The Case of the Hopeless Marriage. Jay E. Adams.

In his introduction, Adams states he bases the situations and people in the book on a composite of his own experiences, and that he has been performing nouthetic counseling “two hours a day, two days a week, for several years” (1). According to his biography1, he has done much more work than that in nouthetic counseling circles.

He founded the Institute for Nouthetic Studies, the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation and the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. Adams developed the imprint Timeless Texts to essentially self-publish his own books and others focused on nouthetic counseling and biblical scholarship related to nouthetic counseling.

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Adams discusses his own competency at length in a thinly veiled reference to one of his other books, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible. The fictional pastor Greg assigns this book as homework for the character Sue. She refuses to read it because she heard it was written by a “kook” (53). Pastor Greg makes a lengthy speech defending the unnamed “kook” by outlining Adams’ curriculum vitae, and ends the statement by declaring, “Some of those who oppose his views on counseling have been known at times (intentionally or unintentionally) to spread errors about him” (54), referring to himself, the author Jay E. Adams. Cloaking his own bibliographic information within the fictional framework of the story is sneaky, and anyone unfamiliar with Adams and his work would either not recognize the reference or might be insulted by the defense. The apology for Greg’s outburst (55) does little to alleviate the feeling that any counseling outside nouthetic counseling is at best worthless and at worst harmful.

The three characters explored in the book are Greg, the counseling pastor, and Bert and Sue, the counseled couple.

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