Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal Steven C. Kettler (Keezletown, VA: Lettermen Associates, c1994, 827 pages, $37.00) Reviewed by David Powlison Biblical Counsel is a "book-length bibliography of author- itative works explaining the solutions found in the Word of God for the problems of everyday life." Steven Kettler has compiled references to almost 6,000 works (from 2,500 authors), including books, audio and video tapes, pamphlets, sermons, software, journal articles, and newsletters. Many of the citations are annotated with a brief description of the contents. This book's intended audience is roughly the same as that of the Journal of Biblical Counseling, "persons involved with helping others: all Christian workers, pastors, elders, deacons, Christian counselors, lay Christian counselors, Sunday School teachers, and youth workers. Physicians, medical professionals, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, financial consultants, nursing home workers, and managers will also find it useful." The title--Biblical Counsel--makes a significant commentary on contemporary views of people helping other people. Kettler recognizes that "counsel" is a far broader term than "counseling," as that latter word is usually understood in the twentieth century. There are vast resources of wise counsel that ought to be brought to bear for counseling to worthy of the adjectives Biblical and Christian. Kettler includes many classic books on theology, Biblical exegesis, prayer, small groups, evangelism, preaching, and Christian living. Kettler seeks to draw from historic, orthodox Christianity. His sources span the centuries, from Augustine to Jay Adams, from John Bunyan to John MacArthur, from B.B. Warfield to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. All references are to books in English. He lists numerous audio tapes and books by Biblical counselors from the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and from the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. His orientation is heavily toward nouthetic Biblical counseling and toward Reformed theology. But he casts a wider net, disclaiming that he agrees with every author's views and disclaiming that authors always agree with each other. He includes references to a number of integrationist counseling approaches: e.g., Steve Arterburn, William Backus, Gary Collins, Fred Dickason, and E.L. Worthington. And he cites from a number of non-Reformed evangelicals: e.g., Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, and A.W. Tozer. The first three chapters are the heart of the book (and fill about 400 pages). Chapter One, "The Foundation of Biblical Counsel," cites classic Protestant and contemporary works on theology and the means of grace. Contrary to the popular self-help psychologies of the 1980s and 90s, wise counseling expresses a comprehensive theology and a comprehensive vision of church life. How many counseling books even care about the category "Book-length Presentations of the Gospel Message of Salvation" or the 50 listings under that topic? Chapter Two, "Biblical Counsel," helps readers to pursue special counseling interests. It arranges sources under some 100 topical headings, including crisis counseling, apologetics, affliction, anger, drug abuse, sin, worry, homework, physiological problems, and so forth. Under some headings, where there was little if any Biblical counsel in print, Kettler listed other sorts of works, secular or semi-Christian, in order to prime the pump for discerning readers. Chapter Three, "Special listings," contains about 30 pages of annotated listings of Puritan practical works as well as 30 pages of conservative Bible commentaries "containing Biblical counsel." It also lists the complete works of Jay Adams, Martyn Lloyd- Jones, John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, Charles Spurgeon, and Charles Swindoll, among others. I found that Kettler had about ninety percent of Jay Adams' books and pamphlets contained in the bibliography in this issue of JBC. . . . BIBLICAL COUNSEL chooses books that are vigorously Protestant, vigorously practical, and vigorously English- speaking. The literary genre, annotated bibliography, is usually associated with scholars. But BIBLICAL COUNSEL will be of more interest to practitioners than it will to scholars, both because of the strengths and the limitations of Kettler's purposes in selecting, arranging, and annotating. Kettler's system of numbering books merits a word of explana- tion. It is not immediately obvious to the reader and is not explained in the text. Once explained, however, it is straightforward. Kettler assigns each book a five digit number. The first digit identifies the chapter in which the book appears with its full bibliographic information and, often, with an annotation. The