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Out of Balance p.


The Integration of Psychology and Theology:

An Enterprise out of Balance

James R. Beck

Denver Seminary

Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society

Colorado Springs, CO

November 15, 2001

Copyright 2001 by James R. Beck

Out of Balance p. 2


This paper compares original visions for the integration of psychology and theology with major

approaches represented in current literature and finds that the enterprise is out of balance. Most

approaches are either focused heavily on the scriptural/biblical side of the equation or they

relegate theological considerations to a relatively unimportant status. The paper argues that the

original vision for a balanced approach remains valid and that current imbalanced approaches

suffer from limitations that will cripple the endeavor over time. The paper concludes with an

examination of some of the threats to a balanced approach as well as suggestions for future

directions for the enterprise.

psychology. Philip Rieff (1966) declared that the therapeutic theme had reached a triumphant status in American life. The majority of them are willing to turn to mental health practitioners for help. minority voice. 3 The Integration of Psychology and Theology: An Enterprise out of Balance The mental health movement as well as psychology in general loom large on the American landscape. the mental health movement grows because of a relentless demand for its services. Since the very beginning of the psychology and the mental health movements in America. marriages. if anything. Out of Balance p. As our culture increasingly fragments. these people need help. This vast movement has achieved its prominence in American society over the relatively short span of 50 years. the mental health movement has continued to grow in influence during the past 35 years. Psychology has become a major social science in the academy that not only has a strong presence in undergraduate and graduate education but also a large clinical wing of practitioners who deliver services to the public. And its importance and presence in the contemporary scene has not waned since Rieff wrote his influential book. master’s-level. individual lives. Many critics see this cultural change as the result of some type of aggressive takeover by secularists who are determined to rid our nation of its Judeo-Christian heritage. and doctoral training . the number of professionals involved in the field is massive. Hence evangelical Christians with baccalaureate. If we include all the various disciplines (psychiatry. and various types of counseling professions). far fewer numbers of them turn to the church for help. Early into this span of time. and relationships crumble. evangelicals have been involved as a distinct. The actual explanation for the prominence of the mental health movement is probably much less sensational. social work.

Wheaton. but an equal number work in secular. but good intent seems to have been present from the beginning. but for most observers this is an accomplishment that contributes to the fulfillment of our mandate to bear witness to our faith in a darkened world. From early efforts to formulate models of interaction (Carter & Narramore. In what other so-called secular field have evangelicals invested so heavily? It is doubtful that evangelicals have established training programs at an accredited. and the free-standing Psychological Studies Institute of Atlanta. George Fox. Faw. a core of researchers has advocated a rigorous . The extent to which evangelicals have participated in this field is perhaps best illustrated in the number of doctoral programs evangelicals have established at schools across the country (Biola. 4 can find a great many opportunities for professional service. 1979) to more recent work (Clinton. GA). Christians entering the field of mental health and psychology have expressed strong interest in taking their faith with them. non-religious institutions. The overlapping concerns of psychologists and theologians have naturally propelled scholars and practitioners in both fields to ask. Many of these evangelical academicians and practitioners work in Christian settings. 1990. From the very beginning. both educational and therapeutic. Christian psychologists have expressed a genuine desire to honor Christ in their work and to pursue their psychological and psychotherapeutic tasks with biblical integrity and theological faithfulness. natural. Out of Balance p. Fuller. “How do these two domains relate to one another?” The question has been more than a passing interest for most Christian psychologists. doctoral level to serve any of the other social. They have taken the question seriously enough to formulate various models of integration that could inform this interaction. For some critics this investment has been a mistake of dreadful proportions. medical sciences to the same extent. 1998). These efforts have not been without their detractors nor have they always been successful.

