For the integrationist, scripture has not provided an exhaustive understanding of the human person, and the psychologist can therefore engage in such science within the parameters of scripture. According to Stanton Jones,
“Integration of Christianity and psychology (or any area of “secular thought”) is our living out – in this particular area – of the lordship of Christ over all of existence by our giving his special revelation – God’s true Word – its appropriate place of authority in determining our fundamental beliefs about and practices toward all of reality and toward our academic subject matter in particular.”
Jones wants to dispel the idea that integration refers to something like the artificial mixing of two otherwise incompatible ideas. As an undergrad, Jones was struck by the moral and religious components of human existence were neglected by his psychology peers. They tended to engage in a reductionistic account of human experience as “nothing but the basic constituent elements of human behavior (nothing but operant learning, or neurons firing, or cognitive processing).”
“In grappling with these conflicts early on, one line of advice I encountered was to keep my religious faith and my engagement with science separate. The university environment, overall, communicated a powerful message that “facts” and “values” were separate and noninteracting acting realities; science dealt with facts but religion with values. “So relax,” I was told. “Though those two perspectives seem to conflict, they really are nonoverlapping, distinct perspectives that provide complementary snapshots of the human condition. Science is about facts and religion about meaning. Just keep the two views separate and live with the tension, and you will have an enriched, multifaceted portrait of the human condition.” Somehow, this advice did not sit well.
Science and Christianity are not, as Stephen Gould or Ludwig Wittgenstein might have us believe, non-overlapping magisteria. They constitute two elements of reality, with the possibility of the conclusions of one being mutually exclusive with the claims of the other.
Jones says that he read Jay Adams, who insisted that the presuppositions of secular psychology were incompatible with those of Christianity. Adams was particularly critical of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who insisted that humans were basically good, provided they were socialized correctly. Obviously, such conclusions are incompatible with an orthodox Christian worldview.
To his credit, Adams is to be commended for emphasizing, along with David Powlison, that everyone has worldview presuppositions, including psychologists, and it is of the utmost importance that the Christian psychologist come to the table with his worldview presuppositions of the truth of the Bible, and interpret all data and “facts” in light of this.
Nonetheless, he reports having been disillusioned by Adams’ response when Jones asked him about studying psychology. Adams advised Jones to drop the major, believing that the Bible did not necessarily contain the answers to every conceivable situation. Jones reports having been troubled by the idea that psychology and Christianity provide complementary truths, with psychology picking up where the Bible leaves off and stops providing answers. Nevertheless, he insists that he found valuable data among non-Christian schools of psychological thought.
He reports that his thought was revolutionized in reading Gary Collins’ “The Rebuilding of Psychology,” in which he encourages Christians to engage rebuild psychology from a fundamentally Christian perspective.
Eric L. Johnson. Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (Spectrum) (Kindle Locations 1160-1162). Kindle Edition.