The Relationship Between Theology and Psychology

This essay is a review of Entwistle (2015) and consists of three sections. Chapters eight to eleven are summarized in the first part of this paper, the second part is a commentary on these chapters, and the final section is an overview of how the knowledge can be applied. Chapter eight of Entwistle, (2015) is an introduction to the models that dictate the connection between psychology and spirituality studies. It provides an overview of the similarities between theology and psychology, including their nature of borrowing from other disciplines, despite one being based on scientific observation and another spiritual belief. Entwistle (2015) provides six models that show the relationship between these two disciplines and explains that despite aiming to relate the disciplines, the six models have varied designs.

Chapter 9 of Entwistle (2015) focuses on the first model, Enemies, which is classified as an antagonistic theory. This model treats psychology and theology as independent disciplines, without relying on each other. It emphasizes rejecting any information emanating from theology as a source of truth on the underpinnings of psychology. The Enemies model disintegrates psychology from the sources of theology, His Word, and His Works, choosing to explain the discipline on observational and scientific underpinnings only. The model designates two descriptions of an antagonistic relationship between psychology and Christianity, the secular combatants, and their Christian nemesis. The author cautions the belief in this model and highlights its weakness in purporting that psychology as a discipline is independent of theology. Entwistle (2015) urges scholars to consider other models that underpin the association between spirituality studies and psychology, instead of the Enemies design.

Chapter 10 of Entwistle (2015) analyzes four models classified under the intermediate group. The designs under this group are Spies, Colonialists, rebuilders, and neutral parties. Spies detest the hostile nature of the Enemies’ model while watering down some theological aspects of psychology. This design seems to agree with theology on being a source of psychological authority on the surface while simultaneously dissociating Christianity from tenets of mental well-being. Colonialists affirm their belief in a supreme being but consequently argue with psychology from a point of theological dominance. This kind of interpretation is prone to error due to its inability to separate theological interpretations from biblical facts. Rebuilders express concern over the secular grounds of psychology and its negligence of theology as a source of authority in this discipline. Rebuilders suggest utmost care and scrutiny when integrating theological tenets into psychology. The Neutral Parties model is founded on the modernist tenets of objectivity, neutrality, and independence. This model is not elaborate on human behavior and modestly agrees with theology as a source of authority on psychology.

Chapter 11 of Entwistle (2015) explores the Allies model, classified as an integrative design. This design focuses on demonstrating the intricate relationship between theology and psychology, instead of investigating them as different disciplines. Entwistle (2018) emphasizes the need to attain a proper understanding of Christian values and the actions of God to properly comprehend the relations between the two. The workings of God from the creation of man, the redemption of mankind, and the wonderful acts in the spiritual realm are solid foundations of psychology and the functioning of the mind. The unity of the two disciplines is poised to be a revolutionary thought in the transformation of comprehending the two disciplines.

The three chapters were integral in informing further about the role of theology in interpreting psychology. The examination of different models provokes a reader to adhere to varied lines of reasoning, an action that furthers understanding. A better understanding of the actions of God and the interpretations of these deeds was developed through the three chapters. They helped distinguish the interpretations of theology from the spiritual truths of God. The understating of God may be flawed from one person to another due to the different angles interpreters choose to understand the word from. Chapter 9 disintegrates psychology from theology, citing the need for either discipline to be independent despite the prior knowledge that the two are inseparable. Chapter 9 provides a new lens through which the relationship between the two disciplines can be examined. Though the models suggested only partially agree with theology in psychology, they ensure crucial analysis into varied aspects of this relationship.

The claims of Colonialists to have one of the disciplines take up another on a substantial scale is refreshing to a leader and provocative. The Spies model only analyzes the interdependence of the two disciplines without essentially making convictions on their influence on each other, merely playing the role of an observer. Allies is the best model for understanding the relationship as it suggests an interdependence of the two. This model emphasizes that the disciplines borrow heavily on each other and that it is inappropriate to try and separate them. Psychology can be best understood by integrating Christianity and its tenets, closely understanding the stories and values of the faith. The Allies model calls for a detailed analysis of the role of God as the center of all life and disciplines of learning.

As a professional counselor, the concepts of Entwistle (2018) will be essential when helping clients, especially those affiliated with Christian beliefs. Christianity is integral to the psychology discipline as proven by the Allies model that illustrates the shared aspects of the two. Christian clients need to reinforce their faith when seeking counseling services, to ensure that they have hope for a better future. The role of Christianity as an object of stimulating positivity and enhancing optimism cannot be neglected in professional counseling practice. Entwistle (2018) also emphasizes the role of theology in emphasizing the ethical standards appropriate for the practice of psychology. The values of ensuring that counselors do not impose certain personal values and beliefs on clients are especially crucial (American Counselling Association, 2019). Counselors must ensure that they do not interfere with the religious values of non-Christian clients during therapy.

Teachings from the three chapters also inform on the importance of maintaining a professional relationship with clients only to prevent getting involved in their personal lives and drama. Such involvement is detrimental in any form of therapy being offered and causes the patients to derail their progress and the counselor to lose their credibility (Entwistle, 2020). The impacts of Christian higher education on the profession of counseling and disciplines integrating psychology will also be essential in enhancing good results-oriented practice (Meadors, 2019). Christianity emphasizes goodness and shuns evil from practices that integrate its values. This knowledge will be essential when handling clients who are of poor repute, to ensure their profiles are sidelined in the provision of help. This will ensure objective and effective counseling that leads to recovery.


American Counselling Association. (2019). 2014 ACA Code of Ethics.

Entwistle, D. N. (2015). Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity: An introduction to worldview issues, philosophical foundations, and models of integration (3rd ed.). Cascade Books.

Entwistle, T. (2020). Why nudge sometimes fails: fatalism and the problem of behaviour change. Policy & Politics, 49(1).

Meadors, E. P. (2019). Where wisdom may be found: The eternal purpose of Christian higher education. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

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