Friday, August 03, 2007

How Psychology Teaches Appreciation of People

Don't worry about me. I'm not becoming a psychological creature, one who chatters on about my steadily rising self-esteem and my considerably improved self-understanding. I plant my flag firmly in theological terrain, and unearth most of my answers from it. However, in the course of lots of reading of psychological material (for my job--psychologists are among the only people in society who talk/care about the well-being of boys), I've found something interesting. Psychologists appreciate people. They like people. They thus teach people to appreciate others.

That sounds bland and silly when I read it, but it's true. Psychologists are generally empathic and interested in people and their problems. At least in their writing, they appear nice and caring. I hadn't read much psychological material previous to my current job, but I have found its tone to be warm and understanding. One can see why people spend tons of money to talk to psychologists. In a hard, bitter world, they care.

Of course, psychology as a secular enterprise is fundamentally flawed. It asserts that man is naturally good. This directly contradicts the biblical view of man, which teaches that man is inherently evil. So psychology--right from the start--gets it wrong. Ironically, though, this flawed presupposition creates a spirit of warmth in many psychologists. Instead of viewing fellow humans in a hostile, unfriendly light, many psychologists view humanity from a compassionate perspective and focus on positive, not negative traits. You pick this up constantly in the writing of psychologists. I've gained much perspective and information on boys from psychological writings as I've attempted to sift the bad from the good, but I've also picked up an appreciation for the unique characteristics and traits of men. This development has surprised me even as it has enlightened me.

So what is the point of all this? Simply this: that we who love the Word should not allow psychologists to be the only group of people on this planet who appreciate the nuances and quirks of humanity. As those created in God's image, those who see all the earth as a theater of God's glory, we should appreciate the interesting, fun, and funny quirks of humanity far more than any humanistic psychologist. We should be marked for our interest in humanity, for our empathy, for our concern for our fellow man. We ought not approach life as the working out of mechanistic laws and assumptions but as the sphere in which personality, truth, beauty, and life meet in a display of God's goodness. We must reject man-centered thinking and any notion of inherent human goodness, but we should embrace a love of people that is rooted in compassion and interest in humanity. The Bible teaches us to do so, but many of us have missed such an approach to life. In that event, how strange--and good--that psychologists, however flawed their thinking maybe, lead us to appreciate, understand, and empathize with our fellow man. It is appropriate that we follow them in this, though we sharply break them in preaching the good news to all men. This, and no self-esteem program, is the only hope they--and we--have.


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12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I did'nt read all of it, but I think the psychologists are getting it right, more so then you and your bible buddy

10:39 AM  

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