Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced several changes to its counseling program on May 13, including the launching of the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree.
The changes, which were recently ratified by the faculty, signal the formal transition from the former integrated counseling model to the biblical counseling model.
“These program revisions now place Midwestern Seminary squarely in a biblical counseling model – one which emphasizes the kind of counseling that would occur in the local church and related settings – taking Scripture as its express foundation and methodological guide,” said President Jason Allen. “This change has been made to align our counseling degree programs with the mission of Midwestern Seminary to serve local churches in the kinds of ministries that they are best-positioned and equipped to provide.”
According to Dale Johnson, associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern Seminary, biblical counseling is not a replacement for secular professional counseling; rather, it is a unique approach that seeks to use Christ’s church and his sufficient Word as the foundation of counseling theory and practice.
“We believe the church is the institution God designed to provide soul care and to employ His sufficient Word as the means to direct and comfort his people,” Johnson said.
Counseling is, at its base, theological in nature, since the task consists of understanding people and their problems within the context of a worldview, he explained.
“At Midwestern Seminary, students will engage in a robust theological and biblical paradigm as the foundation and function of the counseling task. The collection of Midwestern biblical counseling degrees will prepare students to engage the church to become, once again, the most important institution for the care and cure of souls.”
As a result, Johnson noted that “local churches will benefit as our graduates are prepared, not simply to offer a program of counseling, but to engage the DNA of the church. The goal is that local churches become a haven for the broken, preparing leadership and laity to minister biblically within the fellowship and missionally within the local community. Our desire is that churches become the first place people go for help in dealing with all of life’s problems, rather than a desperate last resort.”
Allen also addressed the status of students currently enrolled in the integrated model program saying, “Changes of this kind and scope naturally raise questions as to their impact on students enrolled in sunsetting programs like the MACO degree.
“We want to assure all of our current students that we will continue to serve them and honor their trust in Midwestern Seminary to offer them the theological education they came here to receive.”
Specifically, Midwestern Seminary will continue to offer a teach-out of the programs being replaced – the Master of Arts in Counseling (MACO), the M.Div. with counseling emphasis, and Master of Theological Studies with Christian counseling emphasis – through the spring of 2021.
After the spring of 2021, some courses may be available via independent study for an additional period of one year (through Summer 2022).
“While this teach-out phase is not formally required by external agencies,” Allen added, “Midwestern Seminary has sought to offer it as a service to our current students, expressing our appreciation that they have chosen to study with us and to assist them as they prepare for a lifetime of ministry.
“The changes enacted on March 7, were undertaken with great care and intention, as Midwestern Seminary has sought to keep its focus squarely on its mission to exist for the church. These changes were also made with the knowledge of how they would affect many of our counseling students, and we are committed to being as helpful as we can in the days ahead.”
Click here for more information on the forthcoming MABC degree – including the prospect of Association of Certified Biblical Counselors graduate certification, or contact Dr. Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.