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Psychology and Theology

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity, by David Entwistle, is a comprehensive book that details the conceptual behavior influenced by the developmental processes of the physical mind and its influence on spiritual development. The basis of the book is to explore the claims and the strains, “given the historical animosity of some psychologists toward religion and some Christians toward psychology” (p.217), that arise from the intertwining of psychological and Christian theological views, in order to help us understand and appreciate humanity better than viewing from either perspective individually. “The closer one gets to considering psychotherapeutic and pastoral concerns, the greater the common ground and the greater possibility for conflict” (p. 36). The book’s focus is on integrative approaches in a well comprehended Christian worldview by which “we can evaluate our beliefs and behavior in light of the biblical message (p. 63), and “form a body of theories from which all prejudice, bias, and unjustifiable conjecture have been eliminated” (p. 199). The historical opposition and advocacy of the integration of the two views, along with the current integration research and application, is presented with the help of multiple psychological researchers. Entwistle’s view is that integration is possible if the proper cautions are taken; that “human nature can be mapped from two directions” (p. 198), if the disciplines participate in a productive interchange of complimentary findings. He seeks to treat the total patient - mind and spirit through integration, noting that ethical teachings of Christian faith are integral to psychology, not merely parallel to it. Entwistle takes the position that if we keep the books of God in mind, all theories, knowledge, and research that is not in harmony with the books, God’s Word [theology] and God’s Works [nature] must be modified or rejected altogether. (p. 256). With a basis in worldviews, “a worldview is a set of presuppositions which we hold about the basic make-up of the world” (p. 56), Entwistle lays a foundation for the relationship of psychology and theology and the integration of the two. The worldview affects how individuals understand and relate to experiences and the world. Presuppositions are assumed right and information, truth, and knowledge are sifted through the perception of the worldview. Entwistle projects his position clearly throughout the book, maintaining that a Christian worldview is essential for effective integration of truths gleaned from psychology into theology. Reflection What troubles me most about this book, was actually an initial question when I first skimmed the book before class started. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find any section that out rightly stated, “Here is how you do it”. After reading the book I find that my questions combine to one major question – With the various methodologies and theories that exist within the field of psychology, the multitude of Christian worldviews and practices, the vast integration probabilities of such theories, methods, and beliefs, and the lack of research of the negative effects or experiences of integration; how can complete confidence be placed in support of public integration of the two disciplines? How do I in good faith and conscious encourage public integration of the two fields without having full knowledge, and ability of analysation of any negative experiences? Privately, every aspect of my life is sustained by morals and values that are established by a Christian world view. If all truth is God’s truth, then does the person who not believe in the Christian God live a lie? If an atheist chooses to use integration of psychology and Christianity to treat a client, does the fact that an atheist is using the integration as a practical logical method without spiritual belief nullify the effects of the integration? Would the integration methods be similar if integrating psychology and Islamic traditions, psychology and astrology or psychology and Buddhism? The positive of this books is that Entwistle does not choose a set method of integration. Although he is very direct of his world view, he does not relay any method of integration with prejudice or impartiality. The models are discussed and described well, along with sufficient examples to give a clear and concise understand of the models and integrative approaches.
After reading Integrative approaches to Psychology and Christianity, I realize that the counselor’s worldview has a great impact on methods, techniques, and even research and interpretation of research. Whether or not the counselor is Christian or not only adds to the extent of the impact due to the interpretation of the two books. At this point I am still unsure as to how to effectively integrate the two disciplines. This still apparent stagnation and confusion has provoked me to outline a list of issues to research. Entwistle has provided a basis for knowledge, however I must research further to gain understanding in order to effectively utilize public integration methods. I believe that each discipline can benefit the other, however integration can go only as far as the client is willing and desires to. With that, I must comprise an interactive list of the psychological theories and methods I am comfortable with utilizing, along with a list of Christian theories and methods I am comfortable with utilizing. Then I need to compile a list which shows the integration probabilities, positive and negative effects, and affects of all the theories and methods on the two lists. Afterward I could then decide how to apply these combinations in practice. References
Entwistle, D. Integrative approaches to psychology and christianity: An introduction to worldview issues, philosophical foundations, and models of integration. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010.

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