Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity – 4-MAT Review

Theology and psychology have in the past been regarded as opposing perspectives of thinking about certain major questions in human experiences and about life. Well, Entwistle in his book, “integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity,” uses two totally different depictions for describing these. He labels theology as depictions for describing these. He labels theology as “Jerusalem” and describes psychology as “Athens” (Entwistle, 2010. P.9).in these ideologies, psychology is seen to be using empirical methods of study while theology holds the primary overview of human interpretation of God’s word in its studies.

In his opinions and thought, Entwistle goes on ahead to look into how these two fields of behavioral view can be assimilated and enriched. The primary motive behind the book is to enable its readers apprehend the cohesion of the two disciplines.

As the book unfolds, Entwistle devotes a greater part elaborating on the concept of worldviews (Entwistle, 2010.p.56). It can be thought a worldview being like a window through which one views the world (Entwistle, 2010.p.56) the window incorporates beliefs and assumptions that people make regarding the events in spotlight. If one has a biased worldview, then it resultantly distortsthe way in which they think. In these disciplines, one’s world view can positively or negatively interfere or integrate. It is therefore imperative to avoid the negative side. By this, one then should have a world view whose foundation is firm on correctly interpreted Biblical philosophies inorder to properly integrate theology and psychology.Entwistle makes it clear that a person learns a worldview they embrace.

The author puts forth five paradigms for integration (Entwistle, 2010.p.154). The first paradigm is enemies. These enemies comprise of both Christian and secular combatants (Entwistle, 2010.p.151). According to these two combatants, there can be no way in which integration can occur between theology and psychology. They believe that there is no reconciliation possible between the two fields. Spies both “foreign” and “domestic” will hold allegiance with a particular way of thinkingbut ideas will run from both parties. Apparently, ideas are cherry-picked to be used in thinking in a way that will be useful with the view held. Those who claim territories which they did not discover or work for are colonialists. On another degree, neutral parties tend to stick to their own neutral state and stay in their own territory. Finally, there exists those who believe that both psychology and theology belong to God. They are regarded as allies and believe that truth is affiliated to God’s truth.

Entwistle, infers that theology and psychology if reviewed together can enlighten the human condition superior to each one of them. He conclusively wraps up his work while describing God’s two books. The two books are based on Bacon’s work. The fact that when theology and science do not agree with each other leads to the ending with the right representation.

Entwistle sums up his work with the biases and worldview and how they change the way in which the world is viewed. The end sentence is much worth to remember as one searches for the truth; “we will sometimes have to live with ambiguity and uncertainty be we affirm that God is the author of all truth.” (Entwistle, 2010, p.275).

By taking the example of this book, I think the issue of intellectual inquiry in theology is ambivalent.Discovered knowledge has the capability of crossing the lines of existing beliefs, doctrines and traditions.New ideas therefore are always net with skepticism up to the time when they are vetted for the bearing they could have on religion.Doctrinally accepted ideas that are consistent with present belief structures are tolerated and indorsed while the ideas born out of orthodoxy are frequently denounced and ignored. It is within such contexts that ideas are born in the psychological fields and then later enter in the realms of religion and spirituality.

Psychology however in one way or another poses challenges to spirituality and religion. Some threats in other fields such as biology, physics and anthropology challenge human thinking. Evolution theories offer alternatives to ideas that are related to divine creation theories. Psychological theories on another degree examine on how people reason towards religion and spirituality. In this way, psychology doesn’t directly challenge religion but rather the way people think towards it.

Taking a case of Jesus resurrection, the story is a major cornerstone of Christian faith. Any evidence supporting challenging or supporting the veracity of the event has a very crucial significance of all believers.So, if we take everything at face value, then we will end up having contradictory conclusions.

Seemingly, the point at which religion and psychology meet is an uneasy and complex intersection point.Social processes such as group dynamics, interpersonal relations and leadership styles inform congregational functioning and life itself. Like Entwistle advocates, the ultimate solution and rest to the argument stops at the point at which we see both theology and psychology as two intersecting fields rather than two fields which are far apart.

The view that theology and psychology are intersecting fields highlights the distinctive yet intertwined positive and negative nature of the two subjects.Theology largely relies on the belief and moral setting of and individual which is largely emotional thus acts as a form of natural filter on a person’s character.   On the other hand, psychology is based on intellect and science which seeks assurance from facts and figures and translates this into a coherent set oftheories. These theories work against beliefs and moral affiliations since it provides a form of assurance to an individual while theology merely relies on a person’s degree of association with their emotion’s. However, these differences cause the two fields to collide since a person’s mind setting directly influences their emotional state thus positively or negatively influencing their belief system. In order to maintain the newly acquired beliefs, all the facts and figures must allude to the accuracy of the information that makes up theology.

The theology and psychology of a person are dictated by their social environment, so in order to determine their level of connection, a study of their environment will showcase their individual decision concerning the two fields.

Given the conditions and my reflection on the religion-psychology bridge, it is quite surprising to learn that there are psychologists that define themselves as people of faith. People believe that positions in faith that exists are not conservative but rather liberal.

As someone who knows the bounds of knowledge and reasoning, I deserve the explanations of the final answers and I also need evidence to believe. However, I can choose to live and act in my faith position in theology. Though I make my choice, there is a probability that I may be wrong but it is very rational to believe in a reality that understandably transcends our understanding.

The question of existence is definitely beyond human understanding. From such a premise to a belief that the world was created, Christianity is engulfed by theology. There are questions that we cannot answer considering the limits of our intellect. As a psychologist, I consider this and as a result I can go along with intellectual integrity and humility to a God who transcends the limits of my intellectual capability.

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