What has happened that has caused the church to turn its God-given task over so easily to others who utilize means that compete and conflict with the biblical pattern? There are a number of reasons, including the almost wholesale acceptance of the notion that science holds the answers to all of our questions. (In another article, I make the argument that psychotherapy cannot even be honestly referred to as a science.) But I think there is another, bigger issue at work.
The theology taught in many churches in the United States is incredibly sloppy. If you read the sermons delivered by men such as the Puritan Cotton Mather or the Congregationalist minister Jonathan Edwards (pictured above), you are struck by the strong theological underpinnings of their messages. But how many Christians today have any idea who those men were? Today, far too many churches seem more concerned with drawing crowds, entertaining people, and being "relevant" than with being right biblically.
During the early years of the church, a number of controversies arose regarding foundational biblical issues. The church called synods that addressed the controversies, formulating clear theological statements known as creeds that helped to identify falsehood and heresy. Among those creeds were the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. (Again, how many Christians have ever even heard of those creeds?) In addition to identifying falsehood, the creeds helped Christians to examine the Bible in a deeper and more meaningful way. Those who followed them were able to build on the work of their predecessors. If each generation had had to start from scratch, the church could never have made much forward progress.
The creeds and the statements they make ought to be a part of every Christian’s education, and that must begin in Bible colleges and seminaries. There are more than a few pastors who are unable to define clearly the major biblical doctrines because either they have not been taught systematically, or they are failing to continually review and study systematic theology. (When I suggest systematic teaching, I am not implying that a church service should resemble a classroom. Any competent preacher can build systematic instruction into his messages. It is like the 2x4 framing of a house. You don't see the framing, but it's there and without it the house couldn't stand.)
When pastors themselves are sketchy regarding doctrine, they are unable to teach their congregations. You can't teach what you don't know. What we have instead is a flood of superficial preaching that has led to an incredible laxity on the part of many Christians. This lack of knowledge has resulted in a large number of Christians who are totally unaware of the incredible breadth and depth of the Bible, including the church’s proper role in counseling. Far too many Christians are unaware of the Bible’s power to change lives and to meet every need of man. Pastors have bought into the notion that they are “unqualified” to assist people with deep emotional and behavioral issues, and they send them to men and women who largely reject the biblical view of man. (But then again, if those pastors themselves are that unsure of the Bible and their ability to teach its truths to address specific problems, then they’re right: they really are unqualified.)