Why I Am Not A Member Of ACBC
I wrote this page to explain why I am not a member of Association Of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). I first discovered this organization in [redacted]. On paper, and in my encounters with others, they sounded like a great organization. That is, until I became a fan of their Facebook page and was exposed to their behavior.
I'm not writing this out of a desire to insult or demean ACBC. No one is perfect. It's more an expression of sadness over the prevailing divisiveness within some counseling movements. It's expressing sadness over being lied about.
Mainly, when this article was written, my response was that of an outsider. However, I attended their [Redacted] conference at [Redacted], so now my perspective is that of someone who's been in and around these conferences, and who has talked with many of their members.
The main reason I cannot be a member of them is that they make prospective counselors take an oath to not use psychological methods or therapies. But if that was not enough, the way they spread half-truths and lies in an attempt to demean what they probably consider their competition makes matters worse.
Keep in mind that my complaint here is against ACBC as an organization, and its main leaders, those few who engage in this ad hominem and hasty generalization. Many ACBC counselors you will meet in the flesh are good counselors who just want to help people. However, in varying degrees, they may engage in the following behavior, due to the example of their leaders.
Note that now I also have screenshots and
email evidence of how ACBC is harming people, at the end of the
Fallacy 1: All Psychology Is Evil
The leadership of ACBC, as well as its patron saints, often erect Freudian-Jungian strawmen when arguing against psychology. It appears ACBC leadership comes up with the false arguments, which its followers repeat.
One cannot say that all the observations made by psychology are invalid just because they came from psychology. The way to know if the finding is valid or not is to first understand it. But in repeating Freudian-Jungian strawmen, I ask, did ACBC do its homework?
Besides, if ACBC discounts psychological
research because all human beings are sinners, what types of
beings is ACBC comprised of? Infallible ones?
Also, if ACBC believes all psychology is
evil, why do they then borrow from it?
Fallacy 2: Integrationalists Are Evil
An integrationalist is someone who believes that psychology can be useful in a counseling setting. Examples and/or proponents of this view are Dr Tim Clinton, Dr Diane Langberg, etc. Keep in mind, the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) stance, my stance, is that the Bible is supreme and authoritative, though not exhaustive.
article, Heath Lambert of ACBC states (edited for brevity):
"[B]iblical counseling is the only approach to counseling
that implements repentance as a fundamental element of
counseling. I know proponents of other counseling models
who would respond to this and say, “Hey, I know
integrationists and Christian Psychologists who call people to
repentance.” I believe that is true, and am thrilled
about it, but would say two things in response.
"First, when proponents of other counseling models call people to repentance they are, in that moment, doing biblical counseling. They are employing a counseling tactic that they learned from Jesus, the Apostles, and those like Luther who follow them. They did not learn about repentance from any other model.
"Second, when folks like integrationists and Christian Psychologists call people to repentance they are not doing something demanded by their model. They are employing an optional method."
First, the APA itself advocates for repentance. Does that make the teachings of the APA a biblical model? The Twelve Step programs advocate for repentance and making amends: does this make them biblical? Saying the element of repentance makes something biblical is illogical.
Can a person can have regret and remorse that is not godly? If 2 Corinthians 2:7-16 teaches that there is godly repentance, and gives the conditions that accompany it, can there also be a non-godly repentance?
Second, don't Heath Lambert's statements create a false dichotomy, as if only biblical models teach or utilize repentance? Don't plenty of unsaved people repent and make restitution? If repentance is defined as feeling guilt or remorse, changing one's behavior, and making restitution to those who have been harmed, then isn't repentance possible without a deity? Can making restitution for one's wrongs be a step towards realizing that there's a deeper problem?Third, Heath Lambert claims that repentance isn't demanded by the model of the Integrationalist. I would like to provide evidence to the contrary: Caring For People God's Way by Dr Tim Clinton mentions that repentance is part of the various models and methods of counseling various client issues:
- Pg 77, under "The Spiritual Disciplines in Counseling": "Christian counselors need to develop the ... spiritual disciplines associated with care-giving.... Spiritual disciplines included ... repentance...."
