 4), who can provide all the satisfaction, companionship, and grace that believers need.[4] The goal is not marriage or singleness, but pursuing a relationship with Christ and his kingdom as the ultimate satisfaction and delight.[5]

B. Secular perspective

Psychology has labeled discontentment and depression in singleness as an “ambiguous loss,” because, “adults who are single do not know when, if at all, someone who matches their anticipated spouse will come into their lives and choose to marry them.”[6] Because they do not see the realization of those hopes or dreams, yet have not completely lost hope of seeing them realized, they are in an in-between mourning stage of something that is not physically there, but is psychologically there.[7] This grief is in a “frozen” state, that which is unresolved, and thus more painful, and uncertain.[8] The longing for relationship flows from a desire for “joy and purpose” from another human, thus, “the absence of meaningful relationships typically leads to loneliness, emptiness, depression, and despair.”[9] With this comes the difficulty of societal pressures and expectations, and the inability to publicly mourn this “psychological loss.”[10]

The goal of treatment of this depressing and ambiguous loss is to train the person to “cope” with the mourning and continue on with life, changing the attitude, not the inevitable situation.[11] Because guilt, or identity-issues, or shame, or confusion can come when the hope of relationship is lost, but not quite, the psychologist can encourage the client by “supporting the notions that there is nothing wrong with enjoying singlehood and nothing wrong with enjoying marriage.”[12] Other therapies like acknowledging conflicting emotions and normalizing the struggle often helps the client come to terms with their own emotions.[13] Finally, helping the client find a new identity and meaning outside of “singleness” or “marriage,” causes them to keep the hope, but not be consumed by it.[14] More assertive therapies include accepting the singleness to the point of saying, “I am not married because I do not want to be…I am single because I am enough for me.”[15] This method encourages the discontent client to find their rest and identity and confidence in their own sufficiency, not their longing for marriage to fulfill them, or their fear of the stigma of singleness.

C. History

The idea of loneliness or discontentment in any situation has been since the Fall. Jane Clark says, “[loneliness] is caused by sin…by our estrangement from God and each other.”[16] Sin causes us to seek satisfaction outside of God, or assume we need something other than what God has given. However, the more modern and cultural situation of increasing singleness has only developed in the past few decades. In the 1950s, only thirty-one percent of adults in America were single. As of 2015, that number has jumped to forty-five percent. The ages of single adults has grown over the same amount of time; on average, the age at marriage has increased six to seven years older. [17] As the article points out, “Despite the high rates of singlehood in the United States, 93% of Americans report that marrying is one of the most important life objectives they have.”[18] So, though the amount of married couples is decreasing, the desire for marriage is not. As online dating services, and other creative methods of forming relationships abound, the issue becomes more and more prevalent.

For singles in the Church, the solution seems to be marriage, and singles are often seen as second best. Betty-Anne Van Rees discusses the “shift” to this issue beginning in World War II, when more women becoming increasingly independent in the work force, causing the increase of singles.[19] As the Church generally centered on families, ministering to the growing number of singles became more difficult to adjust to, and more people struggled with desiring marriage and being discontent with their singlehood. More recently, the approach to loneliness in singlehood in the secular world has been to embrace and celebrate “singlehood.” Books like Eliyam Kislev’s Happy Singlehood, or Keturah Kendrick’s No Thanks: Black, female, and living in the martyr-free zone, promote the idea of perspective, that loneliness is a choice one makes, and, that being single is a healthy and good thing.[20]

Kate Bolick, as explained on Lavin, argues that, “changing opportunities for women are changing the definition of the family, the workplace, the economy, and society as a whole.”[21] As the shift to singlehood grows, the desire for marriage and discontentment in singleness are set aside for celebration of singleness and independence.

II. Evidence of the Problem

Some common themes and patterns of discontented singleness include extreme feelings of loneliness that results in despair and depression. Pulling away from Church activities and involvement because of the pain of seeing married friends, never attending weddings, and experience long episodes of depression during holidays. They can be distracted from ministry and are too preoccupied with searching for a spouse that they are unable to serve the Lord and his Kingdom.

Other results of this discontentedness include dating incessantly or settling for someone who is below the person’s standards.[22] Or, the desire to have attention from someone and escape loneliness causes them to turn to sexual intimacy outside of marriage. Self-pity, feelings of inferiority, or feelings of meaningless are also signs of discontented singleness.

III. Etiology

A. The Physical (external) Causes:

-Lacking a marriage or dating partner.

