The Biblical Basis of Christian Counselling for People Helpers.

By Gary R. Collins. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1993, 285 pp.

Review by Mr Song Cheng Hock.


Christian counselling is no longer seen as a ineffectual psycho-theological chimera that exists as a toothless alternative to secular counselling. Secular counseling then was preferred by many as its paradigms were considered values-free. But that is a biased opinion. Respected psychiatrist Scott Peck’s speech at the American Psychiatric Association in May 1992 destroys any illusion that “psychotherapy should be a values-free activity…it is impossible to do anything without values.”


When psychologist Gary Collins wrote this book in 1993, Christian counselling had already established itself as a respectable and credible form of therapy. Unlike William Kirwan, who in 1984 had to strenuously argue for integration in his seminal book, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counselling: A Case for Integrating Psychology and Theology, Collins had a smoother passage. In fact, Christian counselling has become such an accepted religious moniker that it is now a convenient and useful ministry buzzword. Any Christian who freely dishes out advice or dispenses Bible verses can claim to be doing some form of Christian counselling.


It is this rampant and undisciplined use of the term that provoked Collins to write this book. He correctly insists that “our task is not to force some theological agenda on to the people who seek our help but to be informed, knowledgeable followers of Jesus Christ who are available to be guided by the Holy Spirit and used as His instruments in changing lives” (p. 250).


His primary concern is that well-intentioned Christians are unsure of how to use the Bible to help a troubled person and that all ”Christian counsellors (like all other believers) need a basic understanding of what they believe and why they believe as they do” (p. 19).


In attempting to be faithful to his premise, Collins succumbs to a dreadful overkill – of trying to cover too many theological themes. Right from the beginning he stresses that “it is not intended to be a systematic theology” (p. 8).  But a cursory read proves otherwise. The first four chapters reads just like Systematic Theology 101 and even Inductive Bible Study 101!  His enthusiastic discourses on the types of revelation, the methods and principles of biblical interpretation and types of literature in the Bible do not contructively contribute to the purpose of the book, despite having the caption “So What” at the end of each chapter. The connection between his theological themes and purpose seems forced in the earlier chapters of the book.


Of course, this does not mean that he has done a botched up job. He has methodically worked through the biblical themes like sin, human nature, guilt and forgiveness. The question is, is he attempting too much?


While it is easy to fault Collins on his theological excursions and indulgences, it is difficult to question his insightful understanding of human behaviour and psychology’s unsatisfactory presuppositions about both man and God. Thus his aim is to provide “a basic summary of the biblical-theological worldview that forms the core of Christianity and that must be at the basis of any Christian approach to counselling” (p. 19). To a large extent, his treatise on the biblical-theological worldview is the main thread that pulls the book together.


To get the most out of this book, the reader is encouraged to wrestle with its contents. Collins has thoughtfully provided a very useful chapter at the end of the book to help us do that – Questions for Further Study. Readers may feel tempted to ignore such a chapter as it may seem time consuming. But the reader must make this chapter an exception because the questions are designed to stimulate further reflection and research into the essence of Christian counselling. As Collins rightly observes, Christian counsellors “don’t all proceed in the same way, use the same methods, or agree on the same explanation of why people behave as they do” (p. 21). But we must continuously go on that quest to refine our Christian worldview and framework for counselling so that we can be better people helpers.


We continue our presentation of our recent graduates. Praise God with us for Peter Lim, Hukali,  and for others to be presented next week.

Peter Lim Hong Sing, Grad Dip CS, MCS.

Peter worked 15 years in the commercial world and has studied fulltime with BGST since June 2003. He will serve six months with his home church (Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church) as an intern before going to Indonesia with his wife (Siew Hong) for language studies. Thereafter, they will serve in Indonesia as missionaries. Peter plans to do another programme with BGST part time. His life verse is Matthew 9:37–38: ‘Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest indeed is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest’ (NASB).


Research Project Summary: Out of Darkness into his Marvelous Light

The author examines both physical blindness and spiritual blindness as described in the Bible. Citing injunctions from the words of Jesus as well as from the rest of the Bible, he argues that a ministry to the physically blind that incorporates both Christian concern and a strong biblical emphasis is urgently needed. He explores the shape this ministry could take, balancing care for physical and spiritual needs. He gives an overview of the global situation of blindness, looking at some of the causes of physical blindness, methods of preventing blindness, rehabilitation services, and the need to enable a blind person to live life with dignity, purpose and joy. As a blind person himself he wishes to bring across the message that the blind need to learn self-reliance and, with God helping them, can not only live meaningful lives but also be a blessing to others.


We congratulate Peter on his award:

  • Christian Education Prize - in memory of the late Mdm Goh Eng Ngin

Aye Kupuhe Hukali, Grad Dip CS, MCS

Before coming to BGST, Hukali was a Youth Director at Dimapur Sumi Baptist Church, Dimapur. She intends to return to India to work in her church. Her life verse is Jeremiah 1:5: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’


Thesis Summary: The Enigma of Nagaland Christianity Today

Nagaland is a troubled state where religion, politics and tribal cultures combine to make a people fiercely independent and protective of its heritage. Yet paradoxically it is a country where Christianity has thrived and Christians now form the majority religious group such that Nagaland is numbered amongst the Christianized states in India. However, politically and socially, the land of the Nagas is corrupted. Violent clashes between the factions engender hatred and disunity in the communities. Doctrinally and in upholding the strict moral principles of the Christian faith there is a need to return to a solid biblical foundation. My approach in this thesis is to look at the present situation of Nagaland Christianity and suggest how we may close the gap between faith and practice, between proclaiming that Nagaland is a Christian state and seeing the teaching of Jesus put into practice in the life of the Naga Christians.


We congratulate Hukali on her award:

  • Missions & Evangelism Book Prize - in memory of the late Rev and Mrs Quek Keng Hoon and the late Mr Yeo Yeow Teck

on 25 January 2006 by Ms Choy Wai Fann

 The speaker led us into a devotional reading of Jesus' temptation in Matthew 4. She beautifully linked Jesus' statement "man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" with another saying of his "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work" in John 4:34. As the Son of God he could turn the stones into bread but he didn't because if he did it was not doing the will of God but of the devil. This led to an inspiring thought that even in his weakest moment of temptation Jesus not only teach the paramount importance of doing the will of God but also put it into practice.

Chapel speaker on 8 February will be Mrs Pauline Koe.  


Greetings to you from Regent College, Vancouver.

The weather is cold and raining almost every day but kept warm by the hospitality of fellow Singaporeans on campus. I am auditing several courses and it is great to be a student in the classroom once again! Thankful for having the time to read, reflect and recall the blessings of God.

I will be participating in an all-night "Pray for the World" on campus this Saturday (Feb 4) from 9pm to 5am and will be leading a group to pray for Singapore from 4.30am to 5.00am. Send me a email if you would like to contribute items to pray for Singapore.


A Blessed Birthday to… 


Mr Kelvin Koo 6/2

Mr Tan Swee Meng  7/2

Mr Goh Kwan Koon  8/2

Ms Claire Tan  8/2

Ms Alfreds Shirani  9/2

Rev Kwan Yew Weng  10/2

Mr Joseph Tan  10/2

Mr Reid Rasmussen  10/2

Ms Chua Wei Chin 10/2

Ms Kelly Nandar  10/2

Mr Abel Choy  11/2

Mr Simon Wan  12/2

Mr Steven Seah  12/2

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