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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.

the mental health movement has continued to grow in influence during the past 35 years. Early into this span of time. The actual explanation for the prominence of the mental health movement is probably much less sensational. 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. Hence evangelical Christians with baccalaureate. The majority of them are willing to turn to mental health practitioners for help. psychology. marriages. social work. the mental health movement grows because of a relentless demand for its services. And its importance and presence in the contemporary scene has not waned since Rieff wrote his influential book. individual lives. far fewer numbers of them turn to the church for help. evangelicals have been involved as a distinct. if anything. master’s-level. Since the very beginning of the psychology and the mental health movements in America. 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. 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. This vast movement has achieved its prominence in American society over the relatively short span of 50 years. Out of Balance p. and various types of counseling professions). As our culture increasingly fragments. these people need help. and doctoral training . Philip Rieff (1966) declared that the therapeutic theme had reached a triumphant status in American life. and relationships crumble. If we include all the various disciplines (psychiatry. the number of professionals involved in the field is massive. minority voice.

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

Epworth Review. 1997. Scriptura. Journal of Psychology and Christianity). & Vande Kemp. and their inherent value systems compare to and contrast with a biblical worldview as expressed in our theological systems (Browning. 1997. Sorenson. 1991). and the Journal of Psychology and Judaism. 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. 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. Stateon. 1998). & Ciarrocchi. Jones & Butman. Preaching. Some of these journals are: Journal of the Study of the Old Testament. Nonetheless. Journal of Theology. their methodologies. Even the most thoroughgoing integrationist is willing to give priority to scriptural truth in view of the distinct nature of special versus general revelation.1 Yet there are some signals in the current scene that trigger some concerns. Theology and Sexuality. . 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. The volume of work has been extensive. Out of Balance p. Piedmont. 1996a. Medieval Philosophy and Theology. Williams. journals that represent a wide range of scholarly interest. 1987. Sorenson. 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. 1996b. Journal of Analytical Psychology. one can locate a wide array of journals that have published one or more articles on the topic. 5 engagement of theology and biblical studies with the social science of psychology (including both its academic and clinical arms). Zygon. Evangelical authors have tackled major theories and families of theories to determine how their assumptive foundations.

as described in this volume by David Powlison (2000). the biblical counseling view. This second view. often gives more attention to the psychological side of the equation than to the theological side. argues that we should not engage in integration at all but should seek to derive our helping strategies from the pages of Scripture only. Johnson and Stanton L. 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. 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 finally. Out of Balance p. Jones (2000). 2000. 2000). a view described in the volume by Gary R. Psychology and Christianity: Four views. and many others falling somewhere between” (Johnson & Jones. in practice. this view puts heavier emphasis on historical. “Christians have taken different positions regarding the extent to which they should have anything to do with modern psychology. some embracing it wholeheartedly. 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. an internal war has erupted. 9). and theological sources of information than on the psychological side. One view seeks to maintain a semblance of balance . In the years and decades since pioneers in the Christian counseling movement called for rigorous integration of psychology and theology. p. 2000). 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. Obviously. others rejecting it just as vigorously. biblical. Collins (2000). 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.

7 between the disciplines. We have no reason to suspect that the situation has changed dramatically since 1988. Integration has become an enterprise out of balance. 1988. Their findings support the conclusion that many integrationists aspire to use a higher level of integration than is actually the case. They compared the material in these articles to the five integration models as articulated by Farnsworth (1982): credibility. Few integrationists are willing to filter psychology through theology and none of those publishing in JPT were willing to filter theology through psychology. Horn. & Watson. to be consistent. to determine which model of integration the authors used. & Watson. convertibility. 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. (Foster. They examined articles published over a span of 5 years (1980-1985) in the main integrative journal at that time. 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. 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. conformability. p. Full integration has been and continues to be fairly rare in practice even as it is common in commitment. and complementarity. at least superficially. compatibility. the other three have abandoned or at least eschewed any attempt at balance. Out of Balance p. . In some ways the current situation reflects research conducted in 1988 by Foster. 10) In other words. the Journal of Psychology and Theology.

