I have read several books on the integration of psychology and theology and this was my least favorite.
Some of the issues I had with the book (the new 2010 edition of the text) include:
1. The author uses negative labels for anyone he disagrees with while using positive labels for those he agrees with (in an effort it seems to bias the reader). So Christians who try to base their counseling methodology on the Bible are labeled "Christian Combatants" while those that base their counseling on the Bible and use some psychology are called "Colonialists". A colonialist was someone that was a foreigner in another country and stole their resources, while Christian Combatants implies they are angry and mean. In the view he likes he calls it "Allies"
2. The author accuses several biblical scholars of misinterpreting Bible verses. His interpretation is weak and incorrect according to my (and almost all scholars). Entwistle on many, many occasions throughout the book denigrates those he disagrees with because he does not believe they are studying psychology enough. The author though has been trained and received degrees in only one field: psychology. He has a B.A. in psychology, M.A. (part of his Psy.D) in psychology, and a Psy.D (a non-research degree) in psychology. He has no degree or foundation in Biblical Studies or theology. The fact that he is bringing a Sunday School level of Biblical knowledge to his integration efforts is very blatant. Why does he denigrate Biblical Scholars for not studying psychology enough (according to him), yet he has not taken the time to become fluent in Biblical or Theological studies?
3. The author is extremely biased against Biblical Counselors.Read more ›
There were only two things that I found unsettling or insufficiently addressed in the textbook. The first was a rather vague definition of “Christian” and “Christianity”. Entwistle simply refers to it as a “commitment to follow God with heart and soul and mind, that lays claim on all of life.” While I commend Entwistle’s openness to reaching out to the various denominations within Christianity, the simple fact is that there are many who call themselves Christians yet would not meet the Biblical criteria for being a child of God.
Second, Entwistle never satisfactorily gives an example of how to integrate an apparent contradiction between science and orthodox Christianity. While he discusses the issues of the Biblical standard regarding sexual sin, and homosexuality in particular, he does not address how to identify the underlying conflicting worldviews, the research questions that could be asked, and the practical implications of the gap between the research and the biblical perspective.
On the other hand, the Entwistle writes with clarity, concisely and yet with excellent examples at the beginning of each chapter. Something that I did find of particular benefit, and that I believe offset my second concern quite nicely, was Appendix I. This appendix contains eight stories of individuals who successfully integrated the practice of psychology with Christianity.
Love this book. Balanced, smart, funny, intelligent and readable. Entwistle has done a terrific job of giving us the history of Christianity and how it relates to the development of Psychology. He also manages to give us a fair and humane view of the men of all churches that have opened, skewed, and/or manipulated for their own gain Christianity and Science. What an honor to read. Thanks so much Dr. Entwistle.
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