This is where I felt the conflicts between psychology and following Jesus collided (as I explained in part 1). Coe helped me to clarify these issue. At this, I was able to pinpoint my issue: As a Christian can I engage modern progress as a means to knowing Jesus? I am concerned both about getting swept away in modern fads and popular pretty-talk, rather than simply Jesus, as He is. But I am also concerned about missing His leading and work in any discipline where He is present. (Which is all the disciplines, right, since all truth is God's truth).
Years ago, Christians (and/or Catholics) rejected the astronomical discoveries of the earth being round (rather than flat) and the earth going around the sun (rather than the sun around the earth). These discoveries were initially persecuted by Christianity because basic assumptions had been made about God's purpose in designing the earth as flat and center. Yet, in rejecting these theories, Christians also rejected the immeasurable size of the universe, the unimaginable number of stars and galaxies, the complexity of the earth for life, the delicacy of our solar system, quantum physics, and a billion more intricate and amazing pieces of our existence. Hundreds of year later, these things have been integrated into Christian faith, and bring us to worship and awe of God's creativity, power and care. "He upholds the universe by the word of His power", (Heb 1.3) has a vast and deep impact on our minds now that these truths are integrated into our worldview. Would it have been different if historical Christians embraced that discipline originally as a source of knowledge and worship?
And, as I began to think about Psychology, I wondered, "What if the same terrestrial glories and wondrous mysteries that are found outside the earth are comparable to the mysteries and powers within the human being?" I became excited at this notion. It is not wrong to explore the vast reaches of space, and so, it cannot be wrong to explore the interior psychological processes. It becomes wrong when the fullness of knowledge and wisdom that leads to worship is taken out of God's hand and place into mans. "The issue isn't the issue, the issue is control" (a magazine quote that has stuck with me, despite the fact that I've forgotten which magazine or article). It is right for man to explore every inch of God's creation, for God gave us the itch of adventure. But adventure always must lead to worship and a "smaller" view of ourselves (as Dr. Thoennes would say, "Christians are those who revel in their smallness!"). The adventure of placing Psychology within God's creation of the human soul/psyche can and should bring us to worship! We can study God's image within us, with all of its glory and brokenness, and I believe that is pleasing to God.
If you are interested in the way God"s Spirit works within the human spirit, John Coe goes on to present a Pneumatoloical view (Pnema=spirit in Greek) of Psychology in the rest of that essay. Here is a short summary of the article:
Secular psychologies provide incisive yet truncated insight into human personality, psychopathology, health, and development. The clear challenge for the Church is to develop a New Covenant psychology which takes as its starting point the human need, hunger, and capacity for a relationship beyond all that we could ask or imagine, for union with God in community. This destiny is the believer’s gift and challenge from here to eternity. I have provided here only some beginning musings toward this pneumadynamic, Spirit-filled approach to human existence.