Question: While I agree with you that psychology has created more problems for the church than anyone could number, nevertheless I think there are some areas of the field that can be helpful. What do you think?
Response: First of all, when the term “psychology” is used most people think of psychotherapy. That’s understandable because psychotherapy is the most well- known field of psychology. However, there are about 50 divisions of the American Psychological Association and they run the gamut from mostly objective to extremely subjective.
The most scientifically legitimate would be the former, and that would include those fields of research or experimental psychology which use the scientific method as they collect and evaluate tangible, observable information. A psychologist who studies man/machine interface, e.g., the placement of knobs or keys on a machine or choice of letter size or color for optimum use, would be a good example of a psychological field with varying degrees of objectivity.
To the degree that they stick to quantifiable facts, evaluation, measurement and statistical psychologies are for the most part legitimate as a science. The testing of skills or abilities for placement (typing, math, hand/eye coordination, finger dexterity, etc.) where the information gleaned and reported is objective and quantitative would be valid as a psychological endeavor. Testing that deals with personality types or personal feelings or subjective views lacks the necessary statistical validity to be considered seriously. When evaluations mix the objective “what has taken place” with the interpretive “why it has taken place,” it has moved out of science and into subjective speculation.
So, regarding whatever calls itself a psychological enterprise, we would consider it to be legitimate to the degree that it can demonstrate objectivity. Clinical psychology (psychotherapy) is subjective and involves the very wisdom of man that God warns us against (1 Cor:2:5).