Personal Integration Resource: The Good and Beautiful God

Integration refers to ways in which Christians in the field of psychology sort out the relationship between psychology as a science and Christianity. Much of the integration discussion centers on worldview critiques (of, say, naturalism or humanism) or explorations of theories for doing integration (an integrates model might be contrasted with a psychology of religion or the view that psychology and Christianity are distinct approaches that are not to be brought into a meaningful dialogue). Another approach to integration is to look at the life of the person doing integration. This might be thought of as personal integration.

One of the activities the faculty and staff of the School of Psychology and Counseling do is meet weekly for prayer and to study Scripture. This year we are reading through the book, The Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith.

Here is what Dallas Willard had to say about it:

“The best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation.”

That got my attention. I read and loved Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy. Many consider Willard one of the leading writers on spiritual formation. His work has made a world of difference in my life. So when he gives this kind of endorsement to a book on spiritual formation, it is worth a look.

We are reading The Good and Beautiful God in small groups of about 5-6 faculty and staff. We then meet as a small group to discuss the book and then bring that discussion to our weekly Bible study. We aren’t that far into it yet. But I’ve enjoyed looking at rest in my life (or the lack thereof), as well as practicing the lectio divina (divine reading). I’ve known these concepts before, but I would say that the greatest difference has been reading this in a small community (5-6 people), meeting with them regularly, and discussing it with both them and the larger group. Like all resources, you will get out of it what you put in. But I would say that it is another truth of disciplines that they are more likely to be maintained if they are done within a small community that cares about you, asks you about it, and provides a venue for discussion and application. If you are looking for a resource that could significantly impact your spiritual life, this might be the one for you.

Again, keep in mind that the regular practice of spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian in the field of psychology can be understood as a form of integration. It is personal integration, and it should not be looked at as less important than the other, more common ways we approach integration.

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