5 engagement of theology and biblical studies with the social science of psychology (including both its academic and clinical arms). Theology and Sexuality. Journal of Psychology and Christianity). Out of Balance p. Nonetheless. . and their inherent value systems compare to and contrast with a biblical worldview as expressed in our theological systems (Browning. 1996b. their methodologies. Modern Theology. Have we succeeded in approaching the integration enterprise in a balanced fashion? Has our theological and biblical work been of high quality? And have we demonstrated a thorough and competent understanding of the science of psychology or do we too frequently resort to caricatures and reductive distortions? The Current Scene 1 In addition to journals specifically devoted to the topic of the integration of psychology and theology (Journal of Psychology and Theology. Great strides have been made as well-trained scholars have demonstrated mastery of psychology at its philosophical and theoretical level as well as mastery of its scientific productivity (Ingram. Zygon. Sorenson. one can locate a wide array of journals that have published one or more articles on the topic. journals that represent a wide range of scholarly interest. Sorenson. Stateon. Piedmont. and it can be a daunting task to keep abreast of all the material that is published in this area of interest by evangelical publishing houses and by journals especially devoted to the topic. and the Journal of Psychology and Judaism. Preaching. 1997. & Vande Kemp. the true integrationist has also striven to give substantial attention to both disciplines as a way of expending our understanding of human functioning and behavior. Journal of Analytical Psychology. 1998). Journal of Theology. Medieval Philosophy and Theology. 1987. Williams. 1996a. Epworth Review. The volume of work has been extensive. 1991).1 Yet there are some signals in the current scene that trigger some concerns. Some of these journals are: Journal of the Study of the Old Testament. Evangelical authors have tackled major theories and families of theories to determine how their assumptive foundations. Even the most thoroughgoing integrationist is willing to give priority to scriptural truth in view of the distinct nature of special versus general revelation. Jones & Butman. & Ciarrocchi. Scriptura. 1997.

A second view argues that psychology and theology are parallel disciplines that engage in different levels of explanation and thus are not truly integratable fields (Myers. 6 One summative representation of the current scene with regard to how evangelicals view the relationship between psychology and Christianity is the recent volume edited by Eric L. p. often gives more attention to the psychological side of the equation than to the theological side. as described in this volume by David Powlison (2000). Obviously. In the years and decades since pioneers in the Christian counseling movement called for rigorous integration of psychology and theology. The four views selected by Johnson and Jones as representative of the current state of affairs regarding the relationship of psychology to theology include only one that corresponds to a thorough integration of the two fields. this view puts heavier emphasis on historical. an internal war has erupted. others rejecting it just as vigorously. Johnson and Stanton L. 9). argues that we should not engage in integration at all but should seek to derive our helping strategies from the pages of Scripture only. and many others falling somewhere between” (Johnson & Jones. some embracing it wholeheartedly. Johnson and Jones describe for us the pronounced and sometimes loud debate within the evangelical world regarding how these two disciplines should relate to each other. and theological sources of information than on the psychological side. “Christians have taken different positions regarding the extent to which they should have anything to do with modern psychology. This second view. Psychology and Christianity: Four views. Collins (2000). 2000). 2000. a view described in the volume by Gary R. in practice. Out of Balance p. A third view argues that we should seek to build a Christian psychology by mining the wisdom of saints who have gone before us rather than by attempting to distill truth from contemporary and largely secular sources of psychological information (Roberts. One view seeks to maintain a semblance of balance . biblical. Jones (2000). 2000). And finally. the biblical counseling view.

p. to be consistent. Few integrationists are willing to filter psychology through theology and none of those publishing in JPT were willing to filter theology through psychology. In some ways the current situation reflects research conducted in 1988 by Foster. These five models consist of both manipulative and correlational models of integration and span a spectrum from models that seek to avoid integration as completely as possible to those that advocate a full-blown integration of the two disciplines. Horn. Horn. scholars working in the area of the interface between psychology and theology have been using a wide variety of models from the minimalist to the maximalist position even early in the integrationist era. conformability. Out of Balance p. the Journal of Psychology and Theology. at least superficially. the other three have abandoned or at least eschewed any attempt at balance. Their findings support the conclusion that many integrationists aspire to use a higher level of integration than is actually the case. and complementarity. & Watson. . convertibility. Full integration has been and continues to be fairly rare in practice even as it is common in commitment. 7 between the disciplines. We have no reason to suspect that the situation has changed dramatically since 1988. 1988. 10) In other words. Most of the JPT authors are either attempting to reconstruct psychology or theology using their theological or psychological world view or they are busy lining up secular and theological facts that appear. They examined articles published over a span of 5 years (1980-1985) in the main integrative journal at that time. Integration has become an enterprise out of balance. (Foster. to determine which model of integration the authors used. & Watson. compatibility. They compared the material in these articles to the five integration models as articulated by Farnsworth (1982): credibility.

