In our last newsletter we spoke about the possible demise of the biblical counseling movement. We mentioned three unbiblical props holding up the movement, without which the current movement may not be able to exist. The first prop is charging fees; the second prop is separated-from-the-church counseling centers; and the third prop is the unbiblical use and practice of the words counselee, counselor and counseling.
In our previous article we briefly mentioned the words simony and simoniac. In this article we will expand on the understanding of these two terms and suggest that the biblical counseling movement is mired in the sin of simony. Additionally the leaders in the movement are reluctant to condemn the practice of charging and to name organizations and individuals involved.
We want to make it clear once more that, according to I Cor 9:7-14 and other verses, the person who ministers can be supported, but the person who ministers cannot charge. The support for one who ministers is produced by those who voluntarily contribute and should never be mandated for biblical counseling.
There is no biblical precedent for the one who ministers to charge for ministry. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul or any other disciple in the Bible charging? Is there anywhere in the entire Bible that would condone such a practice?
Those who support the charging of fees for biblical counseling must by analogy be in favor of charging fees for communion, prayers, funerals, graveside services, hospital and home visits, marriage ceremonies, baptisms, worship services, Bible classes and other ministries. In fact, those who favor fee-for-service biblical counseling no doubt favor a "menu" approach to church ministries with the fees for such services listed. If the fee-for-service biblical counselors would object to such a fee-for-service "menu," how can they justify charging for biblical counseling?
The term simony is derived from Acts 8 and refers to Simon the sorcerer, who tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit he saw working through the Apostles (Acts 8:14-20). The New Catholic Encyclopedia states:
The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia defines it as follows: "Simony, in CANON LAW, buying or selling of any spiritual benefit for a temporal consideration." Part of the definition from Bakers Dictionary of Theology is "the charging of fees for benefits which may be received through the administration of word and sacrament."
Because Simon offered to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles some have said that simony involves only the buying of something spiritual and does not involve the selling of it.
In response to this, Thomas Aquinas has said:
Some early ecclesiastical writers distinguished between simony as buying and giezia as selling. However, the various dictionaries and encyclopedias we consulted included both buying and selling in their definitions of simony.
In defending his own definition of simony, Aquinas said:
John Wyclif in his work On Simony mentions another writer (William of Peraldus, bishop of Lyons) who called simony spiritual sodomy. Wyclif said:
Wyclif also said:
In concluding one of his sections on simony, Wyclif said:
Some of the early writers on simony emphasized that both the buyer and seller are guilty of simony. It may be that those who pay for biblical counseling are as guilty of simony as those who charge.
The 1997 Annual Conference of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) will be held at Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana on October 6-8. In our last newsletter we presented a challenge to NANC. We repeat that challenge here as follows: We ask that at this NANC conference it be made absolutely clear that the organization condemns the unbiblical practice of charging fees for counseling Gods Word and names those individuals and organizations that are in violation.
We raise the question: How guilty are those in the biblical counseling movement who know better and oppose the charging of fees but do not speak out about this unbiblical practice? There are a number who will be at NANC who privately oppose the charging of fees, but will they take this opportunity to go public?
The answers to the following two questions are critical:
1. Is charging fees for ministry (biblical counseling or any other ministry) the sin of simony?
2. Is charging fees for ministry (biblical counseling or any other ministry) unbiblical?
Our answer to both questions is yes. We realize that some will disagree with our calling charging fees for ministry simony, but hopefully all those who truly know the Bible will agree that charging for ministry is clearly unbiblical.
We look forward to a response from NANC and any other biblical counseling organization that is willing to take a stand for the Bible and against the charging of fees for counseling and to expose by name individuals and organizations that do. Is there any biblical counseling organization that is courageous enough to meet this challenge?
PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110
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