The Powerful Coherence
of the Scriptures for Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, and
much talk about worldview these days, both inside and
outside of Christianity, there is
less attention to actual integration and interdisciplinary
Perhaps this conference will expand a trend towards these goals.
I have more than 30 years of direct background in three
of these disciplines and have been indirectly involved in the
other. So, this
conference is personally exciting to address all four of these
disciplines and attempt a unification and integration of them.
Presuppositions, and Starting Points
The problem is always a place to start, so
perhaps I can borrow a common theme of both remote and recent
authorities that forms a unified, foundational approach.
Saint Paul said that we have unity in the Trinity, our
faith, baptism, hope, and body (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Saint Augustine, the Church father, and Anselm, the
Scholastic, stated that we “believe in order to understand.”
On a slightly different note, John Calvin said that all
knowledge begins with the knowledge of man and knowledge of God.
Abraham Kuyper of the 19th century said,
"Oh, not a single
piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from
the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of
our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over
all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"
In the 20th
century, theologian and college president Robertson McQuilkin in
a paper concerning psychology stated, “The
functional control of Scripture over any discipline will vary in
direct proportion to the overlap of that discipline with the
substance of Biblical revelation.”
quite aware of the ongoing debate between evidentialists and
presuppositionalists, but it seems inescapable that everyone has
to start somewhere.
Thus, I contend that the necessity of a starting point settles
the issue in favor of presuppositionalism.
Further, the centrality of faith in Scripture establishes
As Christians, we have “one faith” and many other forms
of unity, as cited above.
Likely, beginning with René Descartes, the concepts of faith and
reason became muddled.
That rationalism can answer all man’s questions” is a
position of faith, as the logical positivists of the 20th
century frustratingly discovered.
So, faith precedes reason, as Augustine and Anselm
Polanyi, world-renown chemist turned philosopher, worked out in
considerable detail that scientific knowledge, even that of the
“hard” sciences, begins with a personal faith.
In fact, the methodology
of faith is common to every action that one takes every day,
which is what Kuyper called “generic faith.”
For example, I “believe” that the sun will rise tomorrow;
I “believe’ that an airplane will transfer me safely across
country; I “believe” that food will nourish me; I “believe” that
my work is worthwhile; etc, etc.
This important theme could be a paper in itself, but I
must continue with my project here.
does one defend orthodox Christianity—a question that I once
faced in writing a paper for a philosophy class.
With so many churches, sects, and denominations, how does
one defend an “orthodoxy?”
There seems only one possibility, the 66 books of the
Scriptures, for virtually all Christian traditions adhere to
these books. While
they may add other authorities, such as, the Apocrypha, church
councils, synods, various creeds, and even the Pope, the large
majority, especially historically, hold exactly to these books.
One could choose The Apostle’s Creed, but it is
restricted to too few doctrines to be a complete basis for
Other creeds and doctrines become even less common to all
sects of Christianity.
Thus, my ultimate authority is the inerrancy of Scripture, as it
is commonly understood within the Evangelical Theological and
But, we will see that the disciplines of theology,
philosophy, psychology, and medicine will relate to the
Scriptures in different ways.
My project is similar to, though not identical with,
Alvin Plantinga’s call for Christians to focus on work that is
consistent and foundational to a Christian’s calling.
The Scriptures and
Again, I turn to the Scholastics for the proper placement of two
disciplines: theology and philosophy.
They believed that philosophy was handmaiden to theology
and that theology was the Queen of the Sciences.
(I understand that “science” had a different meaning to
them then than now.)
Thus, I begin with theology from by Biblical starting
Pedantically, theology is “knowledge of God.”
Traditionally, there are two sources of this knowledge:
general and special revelation.
While general revelation should not be minimized, it
alone as a source of knowledge gives a confusing picture.
There is the productive power of the sun, but the power
of destruction in earthquakes, hurricanes, avalanches, and
tornados. There is
the beautiful reproduction of human life, but debilitating
diseases and death.
