It can be hard enough to seek the counsel of a professional psychologist, let alone find one that can speak to your specific struggles with good and true theology. Grounded in Scripture, centered on Christ, distinguishing Law and Gospel, and living under a theology of the cross, Lutherans have a unique approach to Christian counseling. Guest Dr. Rick Marrs is a seminary professor and licensed psychologist who authored the book Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered. In this episode, Dr. Marrs guides listeners through the initial hurdle of identifying a trusted Christian counselor and describes what makes counseling through the lens of Lutheran theology unique and particularly beneficial. Marrs also answers questions about the modern trend toward telehealth counseling and discusses the upsides and downfalls of this practice.
Find Lutheran counseling options at lcms.org/rso.
Bio: Dr. Richard “Rick” Marrs is professor of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
Marrs was called to the faculty in the fall of 2006. He previously served as the dean of faculty (2010–13), director of Continuing Education and Parish Services (2007–09) and director of the Master of Divinity (M.div.) and Residential Alternate Route (RAR) Programs (2013-21).
His areas of interest and expertise include pastoral care and counseling, Christian counseling and Christian reconciliation.
Before coming to the Seminary, he served at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Junction City, Kan. (2000–06), first as a vicar and then as a pastor. He was a professor of psychology and a counselor at St. John’s College in Winfield, Kan. (1983–86; admissions counselor 1982–83), and at Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill. (1986–98). He also has done counseling, clinical and consulting work with Lutheran Child and Family Services; the Baldwin Center for Psychological Services; the Center for Applied Psychology and Forensic Studies; the Kansas State University counseling center; Rapha (a Christian inpatient psychiatric group); Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Lutheran Special Education Ministries; and various districts of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).
Marrs received certification for pastoral ministry through the Seminary’s RAR Program and earned his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) both from Concordia Seminary (2001, 2008). He also holds an Associate of Arts (A.A.) from St. John’s College (1978); a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Concordia College, River Forest, Ill. (now Concordia University Chicago) (1980); a Master of Science (M.S.) in counseling from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. (1985); and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in counseling psychology from Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Ill. (1994). He has been licensed as a psychologist since 1996.
In 2019, Marrs published the book Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered, which focuses on the relevance of Luther’s soul-care theology in Christian counseling (WestBow Press). He continues and expands that discussion in a blog series on Concordia Theology. He and Seminary Emeritus Professor Dr. Robert Kolb also are co-authoring an article about Lutheran contributions to the theology of Christian psychology.
Marrs contributed the new introduction to the reprint of Walter J. Koehler’s book Counseling and Confession: The Role of Confession and Absolution in Pastoral Counseling (Concordia Publishing House, 1982, 2011). He has authored numerous Bible studies, articles and training programs for the LCMS. He also co-authored The Lesson Organizer Routine, a special education learning strategy trainer for the University of Kansas’ Edge Enterprises, which has sold more than 20,000 copies.
Marrs is married to Laura, who operates her own professional organizing business. They have two adult daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren. Marrs coached the Seminary’s varsity tennis team from 2007–16 and still enjoys playing tennis. He also competes nationally in stair-climb races.
Learn about LCMS Life Ministry at lcms.org/life, and email us at email@example.com.
Not all the views expressed are necessarily those of the LCMS; please discuss any questions with your pastor.
We believe that God is the author and sustainer of all life. We also know it can be hard to speak about the intrinsic value of that life when it feels like the world is trying to drown us out.
We’re right here beside you. In this podcast of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Life Ministry, we’re coming alongside one another as a community of Christ’s redeemed people, ones who are speaking up for and living out the sanctity of human life. Together we’ll explore life issues in a way that honors our heavenly Father’s value of human life, serves our neighbor, and connects us to others who are doing the same. Join us, so that together we can be friends for life.