- Pg 89, under "A Seven Step Process" in the "Gaining Insight" section: "It should be noted ... it is in this part of the counseling relationship that confession and repentance take place."
- Pg 151, under "What Causes Depression" in the "Spiritual Factors" under "Sin": "Possible sin-related causes of depression include ... guilt and lack of repentance over sinful behavior or attitudes...."
- Pg 283, under chapter on Sexual Addiction, under "Cognitive/Behavioral", the 18 principle approach: "Accountability begins with confession and a spirit of repentance (Neh. 1)."
- Pg 322, chapter on Eating Disorders, under "Challenges to identity, denial, and faith": "Repentance is also required in that the client, through spiritual pride, has concluded, 'I must handle life on my own.'"
- Pg 426, ch 19 Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse, "Repentance is verbal, certainly, but it is far more than verbal -- it is transformation from the inside out, demonstrated over time."
- Pg 428, same chapter, "It is difficult to find a balance between expecting far too much ... and settling for a superficial apology that the client is too quick to name repentance."
- Pg 453, ch. 20 Post-Abortion Syndrome, goal #2 in treatment planning and intervention with PAS clients involves repentance.
The integrationalist viewpoint of Dr. Tim Clinton and the AACC does indeed call people towards repentance. Heath Lambert is engaged in bearing false witness, and promoting it among ACBC membership. This is unbecoming both a PhD and a Christian.
It also would not be the first time.
Note that Heath
Lambert apologized for attacking Eric Johnson in September of
2017. Only one month later, I heard Heath Lambert
attack Eric Johnson in a speech given at the ACBC conference in
[Redacted]. See below for more information.
Fallacy 3: Setting Up Straw Men Rather Than Addressing Root
I attended a marriage seminar taught by Dr. John D. Street.
Dr. Street did an excellent job in this marriage seminar. I learned a few new things. I would recommend that people attend Dr. Street's lectures and marital seminars, as 99.999% of what he says is true.
However, I'd like to point out some
Dr. Street said that all personality theory is broken. He said there was a Biblical reason, but didn't cite scripture.
Dr. Street then set up a straw man by referencing the ancient Greek Four Temperament (not personality) theory. Even the Wikipedia page for the Four Temperaments points out that this theory has declined in popularity and isn't even part of psychology. Street didn't cite Meyers-Briggs or Big 5. Big 5 is a scientifically validated personality test.
Dr. Street thus commits hypocrisy by saying personality theory is broken but then advocates an equally flawed temperament test that pre-dates psychology and is not taught by the Bible.
There are also reliable temperament tests available, like Shipley's The Four Lenses, which is used by corporations. Why not use something with more credibility than the Greek temperaments?
Given the popularity of personality tests, maybe Dr. Street could have given one or two more sentences to explain his position. Dr. Street did not present the full truth on this topic. I am curious how many audience members lost faith in people in the helping industries over this. But this type of divisive behavior is normalized within ACBC.
If, as Dr. Street said, all theories of personality and temperament are unbiblical, in that they are not mentioned in the Bible, Dr. Street just engaged in the unbiblical exercise he just condemned.
Maybe Dr. Street is reacting to how misused
personality and temperament tests are in churches. If so,
I can agree with his sentiment: personality tests can be
overused and abused in some settings, but that's more the fault
of the practitioner than the system. Widespread
misunderstanding of personality concepts is evident in social
Borrowing From Psychology
ACBC claims to be against psychology. However, Dr. Street, in his speeches, used information from psychology.
First, Dr. Street utilized family systems theory (Dr. Murray Owen) in his lecture. The Bible doesn't overtly teach family systems theory. Hence, if Dr. Street is so adamant about being biblical, why is he borrowing from an unbiblical source?
Second, Dr. Street borrowed from behavioral psychology ("it takes 21 to 28 repetitions to make something a habit"). The Bible doesn't mention how many times you have to do something before it becomes habit. Dr. Street even used the word "habituation", a word invented by behavioral psychology. This goes against ACBC's core values.