-Same Sex Attraction. Desiring marriage but not being attracted to the opposite sex.

B. The Spiritual Causes:

-Marriage fantasizing and idolizing

-Desire for affirmation and validation

-Lacking trust in God

-Seeing Singleness as a curse

IV. Examining the Heart

    1. Discontented singleness can flow from a variety of heart idols or themes. The person who desires marriage so strongly that they have become bitter towards God can result from a heart that is worshiping acceptance or security in relationships as the ultimate goal. They feel they are incomplete or invalidated by not achieving marriage, or, feel that the love of another human will complete them and make them less inferior. This is similar to the idol of people’s acceptance, placing one’s hope in the love of another human. Discontent can flow from a misunderstanding of desires. Jayne Clark argues that it is a misconception that God will always fulfill the desire of marriage if he has given it to someone. She refutes this claim by saying God has never guaranteed this in His Word, but that those desires are meant to be brought “under the lordship of Jesus Christ.”[23] Other heart idols are worshiping comfort or security in circumstantial change, worshiping a sense of importance because of marriage, or worshiping the ability to control circumstances to one’s desired end. This demonstrates a lack of trust in God’s goodness, and a desire for satisfaction outside of him.


V. Biblical Solutions

A. Key Counseling Points

Because discontentment is rooted in heart idols, Dr. Ernie Baker discusses in his book, Marry Wisely, Marry Well, that, singles must examine their heart. If they are looking to marriage to make them happy, then it is replacing Christ and what he alone can give.[24] If others have become the rock, the hope of fulfillment or happiness, then that is an idol that replaces the Lord.[25] A sense of need of fulfillment of others by marriage forsakes the Lord as the true place of refuge.[26] This must be repented of, and then worship of and love for the Lord turns the heart to find satisfaction in him.

Discontent singles must also overcome wrong beliefs about loneliness. Jayne Clark says, “Loneliness is actually caused…by sin…our estrangement from God.”[27] Because this is true, “The solution lies in the redemption of our relationship with God.”[28] Pursuing a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Father through his Son is where true happiness comes. This idea, of pursuing deeper communion with God for lasting contentment rather than looking to marriage for the cure to loneliness is echoed by Dr. Ernie Baker, Lori Smith, Sean Perron, and many others. Because of Christian community, the call out of loneliness is to then turn to the community and union of the Body of Christ and enjoy the fellowship of believers.[29]

The single person must learn to trust the Lord. Bitterness and anger at God for not fulfilling the desire for marriage results from disbelieving that he is good, that he does not withhold anything good from his children, or disbelieving that he is in control of every circumstance (Romans 8:28; Psalm 84:11). If singleness is God’s plan, then it is the best plan for your life at this time. Embrace it, and rejoice in God’s goodness towards you, and turn to him.[30] It’s not something to settle for, but something to thank God for, that he has given this circumstance in this time, and has its own joys and blessings.

Sean Perron, author for “Biblical Counseling Coalition” and Marshall Seagal, author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating as well as others encourage singles to develop their love for the Lord and his Word, and then rest in his love for them. This leads to the conviction that Jesus alone is living water (John 4). Finally, because Christians are made to enjoy community with other believers with the union of the Body of Christ, they must involve themselves in the Church, building relationships, discipling others, and serving by using their gifts, not bemoaning their unmarried state and wasting the time in their life to serve.[31]

Discontent singles with same sex attraction need to understand the same principles as above. But, an even more intense feeling of loneliness or isolation can come upon them. As a result, they must be reminded that they are not left alone by Jesus, nor by his church, and that their struggle is common to man (1 Cor. 10:13). There is hope for the pursuit of holiness and love for the Lord. Their struggles should not be reduced to something simple, but, in love, they must be shown God’s goodness and grace in their struggle.[32]

Counseling for contentment also doesn’t mean that the desire for marriage should vanish in contentment. Asking the Lord for a godly spouse, pursuing relationships toward marriage, and examining ways that you can grow are all things that are important parts of this season in life.

B. Important passages in contentment in singleness:

-Know the Lord’s goodness (Psalm 103; Psalm 84:11)

-Know the Lord is in control and trustworthy, working in all situations (Romans 8:28)

-Use singleness as an opportunity and delight and gift to please the Lord (1 Corinthians 7)

-Set surpassing worth on knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8; Phil. 4:11-13).

-Humble yourself before the Lord and draw near to him, repenting of coveting and discontentment (James 4:1-10).

