Monday, April 30, 2012

Basically the same?


New poll study from Georgetown University on Millennials  (18-24 year olds) shows where young college aged Americans stand on certain issues like politics, economic views, and social values.  One distinct comment in the study caught my eye that is very alarming.  The study says that the 2000 college students surveyed, nearly 65% of both Christian and non religious affiliated Millennials believe Christianity teaches basically the same thing as other religions (page 32-33 of the study)[1].  There is no evidence to the cause of this belief in this study.  Respectfully, one has to wonder why Peter penned 1 Peter 3:15?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Home Schooling Modestly On The Rise


In the U.S., home schooling has increased substantially from just thousands in the 1970’s. One study looked at the data from 1985 to 2004 on this growing trend stating:  

From 1985 to 1995, the number of home-schooled children grew from 50,000 to between 500,000 and 750,000 (Lines, 2000; Basham, 2001, p. 6). A 1999 survey put the figure at 850,000, representing 1.7% of the student population (http://www.life.ca/hs/USA.html), while a 2003 survey estimated 2.2% of all American students are home schooled (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). Reports of significant upward trends[i]

Brian Ray estimates that there were around 1.2 million home-schooled children. [ii]  Out of all these children, according to a study done by Dr. Lawerence Rudner, whom evaluated 20, 760 home-schooled children in 2000, 94% were white.  6 % were of other minority groups with less than 1% being African American.[iii]  However, more minorities are deciding to educate at home.[iv]

Outside of the US the numbers of students being educated at home or in private schools have increased the past couple of decades. In an international survey of 21,545 families in 11 countries the following numbers came back as a percentage of children being home schooled.    Countries in the poll were China-32%, Finland-7%, Germany-8%, Italy-9%, Nigeria-9%, and the USA-10%.[v]    These polls have their limitations, but the percentages at least suggest that there is a sizeable population of families whom educate their children at home.    Home school in Canada rose 20% between 1995 and 2005.[vi]   In Japan, whose state-run schools do well academically, parents are starting to take their children out of state run schools.[vii]   Home schooling is not just a United States idea, but a multi-country and culture moderate movement that is rising modestly.  


[i] Romanowski, M. H. (2006). Revisiting the Common Myths about Homeschooling. Clearing House, 79(3), 125-129. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

[ii] Lobbying for the Lord: The New Christian Right Home-Schooling Movement and Grassroots Lobbying. Vernon L. Bates. Review of Religious Research Vol. 33, No. 1 (Sep., 1991), pp. 3-17 Published by: Religious Research Association, Inc.  Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3511257

[iii] Bad News for White Supremacists: Home-Schooled Blacks Do Just as Well as Home-Schooled Whites on Standardized Tests. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. No. 28 (Summer, 2000), pp. 53-54. Published by: The JBHE Foundation . Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2678694

[iv] Aurinit and Davies write about the increase in minorities deciding to home school saying, “Homeschooling is no exception within this trend, and is becoming more diverse. Whereas 30 years ago it was dominated by a coalition of religious fundamentalists and experimental ‘unschoolers’ (Knowles, 1988; Wahisi, 1995; Nazareno, 1999; Welner & Welner, 1999; Arai, 2000), a variety of subgroups are now emerging, with very different goals that range from nurturing minority identities, to meeting special educational needs, to simply seeking a superior form of education.” Aurini, J., & Davies, S. (2005). Choice without markets: homeschooling in the context of private education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(4), 461-474. doi:10.1080/01425690500199834

[v] Wanda A R Boyer.  (2002). Exploring home schooling. International Journal of Early Childhood, 34(2), 19.  Retrieved August 20, 2011, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 377021201); Also it should be noted that there are other movements such as in the Netherlands that are pushing for homeschooling as noted in this journal about to be cited. Performance in Home Schooling: An Argument against Compulsory Schooling in the Netherlands / Leistungen im Hausunterricht: Ein Argument Gegen die Öffentliche Schulpflicht in den Niederlanden / Resultats de L'Enseignement a Domicile: Un Argument Contre la Scolarite Obligatoire Aux Pays-Bas / El Rendimiento en la Enseçanza en Casa: Un Argumento Contra la Escolarización Obligatoria en los Países Bajos / ЭффЕКТИ ВНОСТЬ ОБ УЧЕН ИЯ НА: ДОМУ: АР ГУМЕНТ П РОТИВОБЯ З АТЕЛЬНОГ О ШКОЛЬНО ГО ОБРАЗО ВА НИЯВ НИДЕРЛАНД АХ. Henk Blok. International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l'Education. Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 39-52. Published by: Springer . Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4151585
[vi] Aurini, J., & Davies, S. (2005). Choice without markets: homeschooling in the context of private education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(4), 461-474. doi:10.1080/01425690500199834

