Christianity and psychology integration
All people are created by the God’s will to be different; thus, all have different abilities. Being organized in the society, the humankind has evolved through a process of cultural and religious selection. Being a system of ideas and values, Christianity has spread all over the world and has established a person of certain behavior. Generally, Christian psychology helps people to maintain social stability and leads to inner stability.
While researching texts written about Christian psychology, I found different opinions with regard to this issue. Although “the unreal separation between theology and natural science proved disastrous for both of them” (Barry 13), both these systems aim to organize society. Actually, both of them set up human behavior and sometimes use the same methods, though there is another conclusion stating that “theology and psychology, in particular, use different methods of investigation, have different objects of study and answer different questions” (Johnson 31). To examine these controversial opinions, I researched a sense of guilt as it plays a crucial role in the human relationship. It helps to reveal right or wrong conduct concerning absolutely various situations and the most urgent point is which conduct causes a feeling of shame and guilt. These concepts of behavior assessment are closely connected with the perception of sin. As Christianity stipulates that all people are sinners, the entire humanity is supposed to feel guilt. However, “a man may bitterly reproach himself for something that is not really "sin" at all” (Barry 86), so the question “why and what for a human being is able to feel guilt” arises. Generally, the science of psychology helps to answer this question, though it misrepresents sin as a mental illness. People tend to share resources they possess and act with compassion when they feel guilt. Therefore, as all have different abilities in obtaining resources, those who are more capable are supposed to help those who cannot get what they need on their own. Thus, both Christianity and psychology acknowledge guilt for wrong behavior, aiming to organize society.
Both systems, psychology and Christianity, work with restrictions, but they have different attitude to them. In fact, all Christian commandments stipulate ordered structure of laws and prohibitions and these rules gain appropriate description of the concept of “the law of the Lord” (Watson 4). Christians tend to obey these rules and are promised to gain divine happiness. Psychology lets people do what they need in order to feel happiness, though these actions may be nature’s instincts, including basic instincts (for food and for sex). There is one more important point regarding this direction. Feeling joy, people also tend to share. So, generally, psychology and Christianity have the same result. A human being should become as harmonized with the world as possible on his or her own and then help others, using all his or her abilities. That is the way to develop into a better person than one has been before.
Compassion is one of the most important Christian virtues. However, how can a person with a defective state of mind live and act with compassion in the mind and in the heart? First of all, a human being with a declining mental degeneration needs help to grow into a self-dependent one. Only after that, such a person will be able to help others and live with love in one’s heart.
Psychology should not be considered as fundamentally opposed to Christianity. They are mutually complementary. Both biblical counselors on one the hand and psychological researchers and teachers on the other hand should show a good example by respecting and accepting each other’s points of view with no assessment of values of any ideas. Based on Christian virtues and values, personal growth leading to compassion should become a direction to follow.
Even from the psychological point of view, the Bible is to be read and followed as it contains a lot of wise and useful notions of behavior leading to the person’s development in a right way.
A mind of a human being and understanding of the life processes are conditioned by brain’s essentiality. There are some concepts, which cannot be understood by intellect, even though “psychological science helps us answer some important questions” (Johnson 59) or maybe even a lot of important question. The Bible and other main religious masterpieces accommodate huge experience of all previous generations and their achievements. People should take into account observations made by previous generations and embodied in legends, religions, ballads, etc. as they bear witness of the long period and human life is limited in time.
To mature, a human being needs to see and to know the guidance. Nonetheless, it is not enough to go through the life. Both men and women need to feel support and ‘you are not alone’ conception is very effective. The faith in the God and his higher power is helpful, but it is not only the faith in some divine will. It gives the faith in person’s own abilities to be changed, which is very important. A good instance of this statement is given by Jeffrey Watson who sought for the God’s support when he felt nervous and “the Word of God brought peace” (13). Thus, faith and hope embodied in words are able to change person’s attitude and mood and therefore are able to help, resulting in an action of a human being.
Is there a huge difference between a psychotherapist and a biblical counselor? Generally, they do the same job. They listen to stories and confessions and give pieces of advice concerning various situations, even using each other’s methods as it is showed in the illustrated example of “pastor’s wife using dream analysis and hypnosis to probe the heart” (Watson 11). The God is everywhere and dreams are also a place for Him. Unfortunately, as counselors are also humans, an obstacle of their subjectivity may interfere, which has been described as “the danger of displeasing sincere counselors” (Watson 13). Therefore, a personality of a counselor is a sustainable part of biblical counseling as he represents the God’s will and becomes rather influential.
