Review of Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity Shelby Peters Liberty University 4-MAT Review of Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity Summary In his book Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity, David N. Entwistle explores the necessity of integrating psychology and Christianity, the worldview issues, philosophical foundations, models of integration and discusses the difficulty in doing so. It is often thought that there are secular jobs, such as a psychologist or counselor, and there are ministry jobs.
Entwistle points out that God has gifted each with abilities and those abilities are best used to serve God and others. He further goes on to point out that “all truth is God’s truth” (Entwistle, 2010 p. 13). Therefore, all truth is authored by God. A person’s worldview will affect his or her opinion on integrating or not integrating the two. A worldview is how a person looks at the world and the presuppositions held about the world. A worldview effects a person’s understanding of his or her experiences and expectations (Entwistle, 2010).
Some assumptions may be close to the truth and others very far from the truth. Worldviews are learned from family, religion, education, media, and society. The formation of a Christian worldview based on an understanding of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation will allow integration to begin. Psychology and theology both have a mutual interest in human behavior and healing the brokenness in humans. However, they approach the topic with different assumptions, methods, and goals (Entwistle, 2010). Psychology searches for natural explanations for events.
Psychologists use empirical evidence and reason to develop theories and analyze data but his or her worldview will influence those conclusions. Christians look for natural and supernatural explanations for events. Christian theology is based on creation, sin, grace, redemption, and revelation. Knowledge is gained from interpretation of Scripture and other sources such as philosophy, linguistics, history, and archeology are used to assist in understanding Scripture. Entwistle refers to Francis Bacon and his description of two books authored by God. He calls these books the ook of God’s Word and the book of God’s Works (Entwistle, 2010). The book of God’s Word or the Bible reveals the will of God and the book of God’s Works is a reflection of His deeds in creation and both are sources of truth. Five models of integration are built on how one thinks about the two books. Enemies see the theology and psychology as exclusive of each other and will only seek truth from one book, not both. Spies take from religion the pieces they can use to benefit psychology or practice “a watered-down religion and are interested in proclaiming its psychological benefits” (Entwistle, 2010 p. 141).
Colonists see psychology as beneficial but do not possess knowledge of psychology. A colonist takes from psychology what can be forced to conform to the theological system he or she holds allegiance to. Neutral parties appreciate and compare information from both disciplines and identify the similarities. Allies recognize that all truth is God’s truth and God is sovereign over all things. Allies are aware of the influence a person’s worldview has and therefore emphasize the formation of a Christian worldview. Allies seek truth from both books. Entwistle ends his book discussing obstacles to integration and how to overcome those obstacles.
He discusses integration and theory, integration and research, integration and psychotherapy, professional ethics, workplace environments, and religious based interventions. He cautions readers that the work of integration is difficult but very rewarding and all must be done for the glory of Christ. Concrete Response Reading this book reminded me of my decision to enroll at Liberty University. Five years ago, at the age of 37, I decided to go back to school and finish my Bachelor’s degree in accounting started many years ago. I began researching schools, financial aid options, and if any prior classes were still transferrable.
The more I researched the more something did not feel right. My heart was telling me this was the wrong course to take in school so I prayed about it and did some soul searching. I came to the conclusion that I needed a career in helping others and believed I could use my personal experiences to help others. I talked to my mom and a close friend both of which suggested seeking a degree to become a counselor. After praying and some more soul searching this felt right with one exception, I wanted a degree from a Christian university and did not know of any that ffered Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Master’s degrees in counseling. It was then God put a current Liberty student in my path who was seeking her Bachelor’s in psychology. She told me all about Liberty and the online courses. I logged on to Liberty’s website and applied that same day. I started classes a few weeks later and have never doubted this is the path God intended me to be on. I knew it was possible to have a Bachelor’s in psychology with a Christian foundation, I just needed someone to guide me in the right direction. Reflection
In reading this book a question that arose for me is how to get a person to reflect on the worldview he or she holds. Some people look at the world through rose colored glasses while others look at the world completely distorted by influences and inaccurate information. Entwistle points out in his book that left to ourselves we believe our assumptions are correct. In order to help someone correct misconceptions and inaccurate information you have to do it in a way as to not offend the person. I was hoping Entwistle would spend more time discussing integration as it applies to counseling.
He only spent a few paragraphs briefly discussing the issue most of it spent on informed consent. I am aware that informed consent is crucial but a few sentences on the subject would have sufficed. I also would have liked him to spend more time discussing how to reflect on one’s own worldview as this is vitally important in integration. One other issue I had is he talked very briefly about ethics and workplace environments but did not offer much information on how to integrate the two if your workplace strictly prohibits you from discussing your own beliefs with clients.
This could be very helpful information as many Christians in the field of psychology probably find themselves. Action The first course of action for myself is to reflect on assumptions I may have. I am a Christian but that does not mean I am immune from misconceptions. I am also going to take more courses in theology to build on the foundation I have received at Liberty. By doing this I have a better chance of having my voice heard in regards to integration of theology and psychology. This will also help when counseling others who may be angry at
God and have misinterpreted Scripture. Further harm can be done when working with a person harboring anger due to misinterpretation if the counselor further misinterprets Scripture. My action plan therefore is to gain more specific knowledge of theology in order to effectively integrate the two. References Entwistle, D. N. (2010) Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity: An introduction to worldview issues, philosophical foundations, and models of integration (2nd Ed. ) Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers