God is Sovereign; Evil is Still Evil

God is sovereign (in control) of our suffering and the evils of this world. This casts a deep hue of divine meaning and purpose over our experience of suffering. … But it does not necessarily diminish the actual experience of suffering itself, nor do theological explanations of suffering necessarily decrease the pain.

This is an important (precious) distinction for anyone who has gone through a severe experience of pain, suffering, abuse, or sorrow. Do not conflate “God works all things (even evil and suffering) together FOR good” (Rom 8:28 — a promise that believers can take to the bank) into “Everything that is being worked out by God IS itself good” (not the case; not in the Bible).

In your good intentions, do not validate someone’s abuse; neither diminish their pain. Own evil as evil. No need not to. We have a God who is sovereign enough for that.

Advertisements

Review of Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy by J. William Worden

Summary

In Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner (4th ed.), J. William Worden provides an introduction to bereavement/loss, grief, mourning, and providing grief counseling or therapy. Worden defines grief to be the experience one goes through during a loss (and specifically for the purpose of this book, the loss of a loved one due to death). Mourning indicates the process one undergoes as he or she endeavors to adapt to a loss. And bereavement may be understood as referring to the specific loss to which the mourning individual is trying to adapt.[1]

Worden begins by addressing the concept of attachment. According to Worden, grief is rather incomprehensible or unexplainable a part from attachment. Attachment—“the tendency in human beings to create strong affectional bonds”— to someone (or something) is what makes the loss of that something (or someone) something that needs to be grieved.[2]

Worden distinguishes between normal (or uncomplicated) and abnormal (or complicated) grief. Normal grief may entail or be accompanied by a large variety of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors such as sadness, anger, guilt, depression-like symptoms, shock, preoccupation, various somatic sensations and distresses, insomnia, etc.[3] Worden stresses the importance of recognizing this broad range of experiences (including those that may seem rather odd or abnormal according to everyday experience) “so that they [counselors] do not pathologize behavior that should be recognized as normal.”[4] What makes abnormal grief abnormal, according to Worden, is not the presence of experiences that may seem bizarre compared to regular functional existence, but the intensity and duration of otherwise normal grief-reactions.[5] Thus, abnormal grief includes the following expressions: chronic grief—grief that is excessive in length or lacks resolution; delayed grief—postponed, inhibited, or suppressed grief reactions; exaggerated grief, which involves excessive intensification of the grief experience resulting in maladaptive behavior or feelings of being overwhelmed; and masked grief, where grief reactions are expressed in covert forms.

Continue reading

A Biblical Theology of Psychotropic Medication

The following outlines are portions from two presentations given for the course 6710 Counseling in Theological Perspective: Faith & Practice taught by Dr. Rev. Stephen Greggo at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, October and November 2014.

The two presentations (part 1 and part 2) addressed a case study of a specific (fictional) individual. My group was selected to address matters related to the use of psychotropic medication and discipline.


The first presentation raised concerns. For example, some of the more theologically oriented concerns regarding the use of medication included the following:

  • Not taking responsibility for one’s actions (sin).
    • In the use of medication, have we mislabeled sin as illness? Are we treating sin as non-sin?
    • By treating an issue as illness, do we eliminate the Christian claim of human responsibility?
  • Sanctification – Does medication conflict with the Christian view of change?
    • What is genuine, God-honoring change from a Christian perspective (sanctification)? And how is that sort of changed accomplished?
    • Is change resulting from medication that form of change, an expression of sanctification? Or should we distinguish the two?
    • And if distinguished, how should a Christian view change resulting from medication, since it is not necessarily the change of sanctification? Is to be avoided, seen as good but yet superficial, etc. What?

A Christian Interface Approach to Psychology and Clinical Counseling

The following is a paper submitted to Dr. Rev. Stephen Greggo in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the course 6710 Counseling in Theological Perspective: Faith & Practice at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, November 2014.

[You should note, we were required to select a doctrinal statement as a starting point in laying out our theological convictions.]


This paper seeks to present a distinctively Christian interface approach to counseling and psychology. It will (1) begin by presenting relevant theological convictions, (2) tease out interface implications, and (3) conclude with brief ministry applications.

Theological Convictions

I have selected the London Baptist Confession of 1644 as my doctrinal statement. As a Reformed Baptist, this confession faithfully represents my theological convictions. However, due to its brevity, this section elaborates upon certain theological topics that are central to my interface approach.

Revelation. Christian theology speaks of two modes of divine revelation. ‘General’ or ‘natural revelation’ refers to God’s revelation of truth “to all persons at all times and in all places” (‘general’) through ‘natural’ means such as “nature, history, and the constitution of human beings” (e.g., conscience).[1] ‘Special revelation’ is that which is communicated to particular persons (‘special’) through supernatural means such as divine speech, unique events of divine intervention, and the divine incarnation.[2] Due to man’s fallen condition, general revelation’s efficacy diminishes as man suppresses truth known through general revelation (the noetic effect of sin; see Rom 1:18-32), intensifying the need for special revelation. As God’s direct and explicit revelation, Christian scripture (special revelation) holds the place of highest authority (sola scriptura).[3]

Continue reading