Shorter Reviews and Notices -- Taking the Word to Heart: Self and Other in an Age of Therapies by Robert C. Roberts

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Taking the Word to Heart: Self and Other in an Age of Therapies, by Robert C. Roberts. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1993. 315 pp. $16.99 (paper). ISBN 0-8028-0659-7.

Roberts, a philosophy professor at Wheaton College, has written a two-part volume dealing with a Christian critique of contemporary psychotherapy. The first part considers the presumptions of Rogerian, Rational-Emotive, Assertive, Family, Contextual, Jungian, and Kohutian theories. The second part discusses relational themes such as competition, envy, forgiveness, reconciliation, child rearing, and church membership.

In each section, the author evaluates concepts and dynamics from the point of view of classical Christian affirmations. The volume could be considered a Christian amplification and corrective to contemporary secular applied psychology. The book brings together in a systematic form several essays previously published by Roberts in Christianity Today and The Journal of Psychology and Theology.

At first blush, the chapters appear a bit wooden and overdrawn, especially in the first section where Roberts critiques various psychotherapies. Yet, once the reader adopts Roberts's frame of reference, the argument procedes with thoughtfulness and sound analysis. Some readers may be a bit uncomfortable with Roberts's bold presumption that he speaks for "Christianity." However, I believe that, did he hold the title of pastoral theologian rather than philosopher, there would be little argument that he does, indeed, depict accurately the sociodynamics of what Christian living means from a pragmatic point of view. …