Psychology, Psychiatry and the Pastor Part I: Relationships between Psychiatry, Psychology, and Religion -- By: Basil Jackson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 132:525 (Jan 1975)
Article: Psychology, Psychiatry and the Pastor Part I: Relationships between Psychiatry, Psychology, and Religion
Author: Basil Jackson


Psychology, Psychiatry and the Pastor
Part I:
Relationships between Psychiatry, Psychology, and Religion

Basil Jackson

[Basil Jackson, Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Lutheran Hospital of Milwaukee, Professor of Pastoral Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.]

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles entitled “Psychology, Psychiatry, and the Pastor,” which were the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures given by Dr. Basil Jackson at Dallas Theological Seminary, November 5–8, 1974.]

The importance of the close relationship which exists between religion and the behavioral sciences has long been recognized and, within recent years, more and more emphasis has been placed in this area. Man has always attempted to make some sort of sense out of his environment and out of reality and this also happens to be one of the very important functions which religion fulfills. Religion attempts to give some degree of constancy to the ever-changing vicissitudes of life by extracting some degree of meaning and by relating them to a God whose chief characteristic is, “I am the Lord, I change not.”

Most discussions on the topic of psychology and religion appear to beg the real question because of a vague and nebulous use of the word religion. As Clark has clearly pointed out in The Psychology of Religion, the word religion is extremely difficult to define.1 He points out that this is because religious experience is inward and subjective and because religion is highly individualized, each person reading his own experience into the word.

However, the essence of religion from a biblical viewpoint is the relationship of man to God. Etymologically the word religion is derived from the Latin verb religare, which means “to join.” It

contains the root of the anatomical term ligament, which is something that joins one structure with another. Religion, in this sense, is thus concerned with the process of the “joining,” or rather the “rejoining” of man to his God, whatever this may be construed to mean. That such definition is essential can be demonstrated by considering some of the uses of the word religion. Jung, for example, uses it in the sense of man and his reunion with his personal and transpersonal unconscious. Fromm, on the other hand, uses the word in the sense of man rejoining his fellowman within a social matrix. Freud often uses the word in a manner which implies the union and disunion of man and his projections. As previously emphasized, we will attempt to use the word in what we consider to be the biblic...

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