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Does counseling take place during preaching? If so preachers must revise their sermons…

By Dr Augustine Deke

Counseling has been in existence since time immemorial. A number of theories have contributed immensely towards the development of counseling at large. From the 18th up to the 19th century, homiletics increasingly became a species of rhetoric, preaching became pulpit oratory, and sermons became moral discourses. Less bound to classical rhetorical models, zealous fundamentalist and 20th-century homileticians adapted various strategies derived, respectively, from biblical models.

This paper intends to explore the role played by homiletics in the process of spiritual development. Generally homiletics has been reserved for the art of preaching in theological circles, but to a great extent homiletics contributes in counseling.

An evaluation of the biblical basis of homiletics will be carried out in this study. Christian counseling has not given much attention to other disciplines of theology and their contribution towards spiritual healing.  To a great extent Christian counseling has borrowed circular concepts towards fulfillment of counseling.

For the future church to appreciate homiletic counseling, a strategy which accommodates biblical perspectives will be developed. Counseling without proper skills can be of damage to both the counselor and counselee. A demonstration of good homiletic counseling skills will be designed in this paper. Insights on ministerial counseling from biblical passages will also be assessed, including the development of an integrated counseling model relevant for ministry.

Christianity to a large extent has not maximized its potential in the field of counseling. There is need for the church to broaden its enquiry on matters of biblical counseling without restricting itself to obsolete traditional methods. Theory and practice of theology in relation to counseling will be explored in this respect.

Why homiletic counseling? The 21st century world has been bombarded with preaching more than any other generations since the beginning of this world. On radios, print media, electronic media and all other modern gadgets of communication, the gospel is preached. Through all these medium of communication people are receiving the gospel because facets of life do create presenting problems at one stage or another. People are searching for solutions. Homiletics must not only end at planning. The modern world needs homiletics which solves problems.

Problems are just diverts we meet from normal life! It is therefore important at this juncture to say that problems of life can be solved in various ways. Counseling becomes one of those ways, whether it has been done voluntary or involuntarily. It can be traditional, circular or Christian counseling, the major objective however will be to assume the function of change, prevention or life enhancement. Counseling can also be understood through reference to a theory that describes it. Over one hundred theoretical approaches or orientations to counseling currently exist, most of which were developed from the experiences and life views of practitioners.

The philosophy of counseling?

 Counseling is a wide field and this makes it difficult to define the word. We hear of financial counseling, employment counseling, legal counseling and the list goes on. However all these types of counseling simply refer to practice interpersonal relationships with expected out comes. Professional counseling therefore involves an interpersonal relationship between someone actively seeking help and someone willing to give help who is capable of or trained to help in a setting that permits help to be given and received.

Counseling is also defined as process where counselors help clients to come to terms with their feelings and thoughts. In the process they gain insight into their problems in such a way that they view problems in a new or different light, which helps them change and find solutions to their problems. Counseling is seen as conversation where two groups of people take turns in exchanging views but with the counselor as more of a listener while the counselee does most of the talking. Counseling is also seen as help given to a client to gain insight into his own thoughts, feelings and behavior in such a way that one can make rational decisions to go over ones’ problems.

The British Association for Counseling describes counseling objectives as to provide opportunities for the clients to work towards living in satisfying way. Furthermore the Association says that counseling is concerned with developmental issues, addressing and resolving specific problems, making decisions, coping  with crises, developing personal insight and knowledge, working through feelings of inner conflict or improving relationships with others.

Gibson and Mitchell say that counseling is a one to one relationship that focuses on a person’s growth, adjustment, problem solving and decision making needs. The process is developed through established psychological contact or relationship between counselor and the counselee within the context of expected results of proper counseling procedures.

The philosophy of Christian Counseling.

The term Christian counseling is self explanatory. According to Dr Alvin A. Low,  Christian counseling is the use of God’s Word to heal the wounded heart so that healed people can become fully devoted to Christ, being conformed to His image and having the freedom and capacity to enjoy the abundant life in Him.

Unlike other forms of counseling, Christian counseling through the Word of God deals with human problems better than anything else (2 Corinthians 1:4). The Word of God is like medicine, it deals with whatever situation mankind can face under the sun. It translates God’s voice into reality. Ann Crawford best described the real essence of Christian Counseling when he said; “For the Christian counselor, the presuppositions must begin and end with the Word of God. This is the benchmark, the blueprint for the construction of reality, truth, the knowledge of right and wrong and the structure of personality.

