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Care for the Soul: Exploring the Intersection of Psychology & Theology [Paperback]

By Mark R. McMinn (Editor) & Timothy R. Phillips (Editor)
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Item Number 134754  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   364
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 10, 2001
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830815538  
EAN  9780830815531  

Availability  1 units.
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Item Description...
Nineteen psychologists and theologians look at the boundaries between science and religion, trying to find common ground in an area fraught with controversy. How does modern psychology's approach differ from the age-old techniques used by clergy? What can each side learn from the other?

Publishers Description
"This volume explores the intersection of psychology and theology, but it is not a simple intersection. It is an intersection affected by rich theological and ecclesiological traditions, by the ravages and wonders of modern psychology, and by the character and qualities of today's ministers and communities of faith." (from the introduction) For two millennia Christians have been caring for souls. Since the Enlightenment, though, the Christian concept of the soul has been usurped by modern and postmodern notions of the self. "Somehow we misplaced the soul even as we developed a thriving science of the psyche," lament the editors of this volume. Thus there is a clash between Western therapeutic culture and the church's understanding of the soul's nature and its care. As a result, some Christians deride psychology as dangerous. Others believe that it has much to offer Christians interested in caring for the soul. What is the proper relationship between psychology and theology? Is soul care the shared task of these two fields? This collection of essays is a multidisciplinary dialogue on the interface between psychology and theology that takes seriously the long, rich tradition of soul care in the church. In this volume you'll find incisive discussions of the current state of theology and psychology overcoming the acquiescence to secularism theological resources for developing Christian psychology taking theology to heart in psychology taking psychology to heart in theology and Christian life Contributors include Jeffry H. Boyd, Ellen T. Charry, Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, L. Gregory Jones, Stanton L. Jones, Cynthia Neal Kimball, Bryan N. Maier, Michael Mangis, Philip G. Monroe, Stephen K. Moroney, Dennis L. Okholm, David Powlison, Robert C. Roberts, Richard L. Schultz, Myrla Seibold, Brett Webb-Mitchell and David Alan Williams. Providing insight and analysis from nineteen psychologists and theologians, Care for the Soul is essential reading for psychologists and counselors, pastors and theologians, and students or professors of psychology and theology.

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More About Mark R. McMinn & Timothy R. Phillips

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! McMinn is the Dr. Arthur P. Rech and Mrs. Jean May Rech Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College.

Mark R. McMinn has published or released items in the following series...
  1. AACC Counseling Library
  2. Christian Association for Psychological Studies Books

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Interaction with two Essays from Care for the Soul:  Feb 11, 2008
The following document concerns essays within the text Care for the Soul, edited by Mark McMinn and Timothy Philips. Two essays from the text are addressed in depth, in regards to exploring the intersection of psychology and theology: An Apologetic Apologia for the Integration of Psychology and Theology, by Stanton L. Jones, and An Interdisciplinary Map for Christian Counselors: Theology and Psychology in Pastoral Counseling, by Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger.

Essay One

Though the essay An Apologetic Apologia for the Integration of Psychology and Theology, by Stanton L. Jones, is a defense for including psychology within the realm of the church, the essay begins by stating it is very possible--up until now--psychology has done more harm to Christianity, than benefit.
According to Jones, the general actions of the church in regards to many pastoral matters, such as the pastoral counseling of an adulterer, are agreeable with psychotherapeutic process and include, "compassionate human listening; confrontation over sin; consolation, comfort and companionship in despair; receiving of confession, assurance of pardon, and reconstruction of that man's life in accord with proper virtues of self control, fidelity, respect for life..." Jones then goes to point out a scenario of childhood autism, where the church would be unequipped to provide care (or referral) without the benefit of psychological knowledge (which in such a case could provide a considerable cure for the symptoms of autism in 50% of cases). Note: Though significant, The case of childhood autism in the text was not the best initial contrasting choice of scenarios, for the document's thesis included that psychotherapeutic intervention is capable of assisting an individual in the proper formation of spirituality and Christian identity, when used properly in conjunction with biblical motives and truths. The scenario of autism addressees more the detection of childhood medical illness than it does psychoanalytic counseling.

Jones is not an advocate for any and all psychological counsel and makes the point that psychotherapy, in is pure secular form, has a different spiritual goal than the goal of the Church. Psychotherapy possesses a therapeutic mission, whatever eliminates emotional pain or nurtures the psyche of the client, while the church's mission is to provide a parishioner with centeredness on Christ, which then continues to involve a need for grace and mercy, a demand for obedience, and a faith in God's claim of transformation of hearts, minds, and souls. Therefore, psychology (which I will use interchangeably with "psychotherapy") with its traditional/secular central purpose provides the client with a center other than God, a second master to serve (Matthew), and in turn may lead a person away from Christ. It is for this reason that Jones describes the majority of contemporary counseling practices today to be in, "a regrettable state of affairs."