3. When integration authors add overstatements. This mixing of theological systems can lead to a lack of clarity that is so essential for good integrative work. in fact. 27) and that it is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Cooper’s modified dualism. 1. 1994). As previously mentioned. 2001). 8 A second level of concern emerges when we examine the work of integrationists to understand the quality of work on the theological and psychological sides of the equation. Boyd (1998) states that early in the 20th century theologians dismissed the doctrine of the Trinity. Theological concepts and theologians themselves are cited with little sense of how they fit into the larger scheme of the evangelical theological landscape. 4. Some scholars working in this area in integration make sincere efforts to address the relevant biblical and theological issues but do it in an unsatisfactory manner. Several types of problems appear. Integration authors at times cite Scripture with little attention . Boyd (1996) states that Erickson’s contingent monism or conditional unity is “biased in favor of this life” (p. Such is not the case. Evangelical theologians have not abandoned the doctrine of the Trinity only to come back to it later. they lose their audience on both sides of the integration fence (Boyd. sweeping and unsupported or muddled conclusions. 2. Integration authors can sometimes misstate theological positions. 1995. a large proportion of it represents rigorous and quality production. perhaps unintentionally but nonetheless mistakenly. One can also read of authors who make misleading theological statements. quite close together although they approach the matter from opposite directions. An author may cite a Barthian concept or quote Bultmann with little acknowledgement of how well these theologians reflect core evangelical convictions (Hunsinger. they have always affirmed it as does Millard Erickson and all evangelical theologians. Cooper (1989) and Erickson (1985) are. Yet the exceptions are discouragingly common. a teaching that was brought back by evangelical theologians such as Millard Erickson. Out of Balance p. For example.

for more specific examples). A lack of sophistication also appears at times on the psychological side of the integration equation. This last trend is perhaps the most disturbing of all. One encouraging finding was that the Bible (in its various English translations) was the most frequently cited book. My intent in pointing out these examples is not to discourage integration authors from using theological and biblical concepts in their writings. at least from my obviously biased perspective (Beck & Banks. in many recent works regarding the soul. The exact same trend appeared when the authors examined journal articles cited in these articles. 2001. an appropriately biblical topic. Jones. 5. However. 1993) must use contorted and contrived arguments to make their points. 1992). & Worthington (1998) examined influential sources cited in integration articles appearing in both the Journal of Psychology and Christianity and the Journal of Psychology and Theology in the period from 1985 to 1994. Out of Balance p. Their misunderstanding of . For example. the top 25 books cited consisted of other integrative material. writers cite passages without making clear that the authors of Scripture use the term differently as we can observe by looking at how Peter uses the word as compared to how Paul writes about the soul (see Beck. The worst offenders. are those authors who not only take an anti-integration position but more specifically an anti-psychology position. Authors who recklessly seek to dismiss the entire clinical wing of psychology as well as all of its scientific production (Bobgan & Bobgan. To the contrary. Apart from the Bible. 1989. we need this type of reflection. But we do need to upgrade the quality and quantity of the theological and biblical observations that we make so as not to detract from the intent of our work. Bulkley. 1. Ripley. Kuruso. namely to build up the church and to edify the saints. In other instances. biblical and theological material is almost absent from integration conversations in the literature. the remaining top 24 book titles cited did not include a single theological or biblical work. 9 given to context or authorial intent.

