Theology Counseling Models Critiques

Published 15 Feb 2017

Table of content


Christian counseling admittedly embraces in reality, a basic integration of the biblical precepts on the view of man and psychology’s scientific breakthroughs in addressing the dilemmas that beset human individuals. Depending on the persuasion of the practitioner, especially whether he or she comes from either the purely theological or “secular” preparation, Christian counseling can either lean to certain degrees of theology or psychology.

This paper attempts to describe the frameworks of Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Ron Hawkins and compare the nuances of their work. It also looks into the strengths or weaknesses of their models and their applications to scenarios that commonly is human. The contentions between those who practice counseling in the absence of scientific procedures, facts or data derived from psychology, and those who adhere to the psychological principles, have until today, continued to plague the practice. The paper assumes the position of a practitioner who seeks problems with psychology in mind. Discussions

“If psychology offers insights which will sharpen our counseling skills and increase our effectiveness, we want to know them. If all problems are at core spiritual matters we don’t want to neglect the critically necessary resources available through the Lord by a wrong emphasis on psychological theory” (Crabb in Anderson et al, 2000). The statements summarize Dr. Crabb’s philosophical statement and allow us to glimpse his persuasion that there are problems that are not spiritual and there are those that find its cause in the spiritual dimension. From the start of Dr. Crabb’s career, his persuasion includes the four distinctive slants that establish any counselor and his or her belief as to whether he/she practices authentic biblical counseling. In brief, the descriptions he used are, a. “Separate but equal, Tossed Salad, Nothing Buttery and Spoiling the Egyptians.

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These descriptions point to the need for a counselor to properly hone his/her skills in the light of both the contributions of science (especially psychology), and the perspective of Biblical truths. Dr. Crabb’s position certainly ensures that science in particular, has its place in counseling in as much as theology does. He made sure that all means are addressed as the counselor approaches his profession, especially in the actual conduction of both the diagnostic and therapeutic or intervention phases (Crabb in Anderson et al., 2000).

Criticisms however, on Dr. Crabb’s work have been substantial. They say that “his flawed psychological teachings” are actually deeply embedded in his nature despite his claims as truly committed to his relationship with God, implying that this side of him has greater influence on his counseling approach. He may be very discrete though as he applies his perspectives in his model (Bobgan and Bobgan, 1998). Another is Crabb’s concentration on the subjective experience of knowing God which undermines a person’s need to obey to the principles espoused in Scripture.

Crabb’s preoccupation on introspection is a major blight on his position as a Christian counselor and as someone trained in psychological principles. Despite these allegations, Crabb appears to be one who advocates the changing of behavior by emphasizing on the person’s thought patterns that are ought to be conforming only to the truths championed in the Bible (“Recovery” or the Bible or . . .Crabb’s “third” way? 1994).

Dr. Ron Hawkins however, focuses on the behavioral changes that should happen in the course of counseling. His five concentric circles are the attempts to illustrate and convince the trained “clinician” of the dimensions of being human and unless each level is addressed in the psychological process, nothing much shall be achieved. These five concentric circles and Hawkins’ belief that Christlikeness and spiritual maturity are the goals that should be seriously accounted for, and must be attended to by any Christian counselor in the setting.

Hawkins’ model is commendably good because he attempted to present what might be a better viewpoint or presentation in understanding the aspects of humanity. Criticisms leveled at him and/or his work however, includes a not so clear “procedure” at how a client may achieve Christian maturity; especially where in his model, that the teaching of biblical truths will be applied.


Comparing the two approaches, both Crabb and Hawkins have looked at the human problems in the light of biblical counseling. Whether this will eventually appear as more psychologically influenced or majority biblical in nature, clients and students who study Biblical counseling are left to decide when and where to use either of these models.

I am persuaded that despite Dr. Crabb’s popularity and seeming success in formulating hypothetical explanations with a mixture of biblical truths and psychology’s concepts, my choice would be Hawkins’ model on the various problems that humans are facing. Although the steps or circles might actually put limitations such as what might appear as simplification of the complexities of individuals, this aspect of Hawkins are actually commendable. Understanding the nature of human personality as presented by Hawkins, are keys to providing the proper treatment or interventions.


1. Bobgan, Martin and Deidre Bobgan. 1998. Larry Crabb’s Gospel. EastGate Publishers, Sta. Barbara, Ca. (Ch. 3).

2. Crabb, Larry, 2000. Found in Anderson et al resource. Christ centered therapy.


4. “Recovery” or the Bible or . . .Crabb’s “third” way? 1994. Christian Discernment Publications Ministry, Inc. Accessed August 26, 2007 <>

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