First Things RSS Feed - William Kilpatrick
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60Middle-East Meets Middle-Earthhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/07/middle-east-meets-middle-earth
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 00:17:00 -0400Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!”
Fri, 06 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400 Seeing as the Catholic Church has itself been the victim of a damaging disinformation campaign, one might expect that Church leaders would be careful not to allow themselves to be drawn into a similar slander operation. But, although the Church is still defending itself against charges of wartime anti-Semitism, many Church leaders seem to see nothing wrong with current efforts to vilify Israel.
]]>Faith & Therapyhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1999/02/002-faith-amp-therapy
Mon, 01 Feb 1999 00:00:00 -0500
Seventeen years ago in
I wrote about the dangers of mixing psychology with religious faith. Such a mixing, I cautioned, would result in a dilution of faith. Six years before that, Paul Vitz had made a similar point in
Psychology as Religion
: psychology, he wrote, had become a substitute for faith”a new religion encouraging a cult of self-worship. We both emphasized that this psychological faith, although it bore a surface resemblance to Christianity, was incompatible with, indeed, deeply hostile to, Christian faith.
Psychology as faith has proven to be a sturdy creed”almost all of the criticisms we made then could be made today. The concepts of popular psychology are still being blended with Christian faith, and confusion still abounds. The attraction to psychology is not, of course, confined to the area of religion. The assumptions and techniques of psychology and therapy have found their way into business, schools, families, popular entertainment, and even the courts”so much so that it has become common to speak of our society as a therapeutic culture. As long ago as 1966, Philip Rieff’s book
The Triumph of the Therapeutic
predicted that this psychological mode of understanding society and identity would triumph over all other modes. It would become the frame of reference by which all other beliefs and commitments would be judged.
One would expect Christian churches to resist this rival faith. Instead, they have in differing degrees been seduced by it, unable in many cases to say where the psychological faith ends and the Christian faith begins. The continuing temptation to blend psychology and faith suggests the importance of revisiting the arguments against this ill-advised ecumenism. The arguments fall roughly into two categories: those of the don’t-embarrass-yourself variety, and those of the more serious don’t-cut-your-own-throat variety.
The first line of criticism is employed in a recent article by Paul Vitz entitled Support from Psychology for the Fatherhood of God (
Homiletic and Pastoral Review
, February 1997). He first notes that the Christian concept of God as Father has been under attack”much of the attack coming from Catholics influenced by feminist psychology. But, says Vitz, much of this psychology, based as it is on an androgynous view of the person, is passé. All the latest research, he continues, shows how very different the sexes are, and how fathers and mothers play distinct roles that are not interchangeable. All the statistics, moreover, clearly demonstrate what happens when fathers cease playing their role in family and society. Indeed, fatherlessness correlates with crime, drug addiction, school dropout rates, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies better than any other factor. Moreover, it turns out that boys are much more fragile than girls and suffer much more acutely from the absence of fathers. (See, for example, psychologist Michael Gurian’s two books on the subject,
The Wonder of Boys
A Fine Young Man.
) Vitz observes that, doctrinal objections aside, it is bizarre to the point of pathology at this time in our culture to be trying to remove God the Father from our theology.