their dismissive attitude to the significant contribution psychology has made to ministry and church life in general are all embarrassments to evangelicals who strive to serve Christ within the mental health professions. however. and exploitative character types that were predicted by Fromm’s theory (Schultz & Schultz. Other critics of modern psychological theory often make the error of limiting their analysis to the presuppositional or assumptive level undergirding these various theories. With perceptive skill critics of Freud or Jung or Fromm can expose the anti-Christian or anti-supernatural biases of these theories with impressive logic and careful argumentation. Thus we encounter the challenging situation of theoretical formulations that are built on non-Christian or even anti-Christian presuppositions still have the capacity to generate verified and verifiable observations of human nature that had never before been suggested by Scripture or by other theorists. Empirical research into various predictions that these theories have made has found that some of their predictions turn out to be validated in a replicated manner by carefully conducted experiments. hoarding. Limitations Inherent in Imbalanced Approaches . The inadequacy of their approach. 2001). surfaces when we realize that the critics have stopped short of accounting for all of the data. 10 basic social science. For example. 2. But shortchanging psychological contributions to the advance of knowledge in the 20th Century is not limited to anti-psychology authors. Intellectual honesty requires that we deal with this material even if we can confidently dismiss the presuppositions held by the secular theorist. Likewise. 2001). many components of Jung’s extraversion and introversion themes have been verified by independent researchers. studies verify the existence of the receptive. their selective use of outdated material. oral and anal personality types. Out of Balance p. and repression (Schultz & Schultz. and research has confirmed many aspects of Freudian theory including the unconscious.

The viewpoint appears in book form (Bobgan & Bobgan. Perhaps a marriage dissolved into divorce while a Christian couple was participating in Christian marriage counseling. But at the same time these hopefully isolated instances of harm or poor outcome should not be used to dismiss outright an entire profession and social science. the affected person carries along some justifications for bitterness and resentment. perhaps someone was sexually abused by a so-called Christian therapist. Whether the injury or harm is real or just perceived. 1989). Anti-psychology A small but hard-to-ignore group of conservative evangelicals are convinced that the use of any psychology by the church is a travesty on the gospel and poses a substantial threat to the life and health of the church at large. Christian A. Thus they decry the ministries of Focus on the Family. The influence of this position is much stronger than is its intellectual credibility because it speaks directly to a small population of persons who have been injured in some way by the Christian counseling movement. but little information exists that would help us know just how evangelicals in the mental health field are apportioned among these five groups. 11 A brief overview of five current approaches to the relationship of psychology and theology may help us identify some of the risks and inadequacies in an unbalanced approach to this topic. groups. Gary Collins. the Southern Baptist Convention. Philip Yancey. Out of Balance p. in newsletters (The Psychoheresy Newsletter) and in other media formats. All of these eventualities are tragic and can in no way be condoned. The following approaches reflect five major types of approach. Ed Bulkley.A. Or. Perhaps an incompetent Christian counselor truly did impose harm on a client. . worst of all. Anti-psychology authors obviously argue that the integration of psychology and Christian theology is to be totally avoided.

These problems are best addressed by biological interventions such as medication and other medical treatments. Once we have relegated all the problems formerly considered to be categories of mental illness to their rightful . repentance. Jay Adams and his followers have argued for over three decades that the integration of psychology and theology is unnecessary because Scripture contains within its pages all of the principles and information we need to know how to live godly lives. sinning or being sinned against. Competent to Counsel. Ed Smith. In other words. The first are those problems that have a medical. but rather contain two types of problems that should be distinguished. Martin De Haan. The position essentially maintains that the concepts of “mental illness” and “psychopathology” not valid categories in and of themselves. appeared in 1972 at a very early point in the integration movement. Anti-psychology advocates also express virulent anti-integration sentiments. Promise Keepers. New Life. 12 Larry Crabb. Out of Balance p. forgiveness) so that the person’s relationship with God can be restored. The second category consists in actuality of problems that have their cause in sins of omission or commission. contrition. The inherent limitation of this position rests in its denunciations of groups and persons who are the objects of God’s blessings. but the following group of biblical counselors who are anti-integration do not share the anti-psychology attitudes of this first group. Link Care. anyone who uses a psychological concept such as self-esteem or in anyway utilizes Christian counseling is suspect. Biblical Counseling Jay Adams’s influential book. biological. or organic basis. Attempts to learn how to live well from other sources are thus insults to the comprehensiveness of Scripture and function as denials of its sufficiency to meet all of our needs. Proper treatment for this category consists of spiritual interventions that assist the suffering person in identifying the sins that need attention (confession. and many others.

