I recently read through CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet by Mike Emlet. I’m always interested in books that talk about biblical application. This one is solid: Emlet has a good grasp of redemptive history and biblical counseling. He spends quite a few pages discussing how the Bible is the account of a grand story of redemption centered in Christ. He also warns against the dangers of viewing Scripture as a moralistic guidebook full of timeless laws. Here’s how he describes the book.
“This book can help you read the Bible and ‘read’ people in a way that promotes gospel-centered, personally relevant use of Scripture in ministry to others” (p. 4).
Emlet also talks about how our lives are storied – we all have views of the world that shape and direct us. He then shows how Christians (saints who are sinners) need gospel-centered guidance to live according to the main story of the world: God’s redeeming work in Christ. Emlet also gives a few basics about counseling people – what type of questions to ask the counselee and how to use the Bible in a wise, God-glorifying, church-edifying way. The book is good in these areas.
One quibble I have with the book is the near dismissal of systematic theology (on p.36-37). Emlet doesn’t go into detail, but he does mention how the Bible is not a book full of proof texts. I agree with that. However, by quickly dismissing systematic theology because of it’s possible dangers, he seems to imply that ST isn’t really helpful in biblical application. I guess my frustration with this quick dismissal of ST has to do with the anti-ST trend of the day (i.e. N.T. Wright, the Federal Vision, some parts of the Biblical Theology movement, etc). In my own pastoral and counseling experience, ST is extremely valuable. If a Christian is depressed because she feels guilty before God, it is essential to remind her of the difference between justification and sanctification, for just one example. To dismiss ST from counseling/application methods is to throw a valuable old tool out of the toolbox. I was frustrated with this aspect of the book.
One more thing. If you’re educated in biblical theology (i.e. if you’re familiar with the redemptive historical approach) and if you’ve had some education in biblical counseling, the book may only be a review for you. It is pretty basic in terms of what redemptive history is and what biblical counseling includes. You may want to pass on this one if you’re trained in these areas. However, if you’re not, you’ll want to get this. Just be sure you don’t throw your systematic theology out the window after you read it!