This paper will discuss psychology and Christianity: Two disciplines that seem to be difficult subjects when discussing an integrated approach. There are some people who believe that, psychology has become one completely different subject than Christianity and both at times have lost all connection with the other. In addition, there are integrative models of disciplinary that think psychology is strictly a science and Christianity is solely based on faith and religion and the two cannot be integrated together. After further review of evidence, it seems that the integration approach for both disciplines are given by God and that they both should be integrated to create a more understanding of humanity. The focus of this paper is to describe the Allies” model and how it relates to integrating two disciplines; psychology and Christian faith. In addition, the strengths and limitations of the Allies model will be discussed. Also included are definitions of both subjects and views on different approaches towards this matter. Scriptures will be added that correspond with this approach, as well as, several factors that lead to the integration process of both disciplines. After further studies of the evidence of various disciplines, it seems like the “Allies” model best fits the relationship between psychology method and Christianity.
Integration between Christian faith and Psychology
Webster dictionary states that psychology is, “The science of mind and behavior and the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity” (Merriam-Webster, 2017). Whereas, Christianity is defined, “A religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices” (Merriam-Webster, 2017). After the evidence from various disciplines of study, it seems that a person’s foundation is based on what we see and how we know. This leads a person to believe that it is crucial for Christian counseling to use both psychology and Christianity. There are several different methods that psychological theory and science use to gain knowledge. These are: “Logic,” “Empiricism,” “Revelation,” and “Hermeneutic” (Entwistle, 2015. P. 97). Whereas, experiments in psychology use deductive logic when testing a hypothesis. Inductive reasoning uses experiments that show a correlation by manipulating the variables. For instance, we use science to find out if a statement is true or false. An idea is a suggestion upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn. For example, Since the Bible says, “All things are possible if we believe.” So, if a person believes. Therefore, “All things are possible.” This scientific logic is used to gain knowledge and can also be used in Theology as well. I believe God is a faith God and we must believe what he says is the truth.
Typically, two methods are used if a person wants to know about the nature of God. The “Revelation” and “Hermeneutics” methods are used when interpreting scriptures. Christian worldviews use “Revelations” that come from God himself (General) or from God’s divine word the Old and New Testament scriptures (Special revelations) (Entwistle, 2015, P. 110). Sometimes, people understand and interpret the scriptures the wrong way. Therefore, hermeneutics aids a person to understand what scripture says, and not what they want to make it say. Some limitations of these methods of knowing are that, every person experiences limitations that affect our reasoning capabilities, as well as, all human reasoning is imperfect and is flawed. Scholars believe that Christian faith is its own psychology and that Christianity is fundamentally psychological in nature (Magnuson, 2017). Also, many people believe that all truth is from God, whether it is from Christianity or science. The Bible says that, “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim:3-16). Indeed, the Bible does speak the truth and has everything necessary to fulfill a person’s Christian walk, especially, Scriptures that direct us truthfully to him who is the source of all goodness and mercy. However, after everything it does has, it still does not mean that everything we want to know can be found in the Bible, including everything we want to know about human personality, sickness, disease and other psychological issues (Johnson, 2010). Followers of Christ are called to pursue knowledge in several areas, one of the most vital being relationship with each other. And, since psychology and Theology are both subject to God’s sovereignty and are both God’s subjects. It is important to believe that, both are significant and are a necessity of fellowship for growth in a person’s Christian walk. Also remembering that God is relational. And just like a marriage, instead of arguing and having division amongst each other, he probably prefers and enjoys seeing the two disciplines functioning harmonious together as one.
A family member became ill and they sought out a naturopathic doctor. He had a protocol that was staged in various levels. The stages were to cleanse, replenish, and restore the wound. However, he did use natural techniques but on the other hand, he used scientific findings to discover the cause. First, he drew blood and looked at it under a microscope. Then, he took information from that and developed a protocol to start the healing process. It was amazing at how he used scientific reasoning and the healing power of the body to address the whole person. His efforts of combining both disciplines not only amazed everyone but, it started that person on a journey of healthy positive attitudes towards their body, and they gained knowledge on how the body heals naturally (The way God intended). It also drew everyone closer to God, as it humbly brought them to a proper relationship with him.
