Integrative Approaches – 4

Chapter 4 of David Entwistle’s book Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity is titled “Windows on the World: Assumptions and Worldviews.” A worldview is defined by James Sire (1997) as “a set of presuppositions (assumption with may be tru, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) abouit the basic make-up of the world” (p. 16). Entwistle briefly reviews several common worldviews, including polytheism, pantheism, monotheism, modernism, atheistic materialism, and postmodernism. Probably the two most dominant worldviews in contemporary Western psychology are atheistic materialism and postmodernism. As an aside, Evangelicalism came into its own in the 19th and early 20th centuries when modernism held sway and many evangelicals have absorbed some of the assumptions of modernism (e.g., an emphasis on individualism) that have placed them at odds with postmodernism. (To read more on this, check out the chapter “Evangelicalism” in the book, The Psychologies of Religion: Working with the Religious Client, edited by E. Thomas Dowd and Stevan Lars Nielsen.)

Entwistle discusses several implications of worldviews, including the tendency for those who hold competing worldviews to speak past one another. I have certainly found this to be the case among psychologists who come at controversial topics out of rival worldviews. Another implication is that we are able to reflect on our worldviews, at least to some extent. This is difficult to do, of course, as social psychology has provided us with evidence that we do not tend to critique our own assumption but rather look for evidence to confirm what we already hold to be true. Entwistle then hangs a Christian worldview on the pegs of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation – what are commonly referred to as the four “acts” of the biblical “drama.”

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