But this wouldn't be the first time ACBC has
borrowed from psychology. Elyse Fitzpatrick, in her 2001
book Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety, borrows the
"downward spiral" principle used by Seligman in 1973 in
referring to depression. Fitzpatrick's book is on ACBC's
approved reading list: ACBC is borrowing from
Fallacy 4: Nothing Works But Our Own Programs
In a podcast, ACBC representative Dr.
Heath Lambert and Mark Shaw ridicule the 12 step programs
because they've become "inclusive." I have a few problems
with his statements regarding 12 step programs: they are bearing
- Mark Shaw says that admission and confession are not the same. My thesaurus says they're synonyms.
- He says that 12 step programs don't include confession to God. Mark Shaw just demonstrated his lack of understanding of the twelve steps, as step five is admitting to God and to another person our wrongs, and step nine is to make amends to all we have wronged.
- Dr. Lambert states "Yet, as biblically minded Christians, we
want to have concerns about AA." Dr. Lambert makes the no
true Scottsman logical fallacy. Basically, if you
aren't concerned about AA, you're not a "true biblical
- Mark Shaw states "AA sets itself up as a spiritual
program." Basically, it appears Shaw and Lambert don't
know the difference between spiritual and religious.
However, my own sentiment, and the sentiment of Ed Welch's
book Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave (part of
ACBC's own approved reading, ironically) the success of the 12
step programs highlight the glaring lack of discipleship,
close fellowship, and accountability in many churches.
So at this point, I'm left with a memory of Jesus's own words
about someone who was casting out demons in His name: "He who
is not against us is for us." Who is ACBC or, really,
anyone, to criticize the twelve step programs? They
essentially have no curriculum to help people suffering from
addictions. In my opinion, if you're not helping people,
but criticizing those who do, you have lost your credibility.
- Dr. Lambert states, "and so there has been efforts to try to
rehabilitate AA with some kind of Christianized
version." Why would ACBC be against doing this?
Are they now claiming to be against Celebrate Recovery,
too? Who are they to criticize this completely biblical
12 step program? In addition, to say that adding the
Christian elements back to the 12 steps would fix the 12 steps
is to reveal one's lack of knowledge about the 12 step
programs. They grew out of the Oxford movement, a
Christian organization. The heritage of the 12 steps is
Christian. Indeed, my non-Christian friends in 12 steps
can clearly tell the program has Christian elements.
- Dr. Lambert then tells the story of his mom, how AA helped
her get over alcohol, but that she lived a sinful life (though
sober), and that Jesus saved her and changed her. The
problem with this is that they're creating a false dilemma:
the twelve steps have never claimed to be salvation.
Also, Lambert doesn't reveal whether his mother actually
"worked the steps" or merely attended the meetings. The
12 steps only offer sobriety, and have no opinion on outside
Fallacy 5: Addiction Isn't A Disease
ACBC believes that addictions are completely a moral problem, and not a disease. They rail against the disease theory of addiction.
I prefer the biopsychosocial model when it comes to addiction, and additionally the biopsychosocio-spiritual model hinted at by members of AACC. However, when I took the time to try and understand why AA and the other 12 steps call addiction a disease, I was pleasantly surprised that there are strong parallels. I offer that article which summarizes my findings.
In trying to rail against this problem, Dr. Lambert makes the logical error of quoting someone who is not an authority on the matter: Hillary Clinton. Why would the leader of ACBC, Dr. Lambert, quote someone who is not an expert on the matter as his cornerstone for an article?
Dr. Lambert says it's dangerous to think of addiction as a disease, because we might "rebuke" people with "Parkinson's disease" and "offer ... medical care for problems like sinful anger." This massively ridiculous straw man argument is unbecoming a Christian and a PhD.
Dr. Lambert uses scripture to say that gluttony and substance use are sins, and rightfully so. But his tone seems to suggest that addicts can be shamed into obedience. But also, let's not kid ourselves: there were absolutely no speeches or statements against gluttony. I challenge him to provide scientific research to justify the effectiveness of shaming therapy, and to cite how effective it is. Doesn't the Bible teach it is the grace (not shame) of God which leads us to repent (Romans 2:4)? Dr. May, in Addiction & Grace, aptly states grace is the #1 weapon against addiction. It's right to feel guilt over sin, but Satan uses shame to keep addicts stuck in the addiction cycle.
