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Remembering H. Newton Malony: Pastor, Psychologist, and Integration Pioneer

Henry Newton (Newt) Malony, Jr., was promoted to Heaven on August 10, 2020. He was 89. Dr. Malony was an Emeritus Professor of Psychology who served for 46 years on the faculty of Fuller’s School of Psychology (1969- 2015). During that time, he advised countless dissertations, authored or co-authored over eighty scholarly journal articles, and wrote, co-authored or edited over 50 books. A prodigious scholar, his work was cited by thousands of authors, and he also reviewed many books by other scholars for various publications. His most recent volume (co-edited with Dr. Edward Shafranske), Early Psychoanalytic Religious Writings (in press, Brill), is forthcoming.

Newton was born on May 17, 1931 to Amie (Milligan) Malony and Henry Newton Malony, Sr., and he grew up in the west end of Birmingham, Alabama. His father—who went by Henry—was a contractor whose many projects included several buildings around the Birmingham area that are still in use today.  Tragically, when Newton was only six years old, his father died.  Growing up under his mother’s care, Newton did well in school, and he earned a National Methodist Youth Scholarship that enabled him to attend Birmingham-Southern College. Years later, in 2013, his alma mater honored Newton as a Distinguished Alumnus.

While in college, Newton met his future wife, Suzanna. A year after earning his AB from Birmingham-Southern, they wed in 1953. While Suzanna completed her senior year at BSC, Newton held various jobs to support the young couple. Thereafter, they moved to Connecticut, where Newton earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 1955. He was ordained as a Methodist minister and returned to Alabama to serve as a pastor. He did so full-time for four years and part-time in various locales for another 11. During this time, he also supervised theological students from Vanderbilt Divinity School while serving as chaplain at a county psychiatric hospital (1959-1961). This chaplaincy reflected his growing passion for psychology. In 1959, Malony became a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at George Peabody College (now Vanderbilt University), where he obtained his M.A. (1961) and Ph.D. (1964). After graduating, while continuing to work part-time as a pastor, Dr. Malony became the Director of Psychology at Frankfort State Hospital in Kentucky (1964-1965). Thereafter, he served as Professor of Psychology, Chairman of the Department of Psychology and Sociology, and Director of Counseling Service at Tennessee Wesleyan College (1965-1969).

In 1969, Dr. Lee Edward Travis (founding Dean of the fledgling SOP, established only four years earlier) recruited and hired Dr. Malony to the faculty as an Associate Professor and Director of Church Consultation Services. In 1977, Malony was promoted to Full Professor and became Director of Programs in the Integration of Psychology and Theology, a position that he held until 1992. In 1996, he transitioned to Senior Professor status and continued to chair dissertations, advise students, and remain active in writing and publishing. In 2001, he transitioned to Emeritus Professor but did not fully retire until 2015—and in truth—he did not ever fully retire, as his forthcoming edited volume with Dr. Shafranske readily demonstrates.

Dr. Malony’s appointment in 1969—together with two of his colleagues—helped enable Fuller’s School of Psychology to receive its initial accreditation from the American Psychological Association in 1972. His areas of expertise included transactional analysis, clinical psychology, psychology of religion, integration of psychology and theology, religious tolerance, and human sexuality. His ongoing lifelong occasional service as a Methodist minister (with memberships in both the Pacific and Southwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church) reflected his pastor’s heart. This was also evidenced by his many years of private psychotherapy practice as a licensed psychologist from 1969 to 1991, helping those with various psychological and/or spiritual concerns.

Dr. Malony’s accomplishments went far beyond teaching, a vocation he held dear. In addition, he (together with Dr. Hendrika Vande Kemp) wrote Christ in the Heart of Psychology: The Early Years of Fuller Seminary’s School of Psychology (1996), documenting the School’s founding and first decade under the Deanship of Dr. Lee Travis. Dr. Malony was instrumental in founding Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) of the American Psychological Association (APA). He was also co-founding editor (together with L. B. Brown) of the International Journal of the Psychology of Religion in 1991, a journal that continues to expand the global footprint of the psychology of religion today. His many journal articles have appeared in journals including the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Review of Religious Research, the Journal of Psychology and Theology, and the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. He also served as a contributing editor to at least eight scholarly journals and served on the California Psychological Association Ethics Committee. He was a past President of APA Division 36, the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (International), and the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (Western Region).

During his career, Dr. Malony received a dizzying number of honors. He was a Fellow in APA Divisions 12, 26, 27, 36, and 52; a Fellow in the American Psychological Society, a Diplomate (Clinical Psychology) in the American Board of Professional Psychology; and a  Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He received Fuller’s consummate teaching award, the C. Davis Weyerhaeuser Award (1987), and he was the featured speaker for Fuller’s 1996 Integration Symposium. He received the Distinguished Member Award (1987) from the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (Western Region). He also received the William C. Bier Award for contribution to the Applied Psychology of Religion (1987) and the Distinguished Member Award (1999), both from APA Division 36.

Whereas Psychology and pastoral ministry were his two vocational foci, the Reverend Doctor Malony had many other interests. He played the oboe in several community orchestras, including one in Pasadena. He was an avid backpacker and hiker for many years. He also loved restoring antique cars. This last hobby was ironic, given that his preferred transportation to Fuller for decades was a bedraggled little pickup truck. Like a favorite pair of worn-out shoes, it seemed barely functional—held together only with rust and Pastor Malony’s apparent faith in some future restoration! Newt was also a family man, and he and his beloved wife Suzanna were foundational pillars in the School of Psychology as well as generous benefactors in multiple ways. For example, consistent with a lifelong commitment to fighting racism, they created the H. Newton and Suzanna Malony Scholarship for ethnic minority students in the School of Psychology, which will continue to help deserving students achieve doctoral degrees.

His wife, Suzanna, left for Heaven several years ago, and Newton missed her greatly. Their reunion is doubtless a cause for great Heavenly celebration, including music and square dancing—both of which they enjoyed together for years. They are survived by three sons, Larz, Allen, and Michael; seven grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren.

Throughout his psychology career, Dr. Malony focused on teaching the integration of psychology and theology, using what he called the three P’s: principles, profession, and person.  Dr. Malony is credited with being a major force behind the development and stability of the School of Psychology over his many years of service. Newton Malony, M. Div, Ph.D. will be remembered as a caring minister and serious scholar who pursued an integrated life of faith and science. He was a professor, mentor, and clinical psychologist with a pastor’s heart. As those left behind grieve his departure, they can rejoice, knowing that Dr. Malony’s ongoing legacy includes a tremendous influence on many faculty and hundreds of Fuller SOP students who will continue to follow his lead in placing the cross in the heart of psychology.