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

1992). The exact same trend appeared when the authors examined journal articles cited in these articles. My intent in pointing out these examples is not to discourage integration authors from using theological and biblical concepts in their writings. 1989. Their misunderstanding of . Bulkley. 2001. For example. One encouraging finding was that the Bible (in its various English translations) was the most frequently cited book. In other instances. 1. Authors who recklessly seek to dismiss the entire clinical wing of psychology as well as all of its scientific production (Bobgan & Bobgan. 5. The worst offenders. 9 given to context or authorial intent. namely to build up the church and to edify the saints. & 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. biblical and theological material is almost absent from integration conversations in the literature. Out of Balance p. However. 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. 1993) must use contorted and contrived arguments to make their points. To the contrary. the top 25 books cited consisted of other integrative material. Kuruso. Ripley. an appropriately biblical topic. in many recent works regarding the soul. A lack of sophistication also appears at times on the psychological side of the integration equation. Apart from the Bible. Jones. are those authors who not only take an anti-integration position but more specifically an anti-psychology position. This last trend is perhaps the most disturbing of all. for more specific examples). the remaining top 24 book titles cited did not include a single theological or biblical work. at least from my obviously biased perspective (Beck & Banks. 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. we need this type of reflection.

their selective use of outdated material. The inadequacy of their approach. 2001). For example. many components of Jung’s extraversion and introversion themes have been verified by independent researchers. 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. hoarding. studies verify the existence of the receptive. and exploitative character types that were predicted by Fromm’s theory (Schultz & Schultz. and repression (Schultz & Schultz. surfaces when we realize that the critics have stopped short of accounting for all of the data. Likewise. however. Out of Balance p. But shortchanging psychological contributions to the advance of knowledge in the 20th Century is not limited to anti-psychology authors. 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. Other critics of modern psychological theory often make the error of limiting their analysis to the presuppositional or assumptive level undergirding these various theories. 2. oral and anal personality types. 2001). Limitations Inherent in Imbalanced Approaches . 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. and research has confirmed many aspects of Freudian theory including the unconscious. 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. 10 basic social science. Intellectual honesty requires that we deal with this material even if we can confidently dismiss the presuppositions held by the secular theorist.

Thus they decry the ministries of Focus on the Family. 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. 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. 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. The following approaches reflect five major types of approach. The viewpoint appears in book form (Bobgan & Bobgan. the affected person carries along some justifications for bitterness and resentment. Ed Bulkley. Christian A. Perhaps a marriage dissolved into divorce while a Christian couple was participating in Christian marriage counseling. 1989). the Southern Baptist Convention. Out of Balance p. . worst of all. in newsletters (The Psychoheresy Newsletter) and in other media formats. Perhaps an incompetent Christian counselor truly did impose harm on a client.A. Gary Collins. 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. perhaps someone was sexually abused by a so-called Christian therapist. Whether the injury or harm is real or just perceived. All of these eventualities are tragic and can in no way be condoned. Philip Yancey. but little information exists that would help us know just how evangelicals in the mental health field are apportioned among these five groups. Or. Anti-psychology authors obviously argue that the integration of psychology and Christian theology is to be totally avoided. groups.

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

we have nothing else left. we are told. They . they are borrowed from the modern psychotherapy movement. this position contains some inherent inconsistencies. 315). appointments. that the Bible does not address issues such as anorexia. It also accepts the general format of the psychotherapy movement (the format of one-to-one conversation. One could never exegete these features of biblical counseling from the pages of Scripture. biblical counselors can find relevant material for every human struggle. 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. Out of Balance p. They do not add to our basic understanding of causality or remediation. but it is kept at an absolute minimum. Integration is not totally absent from the biblical counseling movement. 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. it simply integrates at the most minimal level possible. paranoia. p. specialized training). counseling process. We have already noted that the position can accept diagnostic description and identification of problems. all of which are borrowed wholesale from modern sources. First. 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. clinics. or panic attacks. licensure. By “probing the unfathomed depth and breadth of Scripture” (Welch & Powlison. It only appears. fees. 13 designation (biological/organic and spiritual/related to sin). 1997. The biblical counseling approach to integration brings to mind three important limitations. The biblical counseling movement in the tradition and spirit of Adams’s original work is actually not a position that totally avoids all integration.

Greek philosophy) have certainly been present in the history of the church.e. In the language of the ICC. Dr. 14 accomplish this feat in large part by reductionistic strategies that collapse most all psychogenic pathologies to some form of idolatry. 1) of the church regarding counseling. but that psychological science is the discipline that is uncovering lawful principles that we must use continually to reform our understanding of . The view is articulated well by David G. p. Efforts to shun secular knowledge (i. 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. the biblical counseling approach is thus the “historic” position of the church that is “being undermined by false teaching and outright heresy” (ICC. Levels of Explanation Unlike the previous two positions that are imbalanced in the direction of theology and biblical studies. 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. p. 1999. 2). 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. 79). 2000. p. 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. 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. but they have never been the sole approach. Myers of Hope College in Michigan in the Johnson and Jones volume. Out of Balance p. 1997). 1999.

