Psychology and Natural Revelation

There are two broad ways that God has revealed information about Himself and the world He has created and the inhabitants of the world He has created.  The first, His special revelation, is His words and Word.  “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (II Tim 3:16).  It couldn’t be more clear;  God has spoken to us through the Bible.  Scripture is literally “God-breathed” to the point that we believe it is the words of God Himself recorded by His servants. 

In a specific Word, God sent Jesus, His Son.  “And the Word [which existed with God from the beginning (Jn 1:1)] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).  The life of Christ in word and action is specific special revelation.  Another aspect of special revelation is the word that comes to us through the Holy Spirit.  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (Jn 16:13).  The voice of God living inside you as a believer is another way God speaks His special revelation to us.

God also speaks to us through His general or natural revelation.  “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Ps 19:1).  We usually think of God’s natural revelation in terms of the physical world and the hard sciences we use to study it.  In fact, the order and design of the world God that has created is often used as an apologetic for His existence.  Just as a watch implies a watchmaker (precision) and a wedding cake implies a baker (beauty), the precision and beauty of the world around us implies an intelligent creator.

An equally, but less-explored, branch of natural revelation in highlighting the union of our faith with seeing God in what He has made is studying the men and women that God has created in His own image.  You and I, saint and sinner, religious and pagan, ancient and modern, are all created in God’s image.  We are part of God’s natural revelation.  We sometimes see psychology, the study of the man inside, as an unholy alliance with Scripture, but that is not the case at all.  Properly understood, psychology is “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”, something we celebrate in the hard sciences.  We are not talking about pop psychology that has no understanding of the moral aspects of our being.  We are talking about observing human nature and understanding it through the grid of what the Bible teaches about man, sin, and redemption.

Understanding the value of understanding ourselves and those we love and why we act the way we do is part and parcel with the current direction of these marriage and family posts.  Advice based on personality differences, communication styles, and family-of-origin influences is not leaving God-inspired wisdom at the door.  It is embracing the intersection of our observations about ourselves and our understanding of being created in God’s image, though marred by sin.  Actually, before Christ, overwhelmed by sin.  As we continue with marriage and family advice don’t think we have abandoned the Christian message if every piece does not include Scripture.  In fact, it is only in the context of our new identity in Christ that this advice has the most opportunity to result in positive change.

Let me put it this way, as humbly as I can.  Rhonda and I were paying attention when God sent five children to our home.  Rhonda and I were paying attention to the bents, personalities, and heart of our children.  Rhonda and I were paying attention when we saw our marriage succumb to the challenges of personality differences, busyness, and laziness.  And Rhonda and I were paying attention when God restored our marriage by revealing some things about ourselves.  I guess you could say “we’ve been through things” and so have you.  Our belief is God gave “those things” for a larger purpose than ourselves and they join with Scripture to inform the advice we give.  So go ahead.  Don’t be afraid to use your God-infused observation of the people you care about as a starting point to helping them become all that God intended.  Every person is worth understanding.