Out of Balance p. counseling process. we are told. it simply integrates at the most minimal level possible. It only appears. biblical counselors can find relevant material for every human struggle. 315). If we dig deep enough into the teachings of Scripture we will uncover the true underlying causes of even the most recent of diagnostic categories. First. p. or panic attacks. specialized training). We have already noted that the position can accept diagnostic description and identification of problems. that the Bible does not address issues such as anorexia. appointments. It also accepts the general format of the psychotherapy movement (the format of one-to-one conversation. The biblical counseling approach to integration brings to mind three important limitations. paranoia. Integration is not totally absent from the biblical counseling movement. all of which are borrowed wholesale from modern sources. The biblical counseling movement in the tradition and spirit of Adams’s original work is actually not a position that totally avoids all integration. clinics. they are borrowed from the modern psychotherapy movement. this position contains some inherent inconsistencies. fees. Thus the secular fields of psychology and psychotherapy have nothing they can contribute to our understanding of these sinful conditions other than perhaps more detailed description or symptom identification. licensure. A second problem arises when we realize that the biblical counseling movement must simultaneously maintain that Scripture is sufficient in its prescription for human struggles but also that its teaching is dense. They do not add to our basic understanding of causality or remediation. 1997. They . we have nothing else left. One could never exegete these features of biblical counseling from the pages of Scripture. By “probing the unfathomed depth and breadth of Scripture” (Welch & Powlison. but it is kept at an absolute minimum. 13 designation (biological/organic and spiritual/related to sin).

The International Church Council (ICC) has included among its 19 statements that are designed to represent “mainstream theology of the first 20 centuries” a position paper on counseling that is essentially the biblical counseling position. p. Greek philosophy) have certainly been present in the history of the church. Dr. 79). In the language of the ICC. Efforts to shun secular knowledge (i. 1999. 1) of the church regarding counseling. 2000. Myers of Hope College in Michigan in the Johnson and Jones volume. p. This assertion is anachronistic in nature and contradicts a longstanding tradition within the church to utilize secular knowledge in its fulfillment of Christ’s mission in the world (Beck. 14 accomplish this feat in large part by reductionistic strategies that collapse most all psychogenic pathologies to some form of idolatry. 2). Myers and others who have spent their distinguished careers sorting through psychological studies to identify findings that approach scientifically lawful status argue that psychology and theology both share “humility before nature and skepticism of human presumptions” (Myers. 1997).e. the levels of explanation view tends to be imbalanced in the opposite direction: giving great weight and attention to scientific psychology rather than to the theological side of integration. but they have never been the sole approach. Levels of Explanation Unlike the previous two positions that are imbalanced in the direction of theology and biblical studies. but that psychological science is the discipline that is uncovering lawful principles that we must use continually to reform our understanding of . The third area of concern regarding the biblical counseling position revolves around its assertion that it alone represents “the orthodox and biblical position” (International Church Council. Out of Balance p. 1999. p. The view is articulated well by David G. the biblical counseling approach is thus the “historic” position of the church that is “being undermined by false teaching and outright heresy” (ICC.

Whereas most integrationists give precedence to biblical understandings of various disputed issues. 135). “Christian psychology starts with ideas and practices already established by centuries of Christian tradition. Christian Psychology Robert Roberts has made a substantial contribution to the discussion of the relationship between psychology and theology in recent years. 1993. 2000). They cite the numerous times the church has erred in its understanding of scientific matters and the frequency it has had to retract its biblical understanding in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 2001). the primary limitation of the levels of explanation view is that it gives the science of psychology more surety and certainty than it actually has earned in its first century of existence. While the tortured history of relationship between science and faith does indeed contain many such examples. Out of Balance p. p. 2001. 15 theology. This viewpoint asserts that theology contributes its understandings of human life at one level and that psychology as a science contributes its perspectives at a different level. Roberts concludes from his studies in the field that we are better served by looking backwards in our own Christian tradition for material to use in building a Christian psychology than we are to look into contemporary psychology for the building blocks of such a truly Christian psychology (Roberts. the levels of explanation theorists are usually quick to urge a reevaluation of our theological and biblical understandings if a seeming contradiction emerges. and it develops psychological concepts and practices from these with a minimum of reference to or influence from the psychologies of the twentieth century” (Roberts. His perceptive analysis of several important psychotherapy movements has added to our understanding of the importance of attending to presuppositional and embedded value systems within the theoretical approaches that we employ (Roberts. Roberts is correct in his .

