Christian Psychology: On the Ground and In the Air
I recently completed the year long Centurions program through the Colson Center for Christian worldview. The Centurions program, which was started about 10 years ago by Charles Colson, is essentially a training program in Christian worldview that focuses upon both intellectual and spiritual formation. It was Colson’s desire that Christians seek to affect the culture around them whatever their sphere of influence. Colson, like Eric Johnson, deeply admired Abraham Kuyper, who was well known for saying ““There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”
Having completed this program, I wonder if we sometimes have a tendency to limit our view of Christian Psychology to more traditional helping relationships. It seems to me that as a society, we do a reasonably good job of exploring theological foundations of soul care, understanding spiritual formation, and addressing specific psychological/emotional issues.
However, it also seems to me that psychologists are well positioned to address larger cultural and societal issues. Two examples of this that come quickly to mind are Shannon Wolf’s work in the area of sex trafficking and Phil Monroe’s recent writings regarding genocide. Yet can we push even beyond this to address a broader range of issues?
How can Christian psychology speak to:
- Issues of race and reconciliation brought to light with the recent Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case?
- Issues of gun control and personal freedom brought to light with the Sandy Hook school shootings?
- The proliferation of pornography around the world?
In his book, The Explicit Gospel, Matt Chandler identifies the importance of the “gospel on the ground” and “the gospel in the air.” As Christian psychologists, I think we need a similar understanding of our work. Our ground work—addressing psychological hurts and issues with real individuals—must continue. We need to continue to work to effect change in the lives of people by promoting a distinctly Christian psychology that is biblically informed and scientifically robust. However, we must also apply theological and scientific depth to larger societal issues “in the air” so to speak. A robust Christian psychology will consistently echo Kuyper’s quote above, recognizing that there is no area of life where God’s sovereignty does not prevail.
Jason Kanz is a clinical neuropsychologist at the Marshfield Clinic and editor of Soul & Spirit.