Type the phrase “who is jesus Psychology” into a search engine. I just did. Of the first 10 sites listed, 5 condemned psychology as “psycho-heresy,” “psychobabble,” or “the most deadly form of modernism to ever confront the Church.” The other sites accept psychology as an important academic discipline, consistent with a Christian worldview, and worthy of study. The Internet reflects that psychology is one of the most controversial and divisive academic subjects among Christians today.
What does that mean for homeschoolers? Some Christian homeschoolers accept psychology wholesale, some reject it entirely, and some wrestle with which aspects to accept and which to reject. This article suggests that whatever you believe about psychology, the time to address academic psychology is BEFORE your student leaves home for college.
If your student goes to college, there is an excellent chance he/she will take an introductory (at least) psychology course. Most medical schools, liberal arts colleges, seminaries, and teacher’s colleges require students to have some exposure to psychology. Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors at public and Christian colleges and universities. College enrollment in psychology courses outpaces every other scientific discipline.
Christian students are often ill prepared to confront the criticisms of Christianity and the anti-Christian worldview presented by modern psychology. The material taught in introductory psychology courses WILL challenge their worldview. University level instruction in modern psychology is generally atheistic and humanistic. Psychology departments often are home to the most anti-Christian intellectuals on college campuses. As a group, psychology professors have high levels of agnosticism, skepticism, and atheism. The psychology professor is unlikely to be sympathetic to your child’s Christian worldview and may attack their faith as unscientific, irrational, prudish, exploitive, controlling, inhibitive, oppressive, and naïve.
If psychology is fraught with such danger, shouldn’t Christian homeschoolers reject it completely? Maybe. But isn’t the humble investigation of all of God’s creation part of what it means to love God with one’s mind? Do Christians, and by extension Christian homeschoolers, have a duty to explore all of God’s creation? Does that duty to explore extend to His grandest creation; Mankind? Does that duty extend to Mankind’s mind? Though the conflicts between modern psychology and a Christian worldview are many and perilous, it may be a mistake for Christians to completely reject the study of psychology.
The bottom line is this. Beginning with Darwin’s Origin of Species, all sciences, including psychology, underwent a transformation. Scientific data were interpreted in ways to exclude supernatural beliefs. Darwinian evolution imposed itself on the Christian understanding of life (biology) and then tried to exclude anything Christian. Darwinian evolution imposed itself on the Christian understanding of Man (psychology) and then tried to exclude anything Christian.
The study of the soul, the mind, the brain, and behavior (psychology) are right and proper for Christian homeschoolers. The goal of Christian education, in biology, physics, theology, chemistry, and in psychology, is to understand God’s creation and, in the words of Johannes Kepler, to “think God’s thoughts after Him.” Christians have a duty to assert the Christian worldview in academia and Christian homeschoolers have an opportunity to lead that effort. The involvement of homeschoolers in the study of psychology is an integral part of that effort.
Now browse your favorite homeschool catalogue. Count the number of biology, physics, history, and chemistry texts (and every other academic discipline) written from a Christian perspective. Lots right? Now count the number of psychology texts. Zero right? This article suggests that the absence of material for Christian homeschoolers to study psychology is a function of those critics referenced in the opening paragraph.
Those who condemn psychology cast their nets too wide. Those on the web and in Christendom who criticize psychology are generally critical of “counseling” psychology. The criticisms may be correct, but psychology is much more than counseling. It is not the purpose of this article to evaluate the criticisms of counseling psychology.
Many critics seem to be thoughtful God-fearing Christians. But painting the entire discipline with the same brush used to paint counseling psychology causes many Christians to shy-away from the whole field. The study of the mind, memory, emotions, learning, development, sensation, neurons, and all the other topics that comprise psychology, is right, proper, and important for Christian homeschoolers.