There is the tastiness of salt, but too much of it poisons and
kills. God is thus
powerful, but is this power “good” or “bad?”
theology of special revelation properly answers this question
and interprets general revelation.
It describes the Creation of all things, man’s Fall and
curse, history that precedes all other history, the predictions
of the Answer to the Fall, Messiah’s coming and fulfillment to
provide for man’s salvation, and much more.
In fact, it is this “much more” that is central to
More specifically, how broadly do the Scriptures answer the
questions of epistemology? Certainly,
everyone agrees that the Scriptures speak to soteriology.
Less certainly by some Christians, they speak to ethics.
But, my claim is that they are ultimately authoritative
issue is simple.
How may ethics be decided?
There are only three ways: (1) a majority vote or vox
populi, (2) individualism or everyone does his own thing, or
(3) an ultimate authority.
In actuality, every person is an heuristic combination of
all of these.
Ethicists differ and often vacillate, as well.
Then, it seems reasonable that I choose number three,
especially when the Scriptures present, “Thus says the Lord,”
that He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that He is
perfect righteousness and justice (ethics and ethical).
That sounds like an ultimate authority to me!
This position does not claim that one theological
tradition has a total casuistry, only that the Bible
contains all the ethical answers and may be ferreted out
over time. At
minimum, we go to the same source, even though we do not
arrive at the same answers. Moore
of the specifics of Biblical theology and ethics will be
apparent when I discuss psychology and medicine herein.
What Contribution Does
Philosophy Have in this Unity?
of the questions presented to speakers to consider for this
conference is “What does philosophy have to contribute to …
The answer, of course, depends upon what one thinks philosophy
is, and that answer is not altogether clear.
Again, pedantically, philosophy is “the love of wisdom.”
But, whose wisdom?
If one goes through a litany of philosophers—Thales,
Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, the Stoics, the
Sophists, the Epicureans, Augustine, the Scholastics, the
moderns from Descartes to Hegel, the postmoderns from
Kierkegaard to Luc-Marion—where is a common agreement?
These men and others cover an almost infinite spectrum of
ideas and speculations that are a virtual encyclopedia of pros
and cons, agreements and contradictions.
Perhaps the best thing about this litany is that one can
pick and choose to one’s liking and reject what one dislikes.
One could even say that there is no way to be wrong!
likes and dislikes when they repeatedly contradict do not
advance a project.
So, another stated question for this conference is, “What is
philosophy’s methodology, and what ought it to be?”
Here I find possibility!
J. P. Moreland in his textbook on philosophy stated:
Philosophy is the
attempt to think hard about life, the world as a whole, and
the things that matter most in order to secure knowledge and
wisdom about these matters… the attempt to think rationally
and critically about life’s most important questions in
order to obtain knowledge and wisdom about them… Philosophy
is the only field of study that has no unquestioned
assumptions within its domain.
an evangelical, working in philosophy, my most foundational
issues have been critically challenged, but also
strengthened—consistent with these statements by Moreland.
Moreland also said in the same context, “Philosophy is, perhaps,
the most important foundational discipline in the task of
integrating Christian theology with other fields of study.”
Consistent with one of the goals for this conference and
Moreland’s discussion, I will apply critical thinking to the
integration of theology, medicine, and psychology.
Medicine as One of “Life’s Most Important Issues”
background in medicine began in 1965.
After only a few years, I began to crucially evaluate
both the science of medicine and the ethics of
medicine. In these
days of Obamacare and medical care at 17 percent of the Gross
Domestic Product and more than $2 trillion dollars, the issue is
perhaps more relevant than ever.
glad that you are all seated, because you will hear things that
not many physicians or others either do not know or will not
say. Medicine is
the discipline by which health is maximized, diseases sometimes
cured, and injuries treated.
But what is health?
Health is the maximal physical and mental state of any
one person—health is a spectrum.