The goals of Christian counseling are to encourage the client towards change of non-productive or dysfunctional lifestyles. However, for the Christian therapist, the story does not end here. The wholeness and holiness of the client is the transcendent goal of counseling in a Christian way. Therefore, as this therapist “connects” with the client he or she is confident that the therapeutic interventions used, the subjective dynamic of the counseling relationship and the active involvement of the Holy Spirit will combine to meet the needs of every facet of the human person – physical, emotional, intellectual, relational and spiritual.

We can end this part by saying that Christian counseling’s end process brings the client to the full knowledge of the creator. It brings a permanent solution to the client through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In the book of John Jesus gives a good example of Christian counseling.

According to Biblical counsel and Christian counseling, the definition and objective of counseling is different from the circular point of view. It is my wish that also in this study the reader might not confuse the two different terms. Napier defines Biblical counsel in simple terms, as “Passing on a message from God”. ‘Counseling’, however, is an attempt by one human being to pass on his own wisdom to another human being. Some of these attempts are quite farcical and anti-scripture: ‘non-directive’ counseling is just one example of this, where the counselee is encouraged to make up his own mind, rather than follow the advice of the counselor.

Furthermore, Biblical Counseling aims to achieve the following objectives;

-To heal broken hearts;

Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Psalm 73:21-22.

When the word of God is properly applied, imprisoned spirits tend to be freed. Not only the psychological part of the index person will be addressed but the inner man will also be dealt with.

The discouraged are encouraged;

 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? (Luke 24:17)

Biblical counseling brings the word of God to the discouraged heart. At the end of the day the word of God is the one which deals with issues affecting human beings. The counselor only communicates the word to the hearer.

Biblical counseling helps the weak and weary people.

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.

(Psalm 119:28).

Circumstances and challenges counselees face do cause a lot of spiritual damage hence many are pressed down. It is the word of God which strengthens people because it is life. When the word is taken by faith it transforms the counselee.

Biblical counseling restores those who have lost hope.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1).

The ultimate objective of the word of God is to restore people’s lives.

The Philosophy of homiletics

The term homiletics comes from the word homily, which basically means “a sermon.” Historically, homiletics has integrated biblical teaching and rhetoric (the art of speaking persuasively or for effect). However, the philosophy of homiletics should not only focus on the art of preaching and rhetoric (Acts 18:24,28) but the ultimate emancipation of the hearer of the message. The power of the Holy Spirit must be allowed to liberate the oppressed after the preached message (1 Corinthians 2:4). As already alluded above, preaching must also restore hope to those in trouble. Be it emotional, psychological or spiritual.

 The ultimate goal of homiletics should be to change lives

 When preaching communicates God’s grace, the hearers will be drawn to respond to the word. The teaching should concentrate on pointing the hearer to God and nothing else (Matt11:28). Practical and biblical examples used from the bible will in the process help the hearers establish an exit path out of their different presenting situations.

Throughout the preparation, the preacher must keep track of the objective of the sermon. This will help when evaluating the impact of the sermon.

When preaching counsels people, testimonies or a change of lifestyle can be one of the indicators to tell on the impact of the message. Basically when homiletic preaching, the speaker must also ask keep oneself “What is the goal of my teaching? What one thing do I want people to understand and do in order for them to change?”

The biblical basis of homiletics (nouthetic)

 When preaching confronts, we call this nouthesis. Nouthesis simply means to warn or confront. We read this in the following biblical passages;

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn [you.]. 1Corinthians 4:14

The message here is for people to change for the benefit of their lives. Nouthesis is commonly used in addressing or preaching to the hearers. Hearers are left with the option to change at their own given time in view of the will of God.

The words nouthesis and noutheteo are the noun and verb forms in the New Testament from which the term “nouthetic” comes. A consideration of most of the passages in which these forms occur will lead inductively to an understanding of the meaning of nouthesis.  Nouthetic Confrontation: By the Whole Church First, whatever nouthetic activity may be, it is clear that the New Testament assumes that all Christians, not simply ministers of the Gospel, should engage in it.