But do we need to derive from Paul’s letters a Pauline psychotherapy as Roberts attempts to do (2001)? Are we trying to develop a Christian psychology that only describes Christians or should we seek to develop a creation psychology that was dramatically impacted by sin and that is redeemed by the Christian gospel (Cole. This approach integrates but does not do so explicitly. is a very popular trend currently found in the contemporary scene. Advocates of the new Theophostic approach present it as a powerful and unusually effective method of providing help to distressed Christians in a . “We need to become practiced in the psychological help that the Christian tradition contains and to become articulate in voicing its insights and prescribing it interventions” (Roberts. 1998)? Do we mean to build an in-house psychology that applies only to believers and offers nothing to the wider world in which we live and work? The major limitation stemming from the imbalance of the Christian psychology position is that we unnecessarily distance ourselves from the proven as well as the potential value that modern psychological investigations can bring to us and to the church. Ed Smith. psychological theory is obscured beneath Christian language and presentation so that the consumer of these approaches is often not aware that the intervention is actually a representation of integration rather than a pure. Other Recent Approaches A fifth approach. biblical position. 135). not addressed in the Johnson and Jones (2000) volume we have been following in this paper. and we can learn a great deal from it. 135). 16 assertions that psychological concepts are embedded in Christian tradition and that “Christians have never done well without psychology in the past. The first example of such a strategy is the Theophostic movement established by Dr. Out of Balance p. The integration between secular. p. 2001. p. and we have no reason to think that we can do so today” (Roberts. 2001. We do indeed need to pay attention to the wisdom of the Christian tradition.

Garzon. and it will take us some time to understand the methodology more completely (Bidwell. Zehlke. Another example is that of Christ Centered Therapy (Anderson.. Whatever the precise form of the imbalance to these approaches to the relationship between psychology and theology. In reality. Out of Balance p. 2001. or whether it represents an imbalance in how the method is presented to the public. Borden. 17 time-effective manner. 2001. is it time for us to abandon efforts at balance? Or can one still make a case . whether it be too heavy an emphasis on the psychological side or the theological side. The authors of Christ centered therapy are commendably explicit in identifying the components of their integrative efforts although the title of the approach might obscure this integration effort from the awareness of the general public. The coined name of the approach along with other factors tend to imply that the methodologies involved are new and are Christian. & Tjersland. Cognitive-behavioral counseling or psychotherapy is adjunctive to the freedom in Christ material. Proponents claim that the cures are nearly miraculous in their effectiveness and that the methodology is Christian and Christ-honoring. Garzon et al. & Zuehlke. the limitations of these approaches remain as substantive issues we need to address. integration is occurring here. Research into the validity of these claims is just beginning to appear in the literature. 2000). In other words. Paloma. 2001). An Ongoing Vision for Balance Given the fact that imbalance seems to be more common than balance when it comes to the integrative quest. Gorsuch. At the heart of the method is the freedom in Christ program of Neil Anderson that represents the starting point for the intervention. the methodology incorporates existing procedures proven effective with trauma victims as well as approaches similar to the healing of memories that was popular a few years back. but it is not explicitly discussed.

