Book Review: CrossTalk

18 Jun

Its been a while since I’ve reviewed a book, but my preparation for the summer leadership training forum has led me to review Michael Emlet’s book, CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet (New Growth Press, 2009):

This book, aimed at helping pastors, elders, and lay people in counseling, looks at the topic from a redemptive-historical perspective.  Reflecting on the ways in which the biblical counseling movement has, at times, merely pointed people to proof-texts in Scripture and told them to change, Emlet (M.Div, M.D., and counselor at CCEF) proposes a better way for using the God’s Word–all of it–in providing counsel to those in need.  CrossTalk

In the book, Emlet takes time to point out passages we tend to turn to in order to address the problems people face.  Yet, the ways in which we use these passages tend to feel very wooden and cold in their approach, and when applied to people’s situations, come off as merely seeking behavior modification.  From here, Emlet lays out the central theme (and, for that matter, purpose) of the Scripture: God’s redemptive work, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  With a redemptive-historical framework guiding our use of Scripture, Emlet explains, we can better help people see where the stories of the Bible connect to their own experience, and point them to change driven by the Gospel and its implications for those who receive it in faith.

One of the reason I greatly appreciate this work is the threefold way in which the author explains we should approach people in counseling: as saints, sufferers, and sinners.  Believers inhabit each of these roles (oftentimes simultaneously), and helping them change, move forward, or deal with their circumstances requires addressing one or more of these roles and its implications.  Emlet’s case studies in the final few chapters are also helpful for getting a grasp for what this may look like.

In the end, Emlet’s book presents us with what I believe is the future of Biblical Counseling, and shows that one can rely on the Scriptures for the work of counseling because counseling is mainly about helping people in the work of sanctification (something for which God’s Word was revealed).  What is important is the way in which we go about doing this work.  We cannot just tell someone to “take two verses and call me in the morning.”  We have to understand how to rightly use Scripture so that we can reveal the way in which it intersects with the very situation a person finds him or herself in, and practically apply it to not just the person’s behavior, but to their heart.  And as people’s hearts are changed by the application of God’s powerful Word by the Spirit Himself, we will see them more and more reflect their Savior.

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One Response to “Book Review: CrossTalk”

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  1. End of the Year: Top 7 Posts of 2013 | Brevity & Clarity - December 30, 2013

    […] Book Review: CrossTalk […]

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