The Spring 2010 edition of CTR is devoted in its entirety to exploring the mind-body connection. To this end we have invited scholars from the disciplines of theology and psychology to address the issue.
Mind-body research is an exciting field of inquiry. Neuroscientists are beginning to prove quantitatively the amazing power of the human brain to accomplish tasks hitherto unthinkable. Now biblical scholars are beginning to ask what relationship exists between soul (mind, spirit, personality) and brain. Our authors address this question from different perspectives.
Joel Green, Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies and Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA) pens our lead article. Green argues that a dualistic view of the human person (body and soul) is inconsistent with both science and Scripture. His book, Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (Baker, 2008), which deals in-depth with this subject, has caused quite a stir among biblical scholars, even to the point that an entire section, including a panel discussion, at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) annual convention was devoted to assess Green’s thesis. In this article Green presents his case for human monism, offering case studies and Scripture exegesis to support his position.
Scott Smith, Associate Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University (CA), writes our second article, “Joel Green’s Anthro-pological Monism: Biblical, Theological, and Philosophical Considerations,” in which he challenges Green’s presuppositions, methodology, definitions and conclusions. Smith makes a case for a traditional anthropological dualism (body and soul), and points out that if personhood is inextricably bound up with our physicality, as Green suggests, then it was so in Jesus’ case. Thus, when his body died, Jesus the human person also died, i.e. ceased to exist. Smith finds such conclusions troubling.
Our third entry comes from the creative pen of Rod Sadler, Associate Professor of Bible at Union Presbyterian Seminary (Charlotte, NC campus), who offers a witty, yet critical article-length review of Joel Green’s book Body, Soul, and Human Life. For those who have not yet read the book, this is an excellent overview and evaluation, which might whet your appetite to purchase and read it in its entirety.
The editor of CTR conducts a fascinating interview with Gary Elkins, Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Baylor University (TX). Elkins is a mind-body specialist who is on the cutting edge of scientific research in the field. He has studied extensively mind-body interventions, and particularly the therapeutic use of hypnosis to treat various physical illnesses. He has also conducted scientific investigations into the efficacy of prayer on those recovering from a hospital stay. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded him a $2.6 million grant to continue with his research.
John Court, a retired professor at the School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary (CA), and author of the book Hypnosis, Healing and the Christian (Wipf and Stock, 2002), now retired to Australia, analyzes the legitimacy of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool for Christians. He addresses both the positive and negative sides of this controversial mind-body modality. While recommending its use as an adjunct to other treatments, he warns of its potential danger in the hands of untrained practitioners.
Lee Pelletier, President of the Clergy Special Interest Group of the National Guild of Hypnotists, shares with CTR readers the preliminary results of his ongoing survey on clergy attitudes toward hypnosis. What do most ministers believe about hypnosis? Do they associate it with the occult and demon possession? Would they recommend hypnosis to a church member who wishes to quit smoking? How many have consulted a hypnotist themselves? You may be surprised by the answers. These findings provide insights into where clergy get their information and how they form their opinions about hypnosis.
We close out the journal with 30 pages of book reviews of some titles that have come recently off the presses. We hope these reviews help you as you seek to spend your money wisely on book purchases.
Yours for Christ and the kingdom,
R. Alan Streett, Ph.D.