David Powlison’s dissertation, completed at the University of Pennsylvania in the history and science of medicine, was on Jay Adams and the history of the biblical counseling movement. It has now been revised and updated and is finally available in print: The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. The focus is on tracing the history of the biblical counseling movement and locating its sociocultural context—both ecclesiastically and professionally.
I have to admit that I was fairly disappointed to see the way in which the book was typeset, but I think it’s worth overlooking this and still getting the book for its valuable material, even if it’s harder to read than it should be.
Here are a couple of blurbs for the book:
“It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this book. The ‘counseling wars’ of the past half century have ignited passions often characterized by labels rather than by careful analytic thought. This is the first broadly comprehensive history of these developments. Although Powlison is one of the important players, he takes extraordinary pains not to misrepresent those with whom he disagrees. Above all, while trying to be open to truth and insight whatever their source (after all, the reaches of common grace are vast), Powlison faithfully argues that the Christian faith must play a constitutive role in building a robust model of Christian counseling. Amen and Amen.”
—D. A. Carson
“I have watched with much interest the developments in Christian counseling over the past forty years. The issues discussed here are still very important, and this book is a good introduction to them. Even readers already familiar with this movement will learn new things. David’s book is entirely judicious, careful, and balanced in its treatment of Adams, his opponents, and the events affecting the biblical counseling movement. I hope the book attracts a large readership.”
—John M. Frame
Powlison talks about the book in the following video: