Criswell College establishes counseling chair

DALLAS?During the Feb. 5 chapel service at Criswell College, school President Jerry Johnson announced the establishment of the “Hope for the Heart Chair for Biblical Counseling” to be led by Steve Hunter, an associate professor of psychology and counseling and dean of students at Criswell.

Johnson also recognized June Hunt, founder of Dallas-based Hope for the Heart, as initiating the establishment of the chair in August 2007. The college continued moving forward on Nov. 12, when the executive committee of the trustees authorized the endowment. On Dec. 7, the board trustees formalized the establishment.

“I’m really thankful to June Hunt and Dr. Hunter,” Johnson said. “This is an exciting partnership.”

Hunter is also on staff at First Baptist Church of Dallas as a licensed professional counselor and is a former missionary and pastor. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M University, as well as a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and his doctor of ministry from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

Hope for the Heart is a biblical counseling ministry and June Hunt hosts the nationally syndicated radio program “Hope for the Heart,” which airs daily for 30 minutes, and “Hope In The Night,” a two-hour call-in broadcast. Both are designed to help listeners work through issues and problems with biblical answers and practical help.

At the chapel service, Johnson brought both Hunter and Hunt to the stage, expressing his hope that the endowment of the Hope for the Heart Chair will allow more Christians to be trained in biblical counseling.

The “Hope for the Heart” radio programs are broadcast in 25 countries and Hunt is also the author of more than 30 books, most recently “How to Forgive When You Don’t Feel Like It.” Hunt earned a master of arts degree in counseling at Criswell. She also has been a guest professor at colleges and seminaries, and teaches courses nationally and internationally on topics such as crisis counseling, child abuse, spousal abuse, homosexuality, forgiveness, singleness and self-worth.

After years of teaching and research, Hunt developed “Counseling Through The Bible,” a scripturally based counseling course addressing 100 topics, such as depression and parenting, anger and abuse, guilt and grief. From this course, Hunt also authored and produced the “Biblical Counseling Keys “?all designed to move people from wrong thinking to right thinking … from wrong living to right living,” Hunt’s website states.

“There’s nothing more important than instilling in students truth, teaching them how to think about people and how to apply the Word of God to their lives,” Hunt said. “Biblical counseling gives people the tools to help others while knowing the counsel has its foundation in God’s Word. You can be sincere, and sincerely wrong, but the Word of God is never wrong.”

Johnson reiterated the unique place the endowed chair will have at Criswell.

“There are a lot of hurting people out there who are needy and are not hearing the right messages. They may go to a psychologist or psychiatrist, but this is the Hope for the Heart Chair of Biblical Counseling, really emphasizing that God’s Word has the answers.”

Hunt expressed her support for Hunter’s leadership in biblical counseling.

“No one would be a better representative of this school than Steve Hunter. He is solid, has heart and he truly has ‘Hope for the Heart’ that he gives.”

Speaking of his vision for the chair, Hunter said during chapel that he and June Hunt have “the same heartbeat, and that is to train Christians in how to effectively minister to the hurting through God’s Word ? that’s my desire and the purpose of Hope for the Heart.”

Hunt later stated that one of the keys to biblical counseling is to have the Word of God indwell the person who is counseling.

“We have a world of people who want help and hope, and they need to know how to think biblically so that truly they will have joy and the peace of God. There’s no substitute than having the peace of God and the only way to do that is to be in the will of God.”

Johnson emphasized that the counseling courses at Criswell span a broad spectrum. Students may earn a bachelor of arts in counseling and a master of arts in counseling at Criswell College.

“We want to encourage people who have an interest in helping others that they don’t have to be a professional counselor (to take courses in biblical counseling),” Johnson said. “This is also for laymen,
Sunday School teachers who really want to have the tools. We are excited. We think it will just grow.”
Criswell student Laura Kreisher praised the school for offering the course of study.

“My passion and commitment is for the Lord’s truth and how that applies to life. Criswell is where God was calling me so this is where I’m at, just to be used by God in whatever way he would have me. I’m majoring in biblical counseling.”

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