Uncertainty in Christian counselling

Dr Rudolph Meyer, contract researcher at UNISA addressed the issue of Christian counselling in a postmodern era at the open day on 13 October 2007.

Dr Meyer stated that empowering counselling and Christian healing is a reality, although it is ambiguous and uncertain.  Postmodernism affects us all in all the areas of our lives and some deconstruction is required. He has experienced divine healing in a very practical way in his life.

Belief in divine healing is ultimately based on trust in and dependence on faith in and reliance on Jesus Christ, and an entrusting relationship with him.

Healing and empowering include all levels of consciousness, namely the physical, emotional, mental (as in the mind and rational powers) and the spiritual. The human being is an integrated system. Troubled emotion leads to physical illness. Similarly, a troubled body can often result in emotional issues.

Christians have always experienced a positive link between experiencing forgiveness by Christ, the ability to forgive past hurts and injustices and the miraculous healing that occurs in people’s lives. The paradigm of Spiritual Psychology entails compassionate self-forgiveness, as expressed by the apostle John in John 3:19, 20.

John 10:10 states that Jesus came to earth primarily to restore us to God’s image, and the abundant life.

Dr Meyer encouraged the meeting to be bold in claiming healing in Christ’s name and empowering through the Holy Spirit. We should proclaim the transformation of believers and the world through the Holy Spirit, using the living word of God, and debunking the Bible as the “paper pope” through biblicism. We should also expose the false myths of modernistic counselling and concepts of healing, by rediscovering the following truths:

  • People are more valuable than projects and structures
  • Renewal is more important than maintenance and tradition
  • Relationships are more important than rules and accuracy
  • Use intuition more than formulae and procedures
  • Risks bear more fruit than caution and diplomacy
  • Modernistic rational certainty tends to drain the energy and can make us despondent.

Descartes was one of the main figures of modernism – “I think, therefore I am”. He regarded the human being as an autonomous, rational subject that can attain certainty.  Across the past 300 years the Western mind embraced anthropocentrism, making the human mind the focus point in its thinking and action.  It freed thinking from the dogmatic and sterile medieval theologies.

One of the results of the modernist thinking paradigm is that a counsellor will strive to fit a client into a classification system, treating it objectively like a “thing”.  Eventually modernistic technology abused the Cartesian paradigm to produce dehumanised systems.  We have also turned to reasoning rather than divine revelation as the starting point for reflection and knowledge.  Our relationship with God became one of rationalism. When the mind is the idol at the top, with the emphasis on rationalism, it results in a theology of dogma and belief systems.

A de-humanised system

The main idea of modernistic counselling is the rational control of problems in a person’s life through the insights of a “knowledgeable person”. We assert that clear knowledge of another person is possible, by the “specialist”, with full insight into the “patient”.   The counsellor is the expert and the client is regarded as “not-knowing”.

Instead of prescriptive viewpoints, the counsellor has to accept that life is much bigger than the frame that modernistic facts and subjectivism forces on us.

The true Christian reply is “I trust Christ and therefore I am in a new dependent identity and in His service”.  We do not live by way of certainty and direct contact with the world and God, but by faith (Rom 1:17).  “Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly” (1 Cor 13:12).

The new approach is: “I don’t know – God please enlighten me by your Spirit.” We can know only partially.  We have to go back to the identity that God has given the client. Healing is to grow in God’s image.

Faith certainty is much deeper than just knowledge and salvation as statement of fact.  We therefore need to sidestep modernism with a fundamental change that comprises:

  • A fixed identity gives way to “changing towards God’s image, what we are in Christ’s image”,
  • Certainty gives way to the Holy Spirit’s guidance,
  • Constancy gives way to volatility, and
  • Final dogmatic statements give way to postmodern justified rhetorical witness of faith in Christ.

Modernistic counselling therefore shifts from the detection and clarification of traumatic problems and programmable solutions towards exploring ambiguous interpretations and tentative estimations towards wholeness, not from outside, but with a person, towards empowering the person.

A new approach

Dr Meyer shared his basic approach in Christian counselling as follows:

The gospel of Christ is summarised in “loving God and our neighbours as we love ourselves”. This love is used to grow towards wholeness, healing and service.

Faith starts with the work of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot start Christian counselling by analysing a problem or a situation outside of the Holy Spirit.

The approach is described with the model below. 

  • The serving block (1) denotes “I am full of power and love, whole in myself and serving others”.
  • The dominating block (2) denotes “I am full of power but without love. This is carnal, non-spiritual power”.
  • The manipulating block (3) denotes “I am full of love without power, weak and dependent on others”.
  • The victimised block (4) denotes “I am without power and love, hopelessly in distress”.

Our personal lives are characterised by one of the four blocks. Where you find yourself will determine your approach to life and the way you pray, speak, plan work and the way you see your calling in the church.

You can also move to any of the blocks at any time, depending on your insight and your willingness to accept your position of empowerment in Christ and His love.

You will tend to function in block 2 if you lack understanding of your empowerment in Christ and his love.

Ultimately we strive to act in the role of serving, with the emphasis on wholeness, full of power and love.

Contact dr Meyer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Wisdom is, and starts with, the humility to accept the fact that you don't have all the right answers, and the courage to learn to ask the right questions. - Unknown