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That psychology as a discipline emerged concomitantly with modernity, no one would deny. The theoretical significance of this historical observation is the focus of this special issue. One might argue that psychology as a modern enterprise has liberated us from premodern dogma, arbitrary superstition and antiquated hierarchies. Given its realist epistemology and systematic analysis of human behavior, various authors in this issue would consider modern psychology a gift to the church and to society. However, there is a chorus of voices announcing the demise of modernity and with it the flawed nature of modernist psychology. The beneficence of such modernist values as objectivity, individualism, realism, and secularity is now open to debate. Moreover, new voices heralding a social movement are beginning to be heard. They predict that postmodernity, as a culture, will be more open to spirituality, different epistemologies, and the importance of linguistic differences.

Given these cultural developments, what implications are there for those concerned about issues of faith and culture, confession and profession? It is possible that the implicit structure of a culture so dominates the language of the faith that church and culture are not distinguishable. Then psychology, whether premodern, modern or postmodern, socializes the Christian community into the dominant cultural discourse. One could retreat to a Biblicism that refuses to engage in conversation with any of these social conditions. Various authors in this issue raise questions about the foundationalist epistemology of modernist psychology. Some do not. How has this epistemology shaped the integrative enterprise of the past century? What are the implications of postmodernity for integrative reflections? As its title suggests, this issue of the Journal of Psychology and Theology is focused on the state of integrative research given different social and historical contexts.

We begin this issue with an article by Todd Hall and Steve Porter that proposes integration is a process of achieving unified conceptual truths about human nature from both psychology and theology that could not be provided by each discipline alone. They begin by tracing some important trends in integration theory over the past half century, suggesting that integrative attempts can be divided between those that focus on personal, experiential integration and those that emphasize conceptual unification. If the focus is on conceptual issues then the question is whether one discipline takes theoretical precedence over the other or whether they should be treated as separate but equal. Hall and Porter point out that these conceptually oriented approaches do not, however, directly address the process of how one arrives at unified conceptual truths. Then, utilizing an emotional information-processing model that incorporates the concept of implicit relational knowledge, they seek to bring together these two different models of integration. To arrive at unified conceptualizations requires linking nonverbal emotional (subsymbolic) processing with verbal-conceptual (symbolic) processing. Integration, the authors propose, is permitting the content of different disciplines to germinate in nonverbal emotional processing, thereby facilitating new models of conceptual integration to emerge. They refer to this model as "referential integration" in that it seeks to identify God's truths at an ontological level that stands under the disciplines themselves. In the end they hope for models of integration that reflect a convergence of relational theories, interpersonal neurobiology and emotional information processing.

The next article by Randall Sorenson lists ten issues that emerge in the current integrative literature: whether integration must become (1) more academic; (2) more clinical; (3) more theological; (4) more quantitatively empirical; (5) more sophisticated in its philosophy of science; (6) more sophisticated in incorporating neurobiology; and (7) more attentive to the church and missions, (8) to the underserved, (9) to spiritual warfare, (10) or to contemplative spirituality. As an exercise in prognostication, Sorenson suggests that the direction proposed by individuals engaged in integrative research can be predicted on the basis of their responses to three questions: (1) What did they get their degree in?, (2) Where was it from?, and (3) How do they spend their days now? If the degree is in experimental rather than clinical psychology, the integrator will think the future lies in the former over the latter. If the Christian psychologist's degree is from a secular institution, Sorenson predicts (and provides empirical evidence) that 'integration' will be less important than if they graduate from a religious institution. Even if they do graduate from a program that emphasizes integration, they may in the end embrace or distance themselves from their faith tradition. Finally, if Christian psychologists are engaged primarily in clinical work, the future of integration will be viewed more in terms of therapeutic processes while the academic psychologists may focus more on conceptual integration. Sorenson suggests that an integrative scholar's formative academic community and current practices tend to shape the nature of their integrative perspective.

