Jay Adams Has a Blog

He would rather call it a column. (HT: Nick Batzig). If you’re not familiar with Jay, you’ve missed out. I remember where I was when I read Competent to Counsel.  Jay taught at WTS/P and WSC for a number of years. In fact, he was one of the founding faculty members here. He may have been the first Westminster prof I read. He is a prolific author who has written on a wide range of topics in pastoral theology and practica. Many of his 50+ books are still in print. In an age of namby-pamby writers, Jay is a breath of fresh air. You might not always agree with him but you will always know what he’s trying to say and you will always learn from him and that sets him apart from most writers.

Caveat (June, 2023): Jay died in 2014. I wrote this originally in 2008. Recently Christine Pack has called attention to a portion of an article Jay published, in 1984, in his counseling journal. It was a spectacularly bad question (positing that a daughter might have invited sexual interest from her father). This was a theory that had some traction in fundamentalist and patriarchalist circles. Needless to say, I repudiate the theory. There is no way of mitigating the sexual abuse of a child.

I stand by my original (2008) observation: you will not always agree with Jay and you should not. He himself expected people to disagree with him and to criticize him. I myself reject his reading and dating of the Revelation (he took the view that it was fulfilled in AD 70) as special pleading. He was wrong to take the position that we need to move on from the doctrine of justification to sanctification. The two ought always be kept together. I know that I have read pieces of practical advice (especially in the journal) with which I disagreed.

Under the leadership of David Powlison et al., the nouthetic counseling movement (2.0) developed after Jay and did a better job of integrating the doctrine of justification and the gospel more generally. Jay was a pioneer. We should appreciate him even as we criticize him.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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