-Rest in the satisfaction God brings (John 4)


C. Recommended Books

Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Singleness and Dating by Marshall Segal

Marry Wisely, Marry Well by Dr. Ernie Baker

The Secret of Contentment by William B. Barcley

Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy you Desire by Jayne V. Clark

Quest for Love by Elisabeth Elliot

Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring your Love Life under Christ’s Control by Elisabeth Elliot.

Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life by Barry Danylak

Seven Myths about Singleness by Sam Allberry

D. Homework Resources

Contentment: Seeing God’s Goodness: 31-Day Devotional by Megan Hill

Discovering Wonderful Things Worksheet for:

Philippians 4:11-13

Study 1 Corinthians 7

Chapters 5 and 7 in Marry Wisely, Marry Well and answer the questions at the end of the chapters.





Asmus, Christopher. “Satisfied in the Arms of Another: Four Lessons for Same-Sex-Attracted

Christians.” Desiring God, October 24, 2018.

Baker, Dr. Ernie. Marry Wisely, Marry Well. Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2016.

Clark, Jayne V. “Struggling through Singleness.” Journal of Biblical Counseling 29, no. 1,

(2015): 7-18.

DePaulo, Bella. “Single Life in the 21st Century: A Guide to Owning It.” Psychology Today,

June 22, 2019.


Jackson, Jeffrey B., “The Ambiguous Loss of Singlehood: Conceptualizing and Treating

Singlehood Ambiguous Loss Among Never-Married Adults.” Contemporary Family

Therapy 40, (2018): 210-222.

Lavin. “Going It Alone: Kate Bolick on the History of Singlehood.” Lavin, December 27, 2012.


Perron, Sean. “Relationships: Contentment and Dating.” Biblical Counseling Coalition, February

7, 2018.


Reju, Deepak. “How Can you Be Satisfied on Valentine’s Day (And for the Rest of Your Life)?”

Biblical Counseling Coalition, February 13, 2019,

Van Rees, Betty-Anne. “Single in the Church.” Biblical Counseling Coalition, February 14,













[1] Dr. Ernie Baker, Marry Wisely, Marry Well (Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2016), 71.

[2] Jayne V. Clark, “Struggling through Singleness,” Journal of Biblical Counseling 29, no. 1, (2015), 15.

[3] Sean Perron, “Relationships: Contentment and Dating,” Biblical Counseling Coalition, February 7, 2018,

[4] Deepak Reju, “How Can you Be Satisfied on Valentine’s Day (And for the Rest of Your Life)?” Biblical Counseling Coalition, February 13, 2019,

[5] Sean Perron, “Relationships: Contentment and Dating.”


[6] Jeffrey B. Jackson, “The Ambiguous Loss of Singlehood: Conceptualizing and Treating Singlehood Ambiguous Loss Among Never-Married Adults,” Contemporary Family Therapy 40 (2018): 213.


[7] Ibid., 213.

[8] Ibid., 211.

[9] Ibid., 212.

[10] Ibid., 214.

[11] Ibid., 215.

[12] Ibid., 216.

[13] Ibid., 217.

[14] Ibid., 219.

[15] Bella DePaulo, “Single Life in the 21st Century: A Guide to Owning It,” Psychology Today, June 22, 2019,

[16] Jayne V. Clark, “Struggling through Singleness,” 10.

[17] Jeffrey B. Jackson, “The Ambiguous Loss of Singlehood,” 210.

[18] Ibid., 211.

[19] Betty-Anne Van Rees, “Single in the Church,” Biblical Counseling Coalition, February 14, 2015,

[20] Bella DePaulo, “Single Life in the 21st Century.”

[21] Lavin, “Going It Alone: Kate Bolick on the History of Singlehood,” Lavin, December 27, 2012,

[22] Deepak Reju, “How Can you Be Satisfied on Valentine’s Day (And for the Rest of Your Life)?”

[23] Jayne. V. Clark, “Struggling Through Singleness,” 9.

[24] Dr. Ernie Baker, Marry Wisely, Marry Well (Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2016), 28.


[25] Ibid., 29.


[26] Ibid., 44.


[27] Jayne V. Clark, “Struggling Through Singleness,” 10.

[28] Ibid., 11.

[29] Dr. Ernie Baker, Marry Wisely 72.



[31] Ibid., 75-77

[32] Christopher Asmus, “Satisfied in the Arms of Another: Four Lessons for Same-Sex-Attracted Christians,” Desiring God, October 24, 2018,