The Allies model does just that, it is a mixture of psychology and Theology. They are two entities that work side by side to achieve a common goal for a shared benefit. This model believes that we are all subjects of one sovereign God and that all truth is from him. This approach seeks to integrate psychology and theology by discerning its underlying unity and by using the truth for a Godly end (Magnuson, 2017). “The Allies model is premised on the belief that God’s truths are revealed in the book of God’s word (Scripture) and the book of God’s works (creation)” (Entwistle, 2015, P. 247). It is like the “Neutral model” in that it excepts both Gods works and words as different domains but overall, they both give us knowledge about human beings. However, the “Allies model” is different than the “Neutral model,” because it believes they should be integrated and not parallel to one another. Another approach that the “Allies” model agrees with is the Rebuilders model. The “Allies” model agrees that secular assumptions often taint psychological theories and findings, but the they do not see the entire field as in need of complete renovation (Entwistle, 2015, P. 248). Jones describes Integrations as, “Our living out-in this particular area-of the Lordship of Christ over all of existence by our giving his special revelation-God’s true word-its appropriate place of authority in determining our fundamental beliefs about and practices toward all of reality and toward our academic subject matter in particular” (Magnuson, 2017). The “Allies” model has a few limitations and they are: Exactly what assumptions establish a uniquely Christian approach to psychology regarding faith, sin, creation and man? Another common question is: How can we leave room for a divergence of Christian opinion? Lastly, what are the nonnegotiable core convictions that should guide our understanding (Magnuson, 2017). The “Allies” model believes that, Theology and science both have a perspective on what it means to be human. Some questions asked are: What is the purpose of human kind and are humans the main reason for creation or just an afterthought? Assumptions about how a person views human nature, are shaped by our worldviews, epistemologies and by are perspective on cosmology (Magnuson, 2017). Therefore, the Allies model rejects the modernist view, and encourages Christian counselors to use their worldviews as a starting point.
The “Allies” position seems strongest when counseling others because, both disciplines are concerned for humanity. They both give us a more complete and precise picture than either could alone about the truths revealed by God’s work and his words (Entwistle, 2015). An “Allies” approach is sovereign over the contents of both disciplines as they discover the wonders of his creation and his character as they are left with a since of amazement and gratefulness.
Regarding Christian counseling, there are few guidelines to follow. When a client chooses to see a Christian counselor, they will have a choice whether they want the counselor to be explicit or implicit with their counseling techniques. For instance, the client will be given a questioneer regarding the approach he or she would like the counselor to use. If they choose an explicit approach they are open for prayer, scriptures, and any other spiritual guidance. If they choose implicit they are refusing prayer or opinions regarding religious affiliation. Although a client can refuse spiritual guidance, the counselor should be a mature Christian, realizing that spirituality is not the same for everyone, so we should not force our ideas on them. However, we can allow the Spirit to lead and guide the session, allowing God to do what he wants to do in the client’s life. Keep in mind that, there is not a check list for the client to do to be a good Christian. If God wishes to change the client, he will use the counselor, but in the end God will do the miracle. Something to always remember as a servant of the most-high God is that, we need to acknowledge Gods sovereignty over all of life, respect everyone and to be his faithful servant to the very end.
In conclusion, psychology has many various perspectives not only because theorists differ about their assumptions, but also because its subject matter is so complex. An appreciation of this complexity leads to the conclusion that psychology’s perspectives are more corresponding than incompatible (Entwistle, 2013, P 155). Entwistle says that, psychology and Theology complement each other and uses the instruments in an orchestra as an example. Every instrument has their place and together they make a beautiful melody. However, “Despite their differences in their method, psychological and theological perspectives on philosophical anthropology they have a considerable degree of harmony” (Entwistle, 2013, P163). The Bible explains that humans are the crowning achievement of God, it also says that, his creation is very good. It is important to believe this, but it is also worth knowing that nothing in life is perfect because perfection was lost in the Garden of Eden. However, the other side of this negative is to fully understand and accept that life will never be perfect and neither will any experience or relationship. This insinuation is that people will always be pulled in opposing directions whether it be toward sin by our culture, or toward righteousness by the Word of God. However, our job is to determine the path to life through both psychology and Theology. Which in the end, will bring peace and understanding in human’s behaviors and why they do the things they do.
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