Monday, July 9, 2012

Whom Do I Trust? or "The Heart of Christian Psychology"

In Eric Johnson’s (2010) “Psychology & Christianity: Five Views” we can follow, on the basis of a number of positions, the discussion on how psychology and Christian faith are related to each other. Johnson deserves thanks not only for presenting these five positions, but also for bringing individual advocates of each position together in a critical discussion in which each author comments on each article by the others.

Thanks to this variety of views, it came back to me again with renewed clarity that all our knowledge is partial and will pass away. The question I ask myself is: “Whom do we actually trust in developing psychological concepts and models, in our empirical work and in the resulting practical work in therapy and counselling: reason, our understanding? Our experience? Science? The triune God?

I would like to suggest this provocative definition of Christian psychology: a Christian psychology is the psychology – regardless of which of the five positions described in the book it may represent – which makes use of understanding, experience and science, but in all of these ultimately trusts God and genuinely reckons with his concrete help, whether in scientific research or in practical application with the desire to honour him.

In my judgment, we need the inclusion of psychology as a science along with the other humanities and social sciences, including theology, in order to be able to understand better human life and living together - with the aim of reducing the errors in our scientific understanding. This is one of my central concerns. The reduction of errors is our responsibility.

But: For the blessing, God is responsible. This means that we must trust HIM for the final success. This is no lip-service, but a real expectation, challenging me to work constantly in deepening my relationship with God and to grow into using the gifts of the Holy Spirit: how can I best give the Holy Spirit room in my psychological research, teaching and concrete help for persons, and allow HIM to work?
I hope that the individual articles and the overall impression of our new internet journal, Christian Psychology Around The World, provide testimony of this.

You will find the corresponding e-paper at:

Werner May
IGNIS-Institute for Christian Psychology, Germany
President of the European Movement for Christian Anthropology, Christian Psychology and Christian Therapy (

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