[vii]Kemble, B. G. (2005). My Parents, My Sensei: Compulsory Education and a Homeschooling Alternative in Japan. Texas International Law Journal, 40(2), 335-351. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Psychology and Theology


Past literature on the relationship between psychology and theology vary on if the two complement one another, can tolerate one another, and are separate, or do not belong in the same room.  “Psychology of Religion” started back in the 19th century using psychology in theology. [i]  Though, Freud thought this was rubbish because he had, according to Livingstone and Cross, a “…critical and reductionist views of religion which he repeatedly expressed no longer command assent either among psychologists or among theologians.”[ii] Others disagreed with Freud though that there was no use for psychology and theology to co-mingle as Cornelius Van Till writes, “There is, for instance, a good deal of discussion in the field of psychology about teleology. McDougal’s teleological psychology is frequently mentioned by apologists who seek to find a similarity between Christianity and recent scientific thought.” [iii]  All in all, since the science of psychology has immerged, the debate continues.  Today, we still ask questions like   what is the relevance of psychology to religion. Can we learn anything from psychology that might help solve theological conundrums?  Can psychology use theology without compromising the scientific method?  The debate continues in current literature.
            Eric Johnson comments on current times when it comes to psychology and theology writing:
Christian interest in psychology has exploded over the last fifty years. Countless books have been written by Christians that describe our personalities, our boundaries, our dysfunctional development, our relationships and their problems, how our children should be raised, and so on.[iv]

Some have embraced this explosion to one degree, while others argue that psychology taints Christian truths as Hindson and Eyrich writes:
The psychologizing of modern culture is now a reality. As a result, the victim motif is so entrenched in our national thinking that the most blatant crimes are often excused by blaming the bad behavior on the failure of the parents, friends, society, and even religion to meet the perpetrator’s inner personal needs. Individual behavior is viewed as incidental. Society is asked to focus on the consequences rather than the causes of its ills. Welfare has replaced human responsibility…But we dare not raise the “politically incorrect” cry for repentance, abstinence, or morality.[v]

Others throw out psychology because understanding the human person is beyond the discipline of psychology as Ed Bulkley writes, “A dozen psychoanalysts listening to the same material are likely to formulate a dozen different estimations of its unconscious meaning.”[vi] 
            Still others contend that there is a place for psychology within theology when properly applied.[vii] Also, theology (spiritual disciplines) has a place in psychological research.[viii] Even Freudian concepts, though not straight from the Bible, do have biblical tenets imbedded in them.[ix]
There are 4-5 theories that attempt to solve the tension between psychology and theology that will not be analyzed here.[x]  What is clear though from what has been covered is that there is a tension between the two in past and current literature. Part of the tension is presuppositions as William T. Kirwan writes, “All counseling theories have philosophical presuppositions at their core.”[xi]  Though, there are filters for presuppositions to run through in the debate between psychology and theology to come to more objective conclusions, but are we open to agreeing on what those filters might be? 
            A plausible solution can be made that we can know something about certain truths in psychology despite the complexity of the human person. Doctors Meier, Minirth, Wichern, and Ratcliff argue psychology is a discipline derived from philosophy writing:
Before psychology was recognized as a distinct discipline, it was considered to be a branch of philosophy. A basic issue that philosophers have considered over the centuries is epistemology, or the question of how people know. The scientific method, upon which psychology is based, is but one way of forming conclusions. [xii]
If psychology has its roots in philosophy then psychology has at least a corroborative role to theology.  As Philosopher and Theologian William Lane Craig writes:
The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel. Only the ministerial use of reason can be allowed. Philosophy is rightly the handmaid of theology. Reason is a tool to help us better understand and defend our faith; as Anselm put it, ours is a faith that seeks understanding[xiii]
If psychology then can play a ministerial or corroborative role to theology, we must consider it’s use carefully when dealing with eternal truths.   


[i] Psychology of religion is defined as, “A field of study, dating from the late 19th cent., in which the concepts and methods of psychology are applied to religious experience and behavior.” F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1355.
[ii] F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1355.
[iii] Cornelius Van Til, Christian-Theistic Evidences. (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1978), 129.
[iv] Eric L. Johnson. Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (Spectrum Series) (p. 9). Kindle Edition.