One of the directions Sorenson predicts is that integration will increasingly emerge more self-consciously out of specific theological traditions, a trend evident in the emergence of such psychological societies in Wesleyan, Reformed, Mennonite, and Catholic traditions. Tradition-sensitive models of integration embodied in religious communities tend to ignore, counter or transform the larger cultural movement called modernity. While the response of the Reformed tradition to culture has strongly shaped integrative discourse in the evangelical community, in this issue Steven Porter examines how interdisciplinary integration emerges from the Wesleyan tradition. He suggests that theological method is at the heart of the integration enterprise and proposes that a Wesleyan theological method has a contribution to make. This method involves four sources of knowledge: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Each is mutually interactive but hierarchically organized. Porter poses three questions: Can we, should we and how should we integrate psychological theories and theological doctrines? Since both disciplines make truth claims about areas of reality that overlap, Porter proposes that we can engage in integration. We ought to engage in integration because all knowledge relevant to a common object of inquiry should be pursued. If theology and psychology both possesses truth about reality, then each should help the other to conceptualize reality aright rather than one undermining the other. He rejects a radical Biblicism because the Bible has examples where extra-biblical sources of truth are condoned and he rejects a reductionistic empiricism because it is self-refuting--it cannot be empirically proven. Porter suggests that Wesleyan theological methodology provides a compelling way of understanding the relation of Scripture to other sources of knowledge: tradition, reason, and experience. Scripture is regulatory over the lesser sources of knowledge. Church tradition serves as a historical consensus or commentary on Scripture but it is not infallible. Reason, the third source of knowledge, clarifies and organizes thought in a sensible manner, provides the logical norms for reasoning, and enables a rational defense of one's convictions. The final source, experience, confirms the truth of Scripture in one's heart and it is in empirical experience we have the epistemological basis for the discipline of psychology. However, theology remains the queen of the sciences and all other 'truths' are subordinate to it.

Recognizing that psychology is very much shaped by modernist assumptions of metaphysical naturalism and scientism, Elizabeth Hall proposes that Christian psychologists must nonetheless be engaged with secular psychology. She assumes a position that accepts ontological realism and objective truth, but with modesty and an epistemological relativism. Integration, she suggests has too often assumed that the audience is the Christian community rather than the academic psychological community. Christians in academic psychology within a secular context are often content with the more modest goal of building psychological knowledge by addressing topics that are religious in nature (e.g. conversion, forgiveness, etc.). Integration in this tradition tends to 'play by the rules' of secular psychology but knows when to challenge them. Because understanding God's role in psychology is easily dismissed in secular settings, Hall therefore reviews the Christian doctrine of providence as a point of departure. However, commitment to a belief in the providence of God precludes positivist epistemology and a narrow scientific methodology that fails to acknowledge God's presence in human affairs. She also rejects a deist model of God's role in human experience and a 'God of the gaps' approach where supernatural explanations are drawn on when naturalistic ones fail. She seeks to avoid an approach where God is simply used as way a of explaining what science cannot explain on the one hand or on the other avoiding the relegation of God to statistical error in our calculations. Hall points out that new information in psychology can be gained from sources other than pure observation and she thinks that value commitments and theological sources can legitimately inform our theory-building.

William Hathaway seeks a 'bridge principle' to integrate different epistemologies. Hathaway begins by delineating the internalist, rationalist justification of knowledge (Descartes) and the externalist, sensory epistemology or 'naturalistic epistemology' (Locke and Reid). He hopes for an externalist psychology that would not be rigidly delimited by a set of methodologies but that would specify a priori what sorts of psychological claims are justifiable. Over time, a set of epistemic standards would emerge in a discipline that would help to make decisions between erroneous truth claims and more reliable knowledge productions. In the end, humans are capable of developing improved accuracy in their knowledge of that which is real. Hathaway believes in a real world created by God and that faithful comprehension of truth about that world is the regulative ideal for knowledge. When applied to clinical judgement, predictions based on external data are more reliable than those what are not. By the same token, clinicians who make clinical judgments that neglect more valid data driven decision-making strategies because of their over-confidence in personal intuition lack the epistemic virtue of humility.

In a move that seeks to include postmodern themes, Hathaway incorporates the hermeneutical tradition into the realist epistemology rather than acquiescing to the relativism implicit in the assumption that statements about 'reality' are social constructions. Integration postures are for Hathaway multiple and include the tension or even fusion of horizons between truth claims generated by the psychological community and that of Christianity. Even if the Christian therapist feels led of the Holy Spirit to engage in a particular intervention, a larger public has the right to know whether it was effective or not. Hathaway sees the primary task of integrative work as the formulation of a rich science that combines the truths available both in contemporary psychology and Christianity.