Dr. Lambert says pursuing a secular disease model of addiction is what has increased the addiction epidemic over the last 50 years. First, Lambert offers no proof of this. Second, Dr. Lambert makes a false dilemma argument. Is the disease model the only possible reason addictions have increased? Could the emergence of refined drugs like heroine and cocaine also play a part? Could the expansion of global shipping (for instance, from fields in Afghanistan to streets in America) have played a part? Could it be more addictions exist now than ever before? One addictive behavior was accelerated approximately 50 years ago: porn addiction.
Also, Lambert's stance only offers the
hollow sound of hypocrisy. The history of the church in
America and alcoholism stands as a monument to the failure of
the church to help people. Even today, people suffering
from addictions are so frequently kicked out of church rather
than helped by church that it's become a commonly heard cliche
at Twelve Step meetings. The church desperately
needs to change its stance towards addictions as a whole.
Do you think maybe the church's reluctance to help addicts over the last 50 years may have played a part in the medical community adopting the disease model of addictions? I think the church needs to acknowledge that, for decades if not centuries, addiction was thought to be only a moral problem, and thus few, if any, addicts received help. How much is ACBC spending on helping people with addictions? As of writing this, their curriculum has only one book on addiction, by Ed Welch. How many addiction centers does ACBC administer or contribute to? In my current location, no SBC church is actively doing anything about addictions. The Methodists, however, are very involved in helping people with addictions.
Dr. Lambert doesn't make any specific accusations against specific 12 steps, but instead lumps them all together in a stereotype. He doesn't mention the many 12 step programs which teach first that the addict has no control over their addiction, and that they need to turn their will over to God. I've met addicts in 12 step programs that came to believe there might be a God because of how well the program worked. If 12 steps cast out "demons" of addiction in the name of God, it sounds like they're for us, not against us (Luke 9:50).
Dr. Lambert also, by lumping all the 12 steps together, bears false witness when he refers to them as secular, as Celebrate Recovery is a Christian 12 step program. Anyone who is upset with the toxic influence of ACBC on their church needs to keep that statement in their back pocket, because the ACBC members I've met seem to bring that up quite often.
Thus, Dr. Lambert's article is poorly
written and argued. Dr. Lambert engages in
illogical arguments and bearing false witness.
Faithfully Protestant Conference
I attended an ACBC Conference in [Redacted] at [Redacted]. Here are my notes. The reader should start with an understanding that, when the teachers and speakers spoke on the Word of God, they did an excellent job. It's usually only the distractions from that, i.e. taking pot shots at psychology, where they were not helpful.
Note that I have censored and redacted this
article because I have met ACBC counselors who have been
brain-washed by their anti-psychology rants. I have also
experienced how ACBC will do their best to put on a professional
image while secretly shutting other counselors out of service in
churches. I have experienced their oppression first hand,
and I know that if word gets back to what church I am at, if
they have ACBC counselors, they will target me. Their
oppression ranges included trying to control the narrative in
teaching sessions so that they can periodically cast doubt and
even bear false witness against anyone who isn't in NANC or
ACBC, thus poisoning the minds of church members against
AACC. It has also included refusing to let
non-ACBC-certified counselors serve in their churches. (To
become ACBC-certified you must do a paltry 40 hours of
internship but also sign a document in which you refuse to use
psychology.) Indeed, when I wanted to get experience as my
bachelor's degree was coming to an end, they refused to allow me
to help even though they paid to send me to one of their
conferences: I had to "go around them" to the jail chaplains and
help out there. But ironically, I got far better
experience in jail anyways. I can still remember the look
of disappointment on the de facto ACBC leader in that church
when I told him. I was hoping that his expression would be
that he is happy for me, but I clearly saw that look of
disappointment, as if he was trying to shut me out and failed
Dr. Heath Lambert
- Speaker Heath Lambert, in a tearful appeal, said that
without the Bible being sufficient, biblical counselors have
no authority. Isn't the value placed on authority in the
mind of the person we are speaking with? Yes, the Bible
is an authority. This is not to say we should not use
the Bible, so much as to say that unfortunately not everyone
accepts this authority. This is a house of cards
fallacy: the Bible is still an authority whether someone
believes it or not.