Every person from the Olympic athlete to the severely
challenged person has a different “maximal health” and different
description seems straightforward until beliefs enters the
picture. Health for
an Epicurean, a Platonist, an Augustine, a Scholastic, a modern
rationalist, postmodern existentialist, communist, and a secular
Within these belief systems, ethical considerations become
Witnesses deny life-saving blood transfusions.
HIV/AIDS is transmitted by illegal drug abuse and what
many religions consider immoral behavior.
DDT is not used to save the number one infectious disease
killer in the world today—malaria—because of environmental
contention is that medicine is inherently a religious
enterprise—religion being used here for all –isms and belief
I have not even mentioned abortion which destroys millions of
unborn lives each year nor have I posed the threat of
Then, there are the economic issues about the considerable costs
of modern medicine.
What role should religious organizations have in providing
health care? What
role should government have in taxation and redistribution for
health care? What
services should be provided and for whom?
Should the elderly receive the larger portion of monies,
as they do today?
Should euthanasia be used as cost savings? Should the
state create a monopoly in medicine through licensure?
All these questions are religious.
Then, there is the problem of the “science” of medicine.
In logic, the scientific method of induction is
considered a methodological fallacy.
“What!,” you say.
But modern medicine has achieved so much.
Well—such achievement is accompanied by harms that are
just as credible and incredible.
I will mention a few major issues.
During the 1980s, 40,000 patients a year in the United
States died from drug treatment of heart arrhythmias (irregular
The Human Genome Project—the entire mapping of human
genes—has had almost no impact on the treatment of disease.
Major drugs do not “work” in 40-75 percent of people.
The War on Cancer, was created by the National Cancer Act
of 1971, but “cancer remains a largely incurable disease.”
For the most part, fat-lowering drugs which are
prescribed to tens of millions do not increase longevity.
More so, these drugs only “work” on one in 40 to 100
Anti-depressants work no better than a placebo.
Some 800,000 people die each year in the United States
from inpatient and outpatient adverse drug reactions, medical
errors, bedsores, acquired infections, unnecessary surgery,
surgery-related complications, and nursing homes—which makes
“medicine” the leading cause of death in the United States.
statistics may be quite alarming and unexpected.
Perhaps, you think they are made by odd-balls and
all these statistics—and hundreds more with similar
conclusions—are all from the “medical and scientific
they are mostly, if not entirely available to you, through
Google and other search engines with the corresponding keywords
and phrases. You
can do your own research.
Then, you might ask, “How do I evaluate and trust modern
medicine?” I defer
an answer to that question for a few more paragraphs.
How Does Secular
Psychology Fit Into This Integration?
There are two major divisions of secular psychology: the
experimental and the theoretical.
The experimental is simply research that is based upon
the scientific method, primarily with animals and occasionally
However, by definition science can make no ethical judgments.
Science is limited to the natural or material, not the
speculative or supernatural (religious) realm from which values
Theoretical psychology is just that—theoretical.
As in our discussion of philosophy and medicine, one’s
choice of psychology is a personal one among hundreds of
There is no way to determine which is true and which is
not—without some sort of standard.
Simply, “How does secular psychology fit in?” For the most part
it does not contribute—from these scientific and theoretical
considerations just mentioned.
It can offer neither science that is true nor norms for
thinking and behavior.
It may offer some useful techniques, such as, Rogerian
questioning and expressed empathy.
I want to propose instead that the Old Testament Psalms
reveal the pathos of the human soul—psyche—and the New
Testament provides additional instructions for moral and
The Bible as the
first glance the disciplines of theology, philosophy,
psychology, and medicine appear diverse.
But with God as our Creator who is perfectly unified
within Himself and the Trinity, surely there is an epistemology
of coherence. I
contend that the coherent unifier is the 66 books of the Bible.
