Biblical Psychology: A Creative Way to Apply the Whole Bible to Understanding Human Psychology -- By: Jeffrey H. Boyd

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 21:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: Biblical Psychology: A Creative Way to Apply the Whole Bible to Understanding Human Psychology
Author: Jeffrey H. Boyd


Biblical Psychology:
A Creative Way to Apply the Whole Bible to Understanding Human Psychology

Jeffrey H. Boyd

Jeffrey H. Boyd is Chairman of Psychiatry and Chairman of Ethics at Waterbury Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with Yale Medical School. He is also Chairman of the Northeast Branch of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Wayne Grudem, in his Presidential Address at the 1999 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, highlighted the need for biblical theology to address a series of issues that are, for the most part, ignored in our research journals today.1 We need to tell the church what the whole Bible says about vital problems faced by the church. This article, inspired by Grudem’s address, proposes to state what the whole Bible says about human psychology.2

We cannot pour new wine into old wineskins (Matt 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37–38). We must redefine what we mean by “psychology,” or the wineskins will burst and be unable to contain Scripture. In this article the term is defined as the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional aspects of the God-human relationship. This definition encompasses but surpasses the usual definition of “psychology” as the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional aspects of humans.

Someone is likely to object that a discussion of the God-human relationship is theology rather than psychology. The covert, unstated, and erroneous assumption is that psychology is not part of theology. We need to defend our terminology.

I. Defense of Our Use of the Term “Psychology”

There are three reasons why this new enterprise should be named “psychology.” First, the contemporary American idea of “psychology” most closely corresponds with the biblical idea of “cardiology.” In the Bible, thinking, volitional, behavioral, and emotional processes are located in the heart. The word “brain” is never mentioned. The heart is the center of a person, containing the executive functions that direct the entirety. Yet, when we compare American psychology with biblical cardiology, there is one drastic difference. Outside of the tiny world of Christian counseling, the word “psychology” is understood without reference to God. The covert assumption is that humans can be studied and treated, with God relegated to the sidelines, never mentioned nor thought about, and one will be studying the same human as if God were taken into account. T...

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