David Myers and Malcolm Jeeves tackle the question, Should there be a Christian psychology? in the next chapter from Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith. (The timing is interesting; I just posted below a conference notice for the Society for Christian Psychology, and that organization in particular answers the question with a resounding “Yes.”)
The authors seem to concede that to the extent that psychology is focused on human nature, then a Christian psychology is warranted. However, since psychology is “much more modest and restricted” in its aims and scope, the authors suggest that it is no more necessary to speak of a Christian psychology than to speak of “Christian physics or a Christian chemistry” [p. 12]. In their words: “Psychology is morally and ethically neutral” [p. 12].
What is interesting to me is that the authors then go on to acknowledge the “hidden values and assumptions” in any scientific discipline, including psychology. They acknowledge the reality and impact of worldviews and note that psychologists are “among the most irreligious academics” in America [p. 13]. It makes one wonder where the gaps may be for academics developing an applied psychology that is relevant to an American public that has retained its regard for religion and spirituality.
In any case, Myers and Jeeves discuss two answers to the central question of a Christian psychology. No, there should not be, and Yes, there should be. According to the authors, those who answer “No” place more emphasis on being “faithful to reality” through the study of nature [p. 15]. Myers and Jeeves see themselves as in this group. Those who answer “Yes” place greater emphasis on the role of “prior beliefs and prejudices” [p. 17] on everything that is studied in psychology. (I should note that this group is given very limited space in this chapter; one paragraph or 5 sentences by my count.)
For reflection: How would others answer this question? Should there by a Christian psychology?