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Christians can be viewed as out-of-touch with the secular cultures around them. Admittedly, we can be the last to pick up on the social currents in which we swim. Some of us are carried away by the current; others assume a militant stance against it. It does leave people wondering what in the world it means to be a Christian!

The world of counseling is no different. So-called Christian counseling ranges between full-throated Freud to “take a verse and call me in the morning.” The more serious Christian practitioners of the counseling movement, however, are rigorous students of Scripture: some applying Scripture as a happy coordinate to the science of psychology; others resting all their counseling weight on Scripture’s truth and promises.

Counseling at the Owen Center is closest to the latter. For us, Psychology is, sometimes, a happy coordinate to Scripture – a good gift of God’s creation – and we welcome its insights. We have a growing confidence that, in the Bible, God has given us truth. We also have a growing confidence that, in the Bible God has given us His way to see and receive the truth. We read the Bible in the way it has been given to us: wrapped in history and growing in a progressive, personal introduction of Jesus Christ.

God comes to counselor and counselee in the same way: God, through His story and we through our stories meet in the same unfolding space — His story redeeming; our stories redeemed. People who know God like that create currents of life in the cultural currents around them.

The following posts layout this way of seeing and reading Scripture. It’s called biblical theology. Let’s dive in.

Part 1: God’s Face in Our Space

Biblical theology recognizes that God discloses Himself within creation and history. Biblical theology recognizes that God discloses Himself with creation and history. The Bible is God’s own record of these disclosures. Voices from heaven are rare in Scripture. God almost always entered into and spoke out of the grainy realities and beauties of personal stories – just like the one you’re living now.  By choosing to reveal Himself within creation and history, God tells us that He will meet us where we are. He will meet us in our moments and circumstances. He will meet us just as we are. By choosing to reveal Himself with creation and history, God affirms His control over everything that happens; that He comes to us according to the way He made us and turns every event in history into an occasion for introducing Himself to us with greater depth, clarity, and glory. This simple understanding shapes counseling in which counselor and counselee grapple with God’s personal disclosure in and through each person’s immediate, life context.

Scripture gives us a feel for God with raw history and concrete imagery. The longer we read it, the more we recognize the characters and settings are our own stories. There are no heroes in Scripture, but One. Everyone else shows us we were made for God and desperately need Him. God has dressed Himself with history so that we may recognize Him in the history we call our lives.

God also engages every sense, every part of our humanity, to get to us. In Scripture, He speaks of things we can touch, concrete realities, so that we may know Him. So, when He calls Himself “Rock” He speaks of permanence; “tree” and “vine”, fruitfulness; “lamb”, gentleness; and “light”, transcendence, etc. God’s self-disclosure challenges us intellectually, connects with us emotionally, relates to us socially. Stark images and words sharpen our appetites for Him, and show us our sin, our transience, our anger, our fears. So, God reveals Himself and we are revealed. We do not know Him. We do not trust Him. We do not follow Him. We are not like Him. Yet, what God reveals about Himself (and us) gives hope. He has entered the personal world in which each of us live with His loving incarnation — the ultimate revelation of God – in order to restore and conform us to Himself. Biblical theology in counseling assures us: God has spoken and speaks to us in our own space…now.  He has come to meet us and make us new, no matter who or where we are… Beautiful.

Gary has been a lead pastor for 38 years in churches in Mississippi and Alabama. Most recently, he pastored Covenant Presbyterian Church in Auburn, Alabama for 29 years. Recognizing the need for Christ-centered counseling in the Auburn area, he and his wife, Jill, began the Owen Center in 2015. He received a Masters of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS and a Doctor of Ministry in Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. Gary and Jill delight in five children and (to date) 13 grandchildren.