GCTS Integration principles
- Where the Bible and counseling clash on religious and moral beliefs, the higher authority is always the Bible.
- While the Bible is all-true, it does not contain all truth. Arthur Holmes stated:
“To say that all truth is God’s truth does not mean that all truth is either contained in the Bible or deducible from what we find there. Historic Christianity has believed in the truthfulness of Scripture, yet not as an exhaustive revelation of everything men can know or want to know as true, but rather as a sufficient rule for faith and conduct.” 
- Some truth is found in science including the science of counseling. And when theology and science have clashed, science at times has been shown to be right. For example, the Inquisition said that Galileo’s proposition, “that the sun is the center and does not revolve around the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology, and heretical because expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.” 
- Science can be true because of Common Grace, because Christ is sovereign over the discoveries of science. Abraham Kuyper has stated, “Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”  Kuyper continues: “God himself developed his own divine plan for this construction [of science], created the geniuses and talents for implementing that plan, and directed the labor of everyone and made them fruitful so that what he wanted and still wants would indeed become reality.” 
- Common grace also suggests that just as God sends his sun and rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt 5:45) so we can extend God’s grace both to the righteous and the unrighteous. Jesus is a friend of sinners (Lk 7:34) and the healer of the broken (Mt 9:12-13).
- Counseling is a viable occupation. As VanDrunen has written, “This two-kingdoms doctrine strongly affirms that God has made all things, that sin corrupts all aspects of life, that Christians should be active in human culture, that all lawful cultural vocations are honorable, that all people are accountable to God in every activity, and that Christians should seek to live out the implications of their faith in their daily vocations.” 
- Counseling will necessarily be done with unbelievers. VanDrunen continues, “Christians are not summoned to withdraw into their own cultural ghettos, but their cultural activities are intertwined with those of the world at large.”  He gives the example of Daniel and his friends who became Babylonian political officials.  He also emphasizes Paul’s message to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:9-10): “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.”
There are at least five views  for how to integrate counseling with Christian faith. While GCTS is explicitly integrationist, there is value in several approaches.
a. An Integrationist Approach.
Stanton Jones describes an integrationist approach: The integrationist position is that biblical truth is our foundation but that we have much to learn from human labors in counseling and other fields to better understand more about the physical substrates of human life, about the varieties and complexities of human personality, about the brokenness and limitations of our experience, and about the possibilities and limitations of our capacities to change. 
An integrationist perspective allows and even encourages the incorporation of the science of counseling as long as the practice is not contradictory to biblically-based moral truth.
b. A Levels of Explanation Approach.
This approach focuses on the differences between biblical and scientific truths because counseling and theology are different disciplines. For example, counseling should not make pronouncements about the existence of God, about what’s morally right or wrong, about what to do about sin, whereas theology should. The Bible and counseling are different. Johnson writes about Stoker who distinguished between the horizontal meaning-moment (i.e., science) and the vertical meaning-moment (i.e., theology). Johnson writes,
“The horizontal is the meaning of a thing that makes it different from other things, for example, that which makes a tree a tree and not a butterfly. This dimension of meaning can often be studied by any competent human being. The vertical meaning-moment is its God-createdness and divine significance, and to appreciate this dimension of meaning requires faithful knowing.” 
This approach is reminiscent of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” 
When apprehending the horizontal (“blackberries”), people do science. When apprehending the vertical (“afire with God”), people do theology. The horizontal meaning-moment and the vertical meaning-moment are different.
c. A Biblical Counseling Approach.
Consistent with the Bible, all brokenness ultimately comes from three types of sin: sinfulness, our general state of brokenness, like a genetic vulnerability to suicide; sin or sinful acts, like committing murder; and consequences of sin, like vulnerability to suicide because of a parent’s abuse.  All disease that afflicts people like suicidality is a result of the Fall and will be healed in heaven (Rev 21:4). In the meantime, we groan with creation waiting for redemption (Rom 8:22).
Where Gordon-Conwell’s integrationist approach deviates from a Biblical Counseling approach are the convictions that:
- All that is needed for healing is not found in the Bible alone. Just as we go to our primary care doctor for the latest scientific approaches to managing diabetes, so we go to a counselor for the latest scientific approaches for managing depression.
- Dealing with the sin in our lives may not heal us of diabetes or an autism spectrum disorder. The spiritual part of our selves, redeemed at conversion, does not trump the biological part of our selves. The body can be diseased (with cancer) but the spirit can be healthy (with a healthy dependence of God) and though a healthy spirit may promote healing, a Christian with a healthy spirit may die of cancer. The soul can be sick (such as having depression) but the spirit can be healthy (such as holding onto the Christian hope).
- It is up to the Holy Spirit to convict of sin (Jn 16:8), not the counselor. Our personal and professional stance is to try hard not to judge others (Mt 7:1, Ro 14:13) especially because we are sinners ourselves. Richard Mouw cautions that common grace is not “an across-the-board upgrading of our original fallen state”  but instead restrains the ruin that would naturally come from humanity’s sinfulness. 
- Through Common Grace, God showers indiscriminate untold blessings on the regenerate and unregenerate alike (Ps 104:14-15; Ps 145:9, 15-16, Mt 5:45, Gal 6:10). God wants all people to experience shalom (Jer 29:7; Mt 5:13-16), healing (Is 57:19), and good relationships between people (Gen 26:29, 1 Chron 12:17-18). Relief from suffering is a sign of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God (Mt 10:8, Lk 9:2, 6). The medical missionary movement in the 19th and 20th centuries brought medical care, education and orphanages to the world.  Their aim was “not only to restore the wholeness violated by sin or disease, but to preserve it, ensuring that, so far as human science can assist the action of the grace of God, preventable ills shall be prevented.”  Medical missionaries were motivated by the belief that all people had “a sacred right to life temporal and life eternal, and to conditions of life, if not a little lower than those of angels, at least a little higher than those of beasts of the field.” 
A Christian Counseling Approach.
The focus of this approach is to begin with the Bible. Our view of humans begins with a biblical anthropology. People have worth because they are created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). People are created to work (Gen 1:28). People are created for relationship and human relationship is good (Gen 2:18). People are agents (Gen 2:16, 17) and everyone chooses to sin (Rom 3:23). Beginning with theological reflection is important.
Here is a suggested process for integrating faith and science.
• “Pray for guidance and listen to the Spirit.
• Become a responsive truth seeker: commit but put your beliefs at “risk.”
• Immerse yourself in subject matters to be integrated.
• Be patient with tension; avoid premature closure on views.
• Develop a tolerance for ambiguity.
• Track the integrative efforts of other Christian [professionals].
• Test ideas against a community of Christian professionals” (Hathaway & Yarhouse, 2021, p. 86)
Hathaway, W.L., & Yarhouse, M.A. (2021). The Integration of Psychology & Christianity: A Domain-Based Approach. IVP Academic.