Let us review how that might work.
easily, theology is simply Biblical theology
which is best described as systematic theology, since the Bible
was written over hundreds of years and by a diverse group of
Concerning philosophy, it simply becomes the “handmaiden” of
theology by its critical method to create, unify, and logically
Concerning medicine, the Scriptures create both an anthropology
and an ethic. Man
is not “normal,” as modern medicine says, having fallen from his
ideal state. He is
dualistic, not simply material—consisting of both body
and soul. If a
physician sees you as a product of evolution, you are to him a
complex arrangement of chemicals.
Thus, if you have a problem, your chemicals or tissues or
organs need to be changed or rearranged.
There are no ethics by which to guide behavior or else he
commits the naturalistic fallacy.
Indeed, virtually 30-50 percent of office visits to a
family physicians today concern feelings (anxiety, depression),
weight loss, pain medication, or sleeping pills)—ills which are
not truly “medical” in the traditional sense.
“But,” you ask, “How can the Bible give direction to modern
examples are these.
(1) Sexual fidelity before and after marriage will prevent
contracting any of the epidemic sexually transmitted diseases,
(2) Conversion to belief in Christ will give
maximal health of the
soul. (3) Spiritual
fruits will prevent most, if not all, the need for drugs for
“emotional” and problems of the soul/spirit/mind and will have
subsequent bodily benefits. (4) Trust in God’s providence will
give peace of mind over all the complex uncertainties of
medicine. (5) Respecting the body as a “temple of the Holy
Spirit” will prevent diseases of alcoholism, drug addictions,
and tobacco. (6)
More than one million unborn children in the United States will
be allowed to live. The Bible is not a book on medicine, but it
is a book on health—health of the soul which is foundational and
necessary for health of the body.
Finally, I contend that the Bible is a textbook on psychology.
The philology of “psychology” is “study or science of the
soul.” As we have
discussed, the theoretical and materialistic anthropology of
modern psychology does not believe in a soul.
Further, the science of psychology can give no ethical
Bible is full of ethical directives from Genesis to
Revelation—many of which are quite practical.
God’s special revelation to man is the great unifier of
theology, philosophy, psychology, and human biology (medicine).
But should we expect anything less?
God created this universe with mankind to live in it.
The Bible is the “manufacturer’s manual” to understanding
and fixing human problems.
The Bible is the ground of systematic theology which is
methodologically assisted by philosophy.
It is necessary for the health of the soul which is
foundational to health of the body.
And, the Bible is a textbook of psychology—what the soul
is, what it needs, and how it should think, feel, and act.
The Bible, I believe, is the only ground for a true
uni-versity—a unity for all scholarly and educational
Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by
Henry Beveridge, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing
1979), I(1), 37-39.
Abraham Kuyper, "Sphere
Sovereignty." In James D. Bratt,
Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, (Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 488.
“The Behavioral Sciences Under the Authority of
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society,
Personal Knowledge, (Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago Press, 1962).
My position is avowedly not classical foundationalism
because my starting point is not a commonly agreed upon
“foundation,” but the Scriptures which are clearly not a
common foundation of agreement!
“Augustinian Christian Philosophy” at
Between Faith and Thought: Reflections and Suggestions,
(New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1966), 27-8.
equate morals and ethics in this paper.
J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig,
Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (Downers
Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003), 13.
David H. Freedman,
Experts Keep Failing Us…, (New York, NY: Little,
Brown, and Company, 2010),
Guy B. Faguet,
The War on Cancer: An Anatomy of Failure—A Blueprint for
the Future, (Dordrecht: Netherlands, 2008), back
cover and page 89.
Speaker’s conclusions from numerous studies and
Speaker’s observations of hundreds of studies for more
than 50 years.
Gary Null, Death
by Medicine, (Mount Jackson, VA: Pratikos Books,
Here, I am not speaking of the formal discipline of
Biblical Theology, but all theology that is coherently
and logically derived from Scripture—that is, systematic
The naturalistic fallacy is that “natural” science can
make “supernatural” value claims—that is, moral and
Speaker’s personal research.