David Powlison on Marital Intimacy

I’ve learned a lot from David Powlison.  These two videos (a third one is still on its way) provide some helpful insights into marital intimacy.

Here’s my book review of Powlison’s Seeing With New Eyes:

Seeing With New Eyes:  Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture, David Powlison, Phillipsburg: P & R, 2003.  Paperback, 274 pages, $10.19 USD (at amazon.com).

Whether we like it or not, we live in a psychologized world.  By that I mean that psychology and psychiatry have donated various concepts to our general societal outlook.  As believers, we are not immune to these trends – in fact, there are a good many authors who would try and have us accept various psychological theories and perspectives as consistent with the Christian worldview.

We can thank God for an author like David Powlison who thinks critically about these developments.  Powlison teaches Practical Theology at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and is also on staff at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in that same city.  He has years of practical experience in the field of counseling and anyone who has heard him speak will remember his deep insights and strong commitment to the gospel of the Scriptures.

That commitment comes through consistently in this book, a collection of (revised) articles that have appeared over the last few years in the Journal of Biblical Counseling (now out of print).  This is the first of a three-volume set on Christian counseling.  This first volume deals with conceptual questions; the second (Speaking Truth in Love) deals with methodological and institutional questions.  A third volume will deal with apologetical issues.

Some of the highlights from this book include Powlison’s expositions of passages from Ephesians and the Psalms in the first part, “Scripture Opens Blind Eyes.”  I deeply appreciate Powlison’s pointed applications of God’s Word and his powerful use of illustrations and word pictures.  In the second part, “Reinterpreting Life,” Powlison deals with a number of topics.  For instance, the question, “What If Your Father Didn’t Love You?” is tackled in chapter 10.  Can you have a proper understanding of God as Father if your earthly father was absent or abusive?  In another chapter, Powlison deals with the nature of God’s love.  He shows us how it is “better than unconditional.”  I came away from that chapter much more impressed with God.  As one last example, he works through Gary Chapman’s idea of love languages in chapter 14.  Is that a concept that we can work with?  Powlison gives a balanced, Biblical analysis that you won’t find elsewhere.

Who can I recommend this book to?  Definitely to pastors and elders.  But this book is also for teachers and others who are involved in helping people develop and change (parents too!).  It isn’t a technical counseling manual that requires specialized knowledge.  Rather, it’s written at a popular level and above all, Seeing With New Eyes endeavours to work consistently with the Scriptures and point people to the Saviour.  I think Powlison succeeds.

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

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