In Colossians 3:16 Paul urged: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and [for the moment we shall simply transliterate the next word] confronting one another nouthetically.” According to Paul, all Christians must teach and confront one another in different ways in a nouthetic way.

This brings us to the point that in all confrontations, Jesus Christ should be the focal point of true Christian counseling. He is the agent of change. When the confrontation fails to draw the counselee to Jesus Christ, it loses its purpose and ceases to be Christian.  The Scriptures have much to say concerning the matter.

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14):

Generally the gospel is ever appealing to mankind for change. In books of Colossians and Romans, Paul magnifies this point.”Concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to confront one another nouthetically.” In both Colossians and Romans then, Paul pictured Christians meeting in nouthetic confrontation as normal everyday activity.

Here Paul reveals that Christians can nouthetically develop one another.

So the first fact is plain: nouthetic activity is a work in which all of God’s people may participate besides from a preaching point alone. Paul considered nouthetic confrontation a vital part of his own ministry. Incidental remarks in several passages indicate clearly that such activity was central. In Colossians 1:28, for instance, Paul declared: “We proclaim him confronting every man nouthetically, and  teaching every man with all wisdom in order that we may present every man complete in Christ.” Being complete takes the process of change to take place.

Paul’s proclamation of Christ involved confronting every man nouthetically. Public confrontation in preaching was a part of Paul’s nouthetic activity, so is with any form of preaching and teaching of the Bible. Instead of dealing with one counseling case at a time, nouthetic preaching passes the message to a big population at one given time. The Holy Spirit will then deal with presenting issues as per hearer of the word.

This point is highlighted by Paul in the book of Colossians.

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28.

This passage shows how much Paul desired to see people transform through the word of encouragement. Nouthetic confrontation consists of three basic elements. The word is used frequently in conjunction with didasko (which means “to teach”). But in Colossians 3:16 and elsewhere it is distinguished from that word. Nouthetic confrontation always implies a problem, and presupposes an obstacle that must be overcome; something is wrong in the life of the one who is confronted.

The first element Cremer says, “Some degree of opposition has been encountered, and one wishes to subdue or remove it, not by punishment, but by influencing the nous.” Nouthesis specifically presupposes the need for a change in the person confronted, who may or may not put up some resistance. In either case there is a problem in his/her life that needs to be solved. Nouthetic confrontation, then, necessarily suggests first of all that there is something wrong with the person who is to be confronted nouthetically.

The idea of something wrong in the form of sin, obstruction, problem, difficulty or need that has to be acknowledged and dealt with, is central. In short, nouthetic confrontation arises out of a condition in the counselee or hearer of the word that God wants changed. The fundamental purpose of nouthetic confrontation, then, is to effect personality and behavioral change. To restore normalcy in a persons’ life.

The second element inherent in the concept of nouthetic confrontation is that problems are solved nouthetically by verbal means. Trench says: “It is training by word and by the word of encouragement, when this is sufficient, but also by that of remonstrance, of reproof, of blame, where these may be required; as set over against the training by act and by discipline which is  paideia.

The distinctive feature of nouthesia is the training by word of mouth.” Trench quoted as evidence, Plutarch’s use of nouthetikoi (nouthetic words) and continued: “Nouthetein had continually, if not always, the sense of admonishing with blame,” and finally  says that the idea of rebuke is affirmed by the derivation “from nous and tithemi” which indicate that “whatever is needed to cause the monition to be taken home, to be laid to heart, is  involved in the word.”

So to the concept of nouthesis must be added the additional dimension of person-to-person verbal confrontation besides preaching alone. Nouthesis presupposes a counseling type confrontation in which the object is to effect a character logical and behavioral change in the counselee. In itself, the word neither implies nor excludes a formal counseling situation but is broad enough to encompass both formal and informal confrontation.

Nouthetic confrontation, in its biblical usage, aims at straightening out the individual by changing his patterns of behavior to conform to biblical standard. Specific biblical instances of such nouthetic activity may be seen in Nathan’s confronting David after his sin with Uriah and Bathsheba, or Christ’s restoring Peter after His resurrection.

The failure to confront nouthetically may be seen in the blameworthy behavior of Eli as recorded in the book of Samuel.

