The concepts of personality held by Luther and some recent pastoral psychologists
Strempke, Vernon Lorain
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Increasing interest is being shown on the part of theologians, psychologists, educators and pastoral psychologists in the theological implications of the insights into the nature of man as found in current pastoral psychology. There is also a renewed interest being shown in the literary works of Martin Luther. It is the opinion of the writer that the doctrine of man held by Luther is significant in view of the current concepts of personality taught by some recent pastoral psychologists. A STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM It is the problem of this dissertation to determine the compatible and contrary elements found in a comparison of the doctrine of man held by Luther and the concepts of personality taught by some dynamic, interpersonal and Biblical psychologists in pastoral psychology. By identifying, defining, comparing, contrasting and determining 'these elements progress can be made in achieving for pastoral psychology a conciliatory and valid conceptualized understanding of man with a theological and psychological orientation. This dissertation does not include a discussion of the psychological and theological implications of practical value for pastoral psychology found in the doctrine of man held by Luther and in the concepts of personality taught by some recent pastoral psychologists. THE PLAN OF THIS DISSERTATION Following a presentation of the doctrine of man held by Luther, this doctrine is used comparatively in the succeeding sections which present some distinctive concepts of personality. A brief historical review of dynamic psychology serves as the basis for discussing the dynamic concept of personality in pastoral psychology as found in the writings of Anton T. Boisen, the pioneer of the clinical emphasis in pastoral psychologr; Carroll A. Wise, a distinguished professor in the field of pastoral psychology; Rollo May, a writer of four books related to the subject of pastoral psychology; and Seward Hiltner, the former director of the Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students, Inc.. The concept of personality held by Hiltner is accepted by the writer of this dissertation as the most representative of this group. A social approach to the understanding of personality is historically the origin for an interpersonal concept of personality for pastoral psychology as conceived by Paul E. Johnson, the professor of Psychology of Religion at Boston University and leader in the Institute of Pastoral Care. The development of an interpersonal concept of personality for pastoral psychology is discussed in reference to the views of Henry Stack Sullivan, a psychiatrist; Jacob L. Moreno, a psychiatrist and originator of psychodrama; and Fritz Kunkel, an eminent psychological consultant and writer. Biblical psychology with its concept of man is presented as taught by Emil Brunner, a Swiss neo-orthodox theologian, and William Goulooze, a professor at Western Theological Seminary. The concluding sections summarize the compatible and contrary elements in the concepts of personality held by Luther, Hiltner, Johnson and Goulooze. Consideration is given to the possibility of a conciliatory hypothesis for the contrary elements in the concepts of personality. CONCLUSIONS In relating the doctrine of man held by Luther and the concepts of personality taught by some recent pastoral psychologists, it was found that the following fundamental factors in the understanding of man are given consideration. 1. The Bible as the authoritative criterion for the understanding of man. Luther, Brunner and Goulooze accept the Bible as the ultimate criterion in evaluating an understanding of personality; Hiltner and Johnson accept the Bible as one source of truth in understanding the personality, but the authoritative criteria are found in psychology and psycho-therapy. 2. The divine image in man Luther and all the pastoral psychologists presented in this dissertation share the opinion that the human personality bears the image of God, but they do not agree as to its nature. According to Luther, Brunner and Goulooze the original image of God in man was totally corrupted through the "fall" and the original qualities of the image of God can be partially regained only when man turns to God in faith and becomes increasingly holy through a personal, dependent relationship to God. Hiltner and Johnson reject the reality of the "fall" and believe the image of God to be a potential capacity of each human personality because it is part of the intrinsic nature of man. 3. The reasoning powers of man Luther, Brunner and Goulooze believe natural reason has value in secular considerations, but because of its egocentric nature, it cannot discern religious truth. They maintain that, when the individual enters into a personal, trusting and believing relationship with God, natural reason can be given special divine qualities through which it is completely renewed and enlightened for the discernment of religious truth. Hiltner and Johnson agree with Luther and the Biblical psychologists on the limited nature of human reason because of its egocentric dynamisms. However, these two pastoral psychologists insist that the full realization of the potentialities of reason can acquire for man the maximum values of life. 4. The goodness of man Luther and the Biblical psychologists believe natural man is totally evil because human goodness was lost in the "fall." The terrible consequence of this original sin can be cancelled and a new potential for infinite good can be acquired by man within the limits of his finitude only through a redeeming faith in Christ. The goodness of man is not autonomous but theonomous; it is not egocentric but theocentric. The pastoral psychologists represented by Hiltner and Johnson believe God created man fundamental good and every person within the limits of finitude can achieve the highest moral, material, religious and esthetic values. 5. The growth of the personality According to Luther and the Biblical psychologists genuine growth in the human personality is primarily religious in character. This process of growth, called regeneration and sanctification, is essentially initiated and effected by the Holy Spirit. Luther and the Biblical psychologists believe the true motivations for the religious growth of the personality are the acknowledgment of the sinful nature of oneself and the conviction that only Ghrist through divine means of grace can give man a righteousness of temporal and eternal significance. Hiltner and Johnson regard emotional, mental, physical and social (cultural) tensions as potential sources for the positive growth of the personality. God actively engages in the initiation and the support of these redemptive processes of growth for the total personality, which express themselves in accepting, empathetic and understanding interpersonal relations. This view stresses a realistic recognition of the great potentialities of man which provide the personality with constructive motivations for its total growth on all levels. Luther and all the pastoral psychologists agree that the characteristics of the healthy growth of the personality include integration, wholeness, independence, self-responsibility, spontaneity and creativity. However, Luther and the Biblical psychologists emphasize the dependence of these characteristics upon the positive response of the individual to divine grace realized in a dependent relationship with God. 6. The freedom of man Luther and the Biblical psychologists are agreed that natural man in his bondage to sin or self-will enjoys no freedom cof religious significance except in a dependent relationship with God. Hiltner and Johnson teach freedom is a potential value which can be realized by a person overcoming the internal and external factors limiting his self-determinism. 7. The social aspects of the personality Luther and all the pastoral psychologists agree upon the value of interpersonal relationships for the development and the health of the personality arid the exercise of Christian responsibility. Luther and the Biblical psychologists diagnose the root of all personal and collective social conflict as the sinful egocentricity of man for which there is no cure unless man enters into a dependent and trusting relationship with God. Hiltner and Johnson diagnose the conflict in personal and collective social relationships as being the failure of man to realize and to exercise effectively his human and divine potentialities. They teach that the cure for these social conflicts is in the ever renewed application by man of love, understanding, reason, knowledge, good will plus a creative relationship to God. The different emphases of these positions become contrastingly clear through an analysis of their supporting theological doctrines concerning the "fall", original sin, the Bible, the immanence and transcendence of God, regeneration and justification by faith and sanctification. The integration of the varying elements in the theological and psychological concepts of personality into a complementary, valid and practical unity through a conciliatory hypothesis is an urgent challenge to modern pastoral psychologists. Such a conciliatory hypothesis may be discovered in Luther through the use of motif methods of research developed by Swedish theologians. Anders Nygren believes he has discovered a unified and coherent understanding of Luther through the agape motif, and it is this kind of research in the literary works of Luther which may yield a conciliation of the current concepts of personality in pastoral psychology. The contemporary, discerning insights of Luther into the nature of man place him in a strategic position in the development of pastoral psychology.
Thesis ()--Boston University
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