Psychiatry Section Blog


Presentation and Discussion from Annual Meeting

September 29, 2016

by Brian Briscoe

“Psychology and Christianity: Five Views”
A stimulating presentation by Eric Johnson, PhD, and the subsequent discussion during our 2016 Annual Meeting Banquet Dinner

One of the primary purposes of our Annual Meeting each year is to explore the variety of ways in which faith might influence the field and science of psychiatry and psychology.

As all of us are aware, the influence of faith (and the degree to which it can/could influence) the study and practice of psychology and psychiatry has been a topic of debate for years. Likewise, as psychology and psychiatry have gained credibility over the past century, the Christian church has wrestled with how to utilize knowledge gained from the behavioral sciences while simultaneously retaining its core beliefs.

We invited Eric Johnson, PhD (psychology), Professor of Pastoral Care at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, to serve as our banquet speaker during our annual meeting. A nationally recognized and highly sought-after speaker, Dr. Johnson is well known in the field of Christian psychology and Christian counseling. He is associate editor of Psychology and Theology, and he has authored a number of books that address the extensive variety of viewpoints within the modern day evangelical church regarding the way psychology/psychiatry and faith might interact with one another. (See below for a more detailed biography of Dr. Johnson.)

During his talk to our group, Dr. Johnson provided an overview of five views various groups of Christians tend to hold towards the integration of faith and psychology/psychiatry, ranging from strict separation of religious belief from the “science” of psychology to the “Scripture alone” view of some biblical counselors, as well as a variety of views between the two extremes.

Engaging and informative, Dr. Johnson’s talk stimulated rich discussion and dialogue among those who attended—discussion that went on for hours into the night after he concluded his presentation.

If you were not able to make it to the meeting this year, Dr. Johnson’s talk is available online. Consider taking some time over coffee one morning to watch it—it will be well worth your time.

Please note that our group is intended to serve as a safe environment in which we can explore the various ways in which faith may impact and influence our practice and our field. Our CMDA Psychiatry Section does not endorse one particular “view” that is presented within this video over another “view.” Members within our group represent a variety of perspectives, all of which are valued and respected. Please visit for section news, blogs, conference information and registration and more.

Before coming to Southern, Johnson taught courses in psychology, theology and Christian worldview at Northwestern College in Minnesota for nine years. He has contributed to numerous articles in the field of Christian psychology, arguing for the necessity of theology in counseling and psychological research. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, and in 1998 he was editor for a special issue of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, entitled “Psychology within the Christian Tradition.” He authored articles for the Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling and has co-edited and contributed to two books: Christianity and Psychology: Four Views and God Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents God. He has also written Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal. His book Psychology and Christianity: Five Views can be found online.

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