- Heath Lambert said that Dr. Mark Yarhouse being "weak" on
transgenderism counseling is proof that all integrationalists
are bad because they don't subscribe to the Bible. This
is a lie through generalization, because I know AACC is not
weak on the topic. Indeed, AACC's code of ethics
specifically condemns condoning, supporting, or encouraging
transgender or homosexual behavior. That does not mean
AACC members cannot help such individuals. I've read Dr.
Yarhouse's book and he's not "weak" on transgenderism. I
think what Dr. Lambert really meant is that he is unhappy with
Dr. Yarhouse not being a judgmental Pharisee.
- Note that Lambert once gave a speech on a blog in which he said that we should not insult or be divisive in regards to Christian counselors like Christian psychologists. However, his behavior in this speech is hypocrisy.
- Heath Lambert undertook an attack on Eric Johnson. It
had something to do with accepting something from psychology
that disagrees with the Bible and Eric Johnson essentially
saying that the Christian would just have to get used to the
conflict. Note that Heath
Lambert apologized for attacking Eric Johnson in September
of 2017. This speech is one month later.
Dr. Heath Lambert's apology was completely insincere (no
Dr. Paige Patterson
Before I begin, let me say that Dr. Paige
Patterson was instrumental in steering the Southern Baptist
Convention back to Biblical inerrancy. I am very thankful
for his work in this. However, his speech gave me
pause. Given this and his
many other problems, seven months later he
- Dr. Patterson set up a lot of Freudian
straw men. I don't like Freud either, but is
discrediting Freud the only way to make your case?
Has Dr. Patterson been to a book store? People write
books about Freud's mistakes. Isn't ad hominem
unbecoming of someone with a higher education degree, much
less a Christian (Eph. 4:31)? When you pick up a copy of
the DSM-5, whose picture is in the APA's logo? Because
it definitely is not Freud.
- Dr. Patterson then quotes Unhinged and Saving
Normal as why psychology is broken. First,
Patterson said psychology doesn't change anyone. The
published research of psychology disproves that. Second,
he claimed psychopharmacology is an unproductive scam.
The evidence shows psychopharmacology helps many people.
Patterson's speech pattern reminds me of bullying. I
have written about psychopharmacology here.
- Dr. Patterson quotes Carl Rogers about his enmeshed
wife. I don't recall Rogers divorcing his wife.
Perhaps if Patterson understood enmeshment and detachment in
relation to attachment theory and how closely it resembles the
Trinity, he would not have said any of this. Patterson
could've noticed the parallel between enmeshment and idolatry,
in ACBC's language. This speech demonstrates Patterson's
"sermon" was calculated to insult and scoff, not tell us how
the Bible is a superior counseling resource.
- Dr. Patterson then said we should read Freud and
Skinner. But isn't ACBC's stance not to fill our minds
with (what they claim is) rubbish per Philippians 4:8?
Second, Freud and Skinner, while possibly foundational to
modern psychology, are also very dated: why are we reading old
information? Why not newer Christian books by Dr.
Clinton, Dr. Worthington, etc.?
- Dr. Patterson brings up the disease model of personality disorders and addictions. The disease model of addictions has fallen slightly out of favor since the 90s, replaced by the biopsychosocial model. However, the disease model is still close enough. In addition, AACC has put forward a biopsychosocial-spiritual model which explains addictions even better, but for some reason ACBC never mentions AACC. Why doesn't ACBC mention AACC instead of just lumping all integrationalists into the same camp? Are they scared to mention them?
Dr. Paige Patterson only demonstrated his
deep personal bias in this speech. Even if I don't agree
with "cancel culture" and the events that transpired towards Dr.
Patterson, I can say that if this speech is any indication, he
did it to himself.
