About the Society
Many people today believe that psychology originated in the 1800’s. However, every developing culture has some understanding of the nature of human beings. If we define psychology simply as the disciplined study of individual human beings, then versions of psychology can be found in many cultures, some rather ancient, and in the great writings of human civilization. Christian psychology began in the Scriptures of the Hebrews and early Christians. Later, Christian thinkers and ministers throughout the ensuing centuries developed many understandings of human beings, using the Bible as a canon or standard for reflection. As a result, the history of Christian thought contains countless works of psychological import that offer the Christian community a rich treasure of insights, themes, and foundational assumptions upon which to ground the project of a Christian psychology.
At the same time, Christians need not assume that our tradition currently contains all of God’s knowledge regarding human beings. On the contrary, we have good reasons to believe that God intends humans to grow in their culture and knowledge, and develop sciences that explore God’s creation. Science is a gift of God, and Christians have been in the forefront of scientific investigation since the inception of the scientific revolution in the West. The problem for Christians in psychology is that the intellectual leadership of the West was changing hands during the very time that scientific methods began to be applied to the study of human nature. As a result, the Christian community in general seemed to lose the interest in science they once had, perhaps recognizing that it was becoming increasingly influenced by modernity that used secular standards for what counts as knowledge. The challenge for Christians interested in psychology in our day is to break free of these intellectual restrictions and learn again to think for themselves, not by retreating into an isolated world that is hostile to the perspectives of others, but by learning how to think in Christian and theocentric terms about God’s creation, while fully engaged in conversation with contemporary culture, science, and technology. Given the legacy of fundamentalism as well as the dominance of secularism in contemporary psychology, we realize this will not be easy.
To develop what we believe will be a more valid psychology, Christian psychologists will look to the Bible and the Christian tradition as orienting guides for our investigations. In addition, we will read, learn from, and interact with the psychological knowledge of other communities (obviously the modern), and, where we can, we wish to contribute to a general body of psychological knowledge that can exist irrespective of communal perspective. In many areas of psychology, no substantial differences will be found between the psychologies of different intellectual communities (e.g., in the more mechanistic aspects of human nature, like neural transmission, memory formation, infant emotional development, and so on). However, we also seek to produce distinctively Christian theories, research programs, and soul-care practice, where appropriate, in areas that are more world-view dependent (e.g., motivation, personality, psychopathology, therapy, and social relations), where a Christian perspective would be expected to yield qualitatively different ways of interpreting human beings. Recognizing and utilizing one’s communal perspectives will likely become increasingly important in the general field of psychology in the future, because of the growing recognition that a community’s world-view assumptions affect not only what we can see in the human sciences, but also the development of the objects under investigation.
We invite you to join us in our dialogue as we seek the leading of the Spirit to guide us to psychological truths. We invite you to join our Society and receive our newsletter, and also to come to our conferences, so that you can become a regular participant in this dialogue.
Mission Statement of the Society for Christian Psychology
The Society exists to promote the development of a distinctly Christian psychology (including theory, research, and practice) that is based on a Christian understanding of human nature.
Amplification of the Mission Statement
A Christian vision of human nature is shaped primarily by the Christian Scriptures, as well as Christianity’s intellectual and ecclesial traditions. However, a Christian psychology will also be critically informed by other relevant sources of psychological truth, particularly its own reflection, research, and practice, but also the psychological work of other traditions (e.g., secular psychology), philosophy, human experience, and the other human sciences. While God’s understanding of human nature is the goal of a Christian psychology, given human finitude and the existence of distinct Christian traditions, the Society welcomes those working from any perspective within the historic Christian Church.
Implementation of the Mission Statement
The Society will seek to advance the development of a Christian psychology by creating opportunities for dialogue and fellowship through its newsletter, website, and conferences, and by encouraging reflection, research, publishing, soul-care, education, and training that are intentionally committed to the realization of a distinctly Christian psychology.
The Statement of Faith of the Society for Christian Psychology
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-Begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light; True God of True God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He arose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; Who spoke by the prophets.
And in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Executive Board of the Society for Christian Psychology
Kathrin Halder, IGNIS, Kitzingen, Germany
David E. Jenkins, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA
Eric L. Johnson, Ph.D., Director, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
Eric Jones, Ph.D., Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA
Bryan Maier, Psy.D., Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, PA
Mike McGuire, Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX
Phil Monroe, Psy.D., Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, PA
P.J. Watson, Ph.D., University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
Board of Reference of the Society for Christian Psychology
Dan Allender, Ph.D., Mars Hill Graduate School, Bothell, WA
John Coe, Ph.D., Institute for Spiritual Formation, Biola University, La Mirada, CA
Larry Crabb, Ph.D., New Way Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO
C. Stephen Evans, Ph.D., Baylor University, Waco, TX
William Kirwin, Ph.D., Private practice, Chester, MD
Diane Langberg, Ph.D., Diane Langberg & Associates, Philadelphia, PA
Werner May, IGNIS, Kitzingen, Germany
Gary Moon, Ph.D., Richmont Graduate University, Atlanta, GA
Robert C. Roberts, Ph.D., Baylor University, Waco, TX
Brent Slife, Ph.D. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah Siang Yang Tan, Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
Paul C. Vitz, Ph.D., Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Arlington, VA
Edward T. Welch, Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA
Richard Winter, M.D., Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO
Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D., Regent University, Virginia Beach, FL