In previous years of counseling ministry, many conservative Christians in the Christian circles have ignored psychology and considered it to be incompatible with God or theology; however, the scholarship in previous years has increased making some of them including the liberals to study psychology in the light of biblical revelation and wisdom. Psychology in itself is not a bad word; ignorantly, some who do not have interest in this subject and have considered it to be evil have treated it indifferently. Though psychology is not a bad word; however, many hybrids have sprung up secularly in both liberal Christianity and non-Christian world to undermine the scriptures; therefore, Christian psychologists should be mindful in identifying the erroneous doctrines and approach to Christian psychology and Christian psychotherapy. The Christian psychologists should also be mindful to consider faith, spiritual things, and the boundaries set in integrating psychology with God or the Christian faith. In this hand-out, psychology is defined piece by piece in English and Greek equivalence in connection with counseling or counselor including the five views (Johnson, Psychology & Christianity Five Views).
The word ‘Psychology’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘psche’ meaning the mind, soul, or spirit and ‘logos’ meaning discourse or to study. In this light, psychology is the study of the mind, soul, or spirit. Since psychology is the study of the mind, soul, or spirit, it will be impossible to be in reality or discern this entity (spirit, soul, or mind) without being in the spirit; for this reason, secular psychologists cannot do well in solving human problems because some have divorced the idea of God’s existence or spirit. Such secular psychologists like behavioral psychologists who have adopted naturalism, empiricism, or human autonomy without God cannot do well in solving human problems in the counseling field because they do not believe in God or miracle (atheism). Below are the English and Greek equivalences for psychology, psychotherapy, counseling, and counselor.
ENGLISH GREEK EQUIVALENCE
In the counseling ministry, psychotherapy is the treatment of the mind, soul, or spirit. Since counseling is the psychotherapy and many psychological hybrids have sprung up as the result of ideologies, it is difficult to give a clear cut definition for counseling due to various ideologies, practices, and beliefs; nevertheless, counseling is defined in the Christian circle as giving wise advice or counsel using the Bible (Nouthetic Counseling).
In Christian counseling, the Christian psychologist depends on the Holy Spirit coupled with clinical experience for effectiveness in dealing with psychopathology to provide therapeutic remedy for the clinical and spiritual functioning of the clients through counseling, prayer, or referral systems. The Greek word for one who is called as one’s aid (the Holy Spirit) is paraleotos (paraklhtos). Parakletos refers to the Holy Spirit in scriptures (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1). In Christian counseling, the Holy Spirit must be the center, the leader, and the revealer of the things the counselee is facing. The Symboulos (human counselor) must listen to the Parakletos (the Holy Spirit)to discern the problems the client is facing in order to give remedial approach to the situation prevailing.
THE FIVE VIEWS
Levels of Explanation View (David G. Myers): This view believes that ideologies should be tested humbly using various disciplines or field of knowledge such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, theology etc in order to get to core of the problems faced by humanity because each of these studies complements each other in order to get to the core of the human problems. Discipline, rigorous inquiry such as checking our theories against reality is part of what it means to love God with our minds (Johnson, pp. 50–51).
The Integration View (Stanton L. Jones): This view believes that in order to answer the ultimate questions of humanity (Where do we come from,? What are we,? and Where are we going?), both psychological science and professional practices are shaped and modeled by the answer to such ultimate questions and since God has given us answers to such ultimate questions through his gracious intervention in human life, science and psychology should be integrated in answering these questions because our answers to such questions are fragmentary. Integrationist believes that the Christian psychologist should draw on the resources of God’s answers to these ultimate questions as the foundation both how we engage the science of psychology and how we structure our practice in the profession of psychology. What matters ultimately is not the word ‘integration,’ but what the term summarizes–the complex understanding and commitment to living out our faith with integrity (Johnson, pp. 103).
The Christian Psychological View (Robert C. Roberts & J.P Watson): This view believes that since the therapeutic orientation of Greek and the Hellenistic ethics and psychology has become evident along with the striking similarities between some of the ancient and modern therapies and psychology as a distinct discipline dealing with the careful observation and reflection about human’s psychie well-being and dysfunctions and how to go about promoting the former and correcting the later for the past twenty-five years ago or more, the concept of human’s psychie is essentially contested; therefore, the kind of questions that can be settled to everyone’s satisfaction independently of metaphysical, moral, and religious commitment cannot be settled by purely empirical method of research or scientific investigation. It must be answered biblically.
The Transformational Psychology View (John H. Coe and Todd W. Hall): This view believes in an attempt to both rediscover and to redesign the traditional way of thinking of psychology in relationship to Christianity. The bottom line is doing science with psychology in the act of love within the context of the history or tradition of psychology, in the spirit, psychology grounded in reality, reality known by faith, realities observable to all and those realities known by faith, psychology that is both descriptive and prescriptive in attending to human problems.
The Biblical Counseling View (David Powlison): This view believes that the Christian faith and the Christian ministry resonate with psychological and psychotherapeutic impacts in ministering to the human problem considering various psychological levels (how one works, detailed knowledge of human functioning, competing theories of human personality, practical application to psychotherapy, a system of professional and institutional arrangements, and a mass ethos). The Christian faith is a psychology in exactly the same way that it is a theology. True knowledge of people and true knowledge of God correlate. This is the fundamental assumption of scriptures. Actual psyches love God or something else (Johnson, pp. 248) (Col. 3:23–24, Ps 23:3).
Johnson, Eric L. Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press), 2000.