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Counseling and Psychology
This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
What is the Assemblies of God's position on Christians using counselors and therapists in seeking inner healing in personal or relationship problems? Does God really need human intervention to bring emotional healing in relationships today?
God, the source of healing:
The Assemblies of God believes in healing for the body, soul, and spirit. The death of Jesus Christ made possible physical, spiritual, and emotional healing. The church believes there is no human need that exceeds God's provision of grace and healing through the life and death of Christ. In His ministry Jesus brought salvation to the lost (Luke 19:7-10), deliverance to the oppressed (Matthew 8:28-32), and courage to the broken (Matthew 9:18-25). Today Jesus Christ still offers healing to every need of life. Faith in Christ is the link to Gods divine healing power.
Recognizing Gods resources for healing:
While the Assemblies of God believes in and has regularly witnessed Gods healing power, the church also recognizes that God often uses doctors and counselors in administering healing. This too comes from Him just as He uses ministers to help impart the truths of His Holy Word. It is important that Christians recognize physicians and counselors as potential agents of Gods healing. The Bible says "Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the father" (James 1:17). Physicians, counselors, and ministers who assist in the healing process and recognize God as the author of life and the source of healing indeed qualify as some of Gods good gifts.
Responding to need:
When people struggle mentally and emotionally, the hurt and anguish often can be extremely painful. It is important that these individuals receive immediate help. If they are in risk of physical danger because of extreme depression, suicidal thinking, or some form of severe mental anguish it is imperative that the individual see a medical doctor to determine if the problem is caused by physical deficiencies such as a chemical imbalance. In such cases a doctor often can stabilize or remedy the situation through proper diagnosis and prescription. Depending on the need, a counselor (preferably Christian) or pastor should also be prepared to come alongside to administer healing through compassion, listening, counsel, support, encouragement, and prayer.
Finding the right counselor:
In situations not caused by physical deficiency, but that are either relational or emotional in origin, a counselor may prove helpful. A Christian should be concerned with a counselors personal belief system. It is best to choose a counselor who is a Christian (one who has accepted Christ as Savior, lives for Him, and recognizes the Bible as Gods guide for mankind).
If the counselor does not believe one can have a personal relationship with God, and instead approaches life strictly from a humanistic point of view, the advice and counseling approach will be devoid of an essential component of true healingGod. While some help may be received without reference to faith, a counselor who recognizes the centrality and importance of Gods Word and power of His Spirit can deal with the whole person more readily. A pastor often will be able to team with a physician to bring a more complete healing process into focus by addressing the spiritual needs of the individual.
The danger in selecting a secular counselor who employs strictly a humanistic worldview is seen at its worst when the counselors go so far as to assume that the cause of psychological problems is religious beliefs.
Pastoral care and reliance on the Bible and prayer for healing offer a better alternative than anti-religious counseling provided physical deficiencies have been eliminated by medical doctors. God knows what help is available to us for our well-being, and He can lead us to proper resources that recognize His existence.
CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS:
There are many options for help that must be carefully distinguished from legitimate counselors who recognize and complement divine involvement in emotional and spiritual healing. Some suggest that other powers or influences can bring healing and wholeness. Christians, however, should never surrender the mind to any control other than Christ. Any therapy in violation of God's Word, must be avoided
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.