Enemies and Spies

Entwistle asserts: “those with whom we disagree often have things to teach us… [we must] ask ourselves what is to be learned and appreciated” from those with whom we disagree. Identify at least 3 things that you appreciate/can learn from those who hold the secular combatants’ or Christian combatants’ versions of the Enemies model.

At present, there are probably around seven billion or so people on Earth. With that many people living here, it is reasonable to believe that not everyone will share the same opinion on any given subject; to assume otherwise would simply be erroneous. With that said, it also means that there is something to learn or appreciate form everyone, even if they hold to different models of integration. While this may not be a recommended integrative model of psychology to hold, it is still one that has influence over a number of conservative Christians, and as their brothers and sister in Christ who happen to be in the 3field of psychology, we owe it to them to develop an understanding of what perspective they are bringing to the table, how to interact with it, and what we can learn from it; this done in humility.

Within the field of psychology and particularly the practice of counseling, one of the biggest goals is to see a client thrive and overcome their mental illness, situation, or learn how to manage it successfully. Simply put, healing, restoration, and growth are the goals. However, sometimes that does not happen; sometimes, as with the case of a suicidal client, they die. This was the case that the pastors of Gospel Community Church faced back in 1980, when one of their young congregants died by suicide after trying to reach out for help from the church and a local doctor (Entwistle, 208, 2015). This resulted in a series of lawsuits from the parents who felt that clergy negligence was to blame (Entwistle, 208, 2015). They believed their son did not receive the best treatment available to him because they told him that his suicidal thoughts were a sin problem as opposed to a mental health problem, in addition to telling him that he would not go to Hell if he died by suicide (Entwistle, 208, 2015). There is a lot that can be said and learned from this case but, ultimately, one of the biggest takeaways from this is that not every client will benefit from the style of counseling offered that stems from our chosen model of integration. In this case, this style of counseling was a direct result of the Christian combatant version of the Enemies model. Here, it was seen that the client did not ultimately benefit from this style. Now, we cannot possibly know what was said in every counseling session or how it was received by the client, but it is known that when someone is suicidal, they are vulnerable to rationalizing, justifying, or even romanticizing suicide. Because of this, it would be wise to be aware of how they might interpret what is said to them. I am not sure on what would have been the best way of phrasing that, though. Regardless, one of the biggest takeaways here was that it might be wise to recognize how our models of integration influence our counseling style; we need to recognize that not every client will benefit from that.

Another observation made in the reading was seeing an example of what happens when someone chooses to build an entire career of this model, refusing to engage anyone who might have a varying view on the merits of psychology or an appropriate way theology and psychology might interact. This was made evident in the text when Mack declared that psychology had nothing to offer (Enwistle, 204, 2015). At the end of the day, one of the hallmarks of a solid faith leader or Christian counselor is the ability to grow as they go deeper on their walk with the Lord and they reflect more of Christ as a result. What is seen in the Enemies model is what happens when people are unwilling to reach across the aisle and have constructive dialogue; they exist in a vacuum, eventually believing that everyone else is simply wrong.

One final thing that can be appreciated from the Christian combatants is understanding that there is a history here between the two fields. In some regards, it is understandable how one might come to the conclusion that psychology is a hallow substitute for what the Bible might offer — there were times when psychologists’ worldviews led them to cast a negative light on Christianity and faith in general, Freud being a prime example. He called it neurotic, saying that it was something that mankind needed to outgrow as religion belonged in the ancient past, not modern 20th-century (Entwistle, 208, 2015). Unsurprisingly, Christians of that era did not respond well to their secular counterparts. With this in mind as a historical backdrop of the 20th-century allows for more understanding as to why this model developed and what may have led to it catching on among conservative Christians.

At the end of the day, both Christians and phycologists or counselors of all – or no – faiths benefit from the study of models of integration. Of course, to get a better understanding of how they operate and how their beliefs influence the model they hold to, but also to gain an appreciation for how other people have arrived at their chosen models and what we might be able to learn from them as a result.

Enwistle, N. D., (2015). Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity: An introduction to worldview issues, philosophical foundations, and models of integration, 3rd edition. Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon.

Topic: Allies and Transformational Psychology

Question/Prompt: Choose 1 of the  prompts below on which to comment.

Entwistle noted that “theological reflection typically focuses more on God’s workings in the world,” while “psychological reflection typically focuses more on the workings of God’s world.” What implications does this have for the relationship between psychology and Christianity?

Each model of integration has some interpretation of how they interact with the two book concept. That is, one book is the Word of God, and the other is the Work of God (Enwistle, 2015). Each model has their own way of doing so, whether it be holding them at differing value, or rejecting one book all together. The Allies and Transformational Psychology models, however, do not reject with book. In fact, they se them as equal, yet different perspectives on truth, with the understanding that all truth is derived from God (Enwistle, 2015). This is where Enwistle’s observation comes in. Psychology looking to understand more of the working of God’s world reflects the intention to understand one of the books, God’s Work, which also constitutes subject matter such as science, is all about what God has created and how it works. It is not meant to be in contradiction to God’s Word, but they are both meant to be part of the larger story that is being told.

The implications these statements have on the relationship between psychology and Christianity can be found expressed through the integration models of Allies and Transformational Psychology. Each model recognizes that both the Word of God and the Work of God represent two distinctive, yet equal books containing truth. They each interact with this notion on somewhat different levels, though. For instance, the Transformational Psychology model fuses the two books together in the pursuit of oneness while the Allies model looks at the two books as distinct, equal, and providing different perspectives.

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