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Introduction to the special section: Scripture and psychology.

The special section on Scripture and Psychology contains four articles that were presented in an earlier form at the Scripture and the Disciplines conference held at Wheaton College in May 24-27, 2004. The event was jointed sponsored by the Wheaton College Faith and Learning Program, the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Center for Theological Understanding, and the Christian College Consortium, with the stated mission of "... offering the opportunity for the Christian scholars across the humanities and social sciences disciplines to dialogue with their colleagues in Biblical and Theological Studies to promote uses of Scripture in scholarship that go beyond simplistic, reductive proof-texting and vaguely thematic appropriations of Scripture." The mission statement for the conference also indicates that this dialogue would ensue within the framework of common evangelical assumptions about the nature of Scripture including "... the trustfulness and final authority of the Bible," and the idea that the "authority of Scripture" can serve a "truly functional" and not merely "nominal" role in Christian scholarship. Finally, conference planners speculated that a richer dialogue between the fields of Biblical/Theological Studies and the other disciplines may "... more profoundly inform biblical and theological scholarship" (Scripture & Disciplines Conference, 2004).

Consistent with these goals, several presentations were delivered by the psychology discipline group. Some or these presentations addressed general topics about the theoretical and methodological role of Scripture in a Christian psychology. Others focused on various applied issues related to the engagement of Scripture and psychological science. I provided a summary of different approaches to relating Scripture and psychological science and evaluated each of these in light of the task of integration (Hathaway, 2005). I concluded my paper by raising five issues which require further attention if Christian psychological scholarship is to take seriously the challenge and calling of engaging the Word of God in our discipline. Hill (2005) discussed the role of Scripture in light of psychology as a science. He compared epistemic differences between the function of Scripture as an authority in Christian scholarship and the epistemological nature of psychology as a science. He described the shifting 'boundary' issues that influence the interface of these two domains of thought and praxis as well as their regnant epistemologies. Van Leeuwen (2005) emphasized the importance of the common hermeneutical observation, contrary to the view of naive literalism, that there is "no unmediated reading of scripture" (p. 2). She then applied this hermeneutic emphasis to the debate between gender egalitarians and hierarchicalists, which is particularly relevant to our work in psychological integration. Garzon (2005) categorized a range of explicit uses of Scripture in traditional clinical settings. He illustrated some of these 'Scripture interventions' with a composite case example based on his clinical and research experience.

Three other presentations were delivered for the psychology discipline group but no papers were available. Collins (2004) described the role of Scripture in a number of non-traditional applications of psychology. Tjeltveit (2004) described the role of applying Scripture to a theoretic-research agenda: if we take seriously the Biblical emphasis on love as a virtue, how might it both inform and be enriched by a variety of integrative perspectives? Johnson (2004) unpacked some implications of the primacy of Scripture for the construction of Christian psychological theories, research and practice.

A number of rich discussions ensued between the contributors and attendees at the event. The general impression that emerged was that the time is right for a more sophisticated engagement between psychology and Scripture. Although integrative psychology has made substantial strides since the founding of the early integration training programs, there is much work to be done in fleshing out an authentic psychological science that is richly and faithfully responsive to the Word of God.


Collins, G.R. (2004, May). Scripture and the non-traditional applications of psychology. Presentation delivered at the Scripture and Disciplines Conference, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.

Hathaway, W.L. (2005). Scripture and psychological science: Integrative challenges and callings. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33(2), 89-97.

Hill, P.C. (2004). Scripture and Christian psychology: Understanding the nature of psychology as science. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33(2), 98-112.

Johnson, E.L. (2004, May). The Primacy of Scripture in Christian psychological theory-building, research, and practice. Paper presented at the Scripture and Disciplines Conference, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.

Scripture & Disciplines Conference. (2004, May 24-27). Mission statement. Retrieved May 15, 2004 from

Tjeltveit, A. (2004, May). Understanding the virtues of love by multiple (Orthogonal? Conflictual?) means. Paper presented at the Scripture and Disciplines Conference, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.

Van Leeuwen, M.S. (2005). Gender relations and the Biblical drama. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33(2), 122-126.


Regent University


HATHAWAY, WILLIAM L.: Address: CRB 161 (Psychology), 1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23464. Title: Professor of Psychogy, Director of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Degrees: MA (Philosophy); PhD (Clinical Psychology), Bowling Green State University. Specializations: Philosophy of Psychology, integration and Christianity, clinical child psychology, psychology of religion

Correspondence concerning this article may be sent to William L. Hathaway, PhD, Psychology (CRB 161), 1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA, 23464. Email:
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Article Details
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Author:Hathaway, William L.
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Date:Jun 22, 2005
Previous Article:Books received.
Next Article:Scripture and psychological science: integrative challenges & callings.

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