INTEGRATION BETWEEN CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PSYCHOLOGY

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INTEGRATION BETWEEN CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PSYCHOLOGY

Verdeana Williams

Liberty University

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ABSTRACT

The paper explores the relationship between Christianity and Psychology under the umbrella of different models and approaches over the century. The debate continues because Psychology is a discipline of social science based on facts, but Christianity is a religion based on the word of God in the Bible and Old Testaments. Religion is an integral component in most people’s rise because it helps them to nourish their spiritual life and use religion as guidance.

Psychology

Psychology is a branch of science that studies human behavior and mind to formulate strategies to improve it. The integration of Christianity and Psychology is significant because of both aim to develop human behavior and adopt a healthy lifestyle which is not easy. There are many models and approaches introduced to find a solution; some argue that since they are different in nature and scope, no relation is possible and they should work separately to solve the problem. But many say that for the welfare of people, both disciplines should work together to achieve equilibrium.

For this purpose, the Allies approach by David Entwistle emphasizes both disciplines to join and put an effort to reach consensus on how to improve the welfare of people. However, the paper analyzes different models and approaches concluding that Allies is a desirable approach that integrates both disciplines to understand the human behavior and mind also discover the ultimate truth.

Relationship between Christianity and Psychology

The relationship between Christianity and Psychology has gained popularity over the century due to its significance on human behavior, mind, and shaping in the personality. But both disciplines are different because Psychology is a discipline of social science that aims to study and analyze the behavior and intellectual capabilities and Christianity is a religion based on the teachings in the Bible and old scriptures.

Different approaches have been discovered to reach equilibrium and Allies approach does provide a framework to integrate both disciplines to see the truth. However, the paper aims to explore the relationship between Christianity and Psychology in light of models and approaches and how Allies helps to solve the complexities.

Experimental psychology and clinical psychology

Psychology is classified into sections; experimental psychology and clinical psychology. The experimental psychology is very significant because it is the earlier stage to study the human behavior and how the mind works because in this phase it explains the thoughts of a person and what might be cause for this. People who have suffered something in their past tend to develop certain fear which is the leading cause for a specific type of behavior. Psychology tries to explain the significance of studying human behavior and mind because understanding it will help to bring betterment in human behavior and mind. (Henriques, 2004)

branch of psychology

After examining the under experiment, the next branch of psychology deals with is clinical psychology. This branch of psychology has gained a lot of popularity over the years because these psychologists are doing counseling and providing easiness to the human mind and behavior. The clinical psychology introduces strategies to improve human behavior and mind, and the primary key in it is communication (Timothy, Richard, & Varda, 2009).

Once a man communicates everything, it becomes easier for psychologists to create associations to improve their well being. Like many psychologists uses faith as to remove their fears and bring a change in the man’s behavior by telling them to put their concerns aside because God is watching upon you and it gives a man hope and courage to get over their fears and divert his attention towards praying.

However, some psychologist argues that Christianity should be used to integrate with the psychology to bring changes in the human behavior and mind because faith is a strong tool that helps a man to mend as they have confined themselves into the boundaries of their faith. Therefore, it becomes easier for psychologists to make any changes by using some principles of Christianity and integrate them.

Christianity

Christianity is a religion that is based on the beliefs of one God who sent his son, Jesus, to mankind for their well-being (John, 2008) . The Bible revealed to Jesus who was a prophet to the people of Nazareth. The teachings contained in the Bible talks about the way of life as God, the supreme creator, want His creation to live.

These teachings influence the lives of Christian people because it acts as a guide map for mankind to operate and grow in a particular manner because it is the best code to live life. Every person is different so even the believer of Christianity many people do not adapt to the lifestyle as per the Bible and they shape their personalities according to the surroundings. This concern has caused for the Christian scholars that use science to understand the behavior of people and use Christianity to develop it.

Development of man’s behavior

This type of behavior has given rise to the use of psychology because it talks about the development of man’s behavior and minds from child to adult. This integration of Psychology into Christianity has been used to understand the complex human actions (Aleksandar, 2016). One of the core principle of Psychology that talks about the free will which encourages a man to make different decisions all their life but Christianity has a belief that God has destined everything and it is His will that decides the decisions and actions of the mankind.

Psychology is a social science which is why it is secular in nature and its integration into Christianity has raised a debate. Many scholars argue that science is an enemy of the religion because it tries to incorporate the idea of free will and does not set boundaries, but some use science as guidance to understand the mechanism of how the world and man work keeping their faith intact.

There have been several models to explain their relation which includes the level-of-explanation model which emphasizes that every phase of life has a unique and different level of explanation (Wakefield, 1989). With psychology and religion mixed with understanding with the different levels, it would only create confusion. It is the difference in their approach that raises the confusion because science is based on the facts whereas religion follows a prescribed method. Therefore, they both should be treated differently because they are different and their mechanism is also unique in their scope.

integration model

Another model that explains the relationship is integration model which is rigid than the level-of-explanation model. Christianity deals with the way of life and guides the right path to the people, but that does not happen, so they have taken help from science.