Dr. Jim Newhauser
Jim Newhauser spoke at the final [Redacted]
ACBC event. I will say that the way he spoke was different
than previous speakers: less rabid antagonism, more
logical. In fact, of all the anti-psychology speakers of
the event, by far Jim Newhauser spoke in a more dignified and
truth-filled way. However, once again, the hasty
generalization of these "Integrationalists" comes out. No
one in this whole conference mentioned AACC, my
organization. AACC is integrationalist, and they are the
largest Christian counseling association on the planet, but
they're not the only ones. My notes:
- Jim said that integrationalists rejected Jay Adams. I think he needs to read Competent Christian Counseling volume 1. Jay Adams and NANC are mentioned favorably. They are applauded for their work in the 1960s to rescue Christian counseling from becoming utterly secular. However, they are also properly described (as I discovered from first hand experience) as a separatist movement.
- Jim said mindfulness is Buddhist in origin. This may
be, but the spiritual discipline of quiet is almost identical
to mindfulness. Much less the Bible tells us to meditate
on the Word of God, but I digress.
- Jim admitted that the Bible is not exhaustive. The
crowd was silent.
- Jim mentioned some Mr. Bickman. I've never heard of him.
- Jim mentioned that "sola scriptura" doesn't mean we don't
need anything else, just that the Bible is supreme. The
crowd was silent. But note that this whole
conference was incorrectly attributing
Luther's "5 Solas". "Sola Scriptura" is about salvation,
not everything in the universe. (But don't get me wrong,
I very broadly apply sola scriptura in my life, and I
do my best to know and obey it at all times, as anyone will
- Jim quoted John Calvin, "all truth is God's truth", but then rejects research psychology as being blind, "it's all interpreted", etc. This is both a contradiction and a hasty generalization.
- Jim agreed that secular counseling can make the world a better place, of which I also agree.
- Jim said that cognitive behavioral therapy is broken. How is it broken if it's very similar to "taking every thought captive" in 2 Corinthians 10:5? If a secular psychologist were to analyze ACBC's counseling methods, they would likely conclude that the ACBC uses a form of CBT.
- Jim then made some off-handed remark about Jungian therapy
not being effective. I can sort of agree, because
Jungian is sort of an old model of therapy, and one that
wasn't mentioned at the master's degree level. But why
would you attack potentially old, out-dated theories?
- Jim disputed the client-focused model. Again, if a secular psychologist analyzed ACBC's techniques, they would likely conclude that the ACBC's model is client-focused.
- Jim said Integrationalists think biblical counselors should
repent. But he offers no citations, and I've never read
anything within AACC's curriculum that teaches this.
However, now that he mentions it, and now that I have
experienced the enormous level of false witness from this
conference, yes, I think they ought to repent of their bearing
- Jim said "Integrationalists" say you should not call out
sin. See above: I've already proved this wrong.
- Jim admitted that there are things you can learn from psychology.
- Jim accused "Integrationalists" of saying that the Bible
lacks nuance. I've never read this: can he provide a
reference? Also, doesn't his statement about the Bible
not being exhaustive sound a lot like he just contradicted
- Jim said it's more about spiritual maturity and knowledge than being a member of ACBC. I am not sure why I needed ACBC's permission not to be a member of ACBC.
- Jim said that counseling is the Holy Spirit working, not the
counselor. I already agree: see AACC's parakeleo model.
- Jim said the psychological community envies the
church. First, why does their opinion on the church
matter? Second, can he please provide a reference?
- Jim said that secular psychology rejects the Bible. Why is it surprising when avowed secular organizations don't use the Bible?
In an effort to present both the good and bad of ACBC, I offer this video. This video is very good. Up until this point, most of what I've been exposed to (books and speeches) within ACBC has focused on denouncing worry and anxiety as a sin, and rather quickly (i.e. towards the beginning of speeches and books), which only pushes anxious people who need help away. This video is a lot better. And it acknowledges that the emotion of anxiety and/or worry can at times be useful and good.
Another thing that could use changing, however, is that they didn't address people with chronic anxiety and/or worry. What of those whose anxiety stems from a neurochemical imbalance?