While some of the authors are cautious about a possible contribution by postmodern psychologies, Cameron Lee applauds the postmodern sensitivity to narrative in both theology and psychotherapy. It is in the web of meanings contained in narratives that the individual actor's reasons for action are justified. Drawing on the family therapy literature he traces the critique of modernist models of therapy and the rise of postmodern approaches. Leaving behind an emphasis on the authority and expertise of the therapist, the field is embracing more egalitarian, not-knowing approaches. Overarching, grand theories of human functioning give way to a focus on the client's more local narrative. He thinks, however, that the emphasis on social construction of reality is incomplete because narrative approaches raise moral and ethical questions which postmodern narrative approaches cannot address. The latter are systemically unable to explore the possibility of an intrinsic human telos or purpose. Narrative theology incorporates the concept of an intrinsic but divinely created purpose that constitutes the perfection of a human life. However, socially constructed understandings of therapy and postmodern ideological commitments preclude this theological possibility. In the end therapists seem (surreptitiously) to privilege some metanarratives to guide and interpret their interventions-which may indeed have a positive clinical impact. For the Christian the Biblical narratives are the teleological context to our lives, are liberating rather than oppressive, and are capable of profoundly shaping our imagination.

Dueck and Parsons argue for a mediating position between modern and postmodern approaches to integration. They argue that precommitments to modernity and postmodernity tend to shape the nature of the language within the disciplines of theology and psychology. Each discourse, modern and postmodern, makes assumptions about epistemological foundationalism, autonomous individuality and the universality of knowledge claims. Interdisciplinary discourse tends to reflect the type of language being integrated so that integrative discourse can be modernist or postmodern in nature. They relativize cultural discourses rather than 'baptizing' one or the other and suggest that both discourses, modern realist and postmodern constructivist, can be useful in integrative reflection. The Gospel can take root in any culture whether modern or postmodern. Hence, they reject the notion that we must choose between modern or postmodern cultures and the correlative integration discourses. They suggest that one need not accept or reject them en toto and encourage a peaceful coexistence. Clients and parishioners appear to function within each culture and negotiate movement between them. Each discourse may limit or expand the way one's faith is expressed and hence those engaged in the integrationist research do well to discern the aspects of these cultures that are consistent with the calling of the Christian psychologist.

In a final essay, Paul Watson seeks to move beyond the modernism--postmodernism divide to a postpost-modernism. In doing so he seeks to remain faithful to premodern Christian traditions, preserve the scientific and democratic social achievements of modernism, and be sensitive to the realities of postmodern pluralism. However, modern psychology has served to make religious ideas more compatible with an individualist and capitalist ethos. Postmodernity rejects all metanarratives and cannot resolve the contradiction of arguing for a radical pluralism while implicitly relying on a metanarrative, a point made earlier by Cameron Lee. Watson turns to French social theorist Rene Girard for guidance in a direction beyond this conundrum. Girard proposes that human sacrifice, i.e., scapegoating controls human desire, creates social solidarity and, in turn, profoundly shapes primitive religions. All human culture is founded on a rationality that justifies the original violence. But, Girard argues, the premodern Judeo-Christian tradition asserts that the Word of God enters human history and replaces human words based on blood with light and love. In his life, death and resurrection, Christ reveals the futility of the scapegoat mechanism. It does not bring peace but only more violence. From this point of view it is biblical wisdom that interprets modern/post-modern philosophy and psychology, not the reverse. Watson follows Girard in proposing an epistemology that is not modernist or postmodern but an epistemology of love. Watson illustrates an epistemology of love with his own model which he refers to as an ideological surround model of the relationship between psychology and religion. An epistemology of love supplies a metaperspective engaging in conversation with a plurality of perspectives without sacrificing Truth and falling into scapegoating the perspectives of others.

As is apparent, this collection of essays represents a range of integrative perspectives on the relationship of modernity to postmodernity. Some lean more toward the modernist epistemological assumptions of objectivity and realism. Others see knowledge as more socially constructed, note the importance of cultural pluralism and difference, and are concerned about the destructive individualism reinforced by modernist cultures. How we engage in embodying our Christian convictions in our practice as psychologists is profoundly impacted by response to these cultural assumptions.


Graduate School of Psychology

Fuller Theological Seminary


DUECK, AL Address: Fuller Theological Seminary, 180 N. Oak-land Avenue, Pasadena, CA, 91101. Title: Professor of Psychology; Degrees: BA, BTh, MA; PhD, Stanford University. Specializations: Integration, Religious psychotherapy, History and Systems of Psychology.

Correspondence concerning this article may be sent to AI Dueck, PhD, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, 180 N. Oakland Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. Email:
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Author:Dueck, Al
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 22, 2004
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Next Article:Referential integration: an emotional information processing perspective on the process of integration.

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