The branch of science, psychology, has enabled them to understand the behavior of man, why they act differently, how to guide them and bring changes in their behavior according to the beliefs in the Bible, as a result, Christian scholars to use a branch of psychology to counsel people to incorporate Christian teachings and guide man. For this in 1980s Christian counseling centers were built that would provide guidance also bring changes in their development. This has given rise to “biblically based psychology” as psychology integrated into the beliefs of Christianity (Collins, 1973).

Christian Psychology:

The Christian Psychology is an extensive form to explain the relationship because in the integration model the Christian scholars have taken a strong narrative and used beliefs in the Bible to modify the human behavior. But in Christian Psychology the idea is to use the psychological practices to develop a Christian model that would act as guidance for humanity.

It emphasizes on bringing change in man, especially it talks about a transition. Dominantly, the ideas of psychologists have been incorporated into Christianity because it explains how to deal and modify human behavior by enforcing the practices of Christianity. As a person moves from unhealthy habits to healthy habits, their spirituality will grow encouraging moving to Christianity. This approach tends to create a balance between the two books concept.

David N. Entwistle has explained the relationship between Christianity and Psychology by presenting five approaches; Enemies, Spies, Colonialists, Neutral Parties and Allies (Entwistle, 2010). These models are different that underlines the arguments from a psychologist and Christian scholars.

Enemy Model:

The enemy model stresses the radical behavior of both disciplines. The Christianity rejects the psychology and strictly condemns the use of psychology to understand the behavior because in their view Christianity is higher in degree since it is the word of the God, so it does not need a branch of science based on some facts brings changes.

The Spies model explains how some psychologists who do not believe in Christianity would use the teachings of the Christian to describe human behavior and mind without crediting the role of Christianity. The Colonialists approach is when Christian acts as a dominant force and use the findings of psychologists to understand the human behavior and mind to make it better but like colonialists, they conquer and use for their own, so in this case, they take the findings and use it in their line of work.

Neutral Parties:

Neutral Parties is a relationship when the psychologist and Christian scholars respect the discipline of each other but due to the difference like work as explained in the level-of-explanation model do not want to interfere and keep both separate. However, the Allies model talks about integrating the findings of psychology into the beliefs of Christianity and vice versa to seek the truth about human behavior and mind.

Allies Approach:

The Allies approach is one of the viable approaches that explain the relationship between the Christianity and Psychology because every discipline is strong and unique in its way and when incorporated together, it would fill in gaps; if one discipline lacks anywhere, the other will fill it.

In this way, this approach will improve the study and widen the scope of study because it gives more room to explore and the answers from every direction. Also, Allies approach signifies the belief in God and respects that and with the help of Psychology practices evaluate the change in human behavior, the underlying truth for the different circumstances under which human act. Then by integrating both disciplines, the science will be used to modify human behavior and mind and making the world a better place to live in (Fernando & Hall, 2012).

limitations to the Allies approach

However, many argue that there are certain limitations to the Allies approach. Both disciplines are different because Psychology is based on facts whereas Christianity relies on the Old Testaments and word of Bible. Therefore to would raise many questions because they would contradict and in case of contradiction will the researchers try to incorporate another branch of work tirelessly to reach equilibrium. However, this will create confusion as the level of explanation model explains. Also, the difference in the scope of both disciplines will further raise questions rather than solving.

The relationship between Christianity and Psychology has been under debate because of the difference in opinion. There are many models and approaches introduced to solve the paradox, but no concrete solution has been identified. However, due to the complexities arising in human behavior and mind, it is necessary for all the discipline to work for the betterment of mankind. Therefore, the researchers should use the Allies approach because of its objective to seek truth by integrating both disciplines to work for the welfare of the people.

References:

Aleksandar, S. (2016). Towards the possible integration of Psychology and Christian faith: Faculties of human personality and the Lordship of Christ.

In die Skriflig, 50 (1). Collins, G. R. (1973). Psychology on a new foundation: A proposal for the. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 1, 19-27. Entwistle, D. N. (2010).

Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity, Third Edition. Fernando, G., & Hall, M. (2012). Teaching Christian Integration in Psychology and Counselling: Current Status and Future Directions. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 40 (2), 155-159.

Henriques, G. R. (2004). Psychology Defined. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, 60 (12), 1207–1221. John, S. (2008). BASIC CHRISTIANITY. Timothy, B., Richard, M., & Varda, S. (2009). Current Status and Future. Association for Psychological Science, 9 (2). Wakefield, J. C. (1989). Levels of Explanation in Personality Theory. Springer, New York, NY.

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