“You tell him that I will execute justice over his family forever, because he knew that his sons were bringing a curse upon themselves, and he failed to discipline them” I Samuel 3:13: (Berkeley Translation).

In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) the word “discipline” is the verbal form enouthetei. Eli’s sin was  failure to confront his sons nouthetically. He failed to speak soon enough, strictly enough, and seriously enough, to effect genuine changes in them. We read in the book of Samuel;

“Now Eli was very old, and when he heard everything his sons were doing to all Israel; and how they cohabited with the women who served at the entrance of the meeting tent, he said to them, Why do you behave this way? I hear all the people talk about your misconduct. . . . This will not do, my sons; for what I hear is not a good report. You lead the Lord’s people to transgress. When one person sins against another, the judges will do him justice; but when a person sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him? But they would not listen to their father’s warning; so the Lord was inclined to slay them.” I Samuel 2:22.

The word “discipline” (I Samuel 3:13) in the Berkeley (Amplified and R. S. V. have “restrain”) is not as good a translation as, perhaps, a transliteration of the Septuagint, enouthetei, by  “nouthetically confront” or “counsel in a nouthetic fashion” would be.

The Hebrew means, “to weaken” and seems to have the idea of subduing the sinful activities of another. It is most interesting to note that in I Samuel 2:23 Eli said;

“I hear all the people talk about your misconduct.” I Samuel 2:23

He described his sons’ behavior as “misconduct,” i.e., literally, “sinful things” (deeds). Something was wrong if Eli had to discover his sons’ misconduct from others. Indeed Eli himself should have been among the first to know and confront his sons nouthetically about these deeds. It is of even greater interest to note that when Eli did finally speak  to his sons, he began with the fatal word, “Why”: “Why do you behave this way? I hear all the people talk about your misconduct. This will not do, my sons; for what I hear is not a good report.” Eli’s stress upon “why” may indicate one of his failures as a father. It was not his business to speculate about the causes of his sons’ wicked deeds beyond the fact that he already knew that they were sinners. It was his task to stop them.

Too great an emphasis upon “why” may indicate an attempt to find extenuating reasons for excusing conduct which otherwise must be described as  sinful. Did Eli fail to confront his sons nouthetically in the past because he was always engaged in finding excuses for their bad behavior? Eli would have done better to have emphasized the word “what” instead. If he had compared the behavior itself to God’s standards, he might have been able to help his boys. Usual counseling methods recommend frequent long excursions back into the intricacies of the whys and wherefores of behavior.

Instead, nouthetic counseling is largely committed to a discussion of the what. All the why that a counselee needs to know can be clearly demonstrated in the what.  What was done? What must be done to rectify it?  What should future responses be? In nouthetic  counseling the stress falls upon the “what” rather than the “why” because the “why” is already known before counseling begins. The reason why people get into trouble in their relationships to God and others is because of their sinful natures. Men are born sinners.

Much time is wasted by asking why. The question “Why” may lead to speculation and blame-shifting; “What” leads to solutions to problems. “What have you been doing?” is a very significant question to ask. Having answered that question, counselors may then ask: “What can be done about this situation? What does God say must be done?”

Because nouthetic counseling seeks to correct sinful behavior patterns by personal confrontation and repentance, the stress is upon “What”– what is wrong? and what needs to be done about it? People never understand the why more clearly than when the focus is upon the what. The other advantage in nouthetic contact, therefore, is personal conference and discussion (counseling) directed toward bringing about change in the  direction of greater conformity to biblical principles and practices. Any biblically legitimate verbal means may be employed.

The third element in the word nouthesis has in view the purpose  or motive behind nouthetic activity.

The thought is always that the verbal correction is intended to benefit the counselee. This therefore calls for the preacher to properly prepare the message for the benefit of the hearer.

So then, the third element in nouthetic confrontation implies changing that in his life which hurts the counselee. The goal must be to meet obstacles head on and overcome them verbally, not in order to punish but to help him. Cremer wrote, “Its fundamental idea is the well-intentioned seriousness with which one would  influence the mind and disposition of another by advice, admonition, warning, putting right according to circumstances.”  The thought of punishment, even the idea of disciplinary punishment, is not contemplated in the concept of nouthetic confrontation. Nouthesis is motivated by love and deep  concern, in which clients are counseled and corrected by verbal means for their good, ultimately, of course, that God may be glorified.

