Title

Biblical Counseling and Culture: Addressing Cross-Cultural Challenges in Counseling

Date of Award

3-1-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)

Department

Practical Theology

First Advisor

Bob Somerville

Abstract

By the year 2050, almost half of the people in the United States of America are expected to be nonwhite Americans. Currently, about one in every four people whom one has a chance to meet in the United States is an ethnic minority, a legal permanent resident, or an unauthorized immigrant. This one-fourth of the population is not well represented in the ranks of the biblical counseling leadership or in the application of biblical counseling. For example, before writing this abstract, the author went to three different web sites of organizations that practice and teach biblical counseling. Twenty- five out of twenty-five of the biblical counseling speakers, teachers, and authors highlighted on these web sites were White Americans. The counseling tools and resources that have been developed by the current biblical counseling leadership address well the counseling needs in the churches they represent, but what about the counseling needs of their culturally-different neighbors?

The main goal of this thesis is to consider what must be done by the counselor to effectively disciple people who are culturally different than he. Some biblical counselors argue that all people are basically the same and as long as one can deal with any language difficulties presented, the counselor can use the same counseling approach for all people. This paper will attempt to challenge this assumption and a similar assumption that the biblical counselor has little or no responsibility to disciple anyone outside of his local church. This challenge will include a charge to think differently about discipleship.

The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to love our neighbor. He also gave us the great commission to go out and make disciples of all the nations. At this point in time in this country, the biblical counselor has a unique opportunity to fulfill this commandment and this great commission. Should we not then incorporate these mandates into our biblical counseling goals and objectives individually as counselors and corporately as churches? Should not then counseling leadership take hold of the vision of how God could use counseling and discipleship in His Church in these United States to help pull us together as living stones united regardless of race, color, or nationality; united for the purpose of bringing Him glory? The author’s hope is that the biblical counseling community will begin to purpose to cross cultural boundaries for the sake of the culturally-different neighbor, for God’s church as a whole, but first and foremost for the glory of God.