Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gideon Teo on The Tradition of Counseling and Physiology through the eye of Richard Baxter and Archibald Alexander

Anyone who thinks that the Biblical/Nouthetic counseling should not be engaged with the psychology, you would definitely get some light by reading Gideon's paper here. Gideon Teo the 4th year student of Counseling in Westminster Philadelphia and Rev. Dr. Andrew Teo the Whitefield College Phd candidate(Jay Adam's school of thought) , as an academic outsider to their exchange it has been illuminating. Plus, it's encouraging to see sharp conversation handled so cordially, much to chew on... An Excerpt:

Is the Reformed faith relevant to human physiology? Harvard professor Charles Rosenberg argues, “We are no more willing, many of us, to suffer the pain of depression oranxiety than that of some more readily localized and meliorable physical ailment; in our society, neither stoicism nor traditional religious viewpoints seem ordinary to provide a context ofmeaningfulness for such ills of the soul.”

Our reviewer Rev. Dr. Andrew, is currently doing parsonage in Ann Arbor chinese church while taking his 2nd Phd in Whitefield College under Prof. Jay Adam, his review can be see here.

I am not sure where Richard Baxter and Archibald Alexander derived the word and the concept of “Melancholy” from. Since both historical figures agreed that individuals may have a unique set of traits that favors the development of Melancholy and the development of this trait was due to “black bile.” I suspect they learned this term from the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates (460-377 B.C) or physicians of their time.

And Gideon's defense here.

I appreciate Pastor Andrew's well researched response to my paper. He has given a good account of the history of medieval physiology while mentioning several important evils of modern psychology, such as “taking medication for medication.”By doing so, Pastor Andrew warns us against blindly accepting worldviews that are presented in this fallen world.

[Gideon's paper and Andrew's review are now opened for discussion.]


Pilgrim said...

I have known several people in my life who viewed clinically depressed people with contempt and condemnation. They refused to believe that there is a genuine physiological malfunctioning in a person's body and mind that resulted in relentless pain and anguish, and it cannot be willed away no matter how hard a person tried or prayed. It is like a broken leg and takes time to recover. It is a broken mind. God allows it for a purpose for the person's sanctification and growth in Him. Another purpose is for the body of Christ, to learn to weep with those who weep and to practically bear one another's burden as we sojourn in this pilgrim journey. Some who professed to be our brethren can often reveal themselves to be contrary when they heap condemnations and accusations upon us in our sufferings.

These who refused to show sympathy finally begin to learn to show sympathy when God in His sovereignty allows them to go through clinical depression themselves so that they themselves know something of it by experience too. Thereafter they no longer condemn the sufferers.

Pastor David P Murray or Stornoway Free Church of Scotland (continuing) wrote:

"It will greatly help you to sympathise if you always remember that you could just as easily be in the same position, suffering the same illness.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Cor.4:7).

If you treat clinically depressed people with impatient contempt, you may, like many others before you, have to learn sympathy the hard way."

- taken from 6th message by Pastor Murray, The Carers

Gideon Teo said...

A word of clarification: CCEF's camp does NOT believe that psychology can be integrated with psychology... =) We are NOT Integrationist, nor are we complementarians of Psychology. Rather, I believe (though I do not fully represent CCEF since I am not a staff member...) that we are Counseling Apologists who seek to redeem and conform the discipline of Pyshcology under the authority of Scripture.

Gideon Teo said...

Hi All, I just realized that the website has forgotten to post the link to my paper! =) In the meantime, you can see a copy of it on google doc at


Sorry for the confusion!

Augustinian Successor said...

"Counseling Apologists who seek to redeem and conform the discipline of Pyshcology under the authority of Scripture."


CREDO500 said...

To Pilgrim:
Thanks for the heads up on this,any further posting on the strengths and weaknesses of the argument will be greatly appreciated.

To Gideon:
Thanks for clarifying and again, this is clear and helpful. You're right, i should not create polemic labels here, though i'm not sure if i'll go ahead with the ammendment, but i will keep your clarification in posted. So apologies first, but anyhow let me know if you think it's necessary. Meanwhile, I've double checked your paper, it seemed to works well(linkable and readable)so far...

Your perspective sounds inspiring and pastorally compelling, and i'm confident that the Scripture still lays the foundation in the thoughts. Suspecting it will make sense to many, but there's a lot more going on with this issue, let's discuss further. The‘truth’ is never simple.

Grace and peace to you,

Henry said...

It seems to me that there is much agreement between Gideon and Andrew. Both see a possible physical component in melancholy, as well as a spiritual component which must be addressed, with perhaps some disagreement on how often and to what extent the physical component is present. A depression that begins spiritually can rapidly produce physical results through poor eating, sleeping, and exercise, of course. What such a person needs first, I believe is hope, and John Bunyan points the way to it. When Christian and Hopeful were imprisoned in Giant Despair's dungeon in Doubting Castle, at one point after a period of prayer, "Christian, as one half amazed broke out in this passionate speech, 'What a fool,' quoth he, 'am I to thus lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, (I am persuaded), open any lock in Doubting Castle.' Then said Hopeful, 'That's good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom and try.' Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom and began to try at the dungeon door, whose bolt (as he turned the key) gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out."
I think that other measures might be helpful, but that the promises of God are the right spot at which to begin. Spurgeon's Faith's Checkbook, a daily devotional based on the promises in the Bible, is something which I think Christian counselors would do well to recommend to their counselees. That of course should be done in a way which avoids the contempt and condemnation of which the previous poster spoke.

Beng said...


Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? HOPE IN GOD; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. - Psalm 42:11

CREDO500 said...

Hi Henry, thanks for visiting. I appreciate your post, and how articulately you put forth what I was trying to say. I must admit/confess we, in general, do seem to make a big deal out of the small issues most of the time. If we all could just see eye to eye to one thing, we would have become a better witnesses for Jesus Christ, cheers! At the end, we’re not followers of any psychologists nor theologians. We are followers of The Bible and Jesus Christ.

Gideon and Andrew have set a good example here, I find the exchange helpful, at least both aware of the risk of the secular worldview underlying psychology, and both commit to the sole doctrine of reformed faith. Perhaps, what we need is to have more similar in-depth researches and constructive dialogues on this topic, rather than building more walls between the different disciplines, esp among those confessionist family whom have had the mutual understanding of “5 solas” reformation spirit.

Have peace in Lord's day,

CREDO500 said...

To Gideon:

Personally thanks for your paper and defense which make the issue even more interesting. This really does sound brilliant.

Btw, I sincerely apologize for the inadequate description that have been made unintentionally. I've just amended it, hope this doesn't dissapoint.

Meanwhile, am looking forward the conversations, engagements and friendships which might emerge, keep pressing guys.

Very best,

Gideon Teo said...

Thank you so much for your kind words Pastor Jonah! =)

~Gideon =)