The first time I had a sense that there were Christians who thought believers could not function with integrity in the field of psychology was when I came across the book Can You Trust Psychology? by Gary R. Collins in a family member’s home. I had not realized the question was being asked (and in some case answered adamently by authors such as Ed Bulkley in Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology). Prior to that, I had not been witness to the extended debate among Christians about psychology and about whether there is a place for Christians in the field.
In any case, Chapter 3 of David Entwistle’s book Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity is about this kind of real and potential tension for Christians. Chapter 3 is titled “The Soul of Psychology and the Psyche of the Soul.” It provides some historical context as well as ways in which Christians have responded to psychology, including brief overviews on Catholic, Liberal/mainline Protestant, and Evangelical responses. In our discussion of this chapter today one faculty member pointed to the following quote as a succinct observation:
For all the good it has to offer, psychology has, at times, embodied teachings that are an affront to Christian sensibilities. Many therapists adopt more liberal, less religious values than the general population, have little appreciation for spirituality in general, and some are outspoken critics of religous belief. Yet the same could be said of practitioners of medicine, or philosophy, or history. The issue is not that those fields are interently non-Christian, but that non-Christians in those fields sometimes believe, teach, and practice things taht are at odds with Christian belief, doctine, and practice. To expect otherwise is to expect that non-Christians will be other than what they are. [p. 61]