Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Counseling Under the Cross by Robert Kellemen

Many of us are familiar with the change in Martin Luther when he realized the truth of forgiving grace from God. He went from trying to earn God's approval through works to believing in the saving work of Christ. We may not be as familiar with how Luther then shared his insight with those who needed pastoral care and counseling.

Kellemen has studied the works of Luther to understand how Luther counseled others. He uses quotes from letters and table talks to show how Luther applied the heart of the gospel to his flock. Kellemen also adds how we can then apply Luther's knowledge and method to our own lives.

Here are a few of Luther's insights I really appreciated. Scripture is the only true comfort in distress and is sufficient for fighting temptations. Through Christ, we find redemption for deep internal problems. There is comfort in Christ alone.

Luther had much to say about suffering. “For Luther, suffering is God's medicine of choice to awake us from our slumbering self-sufficiency and turn us to heightened Christ-sufficiency.” (Loc 1278/5729) “...God sends suffering to cure our deepest sickness of estrangement from God caused by our independence of him.” (Loc 2060/5729)

This book is a good reminder for pastors and counselors today to return to the gospel as essential in pastoral care and counseling. Sin must be taken seriously. Spiritual warfare must be practiced against the devil. We must be reunited with Christ in relationship and then shown how to reinterpret life through the lens of the cross. We must be continually reminded of the gospel in the face of our gospel amnesia.

This book may be a little too scholarly for the average Christian. While Kellemen does frequently tell us what the previous information means to applying it to our lives, that previous information includes lots of material more suited to professionals than laypeople. It was no surprise that this book began as his PhD dissertation. While recently rewritten, the book still has an academic flavor to it.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read more reviews here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Robert W. Kellemen, PhD, is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chair of the Biblical Counseling Department at Crossroads Bible College and the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. He is also the author of several books on the gospel and counseling. He and his wife have two children and two grandchildren. You can find out more at

New Growth Press, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review. 

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