Book Review of Integration Approach to Psychology and Christianity (2nd Ed.)
Rodney L. Mulhollem
In “What has psychology to do with Christianity?”(p. 10). Thus the questions arises, is psychology and faith allies or enemies? Understanding that original science integrated faith and science allows readers to better appreciate where science came from. Chapter two illustrates how the Catholic Church adopted the Aristotelian theory as biblical principles; later to be proven incorrect. Entwistle presents an interesting note: “in 1875, J.W. Drapter … capitalized the word science” (p.23). In 1859, Charles Darwin presented the scientific world with his Theory of Evolution. Due to this anti-biblical theory, Catholicism chose to turn against science as Protestantism chose to engage science but still opposed Darwin’s theory. Against common belief, psychology was not originally a branch of science but of philosophy with a focus of human nature, stemming from religion and medicine. The anti-Christian worldviews such as Freud, Wundt, and Leipzig were incorporated in psychology in the twentieth century.
Chapter four and five discusses assumptions, worldviews, and epistemology. Worldviews are a “window through which someone views their world” (p.54). At present time, there are seven worldviews. The foundation of the Christian worldview is creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation. Due to the misguidance, a worldview can create, epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophical anthropology (nature of humanity) is important in creating a correct viewpoint. Hermeneutics, a section under epistemology, is also important in understanding a correct interpretation of a perspective based upon culture, situations, audience, and the genus written in.
In chapter six, Metaphysics addresses an aspect of life that science cannot, including the structures of reality. Two main perspectives of metaphysics include naturalism (nothing outside of nature) and supernaturalism (non-self-existents of nature) (p.99). Philosophical anthropology (chapter seven) presents two perspective and two goals. The psychological perspective incorporates empiricism and rational inquiry as the theology perspective incorporates hermeneutics, natural theology, and rational inquiry. Both have a goal of understanding the world and improving life. However, theology also incorporates salvation, sanctification, meaning, stewardship, and worship.
Worldviews create both correct and incorrect perspectives of the world. People also have different perspectives in the integration of psychology and theology. In chapter eight through eleven, five models of Christian disciplinary models are presented including: spies, colonialist, neutral parties, psychological neutrality, and Christian neutrality. Spies focus on mental wellbeing stealing from religious systems. Colonialist cling to theology as the dominate factor, but can use some psychological principles, not biblical ones. I see this in many pastoral counselors. Neutral parties focus on agreed area of psychology and theology. Psychological neutrality holds a style of religion, other than Christian, but creates different “identities” or presents him or herself differently depending on the company with. And Christian neutrality stresses the independence of both Christianity and psychology, separating them in practice.
Chapter 12 starts by entertaining the idea of what Entwistle called “contours” (p.246). Finding commonalities in both psychological principles and theology is a key ingredient in integration of psychology and theology. Psychology can be an aid to ministry. Over the last number of centuries many practical and helpful constructs have been created through psychology as well as healthy set of core beliefs by theology.
The book finished with a look ahead; exploring opportunities. The author points out the complexity of being able to have a deep knowledge base of both theology and psychology. Entwistle also discusses integration in connection with theories and uses Maslow and Roger’s theories. Religious based intervention is also discussed, expressing concerns of those in the religious field working outside of their specialty.
The following steps will come from a perspective of discussing the topic of integration of Christianity and Psychology with a person that is already a Christian:
- Understanding that science and religion were originally one.
- Understanding the mistakes made by religion in trying to dominate but also understanding mistakes made in non-biblical theories.
- Understanding worldviews and how this can cause a false interpretation.
- Creating an epistemic approach of both deductive and inductive logic. It is important to point out mistakes, of these kinds of logics when incorporating a worldview such as with the example of Rebecca (p.70).
- Hermeneutics is vital. Many who believe the Bible as truth do not realize that although it is truth, there are perspectives that were different compared to today’s worldview and terminology.
- Understanding similar goals in both psychology and theology though philosophical anthropology: the goal of understanding.
- Educating people in the many perspectives of both theology and psychology. Many go to Freud and use that as a foundational argument. However, it is important for people to understand how the goals and some theories of psychology were created centuries before.
Entwistle, D. (2010). Integrative approach to psychology and Christianity (2ndEd.). Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.