Just as advances in historical. somewhat reluctantly. 1997). 1994). The discipline of psychology desperately needs the salt and light that trained Christian practitioners can provide for it. The task is hard (Hodges. When Bergin (1991) assaulted the erroneous but widely-held contention that psychotherapy was a value-free endeavor. But we desperately need scholarship that utilizes the best and most up-to-date scholarship in the biblical and theological arena. Johnson. admitted in print that healthy religious affiliation does in fact exist (Ellis. The potential benefits of cross-fertilization between the two fields are immense. and linguistic studies have greatly enriched our understanding of the text of Scripture. 1994. now one never hears a secularist trying to maintain that psychotherapy is value-free. 18 for the value of balance in the enterprise and hence to the ongoing need to continue to strive for it? I am convinced that the goal of balance in the integration enterprise continues to merit our best efforts and that we should renew our attempts to take both sides seriously. his mastery of data won the day. 1998). At the same time. an approach that gets beyond a mere layperson’s understanding of the Bible (Beck & Banks. When Brad Johnson and his colleagues challenged Albert Ellis to reconsider his blatant and frequent attacks on all forms of religious adherence. so can informed psychological understanding deepen our understanding of how the truths of Scripture relate to the human condition. . Definitions for the integration quest abound and do not always agree (Faw. Out of Balance p. Christians can make a difference. 1994). As evangelicals we must continue to recognize the differences between special and general revelation and to give priority to Scripture in those rare cases of dispute between the two fields. But these facts should not deter us. we need scholars who are willing to master psychological literature to the extent that they can discriminate between lawful findings and mere trend to distill material that we must interact with from the perspective of our biblical worldview. archaeological. Ellis did just that and.

the work must also overcome the difficulty posed by a number of factors that pose a threat to keeping the two in balance. A second measure of size relates to the number of journals related to psychology (approximately 1. 500) and to religious and theological studies (approximately 850) (Ulrich’s. 2000). One measure of the size of these two respective areas of study is the number of students graduating with post-secondary degrees in psychology and theology.500 respectively (Snyder & Hoffman. the volume of library materials.000 master’s degrees were conferred in psychology. nearly 14. and the potential for making solid contributions to each discipline using a balanced approach remains as strong today as it was when the integration enterprise was first envisioned over 30 years ago. the number of doctorates was 4. The number of academic departments. 19 Both fields need each other. The size of both fields is enormous. history and social science declined. the task of keeping current is monumental.000 and 1. In the same school year. How can the scholar who wants to keep up with both disciplines possibly master all of this material? Even if researchers confine their studies to one topic. and any scholar who tries to master not just one but both disciplines faces a monumental challenge. 2001).000 bachelor’s degrees were conferred in psychology and nearly 6. Out of Balance p. 5. In 1997-1998 nearly 74. business. Ongoing Threats to Balance The work of integrating two such different disciplines of knowledge as psychology and theology is not only difficult. If you look at articles dealing with emotion in the ATLA Religion database you .000 in religious studies.000 in religious studies. the size of faculties. The number of baccalaureate degrees in psychology continued to rise 1987-1998 while in the same time period the number of baccalaureate degrees in engineering. and the amount of research necessary to sustain two such large disciplines is indeed staggering.

We need to urge our graduate programs in psychology at both the master’s and doctoral degree levels to invest in theological and biblical training that contains the building blocks of the disciplines rather than just predigested materials (Beck. . And we need to continue involving scholars from third disciplines such as philosophy to continue the fruitful endeavors that have been occurring in the past decade. we may have to delay efforts to build a grand theory to support a creation psychology and focus instead on more doable projects. Psychologists are in great need of training in how to handle biblical and theological material in an informed manner. a theologian or biblical scholar pairing with a psychologist to advance the cause of balanced integration. Abandon the cause of balanced integration? Never. Future Directions Should we then abandon our efforts to pursue integration in a truly balanced fashion giving substantial attention to both psychological and theological? Me genoito. The sheer size of the two fields poses a threat to balance. Given the difficulty of the task. Out of Balance p. 20 would have to scan 180 of them. Or if you wanted to look at secular articles dealing with forgiveness as listed in the Psych Info database you would have to read nearly 600 of them. We need to experiment with collaborative teams when possible. 1992). It is far easier for the scholar to be familiar with one of the two disciplines than it is to be current in both fields. Let’s continue to face the challenge of advancing the cause of Christ by bringing our theological and biblical convictions to the psychological table so we can conquer the discipline for Him.

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