Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

David Powlison on Redeeming Psychology

Author: Date: October 03, 2012


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The church is growing increasingly wise in its contemporary setting to articulate and practice a properly biblical and modern ministry. Scripture directs us from within its pages in its unique and comprehensive vision of ministry and change. It simultaneously directs us in processing the insights within culture, literature, and the psychologies that have been provided to us from beyond its pages. In the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Biblical Counseling (26:3), David Powlison provides us with an article that explores the Christian task that exists at the interface of these two. The following is an excerpt from “How Does Scripture Teach Us to Redeem Psychology?”

“Actual human beings always work the way the Bible says that we work. Every psyche organizes around some life-defining love, purpose, meaning, trust, hope, fear, identity. This defining center is either a fabricated lesser god or the self-revealing God. Secular psychological models fail to capture this most significant reality. The effort to erase the God-oriented or God-disoriented core of the human psyche immediately creates blind spots and fatal flaws, internal contradictions, irresolvable disconnects between theory and reality. The disjunct creates wonderful opportunities for redemption. Christian faith contains the good sense and good news of a comprehensive alternative. The points of contact are everywhere.

Therefore, it is on us, the church, to“convert” their knowledge, theories, and therapies—as part of loving them well. Such redeeming does everyone a world of good and produces a major upgrade in the quality of conversation and evangelization. We engage secular people most effectively when we can show how Christian faith makes better sense of all that they see most clearly, care about most deeply, ask most perceptively, and do most skillfully. Indeed, Psychology needs redeeming.”

He continues later,

“What does it look like for psychology to be redeemed? Not a shred of valid information is lost, no skills in loving are forfeited, no hard questions are ducked. Rather, whatever was known is enriched and changed by being seen in a new and true light—and reams of previously neglected information become available for the first time.”

The article is full with biblical wisdom and detail. I hope you will return Monday, October 8 to read it for free at ccef.org/jbc.