IVP just sent me a new (free!) book, Integrating Faith and Psychology: Twelve Psychologists Tell Their Stories (2010), edited by Glendon L Moriarty and with a foreword by Gary Collins. I’m looking forward to reading it. Each chapter is by a different psychologist and tells more of a personal story on how they came to the work they do and how their faith matured along the way. This is not a theory driven book but a group of narratives. While I very much appreciate theories of how psychology and Christianity function together, narratives sometimes provide a window into a more living integration. I might disagree with a theory but appreciate the heart behind it. Each author describes their development as a person and a professional, points to mentoring along the way, addresses key personal and philosophical tension points, mentions their experience with spiritual disciplines, and concludes with a personal letter in order to share key wise advice to those interested in the integrative process.
I’m especially interested in reading several chapters written by those I know more closely than others: Mark McMinn and J. Derek McNeil (former professors), Jennifer Ripley, Siang-Yang Tan, Everett Worthington, Bill Hathaway (people I’ve met at conferences and whose work I appreciate), and Mark Yarhouse (influential scholar and fellow student at Wheaton College).
The foreword by Gary Collins gives a tiny window into the tensions he experienced between evangelical-fundamentalists and the profession of psychology. He first felt the tension of psychology colleagues who looked down on him for being a Christian. There were leading scholars of his day who felt that religion was the cause of most psychopathology. He notes that this view has shifted greatly and there is now much openness to spirituality within psychology (though I hasten to add this openness isn’t always felt in the Northeast United States). He then briefly mentions Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, and the attacks he received from those Christians suspicious of psychology’s secular humanism.
I find his foreword less than helpful only in that it can only stereotype the conflict in 7 short pages (what else could he do?). But he does conclude by saying that not all the critical statements (about the integrative agenda) made by Christians were wrong and in fact many help to refine the work of Christian psychology. He lists quite a few names of those who have worked hard to build a psychology on biblical foundations. Nearing the end, he comments on a shift that happens somewhere in the late 80s and early 90s. “The integration movement began the shift to a younger, more pragmatic, less theoretical generation.” (p. 14).
I will blog here on a couple of the chapters as I make my way through the book. I’ll be looking for interesting historical threads that help me better understand some of the prominent leaders of the integrative movement.