The Biblical Counseling Movement — a series by April Kelsey at Revolutionary Faith

This is a heads up about an excellent series of posts on the Biblical Counseling Movement.

On her blog Revolutionary Faith, April Kelsey is currently producing this series. Here is what she has published so far:

1) The Biblical Counseling Movement Exposed — how April’s father’s addiction to porn got her interested in this topic

2) The Biblical Counseling Movement: Origins and Philosophy  — all the posts in this series are good, but if you are only going to read one, I highly recommend this one

3) The Biblical Counseling Movement: The Tangled Web — how many people in the BCM movement have obtained letters after their names and mutually promoted each other

4) What is Repentance?

And here is April’s tag for the whole series:  Tag Archives: biblical counseling

As you will have figured, we didn’t publish a post on Boxing Day to give us all a break. 

CAVEAT (added November 2016)– we have noticed that April Kelsey has recently been writing things about same-sex practices which we do not feel comfortable with. So although we endorsed of these posts of above, we do not necessarily endorse everything else she writes.

15 thoughts on “The Biblical Counseling Movement — a series by April Kelsey at Revolutionary Faith”

  1. Thanks, Barbara! I also have another post up in the series called “Bait and Switch.” It deals with the BCM’s view of mental illness, psychiatric meds, and counselor accountability.

  2. Thanks for this Barbara. This is a great blog and look forward to digging in deeper.
    We have had a “Biblical Counseling” center in our town for a few years. The “counselors” have all kinds of degrees attached to their names, but when I looked the granting institutions it was of course Masters International School of Divinity and other diploma mills with no accreditation. They are attached to a very patriarchal preaching church whose pastor also has a bunch of phony degrees. I always discourage people from having anything to do with either.

  3. April, I appreciate your research on this subject because this dangerous “counseling” needs to be exposed for what it is. Keep up the good work!

  4. My four pastors/elders at the Bible believing church I was recently excommunicated and ordered to be shunned from (due to my opposing their hiding their friend, a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List in our midst without notifying parents and adults) also practiced this form of Biblical counseling with poor results and much damage.

    They claimed they could help people with their problems and to see them. In point of fact they were woefully untrained, unskilled, ill-equipped, and ill-prepared to handle complex problems that people had. I have no clue why people who are this incompetent claim competence when they should be giving referrals.

    This unhealthy form of Biblical counseling certainly explains why they made no headway with people who had serious problems. The pastors/elders answers to serious problems were trite, superficial, quick-fixes. They tried to patch up serious problems between people, problems caused by things like untreated alcoholism in one woman church member as she spun out of control and did much damage to other members and to her adult children. Ditto for another woman church member and the rage/verbal abuse she directed at other members.

    After a few trite answers, people were screamed and yelled at for not improving.

      1. @Barbara,

        They get their “training” through something called The Biblical Counseling Foundation. They’ve also had groups of people read some book about “self-confrontation” to learn about how to ‘counsel’ others, also a publication of that foundation.

        The pastors / elders remain untrained to properly diagnosis, refer, and treat people with serious problems.

        1) Alcoholism. An older woman at church who is an alcoholic and had all of the ‘rages’ that drunks do, including when she wasn’t drinking. A doctor could have diagnosed and referred her to treatment for alcoholism, her root problem. The pastors/elders tried to reconcile her with other members, had years of meetings, and never confronted her alcoholism. It was a huge waste of everybody’s time and she didn’t get the professional help that she needed. Her adult children suffered. The rest of suffered. It was a huge waste of all of our time! Her alcoholism was literally never discussed by the pastors / elders.

        2) Child Abuse Trauma. Another woman member (a retired nurse) is incredibly verbally abusive to other church members, she has been for years, and is full of put-downs. The pastors / elders have spent some 7-years in meetings between members trying to reconcile her with other members. It’s been a waste of everybody’s time and the pastors / elders believe that those of us (myself included) who keep our distance from her are being ‘unloving’.