The problem with the church's response to
mental health, for decades, has been to judge and shame the very
people who need their help. I'd like to see this type of
response pattern go extinct.
Men's Conference [Redacted]
Dr. Stuart Scott came to my church to teach
us about Biblical decision making. I am thankful for the
majority of what he taught us, and for his book The
Exemplary Husband. However, a few of the things he
said, like other ACBC instructors, are not accurate. For
- Dr. Scott said that psychology is just "unsaved men studying
unsaved men." Such a dismissive statement is unbecoming
a person holding a PhD. Besides, if that's what he
thinks about psychology, what does he think about Christian
anthropology? Should we cut that chapter out of every
theology book ever written?
- Dr. Scott quoted a book by psychiatrists, (I believe Secret of AA but I can't find the book reference) on why Alcoholics Anonymous is only 10% effective. He attempted to discredit the 12 step programs. There are a couple of problems with this:
- He quoted psychiatrists. With as much time as ACBC
teachers spend insulting and attempting to refute psychology
and psychiatry, and telling people not to believe anything
they say, this is hypocrisy, as he's performing a CIA "enemy
of my enemy is my friend" argument.
- He attacked the 12 steps without ample or even properly
cited evidence. Combined with even secular therapy,
they increase abstinence (see Project
MATCH) approximately 30%. ACBC has only
one book on addictions and has no curriculum for launching a
Christian addiction center. Searching for Southern
Baptist addictions centers on Google leads to very few
results. Given the apparent silence and lack of
involvement, 30% is far better than nothing. It's like
insulting Nolan Ryan for messing up a pitch when the only
baseball you played was in elementary school.
- His words reveal he may not understand the war out there
in addiction therapy versus 12 steps. There are a few
in psychology would wish to attack the 12 steps, as they are
a spiritual (read: not scientific) program. But
psychology mostly stopped attacking the 12 steps because,
quite frankly, the 12 steps work.
- His words reveal he may not understand the history of the 12 steps and their religious origin.
- ACBC has no curriculum on sex addiction (per Dr.
Street). There are four major twelve steps helping
people with sex addiction and nothing
from ACBC for porn addiction.
- ACBC constantly lumps all twelve steps together, ignoring
Celebrate Recovery, a completely Christian 12 step
program. Also, ACBC doesn't have their own support
It's really sad he would attack AA randomly and out of the blue in a sermon series about making biblical decisions. It's clear that his decision to do so isn't biblical.
So I tolerate Dr. Scott's writings when he "stays in his own lane." It was refreshing to hear someone from ACBC teach a wider, less restrictive view of how to make decisions. His teachings emphasized Christian liberty.
However, in this matter he "strayed from his lane" to attack others, but without ample evidence or understanding. This is unbecoming a PhD educator to not "answer a matter before [they] hear it" (Prov. 18:13).
Note that I subsequently asked Dr. Scott,
when he announced that his lecture audio would be made freely
available to my church, if he would provide a copy to Liberty
University. He refused, giving some sort of unfair insult
to Liberty University. Sort of ironic if your statements
sound like those "evil integrationalists" could learn from your
speeches but then you refuse to make your speeches available to
So to summarize why I am not a member of ACBC: because they won't let me. And given their rabid hatred for everything psychological (hasty generalization), their cherry picking and less-than-Google-level fact finding tendencies, I cannot join them, on principle. I can learn from them, and I refuse to harbor ill will against them.
I am sad to say that ACBC often makes me, an
integrationalist, their enemy. This sentiment is
one-sided. Though I will say that if anything on this page
is true and offends you, "Have I now become
your enemy by telling you the truth?"
I do not consider any of its members my enemies. If confronted with divisive ACBC members, I choose peace and grace. The Bible is clear: if they are my brothers and sisters, so long as they are not preaching heresy, I am called to peace, and so I will pursue that. This page is more of a footnote of the sadness caused by the divisiveness of members of the body of Christ.
