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July Banner Article: “Counseling” an Unbeliever by Rev. Doug Leaman

Posted on Jul 13, 2017

“She is disrespectful, disobedient, and a terrible example to her siblings,” said her parents. Sally (pseudo-name) is studying sociology in a Brazilian college and says she does not have the faith of her parents. Finally, she was sent to Leah and me for biblical counseling. In the first few minutes of listening and gathering the necessary data we find out that she does not read the Bible, pray, or believe in God. She is depressed, full of anxiety and worry, and wants to visit a psychologist.

Proverbs 26:4-5 are helpful with the unbelieving counselee. Verse 4 says, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” Then verse 5 counters: “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

In verse four we learn that we should not counsel (“answer”) her according to her point of view. Instead, we should reason with her from the Bible. We told her clearly that the absolute authority is Jesus Christ and His Word. We told her about the gospel from the pages of Scripture. I believe we obeyed verse 4 when we did these things.

In this first session most of the time, however, was spent obeying verse 5. “Okay, Sally, let’s look at this from your worldview. You say there is no god. Okay. Let me draw this on paper for you to visualize.” I drew a circle on a page. “That circle is the universe (created world). Do you believe that the universe exists?”  “Yes!” “How do you know it exists? Did you scientifically analyze this belief? Or do you believe it by faith? The question of ultimate reality, you see, Sally, is only grasped by faith. This is true for the Christian as well as for you. Did you know that you were a person of faith?” “No! I am not! I am a rationalist!” “Sally, what do you base your reason on? What is your ultimate source of authority?” “Reason!” she responded. “Well, Sally, does your reason have a foundation? Did reason evolve after millions of years? Is the foundation for your reason the big bang? If so, what is beyond the big bang?” “Well, nothing … a … a … nobody knows.” “So, Sally, you are saying that reason is based on that which is unknown. Is it reasonable to believe that reason can be based on the unknown? Is that rational or irrational?” She pondered for a moment.

“As a Christian, Sally, I believe in reason. Reason that is based on God’s revelation to man in the Bible (Back to verse 4). My faith is in the God who made a real world. It seems that your faith is in a mental void. Is this what you believe Sally?” Defiantly, she responded, “Yes!”

We also used this same approach to the question of knowledge and the question of morality.

The session had to come to a close. “Sally, do you know why you have created a false universe that does not exist? You have created this imaginary universe so you can do what you want to do. What you worship is your own desires. You become what you worship (Ps. 115:8). You should feel an existential void in your life when you worship false gods. Idolatry will always disappoint.”

She did not leave converted to Christ. I do believe, however, she left the counseling room less “wise in her own eyes (vs. 5).” We are thrown upon prayer and the grace and power of God alone to save this young lady. All that this conversation demonstrated to Sally was the folly of her own faith. She should have left depressed. Please pray with us as we meet with her over the next weeks. We want to show her the hope and love that is found in Christ alone.

Rev. Doug Leaman


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