Revisiting the Issue of Influential Sources in the Integration of Psychology and Theology: More Than a Decade Summary

Article excerpt

Roberts Wesleyan College

Building upon the work of Jones, Ripley, Kurusu, and Worthington, Jr. (1998), we identified the most influential books and articles within the integration literature in 1985-1994, 1995-2004, and 2005-2010. We tallied references within the Journal of Psychology and Christianity and the Journal of Psychology and Theology and identified trends. There were differential citation rates across the three time periods for both articles and books. Consistently, the most frequently cited works were cited less often in the first time period compared to the following time periods. The number of edited volumes and sensitivity to knowing and doing integration well have both increased. Psychodynamic theory provided fertile soil for the growth of integration. The growing interest in forgiveness has been reflected within the integration literature. Mainstream psychology has increasingly applied spiritualities to practice. Finally, the emotional atmosphere on the boundaries of psychology and Christianity seems to have undergone some change.

Just as recognizing directionality is critical to grasping the essence of a map, so is recognizing the influential books and articles within a discipline critical to grasping the essence of that discipline. If the discipline is cooking and "everyone who is anyone" within that discipline is talking about the methods and style of Julia Child, then we know that the French have had a profound effect upon food preparation. In similar fashion, if "everyone who is anyone" within the discipline of the integration of psychology and theology is citing certain articles and books, then the pattern of those citations may say something important about the process and the progress of integration.

Essentially, such an effort involves an attempt to see the "big picture" within a discipline. However, counting citations is not the only way to grasp this "big picture." For example, a special issue of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity (Kauffmann & Hill, 1996) provided several essays on the past, present, and future of integration. In addition, there have been special issues of the Journal of Psychology and Theology on the implications of modernity and postmodernity for the integration process (Dueck, 2004), the role of Scripture in a Christian psychology (Hathaway, 2005), and philosophical issues relevant to the process of integration (Nelson & Slife, 2006). On a more personal note, a book was recently published (Moriarty, 2010) in which 12 leaders within the integration movement shared their struggles and insights regarding the integration process. And then there is Psychology & Christianity Integration: Seminal Works that Shaped the Movement (Stevenson, Eck, & Hill, 2007), a book that was published to help recognize the 50[th] anniversary of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. The book republishes 33 "seminal" contributions to the integration of psychology and Christianity within the classification system of: (a) historical and theoretical integration, (b) science and faith reconciliation, (c) perspective on personhood, (d) levels and types of integration, (e) models of integration, (f) applied integration, and (g) integrative research.

However, the attempt to get a glimpse at the "big picture" for integration, that provides the foundation for the current effort, was the work of Jones, Ripley, Kurusu, and Worthington, Jr. (1998). The most influential books and articles within the integration literature were identified by considering all references of all articles published between 1985 and 1994 in the journal of Psychology and Theology and the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. The 25 most commonly cited books and the 25 most commonly cited articles were identified and classified. Within this ten year period,

  The most cited book was the Bible, but other highly cited books
  involved controversies, psychology and religion textbooks on
  integration, and classic psychology books. …