President Mouw Addresses the Need for a Christian Psychology
An event sponsored by Fuller’s CAPS chapter focuses on integration
President Richard J. Mouw addressed the question, “Why a Christian Psychology?” at a luncheon sponsored by Fuller’s Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) chapter group and the All-Seminary Council on Tuesday, May 18.
When Fuller established the School of Psychology in 1965, Dr. Mouw pointed out, it was a “step in a direction that was countercultural to the evangelical world.” But now, graduate schools that a few decades ago offered only one psychology course now offer multiple programs in the field. “We’ve seen a mushrooming of subdivisions within the study of human psychology, behavior and interactions,” Mouw described.
Mouw quoted a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay about an age where “a meteoric shower of facts” falls from the sky and wisdom is daily spun, “but there exists no loom to weave it into fabric.” Although Millay penned those words in 1939, they could describe our contemporary state. “But we as Christians believe that there is a loom that weaves,” stated Mouw, referring to Christ and the description of him in Colossians 1:17. “In him all things hold together, and he is the Great Integrator.”
All things may be integrated through Christ, but Mouw emphasized that there are no easy answers in the field of psychology as the thoughts, challenges, and climates keep changing. “We’re walking along a path and the scenery keeps changing, but God’s word is a lamp for our feet,” he said, citing Psalm 119:105. This light reveals the many complexities of this endeavor, and in it we may “discern the contours of our fundamental reality.” Mouw pointed out that, while we must not attempt to create our own reality, we as Christians “are in the business of discovering reality,” and must take seriously the different perspectives of others as we tackle fundamental questions about human psychology together.
Further, by the light of God’s word we may see other people as “works of the Divine Artist.” Human psychology attempts to bring guidance and healing, so “we must be aware of what God says about human flourishing,” said Mouw, so that we have a picture to work toward. In this way, Christian psychology, even more than theology, addresses the “special need we have today for a very practical kind of guidance,” dealing with questions of personal conflict, family systems, emotional traumas and fears.
“So we need a Christian psychology,” Mouw concluded, “along with cross-disciplinary discussions, so we may work toward understanding the will of the Creator as it pertains to human relationships and human flourishing.”