Book Review: Counseling Under the Cross

The Babylon Bee, a Christian News Satire site, recently ran a humorous article titled, “New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions”. While the news story was purposely fake (thus, satire), this sentiment of Luther is real and familiar. The portrayal of Luther is the staunch Reformer, the one who spoke out against the corruption of the Catholic church and stood up for what he believed being convinced by Scripture and conscience. The result was the start of a Reformation. Yet, to depict Martin Luther only in this light would not serve Martin Luther, church history, or us well. What will serve everyone well is Dr. Bob Kellemen’s new book, Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life.

Dr. Kellemen opens his book informing the reader, “Luther, the pastor and shepherd, inspired Luther the Reformer” (Kellemen 6). Dr. Bob then takes the next 11 chapters leading all Christians to follow in Martin Luther’s footsteps of applying the gospel. The book is sectioned off into two parts, the first painting a portrait of the Reformer and the second laying out the practices of the Reformer. In section one, Bob Kellemen observes what shaped Martin Luther’s pastoral counseling, from his deep and despairing trials (chapter 1) to finding peace with God in the cross-shaped theology (chapter 2). The second section moves from what shaped Martin Luther’s pastoral counseling to the shape of Martin Luther’s pastoral counseling. In counseling through the lens of the cross (chapter 3), Dr. Kellemen shares firsthand accounts and real-life vignettes of Martin Luther applying the fourfold historic Christian approach to pastoral care, the theology and methodology of sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding (chapters 4–11).

Counseling Under the Cross by Bob Kellemen is a timely resource for any biblical counselor who desires to let Scripture reform their life, ministry, and counseling. In this well-researched, easy-to-follow book, the Christian will be encouraged by Martin Luther’s compassionate heart and gospel-centered approach to pastoral counseling, enlightened by exposing the schemes of the devil and cropping Christ back into the picture to comfort the suffering and confront the sinning, and enriched to believe the gospel indicatives and apply the gospel imperatives. Bob Kellemen opens the book by sharing how Martin Luther reformed his life and ministry and closes the book engaging the reader to draw out particular implications to apply to their own lives. The one who reads and heeds what is found in Counseling Under the Cross will be competent to robustly counsel in Christ alone and know deeper the love of God in Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, click here.

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