Here, the same nouthetic goals that Paul had previously stated in Colossians 1:28 seem to be in view. There he spoke about confronting every man nouthetically in order that every man might be presented perfect in Christ. One might say that the  Scriptures themselves are nouthetically oriented. In II Timothy Paul indicated that the Scriptures are useful to perfect the man of God, by what might be called nouthetic means (teaching, reproving, correcting and training). The Scriptures then, are useful for the nouthetic purposes of reproving, teaching, correcting and training men in righteousness. Because this is the classic passage concerning inspiration, its primary purpose often has been overlooked.

Paul was concerned to discuss not only inspiration but primarily the purpose of the Scriptures. He argued that because they were God-breathed, the Scriptures are useful for nouthetic purposes.

In the fourth chapter Paul continued this discussion. Based on his conclusions in chapter 3, Paul urged Timothy to use the Scriptures concretely in accordance with their nouthetic purposes. He wrote: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction (II Timothy 4:2).” Timothy could fulfill that mandate only by using the Scriptures nouthetically. So nouthetic confrontation must be scriptural confrontation. Nouthetic confrontation is, in short, confrontation with the principles and practices of the Scriptures. Paul’s words in  Colossians and II Timothy pertain to the same matter. In both  passages Paul thought of bringing God’s Word to bear upon people’s lives in order to expose sinful patterns, to correct what is wrong, and to establish new ways of life of which God approves.

Since it embraces all of these ideas, the term “nouthetic” seems to be an appropriate modifier for “counseling.” Nouthetic involvement turning again to the 20th chapter of Acts, notice Paul’s comment about nouthetic pastoring “with tears.” Today counselors seldom cry in counseling sessions, though from time to time nouthetic counselors find that it is impossible not to shed tears. But probably there is no need to cry as Paul did. Paul lived in a society that encouraged people to express their emotions freely. Until very recently, our culture has considered free emotional expression taboo.

A Hebrew was likely to tear his shirt in half and throw ashes on his head when he became upset. Whether this stifling of emotion  is good or bad is another issue. But Paul’s tears plainly reveal one fact: that he became deeply involved in the problems of his people. Involvement may differ not only in intensity, but also in kind. During preaching, it is therefore vital for the preacher to involve emotions so as to impact on the hearer.

Tears show that Paul’s involvement was a total involvement both of intensity and of kind. To the Corinthians Paul wrote: “Who is weak without my being weak; who is led into sin without my intense concern” (II Corinthians 11:29)? In his third letter, John too showed evidence of nouthetic involvement: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my own children walk in the truth” (vs. 4). 16 Nouthetic counseling, then, necessarily embodies involvement of the deepest sort. There is a prevalent view of counseling which says, “Don’t become involved too deeply with your counselee.”

The image of the ideal counselor according to this view is that of a professional who is stoically clinical, and who maintains a sterile white-coated manner. Like the physician’s bedside manner, the counselor is sometimes thought to need a couch-side manner. Even though he may feel strongly empathetic inside, ideally he should not respond in any way which might reveal his true feelings. He must never appear shocked. He always must maintain a neutral nonjudgmental posture regardless of whether what the counselee reveals is good or bad. His stance is neutral.

Perhaps it is sufficient to note here that biblical counseling frequently gets so exciting that nouthetic counselors might get up and walk around the room, shout, laugh uproariously and on occasion even shed tears. Love Is the Goal. What are the goals of nouthetic counseling? In the book of Timothy Paul put it this way:

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” I Timothy 1:5.

Preaching in love draws people to God

The word “authoritative” might be added to that translation: “The goal of our authoritative instruction is love.” The original word (paragnelia) is more than simply instruction; it is instruction imposed authoritatively. The authority of God is presupposed. The purpose of preaching and counseling is to foster the love toward God and love toward one’s neighbor which God commands. Jesus summed up the keeping of the whole law as love.

Any notion of authority as antithetical to love is inconsistent with Scripture. Love is precisely man’s problem, however. How can sinful man love? Since the fall, in which Adam’s sin led to a guilty conscience, hypocrisy, and doubt, it has been impossible for natural men to keep their hearts pure, their consciences good, or their faith unhypocritical. All are born with a warped sinful nature that vitiates any such possibility. And yet love depends upon these very qualities. That is why Paul conditioned love upon the solution to these problems (note: “love from,” i.e., “which issues from”).

