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 article.

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?

    Also, isn't ACBC's implication that psychology is always wrong an ad hominem attack, much less splitting?

    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.

    In this 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:

    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 Causes

    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 problems.

Personality Theory

    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 media.

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 psychology.

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 false witness.

    What Dr. Lambert has said is a non-sequitor: it does not logically follow.  The 12 steps help people get over harmful addictions, not sins, per se: it is into that empty space that God can then continue to speak to the lost.  Dr. Gerald May (Addiction & Grace) states that addiction is the #1 psychic enemy of the church.  What's one of the main excuses to salvation that the lost give?  They often say "I need to stop _____."  Insert any sin or addiction into that blank.  In freeing people from addictions, hands that are no longer in chains are now free to reach out and find God.

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 to.

Dr. Heath Lambert

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 was fired.

    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:

The Internet

    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 instance:

    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 them.


    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.