According to the text, denoting all of psychology as anti-Christian is to denote any medical profession that has made advancements since biblical times. For example, the bible reads in 2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness..." It is special revelation that God gave humans life, but it is not special revelation that the invention of artificial insulin for type 1 diabetics has the ability to extend and improve the quality of life. It is evident a posteriori that though insulin is not mentioned in canonized revelation, it is still beneficial and good. Such is the case with psychology.

Psychotherapy, if to be affective with spiritual development within the Christian Church, cannot deviate from what the bible teaches about the human soul. The bible does give one a starting point into understanding the human condition, but it is not an all-sufficient guide, as it is not an all-sufficient guide to medicine.
The difference between the medical profession and psychotherapy--the same difference that allows psychology to be attacked while biological medicine is primarily unscathed--is that while the medical profession is not plagued with the reputation of biological atheism, psychology is and has been since its atheistic revolutionary, Sigmund Freud.

It is important, Jones writes, not to resort to simple or false dualisms when deciding whether or not psychology is to be included in the process of forming a Christian identity. The decision is not "Freud or Christ," as some have made it seem. Psychotherapy may help a minister eradicate the crippling disease of depression. It guides parishioners to understand themselves, their motives, their human weaknesses, and human sorrows. It helps persons become aware of evil and sin within themselves, in turn giving them a vantage point for repentance. Psychology increases empathy, which in turn promotes Christ-like forgiveness. Psychology opens doors for spiritual maturity and spiritual awareness. Jones writes, "scripture teaches we humans are rational, relational, made for dominion and purposeful work, sinful, lost, emotional, sexual, embodied, responsible, curable, and spiritual, and we exhibit a whole host of other characteristics as well." Psychology is the further study of these biblical truths.

When a person inflicted with sexual addiction seeks counsel from a pastor not educated in the discipline of psychotherapy, the person will have addressed the problem from the vantage of its spiritual and moral sense. Sexual addiction, according to Jones, is definitely both a spiritual and moral infliction, but in addition is often also an emotional, behavioral, and physiological disorder. To counsel the parishioner with knowledge of all the roots of his or her sin is to promote the most efficacious spiritual--Christian--growth.

Concerning the downfalls of psychology, second to the goal of secular psychology with its centeredness on eliminating pain (not on Christ) is psychology's misunderstandings of sin. The proper understanding of sin is crucial. Sin is action. Sin is also the state of a person. The text explains, "Sin is a diagnosis of my moral state and yet it is an active agent and purposive force in my life."

Many disorders defined in the diagnostic statistical manual (DSM) are what the Church accurately understands as being enslaved to sin. And when psychologists operate while not attached to a profound understanding of the human condition (spoken of in scripture), they fail to be fully diagnostic of said true human condition. As theologians and clergy make the false dualism, "Freud or Christ," psychologists make false dualisms, "sin or low self-esteem," "sin or narcissism," "sin or disordered conditioned reactions." Sin--instead--is manifested in each of these diagnoses, and more.

For those who operate both in psychotherapy and within the Church, it is important to refute false dualisms such as "the psychological way versus the spiritual way," for when used under proper biblical guidance, the psychological way is an asset to the spiritual way. This condition is not what what people misunderstand as "the bible or the couch." It is the bible on the couch. God is first. Christ is the center. Psychology, when used for its divine purpose will bring persons closer to their Christian spiritual identity, and strengthen the Christian Church.

Essay Two

In pastoral counseling, both psychology and theology are needed to guide a client toward spiritual identity and Christian spirituality. Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, who wrote, An Interdisciplinary Map for Christian Counselors: Theology & Psychology in Pastoral Counseling, begins her essay by listing six logical assumptions regarding the relationship between theology and psychology.

One, It is logical to view the relationship between psychology and theology as a relationship between promise (psychology) and fulfillment of promise (theology). Working with this analogy, the text explains, psychology can be seen as a map that can escort one only partially down his or her journey. Where psychology ends, the map of theology begins.

Two, it seems logical that most aspects of psychology and theology conceptualize the same experiences; the difference being that each discipline utilizes a different vocabulary. Therefore, the most profound differences between the two are not practical but semantic.

Three, Logic would suggest that theology and psychology are complimentary endeavors, each providing a specific area of expertise, and each beneficial for spiritual growth in such areas. Also, since both psychology and theology are dealing with different areas of spiritual development and identity, they are in no way contradictory to each other.

Fourth, logic could suggest the opposite of tenet three and propose psychology and theology to be absolutely opposed to each other. In this fourth logical conclusion theology and psychology inhabit identical space, but provide two differing maps that deliver the client to alternate destinations of spiritual identity. Said maps may converge in areas but eventually diverge and a choice between psychology and theology must be made.

