August 24, 2007 — Stephen Newell
Dr. Eric L. Johnson, professor of counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has completed his “magnum opus” on Christian counseling. It is my great pleasure to introduce to my readers Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal. Those of us who are/were in the counseling program at Southern remember how busy he’s been the past few years, much of it working on this book. With the publication of this book in July, perhaps Dr. E can finally give a big sigh and take a vacation!
In this groundbreaking work of first-order scholarship, Eric Johnson makes a vitally important contribution to the field of Christian counseling. He first presents a detailed overview and appreciative but critical evaluation of the reigning paradigms in the field of Christian counseling, particularly biblical counseling and integration. Building on their respective strengths, he seeks to move beyond the current impasse in the field and develop a more unified and robustly Christian understanding. Drawing upon the Bible and various Christian intellectual and soul care traditions, and through a Christian reinterpretation of relevant modern psychological theory and research, Johnson proceeds to offer a new framework for the care of souls that is comprehensive in scope, yet flows from a Christian understanding of human beings–what amounts to a distinctly Christian version of psychology. This book is a must-read for any serious Christian teacher, student, or practitioner in the fields of psychology or counseling.
“Eric Johnson’s thought about Christian psychology is an improvement on just about everything in the field. Foundations for Soul Care will set the pace for discussions in the future.”
–Robert C. Roberts, Distinguished Professor of Ethics, Baylor University
“This book constitutes a major breakthrough for those evangelical psychologists, counselors, pastors and therapists who worry about how to hold modern secular psychology together with their faith. Written from a Kuyperian perspective, Johnson shows how a theology grounded in the Word of God for the glory of God can be psychotherapeutically effective. By interweaving a theological account of the person with neurobiological and developmental approaches to psychopathology, Johnson offers a rich and flowing account of how the soul can be healed by glorifying God. It is a way forward in a discussion that is tempted either simply to cite Scripture on one hand or to elaborate endless methodological models on the other. Johnson returns the healing of the soul to the center of the discussion.”
–Ellen T. Charry, associate professor of systematic theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
“Eric Johnson is resolutely fair-minded. He treats others as friends, with charity and respect. He seeks accurate understanding and takes no shortcuts. He takes others seriously, even when he disagrees. He earnestly pursues both truth and helpfulness. In other words, both in person and in print, he is after wisdom (’nothing else you could desire compares’). I count his friendship one of life’s pleasures. Eric makes criticism easy to hear and makes vigorous argument in the pursuit of wisdom a delight!”
–David Powlison, editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling
Also see Southern Seminary Ph.D. student Gerlin Valencia’s massive review on the book’s Amazon page.
Title: Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal
Author: Eric L. Johnson
Hardcover: 716 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic; 1 edition
Publication Date: July 2007
Retail Price: $35.00
I am excited, not only for one of my favorite professors, but for those who regularly engage in soul-care. In an atmosphere increasingly becoming “anti-psychology,” Dr. Johnson worked hard to help us understand that psychology, in its proper place, can be a conduit of God’s grace to the suffering. It is my hope this book expresses that perspective clearly to its readers. Psychology, when grounded firmly in Scripture and theology, becomes not our enemy but a tool that allows us to effectively apply the truth of Scripture. You cannot use psychology apart from a thoroughly Christian worldview and theology if you expect to succeed as a counselor. If Scripture is truly sufficient, we should have no qualms about subjecting our psychology to it, rather than discarding psychology entirely. Dr. Johnson taught his students to think “Reformationally” about soul-care, both in theology and in practice; this theme will permeate the book. I will be buying and reading this book.
Dr. Eric L. Johnson is the Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology (2000) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before coming to Southern, Dr. Johnson taught courses in psychology, theology, and Christian worldview at Northwestern College in Minnesota for nine years. He has contributed numerous articles in the field of Christian psychology arguing for the necessity of theology in counseling and psychological research. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, and in 1998 he was editor for a special issue of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity entitled “Psychology within the Christian Tradition.” He also authored articles for the Baker Encylopedia of Psychology and Counseling and has co-edited and contributed to two books: Christianity and Psychology: Four Views and God Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents God.