“God Is Man’s Environment”: Van Tilian Revelational Epistemology and Adams’ Nouthetic Counseling

The thesis of this paper is that Cornelius Van Til’s revelational epistemology served as an epistemic paradigm for Jay Adams’ model of nouthetic counseling. Van Til’s influence on nouthetic counseling is well-known and largely undisputed. Adams’ intellectual indebtedness to Van Til is acknowledged in his own writings. However, the ways that Adams applied Van Til’s epistemology in his development of nouthetic counseling have not been fully explicated.

The thesis will be advanced by showing how Adams imbibed and applied revelational epistemology in at least the following ways: (1) the Creator-creature distinction, (2) rejection of human neutrality and autonomy, (3) the antithesis between believer and unbeliever, (4) the necessity and sufficiency of special revelation, and (5) a presuppositional critique of competing theories and other systems of thought.

The purpose of this paper is to recover the epistemological commitments that undergird the model and practice of nouthetic counseling. In this way, the author seeks to fill a gap in biblical counseling literature. The contribution of this work is to clarify how Jay Adams developed nouthetic counseling in the middle of the twentieth century, not only as a response to the proliferation of modern counseling theories, but as a model of counseling built upon a specific epistemological foundation believed to be derived from Scripture.

4 thoughts on ““God Is Man’s Environment”: Van Tilian Revelational Epistemology and Adams’ Nouthetic Counseling”

  1. Probably of interest to those in the field
    For those in the nouthetic counseling field, it may be of interest. For the integrationalist participants, this may explain some of the underpinning of nouthetic counseling.


Leave a Comment