One of the many pleasures of working at Dallas Theological Seminary is the opportunity to meet and interact with people like John Hilber, who integrate superior intelligence with a humble spiritual maturity. Before John went to Cambridge University to get his PhD, he was Pastor of a church in Washington. It was there that he wrote one of the best articles I have read concerning the importance of the Old Testament wisdom literature for integrating psychological thinking with Christian thinking. Unfortunately, this article had been buried in a 1998 issue of Bibliotheca Sacra (affectionately called “Bib Sac”) and was difficult to access. John was kind enough to convert the format of the article to fit this blog so you can get it easily in its entirety. I delight in seeing several points supported in his article:
- The wisdom literature of the OT invites sources outside the canon of Scripture as well as in Scripture itself for the discovery of truth.
- Wisdom can make use of methods that neither emerge exegetically from the Bible nor utilize the words of Scripture itself. I think this statement would embrace results from secular psychological research as a contribution to truth.
- Wise counselors hold to the Bible as the only perfect authority for guiding faith and practice.
- Wisdom calls for a deeper reverence for God in conforming one’s life to the Creator’s design.
From: BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 155 (October–December 1988): 411–22 (reproduced digitally with permission). Any formal citation of this work should reference the original publication with the proper page number.
OLD TESTAMENT WISDOM AND THE INTEGRATION DEBATE IN CHRISTIAN COUNSELING
John W. Hilber
Integration of secular counseling theory and methods in the Christian community continues to be a controversial issue.1 On one side of the debate are those who appeal to the sufficiency of Scripture, contending that modern psychology and psychotherapy are poisoned wells from which Christians cannot drink without compromising biblical truth.2 They say no integration is possible. On the other side of the debate are integrationists, who argue that general revelation is a legitimate source of truth and who therefore attempt a cautious use of modern theory and methods regulated by biblical theology and a Christian worldview.3 No consensus among integrationists has emerged on the method of integration or the extent to which integration is possible.4 But all integrationists share an openness to the contribution of modern psychotherapy.5
Most debate over the validity of integration has focused either on the doctrine of general revelation or New Testament passages dealing with the sufficiency of Christ or of Scripture or the giftedness of the church. But absent from the discussion is any serious engagement with the one area of Scripture that speaks most extensively to the issue of counseling, namely, Old Testament wisdom literature.6 This article addresses the integration question from the neglected viewpoint of Old Testament wisdom literature and the role of the sage in ancient Israel in relation to two questions: Where is wisdom to be found? What was the function of wisdom in the Old Testament community of faith? Read the rest of this entry »