        A secular counselor could have summarized this woman’s problems in under five minutes. “She had an abusive childhood with a mother that got remarried many times. She is extremely angry about her childhood and very angry with her Mother. She is also deeply insecure and lashes out at others all of the time. She’s learned many survival skills to ‘do’ but won’t permit herself ‘to feel’.”

        She should have been referred to professional therapy to resolve those childhood issues and coping skills, to grieve. That would have made church relationships better.

        3) Adult Children of Alcoholics. Same thing as above. People with traumas from being raised in alcoholic homes, who are codependents, are not referred to groups like Al-Anon. Codependents Anonymous, or the Christian equivalents in recovery.

        We have plethora of organizations and treatments available to help people with these problems, to recover, and to get better. And yet these pastors / elders don’t refer people to these organizations.

        4) Domestic Violence. These pastors / elders fail and the senior pastor ridicules domestic violence from the pulpit. (Behind closed doors in meetings with members he’s a screaming bully, full of put downs and verbal abuse and threats. So that explains him.)

      2. Well well well. I went to the Biblical Counseling Foundation website and found the Overview of their ‘Self Confrontation’ training (link [Internet Archive link]):

        Self-Confrontation is the first level of BCF’s training. The primary emphasis is on examining every aspect of your own life.
        Self-Confrontation starts with the basics of salvation, examines the root of problems in our daily walks, and then applies principles to specific problem areas ranging from anger and relationship problems to fear & worry, depression, and life-dominating practices. Self-Confrontation is an invaluable resource for personal and group study. With its wealth of Scripture references, it is also useful as an ongoing reference for topical study and lesson/sermon preparation.

        Question: What are we to make of the senior pastor who ridicules domestic violence from the pulpit, and behind closed doors in meetings with members is a screaming bully, full of put downs and verbal abuse and threats?
        Answer: He obviously failed the first level BCF training! He has not confronted his life-dominating anger and bullying. Nor, of course, would he believe he has those problems. He’s an abuser. I fear for his wife if he is married.

      3. The Biblical Counseling Foundation state that they got going in the late 60s or early 70s. Bob Schnieder is a key name. Just FYI.

        As I understand, the Biblical Counseling Foundation is only one in the menagerie of so-called ‘biblical counseling’ organisations and training providers. So it’s by no means the only mob out there, but it may be the mob that independent “bible” churches gravitate to, the kind of church you suffered under, Michaela. They seem to have a heavy emphasis on ‘end times’ fear as a motivator.

        btw, ‘mob’ in Aussie slang is not pejorative, it’s just a word for a group of people or animals.

  5. @Barbara,

    1) Thanks for your additional research about BCF. My former senior pastor did make some mention of end-times and when Jesus would issue us horses and my pastor could hardly wait. I was thinking to myself, “Pal, Jesus probably wouldn’t loan you a skateboard let alone give you a nice horse from the stable!”

    2) Yes, my former senior pastor is married. He has a wife and four children. Two daughters who are away at college; two minor sons still at home.

    3) Yes, I have given much thought to my former senior pastor’s abusive conduct. I thought to myself, “If he’s so willing to scream at me and ridicule me in front of these other elders, if he willing to put me down, to threaten me, to demean me, and he’s not the least bit embarrassed and won’t even put on a ‘public face’…what does he do at home to his wife and children?”

    4) In the meeting about the sex offender on Megan’s List who is their friend, the senior pastor said he had no problem with the sex offender touching young children at our church (whose parents didn’t know he was a sex offender on Megan’s List).

    In the language of sex crimes, that can be called ‘grooming’ and it IS a big deal.

    The senior pastor said that if a church member father ‘permitted’ the sex offender to touch his children than his word was ‘final’ over his family and ‘binding’ and that his wife was ‘to obey him’ and ‘to submit’.

    Uhhh, no. Dead wrong. Parents are required under California criminal law to protect their children. A father’s refusal to protect his children does not absolve his criminal liability or for that matter the same for the mother. Both parents can be arrested and prosecuted for misdemeanor or felony child abuse, endangerment, or neglect. The sentence? 1 year in jail or up to 6-years in state prison. A loss of one’s children.