[v] Edward E. Hindson and Howard Eyrich, Totally Sufficient (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 15.
[vi] Ed Bulkley, Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 1993), 57.
[vii]Kirwan writes, “Biblical Christianity and psychology, when rightly understood, do not conflict but represent functionally cooperative positions. By taking both spheres into account, a mental-health professional can help Christians avoid the inevitable results of violating psychological laws structured into human personality by God.”  William T. Kirwan, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling : A Case for Integrating Psychology and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 21.
[viii] Todd Hall and John Coe write, “Here again there will be a kind of learning spiral involved in the doing of psychology and the spiritual disciplines. While the doing of spiritual disciplines protects the doing of psychology, we also gain insight from psychology about the nature and manner of doing spiritual disciplines well or poorly. One can only imagine what it would be like to study at a school of psychology that was consciously committed to growth in psychological insight as well as in the life of prayer and the spiritual disciplines; personal growth as well as growth in greater union with God by the Spirit.” John Coe; Todd W. Hall. Psychology in the Spirit: Contours of a Transformational Psychology (pp. 91-92). Kindle Edition.

[ix] John Coe writes answering the question is psychology biblical?  He writes, “Obviously the psychological reflections of Sigmund Freud … are unbiblical in the sense that their musings are not included in the Bible. However, whether their views are biblical in the sense of being consistent with or reflected in the Bible is a more complex matter. For example, we can find correlation between Freud’s view of the “unconscious” and “repression” and the biblical understanding of the “hidden heart” that insists there is always more going on deep within a person than on the surface (Pr 14:13), often due to the heart’s deceptive nature (Jr 17:9; Rm 1:18).”  Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 430.
[x] For an extensive look at the different views see Eric L. Johnson. Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (Spectrum Series;  The personal endorse the Transformational Psychology view which Todd Hall and John Coe cover in the book just cited and also in John Coe; Todd W. Hall. Psychology in the Spirit: Contours of a Transformational Psychology.
[xi] William T. Kirwan, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling: A Case for Integrating Psychology and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 22.
[xii] Paul D. Meier, M.D., Frank B. Minirth, M.D., Frank B. Wichern, Ph.D. and Donald E. Ratcliff, Ph.D., Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1991), 19.
[xiii] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Rev. ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994), 36.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Historical Evidence for the Resurrection

Dr. William Lane Craig covers some of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus on the Sunday following his crucifixion.



Monday, April 2, 2012

"To Ephesus" or a general letter?


            The statement “to Ephesus” in Eph 1:1 has been called into question since some early manuscripts[i] do not contain that Ephesus was the specific Church Paul was corresponding too.  Some explanations have been offered like it was more of a general letter meant for many churches which I think has some merit, [ii] but I think D.A.Carson has the best explanation for the reason why “to Ephesus” is probably authentic.  He writes, “The words in Ephesus do not appear in our earliest manuscripts, but the grammatical construction left suggests that even earlier manuscripts had two place-names.”[iii]  He goes on to write that the two places are, …”Hierapolis and Laodicea…but Ephesus and Laodicea (the two ends of the journey Tychicus would have taken) would more easily account for how the letter came to be known as Ephesians.” [iv]  


[i] Jones puts forth  some of the textual problems in his commentary on the epistle.  He writes, “Basil the Great received the Epistle as addressed to the Ephesians, but quoted and commented on ver. 1 so as to show that ἐν Ἐφέσῳ was not in the manuscripts he used, at least not in those of early date. In the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus the words are written by a later hand. “ The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004), iv.
[ii] Walvoord and Zuck come to the conclusion that even though some manuscripts to not contain this phrase, that Paul meant for this letter to include Ephesus.  They write, “The words “in Ephesus” are omitted by some early manuscripts…but strong external and internal evidence support their inclusion.” John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-), Eph 1:1;  NT Historian Craig Kenner thinks that the Church of Ephesus was probably among other churches that this letter was sent too, but Ephesus was the primary church writing, “Many scholars have argued that Ephesians was originally sent to a number of churches, of which Ephesus was only the most prominent. (Thus it would be a “circular letter,” like imperial edicts.) But because all these churches would presumably be in the area around Ephesus, the history of the Ephesian church will help us understand the background to this letter.” Craig S. Keener and InterVarsity Press, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Eph 1:1.
[iii] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Eph 1:1–2.
[iv] Ibid