Primary importance is given into the development of one of the most influential disciplines in the world today and that is psychology. This is due to the fact that psychology seemed almost foremost in virtually every kind of decision making process that man makes. Because of this serious biblical ministers and/or scholars or theologians have long studied these effects and have come up with their answers and with their verdict.
A Brief History of Modern Psychology by Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. (2006) starts to trace the roots of psychology when Wundt, in 1879, initiated what is now recognized as the first psychology laboratory. The author Benjamin satisfies the reader on what made the psychology today a very much pursued subject of interest as well as a career. Tackling on the lives of the people foremost in this discipline, the book made an otherwise boring and usually uninteresting subject matter into an exciting topic any student will be able to handle. The author mentioned details of the pioneers’ lives and the social milieu that characterized their lives and culture during their day which in all realistic evaluation had made its contribution to what their theoretical perspectives had developed. Other important highlights include the development of psychological tests and assessment techniques that Stanford and Binet spearheaded among others. The following narrative on one of psychology’s key players and foremost in what is now known as the “first force” in the field gives the reader the importance of their contribution to cotemporary psychology (Benjamin, 2006).
Chief personages in psychology to name two, include Freud and Skinner:
Viennese neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939) took his medical degree at the University of Vienna in 1881 and planned a specialist’s career in neurology. Lack of means forced him to abandon his research interests for a clinical career. His interest in what was to become psychoanalysis developed during his collaboration with Josef Breuer in 1884, which resulted in Studies in Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams appeared in 1900, Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex in 1905, and the General Introduction to Psychoanalysis in 1916 – a book which contained the evolving theory of the libido and the unconsciousness, in subsequent years, Freud’s outlook became increasingly broad as revealed by the titles of his later works (Benjamin, 2006).
– Skinner, B.F.
American psychologist Burrhus F. Skinner was educated at Hamilton College and at Harvard where he received a PhD degree in 1931. He has held a Research Fellowship of the National Research Council, a junior fellowship of the Harvard Society of fellows and a Guggenhein Fellowship and during the years 1942-43, he served as a director of a wartime research project sponsored by General Mills. He has held academic appointments at the University of Minnesota, at Indiana University and at Harvard where he delivered the William James Lectures in 1947 and has been professor of psychology since 1948 (Benjamin, 2006).
To interpret the theoretical framework of Freud and Skinner in the context of the Christian religion or Biblical Christianity is essential in order to discover whether their fundamental teachings can mix well in mainstream Christianity. Freud taught about the personality constructs of id, ego and superego; about free association, instincts (life and death); his very controversial psychosexual stages of oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital; the fixation and cathexis concepts. In general this is a theory of personality dynamics which is aimed at the motivational and emotional components of personality. It sounds good that according to Freud, man inherits the life and death instincts (libido and mortido). In the Biblical perspective, however, all these concepts are traceable to the sinful nature which all human species have inherited from the first couple Adam and Eve. In some portions of the Biblical record (Roman 5:12), Adam is said to be the federal head and from him has proceeded both sinful nature, which is inherent in all men, and death – which is the Fall’s eventual outcome. The Bible highlights sin as the main problem of all of the manifestations of abnormality as reflected or manifested in the psyche or human behavior (Bobgan, 1987).
To turn to Skinner’s theory, he argued about conditioning and that man is a product of his environment, with the assumption that behavior is developed or acquired because of the effects of those that surround the person. This theory discounts religion’s God’s pre-eminence, sovereignty and will, and active role in a person’s life. It also discounts man’s ultimate accountability before an almighty God. Moreover, it discounts many of the fundamentals that the Bible teaches, like sin and repentance, just as Freud and the others propounded (Bobgan, 1987).
Fundamentally, environment is not to be blamed. Nothing could be more accurate than stating it in exactly the same manner that the Apostle has echoed the true state of affairs. It is somehow true to say, “It’s all up in the mind.” People violate neighbors because first they have violated the laws of God. And so, “In the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph.4:17-19). As daily news in the headlines air everyday, and practically speaking, people have made it their daily business to work driven by greed, never minding what they leave behind in their wake. Because the fight has long been lost – which is in the level of consciousness – everyone now is at the mercy of chance, relationally, in this world. And it goes both ways.
Benjamin, Ludy T. Jr. 2006. A brief history of Psychology. Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition.
Bobgan, Martin & Deidre. 1987. Psychology: Science or Religion? From Psychoheresy: The psychological seduction of Christianity. Eastgate Publishers.
Retrieved July 4, 2008. http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/psych.htm
Boring, Edwin G. et. al. 1948. Foundations of Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1948.
Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P), 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
Hall, C.S. and G. Lindsey, 1957. Theories of Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Lindsay, J. Scott. 2005. Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 7, Number 31, July 31 to August 6 (Genesis 1:1-2:3). Retrieved www.reformedperspectives.org Retrieved July 4, 2008.