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ss triple helix - Christmas 2011,  Christ or therapy?

Christ or therapy?

For depression and life's troubles
Dr ES Williams
Belmont House Publishing, 2010
£6.96 Pb 156pp
ISBN 978 1 87085 571 6

Life in a fallen world can be profoundly challenging, driving us to seek relief wherever it can be found. In this book Dr Williams poses a basic dichotomy – do Christians need secular psychotherapies, or can they find all that they need in Christ and His word? He critiques the rise of pop psychology in the contemporary church, and the secular assumptions underlying this. He then challenges some commonly held doctrines, in particular questioning the biblical basis for thinking that God's love and forgiveness are unconditional, and rejecting marriage education and cognitive-behavioural therapy as unbiblical. He concludes that Christian counselling is modernday gnosticism and has 'perverted the Gospel of Christ'.

Dr Williams rightly questions the appropriate scope and applications of extra-biblical strategies for psychological difficulties, while accepting that some problems can be severe enough to require medical treatment. However, several of his conclusions do not provide a sufficiently nuanced biblical response to core issues, coming across as somewhat naively dismissive and overstated pietistic reactions to false dichotomies.

This book is worth reading critically for the questions posed, but not all conclusions should be taken as biblically comprehensive nor universally applicable.

Everett Julyan is a psychiatrist in Ayrshire.

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