However, I would STRONGLY caution any church which is considering partnering with ACBC: know who you are dealing with. They are strongly divisive and you could end up losing church members over it. Try to find a way to either have someone running your counseling program in your church who can remain objective and neutral, and incorporate people from AACC, not just from ACBC. Or otherwise don't let them try to take over your counseling program. To this day, because of what I know, I refuse to join churches where their counselors (ACBC or NANC) are embedded because I know how this typically ends: being shut out. I've experienced it more than once.
More Proof: Email and Reddit
First, an email from a concerned mother who saw her son's mental health go down the tubes due to buying ACBC's pressure they put on people to stop going to see therapists that are working for them:
If anyone ever needed emotional coaching/deep spiritual
guidance, christian psychotherapy for their heart needs, it is
my son [REDACTED]. He has low vision & has been
living like a recluse for years, not working etc. Sadly,
even though my first marriage lasted 23 years & we raised
our kids in church, the marriage relationship & our family
was marked by depression, co-dependency, immature emotional
expression & very little demonstrative affection &
love. As [REDACTED] was in
counseling, I was seeing huge improvements in him. Our
conversations around emotional healing & facing deep fears
& wounds were really deep. I could tell that he was
really maturing in his ability to see his heart, & honor
the experiences he had in childhood that influenced his
choices as a young man. I shared with him a lot of what
I was learning about myself & he would do the same.
I will always cherish those conversations we shared, I had
high hopes that it was the beginning of a beautiful, new
bonding between us as mother & son. As of now, all
that seems to have changed dramatically. Two weeks ago
he attended a biblical counseling conference ACBC sponsored,
with several other members of the church that we both
attend. First thing he did was quit seeing the
therapist, he feels that it was not of God & even sinful
(because he uses integrationalist methods) I'm sure you
can imagine my deep, deep dismay & concern. In my
inbox right now I have 3 links the pastor wants me to check
out (from the ICBD group) & 2 links my son wants me to
listen to from the lectures from the ACBC conference he
attended. I'm absolutely happy to do both - but today I
am just feeling overwhelmed & discouraged. I can't
seem to catch up on all I need to understand to really be able
to refute this strange teaching. I'm exhausted
frankly. I really needed to 'talk' to someone else who
gets it (sorry for this really long email.) Obviously as
a parent who has witnessed first hand these devastating &
terrifying symptoms in my own son....I am extremely concerned
with the 'Bible Only' approach to mental health! The
tone in your articles makes so much sense to me about how
divisive this topic has become - I smell a lot of spiritual
pride/legalism that isn't helpful at all, in fact I believe it
can be exceptionally harmful in matters of severe mental
health issues. My son will be attending another weekend
conference this coming weekend.....I could go on & on, but
I'm sure you get the picture.
So far, I've only given my son a couple of things to read. One was an excellent article on the history of Biblical Counseling & one was an excellent article that Eric L. Johnson wrote that John Piper's ministry featured a couple of years ago, 'Still Saints.' I wanted to write to you today for a couple of reasons. One to have someone listen to me who understands my heartache & WHY & two to ask you, do you have any encouragement for me? Any other good places to point me for good info on why the Bible Only approach isn't sufficient? Or wise? I'm feeling really lost here. Thank you for any help you can throw my way!
A weary sister in Christ -
Of course I answered her email. But there's more than just this. Consider this one from an exchange I had on Reddit. This poor wife is trying to get her lying husband to go to marital counseling with her, and when he does, the ACBC counselor tells her she can't speak out about his lying. I'd like to point out that this might be a fluke, because the Bible does not say a woman cannot point out a bad thing her husband is doing. But it's within the spectrum of those from ACBC I have had experiences with. The husband is the head of the family, per Scripture, but that does not mean God cannot point out how he's not leading well, such as lying and manipulation. And a pastoral counselor can absolutely point this out, and so can a wife. The Bible never says that a wife's submission must be her silence. And the Bible tells the husband to lead like Jesus leads the church. Does Jesus lie to the church?
Keep in mind I am only getting half the
story here. I realize that this may not be a true
story. But it repeats on Reddit often enough that it
should be pointed out. Sure, I could dig up bad reviews of
AACC counselors, CCEF counselors, ABC counselors, etc. But
I think it needs to be said.