Saturday, November 14, 2009

Summary of Entwistle's Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity

Entwistle, D.N. (2004). Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity: an introduction to worldview issues, philosophical foundations, and models of integration. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.

In this book David Entwistle provides a case for integrating Christian faith with the discipline of psychology. Entwistle (2004) follows the symbolism first posited by Tertullian (c. 160-225) in representing Athens as the voice of reason and Jerusalem as the virtue of faith. He first poses the question whether psychology and Christianity are at odds with each other or can be integrated. Psychology is differentiated from philosophy or theology in that it uses specific methods for describing physical and behavioral observations of man. Entwistle (2004) then puts forth a theme which is echoed throughout the book: “All truth is God’s truth” (Entwistle, 2004, p.16). Because of this, when there is conflict, it matters not which view is closest to the truth. Both the Christian view and the psychological view come from God. Entwistle (2004) provides historical background on the faith versus reason debate. Throughout the centuries, scientists and organized religion have been both allies and enemies. During times of Copernicus and Galileo, the church persecuted scientists for questioning the truth. Likewise proponents of science such as J.W. Draper belittled those with faith as being less intellectual. Entwistle (2004) then expands on another key concept, that of worldview and interpretation. The person in search of truth will be biased to some degree by how they view the world. A Christian believes that man was created in the image of God with a purpose to glorify Him. Entwistle (2004) highlights that it is critical to examine one’s own presuppositions as it determines how one interprets both the Bible and the world. By viewing science as descriptive of the world rather than prescriptive of it, the door opens for both Christianity and psychology to be integrated. If one is open to the possibility of miracles, then when something not easily explainable by science occurs, Providence may be the explanation. With a secular worldview, science is the only answer.
Entwistle (2004) describes five models for integration: Enemies, Spies, Colonists, Neutral Parties, and Allies. Enemies believe, as Tertullian first stated, that faith and reason cannot be in agreement. Christian combatants believe that the Bible is the one Truth while secular combatants believe science is the one truth. Spies are those who have a psychological background but who are engaged with the religious community. They do not accept the tenets of Christianity but see activities such as prayer or forgiveness as useful to the secular world. Colonists are religious advocates who engage the scientific community in an effort to convert others to their way of viewing life. Neutral parties see Christianity and psychology as two mutually exclusive disciplines with little to no overlap. Allies see Christianity and psychology as two complementary methods for discovering truth. When the two appear to disagree, it is because one of the interpretations is flawed. Entwistle (2004) concludes his book by making the case that the Ally paradigm is the only correct integration model. He echoes Francis Bacon’s assertion that Christianity attempts to discover truth through God’s word, the Bible. Psychology attempts to discover truth through God’s works, the world. Once again, the central theme pours through: “All truth is God’s truth”, (Entwistle, 2004, p.260).

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