There are different attempts of psychological and Christian conjunction. A biblical counseling is sometimes an example of such a cooperation of ideas. I consider “the Compass Model” (Montgomery 2) to be one of the best. This model consists of diverse aspects, including “the Compass Therapy and Self Compass” (Montgomery 2). As stipulated by the author, “each point on the compass represents a balance of love, strength, assertion and weakness, with none being more important or preferable” (Montgomery 2). According to this model, certain position for a person is destined. One “should be functioning in a free and rhythmic motion between all the points” (Montgomery 2) and that will guide him or her to the right direction. Such an attitude to himself or herself and a sense of self will bring a person to inner and outer stability given by the Lord.
Biblical counseling works. It helps people to overcome hardships and leads the way. New methods of biblical counseling, including the ones based on the scientific researches, are aimed at using all possibilities for a human being to live with the Lord in the heart and to find the way to feel and to act as Christians. Counselors should understand all the responsibility they have undertaken and fulfill their duties as guides of Lord sincerely and with all their heart. Thereby, this will lead to a stable person in a stable society and, finally, a stable world of the God.
Every human being coming into this world evolves. Both psychology and Christianity show the direction for this process. They present people with a way to go through life experiencing both happy and unhappy periods.
A child becomes acquainted with the world people live in and processes in it with the help of its parents. Thus, he or she emerges as limited by the parents’ vision of the world. Sometimes, members of the family and their behavior become an impediment to the child’s and later person’s growth. The way a particular person in a family can be “opened-up” away from the critical glare of the other family members (Abercrombie and Skinner 171) is also a topic to discuss within transformational psychology. Growing up, a teenager becomes limited by friends’, classmates’, teacher’s visions of this world and models of behavior of the people one has an opportunity to communicate with. Unfortunately, “no one is immune to error and bias” (Johnson 60), but it is possible to change one’s both implicit and explicit attitudes, though a huge amount of work with personal features and believes need to be done to fulfill that. Definitely, it is much more helpful for a person to cope with any problems or other hard life circumstances when the God, a divine will, guides him or her and this person feels support. This feeling can become a crucial strength that will help to overcome hardships.
Generally, “deep-seated transformation from the inside out” (Watson 12) should be expected as a result of both biblical counseling and psychological therapy. Transformational psychology also includes an important assumption, which stipulates that “the person determines the process” (Johnson 82) and furthermore, “the person and process determine the product” (Johnson 83), so individuality sets up a fundamental and starting point for the whole course of revealing. Aimed at reaching “love through union with the Holy Spirit” (Johnson 81), psychology is supposed to reveal the God’s will and solutions to people’s problems and suffering. Thus, psychology is the God’s will itself as it may lead to understanding Him through better and deeper techniques. Doing psychology with love is supported by the God; thus, a psychological therapist guided by the Lord must help like a biblical counselor and provide people in need with the God’s encouragement.
There are various personal problems and their solutions. When a person is dependent, the dependence trend should be transformed, while recognition of this dependence “provides the general direction for growth and change” (Montgomery 7). The counselor plays a very important role in this process as he shows and explains a new model of behavior. Notion of the God being the father is even more important and obedience to authority is used to achieve better results of transformation. Human beings need reasons to change themselves and upper will is easier to accept and follow.
It is very important to take into account human ability to create their lives according to their social expectations, which become self-fulfilling prophecies as people “choose their situations – their college environments, their jobs, their locales” (Johnson 63). That is how a prayer obtains a leading role concerning new expectations, which a person will embody into everyday actions and choices, evolving into new models of behavior and a new better life.
Transformational psychology as a result of the integration tradition aims to help those who suffer and lead further those who are in joy. Scripture contains wisdom and methods of personal growth and society evolvement. Modern science explains and supplements them and lets people understand the God’s will better. Hope, faith, and a prayer should be in human hearts to create their happy lives with love and compassion guided by union with the God.
Abercrombie, Ab, and Kerry Skinner. Wonderful Counselor: A Return to Truth. Fairhope: BCI Publishing, 2007. Print.
Barry, Frank R. Christianity and Psychology: Lectures towards an Introduction. London: Student Christian Movement, 1923. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. <https://archive.org/stream/christianityandp032258mbp#page/n3/mode/2up>.
Montgomery, Dan. Christian Counseling That Really Works. Montecito, CA: Compass Works, 2010. Print.
Johnson, Eric L., ed. Psychology and Christianity: Five Views. 2nd ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsityPress, 2010. Print.
Watson, Jeffrey, A. Biblical Counseling for Today: A Handbook for Those Who Counsel from Scripture. Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000. Print.