last four digits number the books consecutively through that chapter. For example, item 30468 appears in Chapter Three as the 468th new listing within that chapter. (30468 hap- pens to be the "Journal of Biblical Counseling.") Many items are listed in several different places. When a book has multiple listings, the reference number is placed in brackets in each of the secondary listings. So Jay Adams' WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU KNOW YOU ARE HOOKED? has its primary citation in Chapter 3 as 30100 among Adams' collected works. But it also appears in Chap- ter Two under the topic Drug Abuse as . If you had first encountered this pamphlet in Chapter Two, you would know to look at the 100th listing in Chapter Three to find the full citation. One wrinkle in this system is that books that first appear in Chapters Ten and Eleven are assigned six digit numbers, and the first two digits (either 10 or 11) identify the chapter. The book contains a complete index of authors, titles, and reference numbers--almost one hundred pages. Unfortunately, one feature that would have improved access to information is mis- sing: page numbers. Readers can locate the primary listing with reasonable ease via the reference number and some turning of the pages. But it is not possible to locate secondary listings except by happenstance. In effect, BIBLICAL COUNSEL has a one-way system of cross-referencing. You can get from secondary listings to pri- mary listings, but you can't get to the secondary listings. This is something which the author hopes to revise in a future edi- tion. [Authors are often an excellent sourse of specialized information and the author/title index was intended to lead the reader to other works by the same author. It only supplements the Scripture Index and the 27-page subject index. The extensive "sa" (see also) cross referencing of subjects in the subject index, overcomes, to a degree, the shortcoming mentioned above. Rapid access to specific information, made possible by the thorough indexing, is, we think, one of the strength of this reference work. -- Publisher's Comment] Let me say one final word about this book. BIBLICAL COUNSEL is not bedtime reading unless you are the sort of person who reads the dictionary for recreation. But if you peruse this reference book, I can almost guarantee one thing; you will buy another book that you never knew existed until you first saw it listed here. Source: "The Journal of Biblical Counseling," Volume XII, Number 2, Winter 1994, David Powlison, editor. The journal is a publication of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, Laverock, Pennsylvania. ________________________________________________________________ Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal, Steven C. Kettler, compiler (Keezletown, VA: Lettermen Associates), paper, 827 pp., $37.00 Kettler is an independent writer and a diligent worker for our Lord. You won't ever have seen anything like this in your lifetime. Under the 440 topic headings, you will find no less than 5,700 works, cross-referenced for easy access. Many of the works have pertinent and helpful comments under the title. There is an author index in addition to the listings under the 440 topics. This bibliography is right up to date, giving recent publica- tions as well as the older ones. There is a Scripture index, and also an index of subjects. Among the topics are commentaries, classics, biographies, small group resources, counseling books, master listings of works by noted authorities, including books endorsed by them, an unusually large listing of books on the teachings, counsel, and sufficiency of Christ, books that deal with Christianity in the workplace, works exposing modern myths, and a listing of the best books both in print and out of print. The authors list reads like a Who's Who in Christian history, right up to today's authors. Included are the titles and comments of Cyril J. Barber in the 2-volume set, THE MINISTER'S LIBRARY. In using this extensive bibliography, Kettler suggests that after selecting a subject for study, it is a good idea to go to the Scripture index and note down the Scriptures that deal with that subject. Librarians, especially church librarians, will find this book very helpful in ministering to readers, referring books to the readers that deal with the subject they are interested in study- ing. There is an excellent page telling one seeking God how to become a Christian, and this is followed by a 3-page listing of excellent books that should be helpful in such a quest. We certainly recommend this book for every avid reader, stu- dent, librarian, researcher, Bible teacher, and pastor. -- Jay P. Green, Sr. Source: "News and Views of the Christian Literature World," December 1993/February 1994, p. 32, P.O. Box 