Fifth, remaining within the metaphor of maps, reason shows that the relationship between theology and psychology to be one of authenticity and inauthenticity, each being inconsistent and flawed in some aspect of the disciplines map. When one of the approaches fails or is vague, the other corrects or clarifies. Only through the use of both is there a possibility of an effective spiritual journey. Regarding this concept the text reads,

If we conceive of the relationship this way, a committed Christian disciple has more in common with someone who is committed to a discipline of intensive psychotherapy than with a nominal Christian.

Sixth, logic would suggest the true relationship between the two to be a combination of possibilities one through five.

The six tenets above are not Hunsinger's final thoughts on the intersection between psychology and theology, but only a beginning. The text continues to conclude that the idea of a "map" is too constrictive, and the idea of a compass, capable only of providing direction, is a superior metaphor. The most affective compass for the task is the, "Chalcedonian pattern" of thought. The author explains,
The Chalcedonian definition of how properly to understand the incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus Christ became the basis for my thinking about how properly to conceive of the relationship between the disciplines of theology and psychology in the work of pastoral counseling.

The said pattern occupies three features. First, two terms are placed in a relationship where they exist unaltered and autonomous. Second, the terms are related so that they coexist, and are inseparable. Last, one term is deemed logically prior to the other. This prioritizing provides a vantage or normative orientation. Therefore, when the two disciplines conflict on some point (such as the goal of the discipline) the logically prior discipline prevails.

The text continues to provide tenets of recognition. For example, each discipline has autonomy in the sense that it investigates its unique subject matter in appropriate ways (i.e. theology's investigation based upon God's scriptural revelations would differ considerably from psychology's observation of interpersonal relationships). Because of their differing methods of investigation and meaning, even though both disciplines deal in the same basic issues (love and hate, trust and mistrust), it would be folly to consider the disciplines interchangeable (denouncing logical tenets three and four). It would also be erroneous to assume they are proclaiming the same truths through different vocabulary (denouncing tenet two). More specifically, salvation is not the same as individualization, nor is there equivalence between sin (theological) and symptoms (psychological).

As differing vocabulary is often falsely believed to speak the same idea, occasionally there are interdisciplinary homonyms. The text explains that some words, such as shame, exist both in psychology and theology, yet possess two definitions.

From the theological/biblical perspective, the concept of shame is always in relation to one's primary relationship to God. In the Psalms, man is preoccupied with being put to shame in the sight of God and pleads to be rescued from shame for the sake of God's honor. The psalmist also believes loyalty to the Lord will save him from being shamed by his enemies. Other biblical examples, such as Peter not daring to lift his eyes after betraying Christ, clearly show that from the biblical perspective shame relates to one's sinful nature before God. It is God's mercy that delivers one from that shame.

The psychological perspective describes shame as an effect that arises in the context of human relationships. Shame occurs with feelings of personal exposure or inadequacy in relation to a peer community. When shame is internalized, there is a birth of a self-identity of inadequacy, deficiency, and worthlessness.

Feelings of worthlessness are not the same as feelings of shame due to sin, and it would be false to equate the two. In this case, both psychology and theology operate on different levels of thinking. Both which could be accurate simultaneously. Therefore, in this case, there is not a need for the Chalcedonian idea of having precedence on the logically prior discipline.

An example of when the precedence of theology being logically prior does become significant is when investigating the cause for prayer. However, in practice psychology has overruled theology and prayer his being used as a means to and end. Instead of prayer being primarily a method of communion with God (theology), prayer is employed as a resource for healing. The argument goes as such,
If prayer relieves stress and thereby contributes to healing, then it must be used ...empirically studies show positive correlation between the use of prayer and physical and emotional healing.
Not to say that for one to pray for healing is unbiblical, but when daily prayer is strictly for the purposes of human benefit and not for dialog with God, the true purpose of prayer is reversed. When employing the Chalcedonian principals to this situation theology rightly overrules psychology by being--as stated earlier--logically prior.

It is evident that understanding the intersection between theology and psychology is not a simple task. It is not simple logic and there are few generalizations that simplify the ideas. Even when employing the Chalcedonian pattern of thinking each tenet of psychology must be investigated individually to decipher, is this biblical? Is this language homonymous with theology and explaining something that does not conflict? For pastoral counselors and Christian psychotherapists, it is imperative to occupy the correct approaches in counseling, so that the client can be counseled in the correct direction toward spirituality and Christian identity.

Final Note: Online Counseling and Telephone Counseling might be a good way to help people who are dealing with issues regarding their spirituality or faith. This is a great book for learning to provide telephone and online counseling: The Therapist's Clinical Guide to Online Counseling and Telephone Counseling: The Definitive Training Guide for Clinical Practice
Decent collection of writings discussing Biblical Counseling  Aug 6, 2007
Pretty good book. Definitely not one of my most favorite text books so far but I learned quite a bit. I think it would be worth the read if you are looking for a more intellectual read!

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