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Psychology & Spiritual Formation

2013-2014 Research Theme: Psychology & Spiritual Formation (sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation)

Is psychology biblical?

Throughout history, Christians have sought to understand the emotional, relational, cognitive, and developmental issues that arise in human life. Modern psychological sciences offer a different approach to understanding these same aspects of humanity. But is psychology consistent with the teaching of Scripture? What does the bible teach about human psychology?

What can psychology teach us about spiritual transformation?

In recent years, empirical psychological studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of spiritual practices to transform lives and promote flourishing. What do these studies suggest about Christian spirituality? What theoretical models of integration are available to make sense of the data?

What is the relation between spiritual and psychological health?

Can you be spiritually mature and mentally ill? How can theory in psychology and spiritual formation aid in our understanding of what it is to be healthy in mind and spirit? What insight can be gained from perspectives on the use of psychopharmacological drugs and psychotherapy?

How do mindfulness practices inform Christian prayer/meditation?

Mindfulness is a concept found in ancient Buddhist thought; and Christians throughout the history of the Church have practiced various forms of contemplative practices. Today, psychologists and psychiatrists have been interested in how mindful awareness and contemplation can promote mental health and flourishing.

How does positive psychology contribute to a Christian understanding of human flourishing?

A growing body of research suggests that focusing on positive human functioning and behavior can increase happiness and personal thriving. How does this research correspond to distinctively Christian approaches to human flourishing and happiness?

What can developmental psychology tell us about human nature, development, and the stages of spiritual growth?

Developmental psychologists think about the patterns and norms of human growth and maturity. What does spiritual transformation look like through the lens of normal human development? How are these developmental and transformational processes related?

What can psychology teach us about sanctification, sin, virtue, and vice?

We often think of personal growth in moral terms. Are we developing more virtues? Succumbing to fewer vices? How might psychological insight help us to understand the differences between spiritual and moral categories?

How can Christian theology help us understand human spiritual and psychological growth?

What are the distinctives of Christian spirituality and theology? Specifically, what resources can we find in Christian spiritual theology for understanding human nature, human growth and development, moral improvement, and spiritual transformation?

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