Why Psychology Needs Theology: A Radical-Reformation Perspective

Why Psychology Needs Theology: A Radical-Reformation Perspective

Why Psychology Needs Theology: A Radical-Reformation Perspective

Why Psychology Needs Theology: A Radical-Reformation Perspective


Why Psychology Needs Theology shows how Christian insights into human nature can be integrated with psychological theory and suggests ways that a basic understanding of faith might positively impact the therapeutic process.

In the first part of the book, Nancey Murphy explores the core assumptions of psychology from the vantage point of her expertise in the philosophy of science. Psychology needs theology and ethics, she argues, to help it address the question of what constitutes a good life. Taking an Anabaptist, or Radical-Reformation, perspective that emphasizes Jesus' vulnerable love for his enemies and renunciation of power, Murphy challenges psychology to take seriously the goodness of self-renunciation.

In the second part of the book, other scholars extend and challenge Murphy's model, discussing such topics as gender and culture. All those who work at the intersection of religion and psychology -- teachers, pastors, specialists, and professional care providers -- will find this exchange fruitful and valuable.


For more than three decades, Fuller Theological Seminary has sponsored an annual lectureship and conference whose express purpose is to encourage creative conversation between our theological convictions and our work as mental-health professionals. This conversation is generally referred to as the “integration” of psychology and theology or the Christian faith. The invited lecturers (see the list on p. xviii), all wellknown scholars in their own right, have ranged broadly over the terrain of possible integration topics, from psychological studies of religious experience to the clinical treatment of emotional stressors from a Christian viewpoint. In 2003 our lecturer was Dr. Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller. Her lectureship was entitled “A Radical Proposal for Integration: Psychology in Dialogue with the Anabaptist Tradition.” Selected for both her awareness of psychological issues and her theological acumen, Nancey presented three lectures, to which a panel of scholars from other institutions wrote responses.

The story of her personal and professional journey provides a meaningful context for her lectures. Nancey was born in Alliance, Nebraska, and for some eighteen years lived on her family’s cattle ranch. (She has said that if someone had only two weeks to live, they should be spent in Nebraska. It would seem like a lifetime.) Not the anticipated son, she nonetheless rode fences, wrestled calves, worked in the hay field, and even broke a few horses (nonviolently, we trust). In terms of religion,

1. We are grateful to the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities for its grant and to Evelyn and Frank Freed for their endowment to Fuller Seminary’s Graduate School of Psychology. These funds made the 2003 Integration Symposium possible.

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