4998, Lafayette, Indiana 47903. Jay P. Green, Sr. is the editor. He is the founder of Sovereign Grace Publishers and Christian Literature World, Inc., a Christian publisher and book seller, that has published many of the Christian classics. This review also appears in a compilation of Christian book reviews by Jay P. Green, Sr., BEST BOOKS IN PRINT (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1995). ________________________________________________________________ Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal. An annotated topical bibliography of works containing biblical counsel for persons seeking lasting solutions to life's problems Compiled by Steven C. Kettler. Lettermen Associates, Keezletown, Virginia, USA, 827 pp., pbk., US$37.00 This book contains 5700 works cross-referenced under 440 topical headings, and this reviewer has not checked them all out, nor if he had would he be able to evaluate the character of such a mass of works. Chapter 1 has a list of the basic books in this Bibliography, and makes interesting reading, although there is a significant weight in favour of some which surely must be of only limited interest. However, having said this, it is a fair conjec- ture that anyone seriously interested in Christian reading will find this book fascinating reading and essential to have. Some books have a brief resume, other books of more signifi- cance are given useful reviews. Such a book could have very wide influence. Thus there is a five-page listing of all works by Dr. Lloyd-Jones and books recommended by him. There is a section on Reference works and another on Christian Biography. There are contributions by Iaian Murray, Cyril Barber, Jay Green, J.I. Packer, John MacArthur, and may others. -- John E. Marshall Source: "The Banner of Truth," Issue 369, June 1994, The Banner of Truth Trust, The Grey House, 3 Murrayfield Road, Edinburgh EH12 6EL, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, USA, P.O. Box 474, Riverwood, N.S.W. 2210, Australia. John E. Marshall is the book review editor for "The Banner of Truth." ________________________________________________________________ Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal An Annotated Topical Bibliography of Works Containing Biblical Counsel for Persons Seeking Lasting Solutions to Life's Problems Compiled by Steven C. Kettler, Keezletown, Virginia: Lettermen Associates, c1994, $37.00. Reviewed by Pete Hurst. In this work, Steven Kettler has cataloged 5700 works cross- referenced under 440 topic headings. This book has to be one of the most extensive bibliographies on Christian literature and information available today. It lists everything from books to audio cassettes to software. BIBLICAL COUNSEL must be understood in the broadest sense of the term. This is not a book that limits itself to counseling works properly so called, but essentially includes any Christian literature, because all of life is affected in one way another by God's Word. Thus, there are listings of everything from canonicity, to angels, to commentaries and Christian biographies. Introducing his work, Kettler states his purpose to be to give "authoritative works explaining the solutions found in the Word of God for the problems of everyday life." This is a noble goal; however, because it seems to list almost every Christian work there is, some of these works are going to offer con- tradictory authoritative solutions. The chapter classifications and table of contents are arbitrarily chosen by the author. Some might disagree with cate- gories he chooses, but here really is no right or wrong way to do this. However, I believe the book could have been vastly improved if the sub-headings of every chapter had been included in the front of the book. This would allow someone to access various listings at a glance without having to turn to a particular chap- ter to check out which sub-heading the author listed. [The 27- page subject index includes all sub-headings. -- Publisher's Com- ment] Descriptions of various works and their value are taken from whatever the publisher, author, or reviewer said about the work. Therefore, you will not get Kettler's opinion. Descriptions are much like what one would read from a library card catalog. In conclusion, one must appreciate the author's labors in bringing so much information on Christian resources together in one place. For this reason alone, this volume is most helpful and welcomed. -- Pete Hurst Source: "The Presbyterian Witness," Vol. IX, No. 3, Summer, 1995, p. 36. Byron Snapp, editor, 403 Whealton Road, Hampton, Virginia 23666-2887. ________________________________________________________________ Walt Hibbard Book Review of Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal, October 1996 HOW OFTEN HAVE you been at a loss when it comes to selecting the most worthwhile