Competent to Minister by Martin & Deidre Bobgan

The authors claim that the purpose of this book, is to call “Christians back to the Bible and to the biblically ordained ministries and mutual care in the Body of Christ that have effectively cared for souls for almost 2000 years.” The Bobgans, who for years were heavily involved in the biblical counseling movement, have blazed new territory in their last two books. They have come to have real doubts concerning the methodologies, direction and principles that undergird biblical counseling. Fearing that the movement has borrowed too much from secular psychology, especially in the area of methodology, they wrote a book entitled Against Biblical Counseling, For the Bible, in which they denounce the movement. In this present volume they take a somewhat more positive approach, calling God’s people back to the simplicity of the ministry of the Word, and the life within the body as curative for the problems of living.

Much within this book is certainly not new. The Bobgans are simply reminding us of what the church used to believe before psychology infiltrated her. Much Scripture is used to support their views, and most is used well. I am in basic agreement with the thesis of the book.

At times the authors seem to go too far in their statements, but usually balance them later. For example, early in the book they imply that every believer is competent to minister in the lives of others (page 34). While this is true, we must recognize that some have spiritual gifts, biblical knowledge and experience that allow them to minister in specialized ways. Later in the book they acknowledge this (page 183).

The Bobgans also go off on tangents, chasing their nemesis psychology down numerous paths. And while there is nothing wrong with this, I felt that they had already done that well enough in numerous other books. I believe this volume may have been stronger if they had stayed on the subject of ministry within the body. The same is true of their attacks on the biblical counseling movement — they had set forth their case well in their previous book. The author paint with a broad brush as well. Many in the biblical counseling arena who do not hold (at least not yet) to the Bobgans’ convictions come across looking pretty badly. I am not sure the Bobgans are being totally fair with such people.

Be that as it may, good profit can be had by reading this book.