The Association of Biblical Counselors has moved an October conference about using the Bible to counsel abuse victims from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to another location in light of controversial statements by the seminary’s erstwhile president.
Heath Lambert, outgoing executive director, said the group that trains and certifies church leaders in the movement known as biblical counseling announced the theme for this year’s gathering, “Light in the Darkness: Biblical Counseling and Abuse,” a year ago.
Lambert, a former professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., recently named full-time senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., said events unfolding at the Southern Baptist Convention-owned seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, sent organizers of the Oct. 1-3 gathering packing for a new venue.
Lambert said in a statement on the group’s website that recent action by seminary trustees removing Paige Patterson as president over controversial remarks about women and abuse while rewarding him with an honorary title and allowing him to retire on campus with pay “sent a confused message to all those who have been hurt by the abuse of another.”
Lambert said a Fort Worth-area congregation, Countryside Bible Church in Southlake, Texas, is new host for the group’s 2018 annual meeting.
Biblical counseling is a movement that began in the 1970s as an alternative to pastoral care, a model of church-based emotional and spiritual support that relies on both religious and scientific mental health resources. It was the prevailing view taught at SBC seminaries when moderates led the convention before the turn of the century.
The association’s doctrinal standards describe the Bible as “a sufficient resource to define and direct all counseling ministry.” Biblical counselors “reject any secular counseling intervention that is at odds with Scripture,” according to the group’s standards of conduct.
Three years ago pro-LGBTQ activists in Louisville, Ky., picketed the Association of Biblical Counselors conference on “Homosexuality: Compassion, Care and Counsel for Struggling People” with protest signs messages including “conversion therapy kills.”