Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity

The book, Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity, discusses the integration of the different fields of Christianity and psychology. In this book, the author, DN Entwistle, discusses integration as a combining the two books of God. According to Entwistle (2004), “the book of god’s Word referred to the Bible, and the book of God’s works reflects His deeds written throughout His creation. (p. 166). ” This is clearly shown in the further sections of the book which discusses the models of integration.

He then proceeds to include five models of integration in the book which are: enemies, spies, colonialists, neutral parties, and allies as subjects of One Sovereign. The enemies’ model sees Christianity and psychology as enemies that need to be kept totally separate. The spies’ model has one discipline going into the other to take only what works for them. Psychology, as applied to this discussion, enters the Christian world just to take the religious concepts that will work well with psychology. The colonialist’ model has one discipline colonizing or taking control and prominence over the other.

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Religion works with psychology as long as religion is superior to psychology. The neutral parties’ model, on the other hand, has both disciplines coexisting and recognizing each other as long as they respect each others’ boundaries. Psychology, according to the author, recognizes that religion has good concepts to offer but it will not encroach on religion’s domain. The allies as subjects of One Sovereign model have both discipline working together to help people. It uses psychological and theological concepts together to gain a better understanding of the truth.
According to Entwistle (2004), “God gave birth to the subject of psychology (human behavior) when he created human beings. God granted us the foundations of theology when He gave us His Word (p. 175). ”The book basically presents the idea that there are two books of God: His word and His works (Entwistle, 2004). Psychology deals with God’s works and theology deals with His word. Man’s job as Christian counselors is to interpret both books and integrate them together so that both books can be used in tandem to help other people.
According to Entwistle, if one finds something that does not make sense between both books, there is a conflict that needs to be resolved before we can use it. At this point, one needs to go back and reread and study both books to see if one can find the discrepancy. Entwistle (2004) says that god gave man both books, but man has to interpret for himself. The problem is not with God’s books, but it is the way man interprets them. Human understanding of God’s books is based on man’s worldview (Entwistle, 2004).
While this may not necessarily be a new theory, a reading of this book has brought to mind a certain experience wherein I felt that theology alone was not able to answer the many questions that I had. This had to do with my younger years when I had just followed my parent’s beliefs. When I began to question things, I looked to theology for answers but found none. I felt betrayed and confused. I had grown up believing that there were certain truths in this world and my religion was one of them. As I began to learn about the world, there were a number of things that just did not add up so to speak.
In my confusion and sadness, I turned away from my faith and began to explore other things. Needless to say, it was a very trying and difficult experience for me. I began to feel anger deep inside that I feel came from the betrayal at not being able to find the answers to the questions I had. As I read the book, however, I began to understand those troubled times even more. I realized that I had only seen a part of the whole truth and was therefore unable to completely understand it. It was not about just knowing theology but also by having a good understanding of psychology.
To properly integrate the two disciplines, we need to have a good understanding of both. We cannot just know theology or psychology and expect to integrate them well. We need to have a working knowledge of psychological theories and concepts as well as a working knowledge of God’s word. We need to remember, though, that our knowledge is only as good as our interpretation. God’s works have been affected by the fall into sin, and as a work of God our interpretations will be colored by the fall as well.
On a personal level, I think this book has a lot of good ideas and concepts to it. I found it interesting to discuss the two books of God, because I had heard the term and knew what it meant, but had not really thought about what it included. I also liked the models of integration and their explanations. They were explained well enough that anyone could follow them easily. Some of the things that bothered me the most about the book and its ideas are: the idea of interpretation, the definition of integration, and where do we go from here.
If we are the interpreters of God’s two books and we know that the fall and sin have colored our interpretations, how do we know if our interpretations of the books are correct? Can we interpret either book accurately? If our interpretations are wrong, can we do more harm than good to our clients? Is the definition of integration complete enough to help us know what we need to help others? When we use the current definitions of integration, do we get a complete picture of what integration means to both disciplines?
With all of the models of integration, where do we go next? How do we make progress in the integration process? Can we ever integrate to a point where we can agree on most aspects of a model, or will there always be disagreement between the disciplines? These are all questions that I think are important to consider about integration. I think that integrating Christianity and psychology can benefit a Christian client by allowing us to address spiritual matters and use spiritual techniques for healing.
It is important to remember that religion and psychology are both parts of God’s truth to us and can be used to help ourselves and others. When the two disciplines are integrated, we have many more options than when we use one or the other discipline separately. Finally use of both disciplines can help us reach people of faith as well as people who are not Christians, if we can use them both carefully and competently. This is perhaps the greatest thing that we can learn from this book because it not only helps solidify one’s faith but also teach other people about their own faith as well.

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