Running head: INTEGRATIVE APPROACHES TO PSYCHOLOGY AND CHRISTIANITY
A 4-MAT Review: Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity
Hannah Coffee Guarino
The integration of psychology and theology is an intricate process with each topic taking different directions, assumptions, methods, and goals. Though psychology and theology are both concerned with human nature and function, they each take a separate road which ultimately leads in the same destination. From fundamental issues in anthology and epistemology to pragmatic details such as support counseling, every psychological theory makes assumptions that relate to biblical revelation. In almost every area of psychology scripture has much to say that can influence our understanding of psychological research, theory, and practice. Psychology even raises questions and provides data that bears on our theological understanding of the human nature. Theology expresses divinely revealed truths that speak to psychology?s developing view of humanity. As Entwistle (2010) states, ?the disciplines of psychology and theology differ in ways that may allow us to profit from their unique approaches to their common subject?.
Entwistle (2010) suggests various models of integration that compare Christianity and psychology. Each approach is unique and serves the purpose of those that believe in that particular approach. The dialogue between psychology and theology are like a kaleidoscope, shaped by historical tensions and interactions between science and Christianity. These interactions are inevitable because of their mutual interest in understanding the ambiguities and mysteries of human nature and function. The Christian understanding of goodness is the moral obedience of obligation. All that we do is an expression of our love for God.
Everyone has their own window through which they view the world. Through this window one?s perception of the world influences the way we see things, create beliefs, and meet challenges around us. If we believe that integration must be philosophically and theologically informed then integration must be explored from those transformed by Christian revelation or faith. If the integration between psychology and theology is properly understood, not only do we have a more complete intellectual picture of the world, but a more faithful way of living in the world around us.
A personal experience that Entwistle?s (2010) book triggered in my life would have to be the fact that in my educational counseling job I try to also integrate psychology and theology. I think that I can grow as a person and also grow the respect of my students if I not only counsel them educationally but also believe in them faithfully. In the counseling department we see students with behavior problems, mental illnesses, disabilities, health and relationship problems, and many other clinical concerns. I am committed as a Christian and believe that we can draw from scripture teachings to inform us more about how to care for the human soul. I believe, every day in my work, that we can also draw from integrating psychology and theology because each topic can inform the other. And by me integrating my psychological work with my Christian faith I believe I have so much more to offer my students with concern to their human nature in education and their everyday life. No one wants to have a God-less psychology and as a Christian I strive to refer my psychological work to reveal my Christian faith. But, please do not get me wrong, I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes at times. I haven?t always believed in integrating theology with my psychology work. I give much credit to my current supervisor who is one of the kindest, fair, faithful people I know. I may not have realized this before but I learn so much from watching my peers than any readings in a research journal.
I had assumed that both psychology and theology offered a great deal toward the understanding of human nature. I confirmed this assumption by reading Entwistle?s (2010) book. The content was a little overwhelming at first but the most important underlying question was ?what does psychology have to do with Christianity??. The non-Christian reader who is also looking for this explanation or a defense of the Christian faith will have a difficult time finding the validity of the question. I actually feel that Entwistle?s (2010) intent is to attempt to integrate psychology and biblical concepts not just establish or defend the topic. But similar to the non-Christians, Christians looking for this explanation or a defense of psychology will not find it hear either.
Personally, I think I cannot be an effective counselor in my current job without having a faithful relationship with God. Many of the attributes of a counselor are the some attributes we desire as Christians. Counselors have to be understanding, patient, compassionate, and caring just as faithful Christians strive to be every day. It is difficult to separate counseling and Christian faith, but in the world of educational counseling I believe the two topics work together as a team concept. But regardless of Christian beliefs, my counseling role is to advise students and leave the spiritual healing to others. By my using my counseling role to integrate my Christian faith I think I follow Entwistle?s (2010) concept well.
After reading Entwistle (2010) I can honestly say I have a better understanding to both the Christian and secular, Athens and Jerusalem, concepts. Again personally, the integration of psychology and theology is a new way of thinking and functioning for me. I have never experienced psychology and theology as an opposing force. I am, however, able to keep an open mind and see the alternative to things and look for the most positive of relationships between psychology and theology. And by me having an open mind, I know that I have faults and I acknowledge my failures. As Entwistle (2010) states, ?integration is about seeking truth, recognizing God?s sovereignty over all that we do, and proclaiming our praise and gratitude as we discover the wonders of His creation and His charter?. What is clear to me is that scripture teaches us that God intervened in history to change lives. I see myself only following in His footsteps and fulfilling a role in His divine plan in order to gain motivation and perspective in life today. Integrative efforts come alive when we recognize their eternal aspect and see our work as part of God?s creation.
Entwistle, D. N. (2010). Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity: an introduction
to worldview issues, philosophical foundations, and models of integration. Eugene, Or.: