Whatever happened to integration?
By Paul Jones and Ron Wright
Confession time. Much of the literature on the “integration” of psychology and Christianity that we read ends up leaving us dissatisfied. While this perhaps can be marked up to our joint neurotic and critical tendencies, we wonder if there might be other factors at work. Our experience of frustration and dissatisfaction is perhaps similar to that of a conversation where people talk past each other or in parallel to each other. Like conversations where this dynamic occurs, it seems like getting to know the particularity of the other person (and ourselves) assists in creating a more rich, thick, dynamic conversation. We want to suggest that perhaps this type of dynamic is also needed within the larger field of integration. That is, perhaps the process of "integration" begins through a confessional stance of owning one's particularities and peculiarness. To be more specific, we wonder if coming to grips with our (and others’) epistemological, psychological, and theological assumptions might provide a way to enrich and deepen conversations around the relationship of theology and psychology.
In the first part of this series we will begin to address issues of epistemology by asking the questions: Which reality? Whose knowledge? We envision these questions as inviting dialogue around how we know what is “out there” and the differences between an epistemology influenced by modern, Enlightenment notions of truth, versus an epistemology influenced by postmodernity, constructionism, and hermeneutics.
Throughout this series we want to address these issues more fully and to invite responses into this dialogue. So join in! Perhaps it is time for all of us to become more confessional.
P.S. Whatever happened to integration? will also be the theme of the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Psychology and Wesleyan Theology (SSPWT) in March 2012 in Nashville, TN. Stay posted for more information!