Christian books to add to your library? Most of us have experienced these times frequently. Here is an 821-page guide to approximately 5,700 works cross referenced under some 440 topical headings. Some of the chapters included are The Foundation of Biblical Counsel; Works for and by Women; Discipleship; Family Life, Education, Church and Work; Physical Health; The Christian World and Life View; Christian Biography; Psychology and Psychiatry; A Selection of Works on Pseudo-Christian Movements; Christian Action, and more. Who will benefit most from this vast reference work? The compiler answers the question: "persons involved with helping others: all Christian workers, pastors, elders, deacons, Christian counselors, lay Christian counselors, Sunday school teachers, and youth workers. Physicians, medical professionals, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, financial consultants, nursing home workers, and managers will also find it useful." Book descriptions have been provided by well-known Christian authors, scholars, and theologians as well as various publishers, and book sellers (including GCB), the staff of counseling and training centers, and others. This is a large book, to be sure. However, I believe it is a worthy guide to help steer Christian people away from the less beneficial (and even harmful) books that flood our bookstores today, and into a greater knowledge of the thousands of very excellent titles that are available. This book could easily pay for itself many times over in the years ahead through help gained in choosing the best available resources. ? Walt Hibbard Source: This book review appeared in the "Chairman's Choices" column of the special Puritan Reformed catalog of Great Christian Books, October 1996. Walt Hibbard is the Founder and Chairman of Great Christian Books, Elkton, Maryland. It is the largest Reformed mail order book seller.
What People Are Saying About BIBLICAL COUNSEL: RESOURCES FOR RENEWAL "This is an extraordinary piece of work -- massive, exhaustive . . . . I would also recommend a goodly number of the works contained in it . . ." -- Jay E. Adams Dean of the Institute of Pastoral Studies Westminster Theological Seminary Philadelphia, Pennsylvania "The title BIBLICAL COUNSEL makes a significant commentary on contemporary views of people helping other people. Kettler recognizes that `counsel' is a far broader term than `counseling,' as that latter word is usually understood in the twentieth century. There are vast resources of wise counsel that ought to be brought to bear for counseling to be worthy of the adjectives biblical and Christian. . . ." -- David Powlison Editor of "The Journal of Biblical Counseling" The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation Laverock, Pennsylvania "I've already looked it over and it's great. It's wonderful! Our counseling staff thinks it's terrific . . ." -- John MacArthur Pastor-Teacher Sun Valley, California "Highly recommended . . ." -- Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service Carlisle, Pennsylvania "You won't ever have seen anything like this in your lifetime. . . . This is a Best Books in Print book." -- Jay P. Green, Sr. General Editor "News and Views of the Christian Literature World: An Important Look at Books for Home Bible Study" Lafayette, Indiana "It is a fair conjecture that anyone seriously interested in Christian reading will find this book fascinating reading and essential to have. . . . Such a book could have very wide influence. . . ." -- John Marshall Book Review Editor "The Banner of Truth Magazine" Edinburgh, Scotland "This wonderful new resource for the busy pastor, counselor, or student is a veritable gold mine of topically arranged information on Christian books and other literary works. Especially produced for the serious Christian who has question, but not the time to do 3 to 4 hours of research weekly in big libraries and special collections." -- Walt Hibbard President and Founder Great Christian Books Elkton, Maryland "An excellent book for a church or pastor's library." -- Librarian's World Evangelical Church Library Association Glen Ellyn, Illinois "Coincidental to meeting its primary objective, BIBLICAL COUNSEL: RESOURCES FOR RENEWAL gives the reader a broad overview of literature representing historic, orthodox Christianity. Viewed from this unique perspective there is an evident connection between absolute truth, life, moral behavior, freedom (religious, political, economic, and individual), and social stability." -- Preface BIBLICAL COUNSEL: RESOURCES FOR RENEWAL Source: Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal. A Topical Annotated Bibliography of Works Containing Biblical Counsel for Persons Seeking Lasting Solutions to Life's Problems (Keezletown, VA: Lettermen Associates, c1994). ISBN 0-9636821-1-3