In the book, Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity by David N. Entwistle (2010) the reader is first introduced to the conflict of the integration of psychology and Christianity. The thought is that Christianity is based on faith and psychology is based on truth. As a result, it is the idea that Christianity and psychology may be impossible to coexist. “The integration of psychology and theology is virtually inevitable due to their mutual interest in understanding the ambiguities and mysteries of human behavior and healing human brokenness.” (Entwistle, 2010, p. 51) Essentially, this statement is a summation of the entire reading. Even though Christianity and psychology are at two opposite ends of the spectrum, the two ideas still carry the ability to be integrated with one another and implemented. Entwistle, explains the integration of psychology and Christianity by first providing a historical overview of scientific and theological communities in order to provide a more in depth understanding of the modern process of integrating psychological thought with Christianity. Entwistle states that the term “integrated” should also be viewed as a noun because he says, “If Christ lays claim to all of life, then the work of integration becomes not just feasible, but imperative, as we attempt to understand the essence of unity.” (Entwistle, 2010, p. 16) To continue, Entwistle explains that science and faith have always been conflicting ideas because science is contradictory to theological concepts.
Entwistle some what agrees with this idea but based off of a person’s previous assumptions or knowledge about psychology and theology. If a psychologist were to recognize their faith bias when operating in their chosen specialty of psychology, then they could use science as a means of evidence or testament to the auspiciousness of Christ (Entwistle, 2010). As the book goes on, Entwistle introduces five different disciplinary relationships, which include enemies, spies, colonialists, neutral parties, and allies (Entwistle, 2010). Enemies can either be secular or Christian but the common factor is that they agree that there can be no coexistence of faith and science within the field of psychology. Spies are members of the Christian faith who happen to have a background in psychology but are only interested in the “benefits of their own religious system” (Entwistle, 2010, p. 182).
Spies could also include those who wish to explore the effects of faith on an individual. Colonialists use parts of psychology integrated with their own ideals and beliefs. Neutral parties are indifferent to both secular and theological arguments for the integration of psychology. However, neutral parties are able to maintain that indifference by keeping science and Christianity separate (Entwistle, 2010). The allies’ mode is different from neutral parties model because it is against that idea that theology is docile to psychology and that faith is a “vehicle to express psychological truth and to foster psychological benefits” (Entwistle, 2010, p. 206). The remaining reading is geared towards understanding truth as it relates to the psychological and theological mindset. In order to better understand the integration of psychology and theology and the similarities and differences between the two, Entwistle explains that we can gain a better understanding of human psyche and consider completing developmental research in order to come up with counseling techniques that will be valuable for future generations.
As a young child I remember growing up my parents explained to me that I would have to work hard in order to achieve success. My parents are very successful people with multiple degrees and although I was a stellar student, I wasn’t the least bit interested in school. I would much rather play sports or dance. My mom came to me one day and said, “I don’t know if you’ll ever be a doctor or lawyer the way we planned but whatever you decide we will be proud.” I was happy and sad at the same time because although she knew that I am intelligent, she didn’t try to press upon me something that her and my father’s plans for my life. However, I didn’t feel like my parents believed that I could become someone great. I must say that my parents have allowed me and continue to allow me to flourish into the person that God designed for me to be. Even though I appreciated my mother for making that clear to me, I still felt as if I had something to prove to them. I set out to take as many collegiate level classes as possible in high school and even pushed myself to the limit in my undergraduate courses. On top of all of my schoolwork, I pushed myself to commit to extracurricular activities within my church and school. When I first read Entwistle’s description of the allies’ model, I immediately thought of myself as an ally. Although our goal at the end of the day is to please God, I felt as if I had to please my parents through my education but I would eventually have to follow God’s plan for my life. While I took the time to find myself, I was forgetting about my religion and solely focused on my psychological wellbeing. I definitely had to get to a place where I was able to integrate both my mental health and well being as well as focus on my relationship with Christ.
In the book Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity, the reader is introduced to the understanding and correlation of psychology and theology. The study of psychology is referenced throughout this book many times but one ideal that is not addressed is the answer as to what a Christian should do with the ideals that are presented in this text. As it is well written, this particular text is invaluable to students and professors or those who wish to study the integration of psychology and theology as it relates to academia. On the converse, what about a regular church pastor or missionary who would like to be more well-versed in their counseling strategies or teaching people who to heal and deal with mental health conditions. The book is well written in the fact that any person who is not familiar with psychological or theological terminology can also understand the content of the text. Although the book many questions in relation to the integration of psychology and theology, it is apparent that the author did not mention the definitions of “nature” versus “unnatural.” Nature does not exist today because of the fall of man therefore, we as humans today only know the unnatural. This is a part of the reason that we find human beings to be so unnatural in their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Because of sin, there is no more innocence of creation has been destroyed and can only be restored through the blood of Christ. As psychology and theology integrate, humans can be studied in their natural state.
For a counseling psychologist or anyone who would like to practice professional counseling, one of the most important steps would be to understand the disciplinary models presented in the text. The Christian community may not be knowledgeable how a person would be classified within the five models. The typical Christian would not know whether or not they would be helping or hindering the individual if they were not familiar with the ideals and beliefs that goes along with each particular model. Having a better understanding of each model will allow a psychologist, or even a regular church pastor to understand where they fall within each model and which model will allow them to provide the best care plan for that client. The following step would be to also evaluate scientific models of psychology in order to better understand which model would integrate well with theology and the five disciplinary models. Understanding what each option and/or technique will provide will allow evidence of Christ through science. As a result, disciples will be brought to Christ because then they will believe. Integration of psychology and Christianity (theology) is more than just ideas and techniques, but the integration of the two will provide insight as to how we as humans live our lives before Christ (Entwistle, 2010).
Entwistle, D. N. (2010). Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity: an Introduction to Worldview Issues, Philosophical Foundations, and Models of Integration (2nd ed.). Eugene, OR