    The elders closed the meeting with me about child safety by reading me a scripture that I was factious, deceived, an unbeliever, destined for Hell, and should be shunned!

    (The senior pastor also said that he had invited the sex offender to volunteer at our summer children’s basketball camp that is 1-week long. Believer and unbelievers entrust their children to us, not knowing that a sex offender was invited by the elders! Parents had a right to know that!! The religious school whose gym we rented had a right to know that!!)

    They made good on the threats and recently excommunicated and shunned me, for repeating what the California Attorney General said about their friend and these elders: That it was “all lies” and this sex offender is NOT coming off Megan’s List of sex offenders. He was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for child porn. Studies by the FBI, District Attorneys Association, and The Mayo Clinic of those inmates showed that the majority admitted to on-contact sexual abuse of children. No shock to anyone with two working brain cells!)

    1. Michaela, I think you mentioned previously that you have notified all the secular authorities you can about this how this church is dealing with the child abuser. I hope they take strong action!

  6. @Barbara,

    Indeed I have taken action. I just feel sick for all the church members and parents whom the pastors/elders have lied to. (The pastors / elders discredited me before everyone, because telling the truth would make them look terrible before everyone.)

  7. Thank you for reposting this series. I found this also just last year when I was researching about the ongoing issues with biblical counseling and Pure Life Ministries, leadership with self-issued “degrees” from their organization IABC (International Association for Biblical Counseling).

    Pure Life Ministries of Dry Ridge, Kentucky, is a residential program posing to be for sex-addicts, but [is] used as a front to lure in abusers for “discipleship with IABC” (creating more abusive biblical counselors). I have a public courtroom testimony of one of the counselors at Pure Life, admitting this on DVD, stating that the criteria they use to determine if the abuser is repentant is “nebulous” and that no one would come to the program if they disclosed up front that it was for discipleship!

    Pure Life Ministries even sent me a curriculum on repentance to work through while my husband was in the program and limited in his freedom to talk with me…. Yes, a study guide on MY repentance for his 30 year sex addiction issues and the trauma it wreaked on our family even though I had only been with this man for 4 years…needless to say, I did NOT work through the curriculum.

    Jesus cared for my hurts, and led me out of this very toxic marriage, and away from the abuse these Pharisees, aka “biblical counselors”, wreak on marriage and hurting individuals.

    I do want to warn others on this most destructive CULT. The IABC website here: [March 22, 2022: This link is broken and we were unable to find a copy in the Internet Archive. See the bottom of this comment for more details. Editors.] states as part of the contract for membership (see last sentence before signature):

    Because of the specialized calling of the International Association of Biblical Counselors, we desire to allow for freedom of convictions on other doctrinal matters, provided that any interpretation is based on the Bible alone and that no such interpretation shall become an issue which hinders the ministry of biblical counseling to which God has called us.

    Note the

    …no such interpretation shall become an issue which hinders the ministry…

    So, you are free to interpret, but we reserve the right to pull the “hindrance” card if you disagree…read more on cults and mind control, undue influence and scare tactics and decide for yourself…

    IABC and Pure Life Ministries operate for a great deal out of Grace Fellowship Church in Florence KY… That should ring a bell with those of you who know CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries [CJ & SGM] give their sermons to Grace Fellowship….. We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries [Internet Archive link]

    [March 22, 2022: The current contract for membership includes the same sentence Jillian excerpted, but the sentence doesn’t appear as the last sentence before the signature in the contract for membership. The sentence Jillian excerpted can be found on the current IABC Statement of Faith that is included as part of the current membership contract, and the IABC Statement of Faith is supposed to be read prior to signing the membership contract. The sentence Jillian excerpted can also be found on the IABC Our Approach [Internet Archive link] page as far back as April 26, 2020. The IABC Our Approach page is the IABC Statement of Faith. Editors.]

    1. Thanks so much Jillian for your comment. I made a few very small changes, just to make it a bit more easy to read and avoid potential ambiguity. If you have time, please have a look at how I’ve edited your comment and let me know if you want me to undo what I’ve done. Thanks! 🙂

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.