, , , , , , ,

All counseling is ultimately theological: The method and end of counseling are based upon one’s psychology. Psychology derives from certain theological considerations: What is a human being? When one considers just some contemporary answers to the question of self, you will quickly see that the “simple question” what is a human being cannot be easily answered.

Calvin begins the Institutes with the argument that no human being can rightly know himself without first knowing who is before God. Indeed, it is a fundamental proposition of Christianity that everything is ultimately unintelligible without knowing first who we are with respect to God:

Romans 1:21–23 (ESV)

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The reason for such divergent understandings of the human being is that human beings simply are in no position to answer to the question without “outside” help:

In spite of the multiplication of academic disciplines in the twentieth century that focus on the biological, social, psychological, and evolutionary understanding of the human creature, these modern approaches provide a very limited perspective from which the human person can understand the human condition. The sixteenth-century Reformers recognized that it was not enough for human beings to study themselves. That provided too limited a horizon. They could not stand outside themselves to gain the necessary perspective from which they could comprehend the totality of their being and existence. Because we are creatures, what it means to be fully human simply lies beyond the grasp of the human mind. Creatures cannot, by the very definition of what it means to be a creature, comprehend and understand everything about their Creator, and because their relationship with their Creator stands at the heart of their existence, they cannot grasp everything about themselves. Lacking the ability to step outside of themselves, human beings take on a sense of self-exalted importance or find themselves struggling with a sense of insignificance and helplessness within the universe.[1]

[1] Kolb, Robert; Arand, Charles P. (2008-02-01). Genius of Luther’s Theology, The: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church (p. 24). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.