God’s authoritative instruction through the ministry of his Word, spoken publicly (from the pulpit) or privately (in counseling), is the Holy Spirit’s means of producing love in the believer. The overarching purpose of preaching and counseling is God’s glory. But the underneath side of that splendid rainbow is love. A simple biblical definition of love is: The fulfillment of God’s commandments. Love is a responsible relationship to God and to man. Love is a relationship conditioned upon responsibility, that is, responsible observance of the commandments of God.

The Holy Spirit counsels

The work of preaching and counseling, when blessed by the Holy Spirit, enables men through the gospel and God’s sanctifying Word to become pure in heart, to have peaceful consciences, and to trust God sincerely. Thus the goal of nouthetic counseling is set forth plainly in the Scriptures:  to bring men into loving conformity to the law of God. The Holy Spirit enhances authoritative counseling. He is the one who convicts and convinces the hearer. The preacher under the control of the Holy Spirit requires the use of directive, nouthetic techniques.

Technique, and all methodology, must grow out of and be appropriate to purpose and content. The end does not justify the means; rather, it regulates the means. Love will blossom as preachers focus their attention upon purification of the heart, the clearing of the conscience, and the building of genuine trust. Preaching will seek to reverse those sinful patterns which trouble people. Through preaching, nouthetic counseling brings the sense of responsibility and blame, the admission of guilt, the confession of sin, and the seeking of forgiveness in Christ. We get a good example from the fall of man.

In His dealings with Adam and Eve, God literally did not allow them to get away with what they had done. Adam tried to make a getaway into the woods. But God confronted him nouthetically, in order to change him by words. The relationship between God and Adam had been established on the basis of God’s Word, broken by Satan’s challenge to that Word, and had to be reestablished by God’s Word. God elicited a confession from him. He probed until he got satisfactory answers.

God gave hope and promised salvation in Christ. The same nouthetic methods were used when God, through Nathan, confronted David and when God, in Christ, confronted Peter after his denial. Christ did not hide in the garden or run from the cross but, open and naked he exposed himself to direct  encounter with a God of wrath. He pleaded for no mercy in that hour, and made no excuses. He did not attempt to cover or protect himself, but rather bore the full brunt of the fury of God in the stead of guilty sinners. Nouthetic counseling rests upon the dynamics of redemption, and reflects this fact at every point.

Conclusion

Generally, homiletics has been limited to the art of preaching. Also research has placed little or no attention to the contribution of preaching towards the field of counseling. While counseling involves an interpersonal relationship between someone actively seeking help and someone willing to give help, homiletics also deals with interpersonal relationships with audiences actively seeking help. Testimonies and change of life after hearing the word reflects the elements of counseling. This paper therefore has established that preaching solves problems of people (Homiletic counseling) and should be embraced as one of the counseling methods.

Homiletic or nouthetic counseling is somewhat loose in view of equipping and empowerment of the hearer of the word or counselee. The major weakness of this method is that it is scientific. The effects upon the hearer of the word (testimonies) cannot be substantiated or let alone evaluated. Most likely this is so because homiletic or nouthesis places much emphasis on one way communication.

Since homiletics is instructive and one way, the preacher is left assuming people would have changed, based on his or her preconceived solutions and not taking into consideration the questions the hearers have. Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend, in their book ‘False Assumptions’ rightly said that the church has taught a lot of wrong assumptions in relation to human transformation. Knowing the truth of the Bible without applying it will not make people change.

Homiletic or Nouthetic as discussed in this paper focuses on what the bible says and leaves the rest to the hearer to decide. The value system, ethics, culture and personal experience tend to affect also decisions people make in life.

Dr Henry and John further ague once more that it is wrong assumption to think that people grow spiritually when they make right choices. In fact it is in doing or applying God’s word which makes people grow.

Even if people hear the word, a struggle within the heart is always at the door step and Paul agrees on this point;

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (1 Cor15-21).

We can best conclude by saying that homiletic or nouthetic counselling does not address problems with specific individuals in mind. The above passage also shows us that the preacher or teacher must not assume that the preached word would have changed or solved problems of people unless and until the actions of the hearers change.

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