Roberts is correct in his . 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. 2001). While the tortured history of relationship between science and faith does indeed contain many such examples. 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. 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. “Christian psychology starts with ideas and practices already established by centuries of Christian tradition. 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. p. Whereas most integrationists give precedence to biblical understandings of various disputed issues. 1993. Out of Balance p. Christian Psychology Robert Roberts has made a substantial contribution to the discussion of the relationship between psychology and theology in recent years. 2000). 15 theology. the levels of explanation theorists are usually quick to urge a reevaluation of our theological and biblical understandings if a seeming contradiction emerges. 135). 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.

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. is a very popular trend currently found in the contemporary scene. We do indeed need to pay attention to the wisdom of the Christian tradition. “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. Other Recent Approaches A fifth approach. This approach integrates but does not do so explicitly. 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. 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. 135). biblical position. and we have no reason to think that we can do so today” (Roberts. 2001. 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. p. p. 135). The integration between secular. 2001. 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. Ed Smith. Out of Balance p. Advocates of the new Theophostic approach present it as a powerful and unusually effective method of providing help to distressed Christians in a .

the limitations of these approaches remain as substantive issues we need to address. 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. Garzon et al. 2001. At the heart of the method is the freedom in Christ program of Neil Anderson that represents the starting point for the intervention. or whether it represents an imbalance in how the method is presented to the public. Another example is that of Christ Centered Therapy (Anderson. and it will take us some time to understand the methodology more completely (Bidwell. 2000). The coined name of the approach along with other factors tend to imply that the methodologies involved are new and are Christian. 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. 17 time-effective manner. 2001). Gorsuch. Whatever the precise form of the imbalance to these approaches to the relationship between psychology and theology. integration is occurring here. 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. Borden. Paloma.. but it is not explicitly discussed. Zehlke. Out of Balance p. 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. Proponents claim that the cures are nearly miraculous in their effectiveness and that the methodology is Christian and Christ-honoring. Cognitive-behavioral counseling or psychotherapy is adjunctive to the freedom in Christ material. Research into the validity of these claims is just beginning to appear in the literature. In reality. & Tjersland. & Zuehlke. In other words. Garzon.

and linguistic studies have greatly enriched our understanding of the text of Scripture. archaeological. But we desperately need scholarship that utilizes the best and most up-to-date scholarship in the biblical and theological arena. somewhat reluctantly. At the same time. Definitions for the integration quest abound and do not always agree (Faw. 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. 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. The potential benefits of cross-fertilization between the two fields are immense. Johnson. 1998). Out of Balance p. The discipline of psychology desperately needs the salt and light that trained Christian practitioners can provide for it. Ellis did just that and. now one never hears a secularist trying to maintain that psychotherapy is value-free. When Bergin (1991) assaulted the erroneous but widely-held contention that psychotherapy was a value-free endeavor. his mastery of data won the day. 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. 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. But these facts should not deter us. admitted in print that healthy religious affiliation does in fact exist (Ellis. 1997). 1994. Christians can make a difference. The task is hard (Hodges. so can informed psychological understanding deepen our understanding of how the truths of Scripture relate to the human condition. 1994). 1994). . Just as advances in historical.

19 Both fields need each other. 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. 2001). 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. 5.000 and 1. and the amount of research necessary to sustain two such large disciplines is indeed staggering.000 master’s degrees were conferred in psychology. 2000). business. Out of Balance p. history and social science declined.500 respectively (Snyder & Hoffman. If you look at articles dealing with emotion in the ATLA Religion database you . Ongoing Threats to Balance The work of integrating two such different disciplines of knowledge as psychology and theology is not only difficult. In the same school year. the task of keeping current is monumental. 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. 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. the volume of library materials.000 in religious studies. 500) and to religious and theological studies (approximately 850) (Ulrich’s. The number of academic departments. The size of both fields is enormous. In 1997-1998 nearly 74. the work must also overcome the difficulty posed by a number of factors that pose a threat to keeping the two in balance. the size of faculties.000 in religious studies.000 bachelor’s degrees were conferred in psychology and nearly 6. nearly 14. and any scholar who tries to master not just one but both disciplines faces a monumental challenge. A second measure of size relates to the number of journals related to psychology (approximately 1. the number of doctorates was 4.

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. Psychologists are in great need of training in how to handle biblical and theological material in an informed manner. we may have to delay efforts to build a grand theory to support a creation psychology and focus instead on more doable projects. a theologian or biblical scholar pairing with a psychologist to advance the cause of balanced integration. 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. Given the difficulty of the task. 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. The sheer size of the two fields poses a threat to balance. Abandon the cause of balanced integration? Never. 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. Out of Balance p. . We need to experiment with collaborative teams when possible. 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. 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. 1992).

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