Psychology and Faith

When I went to a secular grad school for counseling I asked my advisor if my Christian beliefs were going to be disregarded.  He said “no”, that I was free to express my beliefs in context with the discussions. I told him I intended to be a Christian counselor from a clergy perspective and forego state mental health licensure.  He said whether I counseled from a biblical or secular perspective, the principles are the same.  He told me to “take from this program what you believe is helpful and compatible with your beliefs, and set the rest aside.  God will guide you to know what you need for what He’s called you to do.”   I loved him for that perspective!

“A great deal of discourse in Christian academic, discipleship, and counseling circles concerns the relationship of the Bible to psychology. People ask whether the two deal with different areas of life (spiritual versus emotional), whether the two are parallel disciplines, and whether one or the other is unnecessary for helping people grow so that we can make do with only one of them.
I believe that the Bible teaches everything that people need to grow. All the principles and truths necessary for spiritual growth and for relating to God and others, maturing, and working out personal issues and problems have been provided. God did not begin maturing people only in 2021. He has been leading, healing, and growing his flock ever since he created us. This is why we view all personal growth as spiritual growth, whether it be religious, emotional, relational, or behavioral. I don’t see psychology and the Bible as two equal disciplines that should be blended together. Psychology always bends the knee to the Scriptures.
At the same time, although all the processes of growth are in the Bible and it is a complete guide to spiritual growth, psychology can and does assist. Sound research and theory can serve to illustrate and support the realities of Scripture. People in the behavioral sciences observe people and come to conclusions about what motivates them, how problems develop, and how to solve them. These conclusions are not based on the Bible, but they are based on observations about the way people operate as dictated by rules taught in the Bible.
For example, the Bible teaches that we need each other, that life is not at its best when we are isolated: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). Psychologists have reached the same conclusions, that people who do not have healthy, deep relationships are at increased risk for emotional and medical problems.”
     – Dr. HenryCloud

Psychology’s sound research and theories have been very helpful in dealing with people’s problems, but they actually only serve to illuminate and support the principles of growth and healing that have always been in the Bible.