Psychology in Service of the Church

Volume 20
Summer 1992
Psychology in Service of the Church

Don Browning has been a major figure in pastoral theology for a number of years. His most recent major work (Browning, 1987b) is a challenging analysis of and dialogue with the religious dimensions of many of the major modern psychological paradigms that dominate the mental health field. Browning writes from a self-described "€œliberal Christianity or mainline church"€ perspective rather than that of evangelical Christianity. The reader will find this perspective clearly articulated, among other places, in the introductory sections below, where he defines his use of the words "€œchurch"€ and "€œChristian faith."€ Though he writes from a nonevangelical perspective, Browning offers a number of insights for JPT readers into the assets and liabilities that a relationship with the field of psychology offers the Church. His analysis reflects a depth understanding of the contemporary view of social science as a cultural phenomenon, one that is founded upon assumptions that are often religious and moral in nature and yet are often poorly articulated. He discusses the often unrecognized ways in which the Church contributes to psychology by being a "€œcarrier"€ of the moral and religious views of persons that undergird the psychologies. In the main section of this article, he develops a cautiously appreciative view of how the psychologies can help the Church in enhancing its understanding of the varieties of human pathologies, in challenging its understanding of human development, in enhancing the Church'€™s effectiveness in promoting healing and growth, and in refining the Church'€™s understanding of ethics. In each of these areas, however, he also expresses concerns about the potential and actual negative impact that the psychologies can and have had upon the church.

Dr. D. Browning
127 - 136
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