For two millennia Christians have been caring for souls. Since the Enlightenment, though, the Christian concept of the soul has been usurped by modern and postmodern notions of the self. "Somehow we misplaced the soul even as we developed a thriving science of the psyche," lament the editors of this volume. Thus there is a clash between Western therapeutic culture and the church's understanding of the soul's nature and its care.
As a result, some Christians deride psychology as dangerous. Others believe that it has much to offer Christians interested in caring for the soul. What is the proper relationship between psychology and theology? Is soul care the shared task of these two fields? This collection of essays is a multidisciplinary dialogue on the interface between psychology and theology that takes seriously the long, rich tradition of soul care in the church.
“Does the corpus of the canonical text of the Bible contain everything necessary to develop a systematized view of all counseling processes?” (Page 66)
“Both groups see sin as a problem, and both look at faulty learning patterns, unhealthy relationships and incorrect thinking. The difference is primarily one of epistemological priorities. Biblical counselors place relatively more emphasis on special revelation and therefore on sin, and Christian psychologists typically spend more time and energy studying general revelation.” (Page 13)
“In short, psychologists care for the soul. The cure of the soul, most Christian psychologists would suggest, is God’s work and is beyond the scope of mainstream psychological interventions.” (Page 11)
“Where those critics often lose me is when they fail to recognize that those problems are not therefore only moral and spiritual problems.” (Page 69)
“In other words, improvements in the human condition that fall short of bringing salvation still contribute to God’s glory. When we hold together a faltering marriage and resolve the bitterness ingrained there, when the alcoholic man curbs his drinking and eschews violence, when the panic-disordered individual is able to return to productive employment, in these situations and more God is honored and his good work advanced. Consequently, we might even have reason to suspect that his Holy Spirit is at work in the process.” (Page 75)
Mark R. McMinn (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is a professor of psychology at George Fox University where he teaches in the Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed clinical psychologist, board certified with the American Board of Professional Psychology and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.
Timothy R. Phillips (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) was associate professor of historical and systematic theology at Wheaton College, where he was instrumental in starting and organizing the annual Wheaton College Theology Conference.