While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor.
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”
And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.'” (Numbers 25:1-13)
At the heart of what is variously called nouthetic or biblical or Christian counseling is the simplistic false assumption that all of our problems are due our own sin. Oh yes, others sin, they say, even sin against us, but the REAL issue for nouthetics is how victims respond to the evil committed against them. And so they are all the time telling their counselees to “look to themselves” and see how they have contributed to the sin scenario. It is not unheard of for such counselors to even address cases of rape this way. And then along with it all goes the rest of the baggage: “are you bitter toward your rapist?” “Are you harboring unforgiveness?” “What did you do to contribute to the crime?” All that sort of wicked stuff.
Jim Newheiser, a reformed baptist pastor, is one of these types and has now become, as I have written about before, the head of the counseling department at Reformed Theological Seminary. Here’s a bio from the RTS site:
Dr. James (Jim) Newheiser, Jr., is the Director of the Christian Counseling Program and Associate Professor of Christian Counseling and Practical Theology at RTS Charlotte.
For 25 years, Dr. Newheiser served as the Preaching Pastor at Grace Bible Church in Escondido, California. He is also the Director of the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (formerly CCEF West) and an Adjunct Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College. Furthermore, Dr. Newheiser serves as a board member at both the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).
Rebecca Davis recently posted on her blog, Here’s the Joy, about Caroline Newheiser (Jim’s wife) teaching this very kind of nonsense that is sooooo incredibly damaging to the innocent.
So let’s think about all this a bit. Here is Phinehas, a godly man who was zealous for the Lord. When he saw that evil man and woman fornicating in open defiance of the Lord, committing the very wickedness for which many were dying, he took action. And I suggest to you that he was NOT calm and weepy about that poor couple he was about to run through with his spear. NO! Phinehas was incensed. He was ( to use what is regarded by the nouthetic crowd as a curse word) ANGRY! Yes He not only HATED what they were doing, he hated them! And he killed them!
Now, imagine if Phinehas had “shared his thoughts and heart” ahead of his spear throwing with the local “biblical counselor.” “Hey, Jim, I gotta talk to you. I, I think I feel rage in my heart. I want to take a spear and turn that man and woman over there into shish-kebab.” “Oh my, Phinehas, that is sin. You must never be so angry toward anyone.”
Am I really being all that ridiculous here in this imaginary setting? I don’t think so. You see, in the nouthetic counseling crowd not even the holiness of God justifies such anger.
But wait just a minute! God blessed Phinehas for his zeal! And the LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them…” Phinehas did what GOD would do! Phineas’ action was Godly action. To be intensely angry at a rapist is Godliness!
But not according to this bizarre brand of “counselor” that seems to have overwhelmed so many Christian churches and schools and organizations today.
You have had this very kind of thing laid on you I bet. Either from a pulpit sermon or by a book you picked up that the local Christian bookstore or at a “Christian” conference, or by some “Christian friend” who just knew the Lord wanted him to rebuke you for your sin – even though YOU were the victim! I have,
One of the most devious and deceptive and wicked men I have ever known did this to me numbers of times over the years before I wised up to what he really was. He wore a “saintly” disguise but was in fact a reviler who craved power and control for himself. One time a very wicked man, not a Christian, who popped into our church now and then for selfish reasons, phoned me late at night. He was drunk and started to accuse me and use the Lord’s name in his curses. I told him he was evil, that he didn’t scare me, and that if he wanted to make good on his threats to attack me physically, he could come right over now and I would meet him. I also told him that he should be very fearful of God’s wrath against him. He shut up and then hung up.
And what was this fine, eminent, “Christian” man’s response to it all the next day? “Oh, that was sinful of you to speak that way to him.” He would bring up that accusation repeatedly in the future. What was he really doing? Exalting himself by putting me down. Presenting himself as the greatest, most patient saint of all. He wasn’t angry about the Lord’s name being blasphemed. Oh no. I have no doubt he would have chastised Phinehas.
Our lesson in all this? Don’t listen to Newheiser. Don’t listen to these lying accusations made by arrogant seekers of self-glory. Walk away. And before you walk, tell them they have no zeal for the glory of God nor do they hunger and thirst after righteousness.