Entwistle, D. N. (2004). Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity. Eugene, OR:
Wipf and Stock Publishers.
This book tells about the integrating Christianity and psychology. The author discusses integration a combining the two books of God. According to Entwistle (2004), “the book of god’s Word referred to the Bible, and the book of God’s works reflects His deeds written throughout His creation. (p.166).” He includes five models of integration in the book which are: enemies, spies, colonialists, neutral parties, and allies as subjects of One Sovereign. The enemies model sees Christianity and psychology as enemies that need to be kept totally separate. The spies model has one discipline going into the other to take only what works for them. Psychology would enter the Christian world just to take the religious concepts that will work well with psychology. The colonialist model has one discipline colonizing or taking control and prominence over the other. Religion works with psychology as long as religion is superior to psychology. The neutral parties model has both disciplines coexisting and recognizing each other as long as they respect each others’ boundaries. Psychology recognizes that religion has good concepts to offer but it will not encroach on the religion’s domain. The allies as subjects of One Sovereign model have both disciplines working together to help people. It uses psychological and theological concepts together to gain a better understanding of the truth. According to Entwistle (2004), “God gave birth to the subject of psychology (human behavior) when he created human beings. God granted us the foundations of theology when He gave us His Word (p.175).”
The book tells us that there are two books of God: His word and His works (Entwistle, 2004). Psychology deals with God’s works and theology deals with His word. Our job as Christian counselors is to interpret both books and integrate them together so that we can use both books to help our clients.
If we find something that does not make sense between both books, there is a conflict that needs to be resolved before we can use it. At this point, we need to go back and reread and study both books to see if we can find the discrepancy. Entwistle (2004) says that god gave us both books, but we have to interpret them ourselves. The problem is not with God’s books, but it is the way we interpret them. Human understanding of God’s books is based on our worldview (Entwistle, 2004).
To properly integrate the two disciplines, we need to have a good understanding of both. We cannot just know theology or psychology and expect to integrate them well. We need to have a working knowledge of psychological theories and concepts as well as a working knowledge of God’s word. We need to remember, though, that our knowledge is only as good as our interpretation. God’s works have been affected by the fall into sin, and as a work of God our interpretations will be colored by the fall as well.
While I was reading this book one incident in my life kept coming back to me. I was 18 years old and had met my husband. I was attending a church in my hometown and when they found out I was dating a Lutheran, they told me not to get too involved with him as Lutherans were too different from us. When I told them we were getting married, several people in my church told me that I was no longer welcome there. We ended up getting married in my husband’s church due to this. When I was later baptized and joined the Lutheran church, I had more of my friends from this church refuse to speak to me. About five years after we were married, I declared my major in psychology. The few friends I still had from the church in my hometown informed me that psychology and religion do not mix and if I continued with this major they would have nothing to do with me. I told them that I felt led to go into psychology and so would not change my major. I have not heard from them since. The Lutheran church pastors were more open to my major. This story shows that even between different denominations in Christianity people can interpret things differently and be open or closed to other denominations as well as psychology.
I think this book has a lot of good ideas and concepts to it. I found it interesting to discuss the two books of God, because I had heard the term and knew what it meant, but had not really thought about what it included. I also liked the models of integration and their explanations. They were explained well enough that anyone could follow them easily. Some of the things that bothered me the most about the book and its ideas are: the idea of interpretation, the definition of integration, and where do we go from here. If we are the interpreters of God’s two books and we know that the fall and sin have colored our interpretations, how do we know if our interpretations of the books are correct? Can we interpret either book accurately? If our interpretations are wrong, can we do more harm than good to our clients? Is the definition of integration complete enough to help us know what we need to help others? When we use the current definitions of integration, do we get a complete picture of what integration means to both disciplines? With all of the models of integration, where do we go next? How do we make progress in the integration process? Can we ever integrate to a point where we can agree on most aspects of a model, or will there always be disagreement between the disciplines? These are all questions that I think are important to consider about integration.
My first step toward action in this would be to finish my education. I also need to be more into the Word of God and learning more about God. As for what I would say or email to a friend or counselee, I think it is important to include your faith in counseling. When all aspects of your life are included in treatment, then the treatment will be more effective for you. I think that integrating Christianity and psychology can benefit a Christian client by allowing us to address spiritual matters and use spiritual techniques for healing. It is important to remember that religion and psychology are both parts of God’s truth to us and can be used to help ourselves and others. When the two disciplines are integrated, we have many more options than when we use one or the other discipline separately. Finally use of both disciplines can help us reach people of faith as well as people who are not Christians, if we can use them both carefully and competently.