Dr. Stephen Parker
- Religious & Spiritual Development (Fowler, Erikson, Object Relations, Attachment Theory)
- Theory Integration (biblical/theological perspectives on the person with psychological personality theories; biblical/theological perspectives on psychological constructs)
The question of how one might integrate psychology and Christian faith has been an interest since my undergraduate days when I encountered the different visions of Larry Crabb, Jay Adams and Wayne Oates. My exploration of ways to integrate psychological thought and Christian faith continued through a long and providential graduate education that included a graduate degree in psychology while working in the field of human resources and later a degree in divinity while serving as pastor of a church. This combination of education and experience allowed me to do a one-year clinical training residency as a chaplain at a psychiatric hospital. It was this experience that really helped me see ways that the field of psychology and Christian ministry could come together in mutually helpful ways. To further my intellectual training in integration I completed a doctoral program in "theology and personality studies" at Emory University.
While my work in the integration of clinical theory and Christian faith continue to be a central interest in my life, I have found great stimulation through my recent participation in an international ecumenical dialogue between Roman Catholics and Pentecostals. This experience has enlarged my understanding of the Lord's kingdom and has given me insight into diverse expressions of the Christian faith. My wife, Regina, and my son, Sean, continue to be inspirations and sources of delight. I never could have made the educational journey I did without their encouragement and support. For fun, I collect old comics and read Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Regina and Sean think my enjoyment of "Doctor Who" is a serious aberration!
The richest part of being at Regent is the interaction with colleagues and students. For me, teaching at Regent is a gift from God. I feel blessed to be in a setting where I can pursue my interests with the type of support and encouragement given by Regent University. I find the friendship of colleagues who share interests in the integration of clinical practice and Christian faith stimulating and invaluable beyond measure. Interacting with and getting to know the wide diversity of students that the Lord has brought to Regent keeps me excited. I often think that the comment from Eric Liddell in the movie Chariots of Fire sums up my thoughts about teaching. The Liddell character says at one point "God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." I feel something similar about teaching. I might paraphrase that God made me a teacher, for when I interact with students I feel His pleasure. I see my chief role at Regent as a teacher. As a teacher, I see my role as one of trying to convey to students in counseling and psychology a "way of being" that will help them understand and convey that the person is always more important than the problem; that each person they encounter is to be valued as one in whom is "the image of God."
I see the disciplines of psychology and counseling as fields that the Christian can cultivate and benefit from, but that also need the critique of a Christian worldview. When rightly understood, I think there are places of deep harmony between clinical theory and Christian faith. When superficially integrated, I think there is deep danger. I treasure Regent University as a place in which those who take the Christian faith, as well as clinical competency seriously, can come together to sort out these issues.