Kali Psychi Online Edition
Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring 2020)
Kali Psychi (The Good Mind or Soul) is published once a term for all faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of Liberty University’s School of Behavioral Sciences.
Justin Silvey, Ed.D.
The Overlap of Theology, Philosophy, and Andragogy
In 1897, French painter Paul Gauguin drafted an oil painting wherein the full lifespan is depicted in three scenes: 1) three women with a child representing the beginning of life, 2) a group of young adults representing present daily life, and 3) an older woman seemingly in thought and reflection over her life. In the top left-hand corner displays these French words—“D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous” or translated, “Where We Come From, What We Are, Where We Go.”
These are three profound statements and should serve as the basis from whence all people operate. There are theological, philosophical, and andragogical (the teaching of adults) implications of these phrases. It is important to unpack some thoughts on the past, present, and future of humanity and some implications on teaching and learning. First, “Where we come from” will determine the outlook that people have on our intrapersonal relationship (relationship with self), interpersonal relationships (relationships with others), the way we view God, and the way we think He views us.
In order to best answer this question, we have to establish some absolute truths, which (in the life of a Christian) would be Scripture. The Bible states, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, NLT). These words stake down that we have a Creator and we are formed in His likeness. A next logical question might be, “What does it mean to be created in the image of God and what implications might that have on me?” Theologians and commentators have certainly expounded on this thought-provoking question, so it is important to seek a biblical interpretation.
Perhaps the most concise approach is to compare the rest of Scripture in light of this truth. Based on Scripture, we can deduce many truths about where we came from, such as (but nearly not limited to) 1) we know God is responsible for our value (Ephesians 2:1-10), 2) we know God is redemptive (John 3:16), and 3) we know God is relational, as seen in the relationship of the trinity, the conversation between God and people directly (Genesis 2-3), and through numerous biblical accounts of God’s interaction with people through prayer, dreams, and visions. In summary, God exemplified His deity and the depths of His love by taking on human form and bridging the gap so we can have a restored relationship with Him; therefore, indicating our inherent value.
Second, “What we are.” Stemming from our answer to the first statement, “Where we come from,” we have to address the question, “What we are,” or, in simplified terms, “Are individuals ‘bad’ or ‘good’?” This question has at least a two-part answer, 1) we are living in a fallen world and a fallen state and 2) we have the opportunity to be reconciled with God through the work of Jesus.
This is a tricky paradigm to follow due to several pitfalls. First, someone might assume a victim mentality by stating something like, “Since we live in a fallen world then there is no point in even trying.” or “God allowed my circumstances to happen so it is His fault.” On the other hand, God’s reconciliation could be cheapened through statements like, “God is going to love me no matter how I live.” The effects of sin can be seen in everything but based on the inherent value each individual holds (based on the response to “Where we come from”) we have an obligation to live out God’s commandments, summarized as loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-38).
By following these commands, our view of our present can change from the inside out. In summary, our old nature can be changed to a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), meaning, people will still have a sin nature in a fallen world, but people also have the ability to perform altruistic acts.
Last is “Where we go.” At the heart of this statement, we may come to an impasse at the “Calvinism-Arminism debate,” or generally summarized, do we have free will or has God preordained all? Regardless of one’s position, each day is unfolding for each person with each interaction, decision, and direction taken. We have past experience to draw from but each person will step into tomorrow for the first time. The broader question could be, “What hope do I have for tomorrow?”
There are also dichotomous answers to this question: 1) you have none or 2) you can have all. Basically, our answer to “where we go” would trickle down from “where we come from” and “what we are.” If the earlier foundations are weak, based on subjective, post-modern conjectures, then the answer to where we go will be just as futile. Each individual can have a promised hope of salvation in the future not contingent on the works they have done or will do, but based on the promises of God to the believer.
The three statements play a significant for any student of psychology, social work, lay counseling, pastoral counseling, school counseling, and other clinical counseling settings. First, the assumptions about where people come from matters a great deal! If we, as students or teachers, have bought into the notion that people can be linked back to an accidental, chaotic evolutionary process, then the way we engage with others would be impacted. However, if we view others as having intrinsic value placed by God then we would serve others as serving God.
We must challenge our view of ourselves and others in our current state. When we recognize God’s power over our past, then we can have victory in our present. Last, we can find hope in the future based on God’s promises; therefore, our teaching and learning should be congruent with the hope we have for eternity.
We need to continue to challenge our theological and philosophical responses to the questions of “Where we come from,” “What we are,” and “Where we go” in order to operate from a sound, biblical approach that will impact our approaches to our intrapersonal relationship, interpersonal relationships, the way we view God, and the way we think He views us.
A good mind—Kali Psychi—considers these things!
Maj. General Bob Dees (Retired)
Resilience in Troubled Times
The Scriptures are replete with the term, “Day of Trouble,” beginning with 2 Kings through the Psalms, into Isaiah and Jeremiah, and landing on Jesus in Matthew 6:34. One reads, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In Psalm 107, David alludes to such days of trouble on multiple occasions, applied to wanderers in the desert, prisoners, fools, and those who go down to the sea in ships. Regarding the latter, David describes the power over nature similar to Jesus on the Sea of Galilee when he writes “He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven.” The same refrain is repeated after describing each Day of Trouble—“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men.”
Within this Psalm lies a microcosm of resilience—Resilience in Troubled Times.
The first point to observe is the reality of trouble, suffering, tribulation, the “body slams of life.” In erudite terms, we might describe it as the theology of suffering. In simpler terms, Jesus said “In the world you have tribulation . . .” (John 16:33a). This “tribulation” in Greek (thlipsis) conveys the notion of squeezing oil out of olives or juice out of grapes—an unpleasant experience. All of this is somewhat theoretical until it happens to YOU— then, it is raw, real, visceral, painful, unforgettable. Such tribulation ranges from the suddenness of a tornado to the slow march of an overwhelming hurricane, often compelling us to say, Why me? Why now? Why God?
In our current context, tribulation takes the form of a coronavirus, which is slowly visiting death across the globe. None of us chose the death, the isolation, the economic impact; but here it is on OUR doorstep, threatening OUR families. In light of such tragedy, we do best not to ask, “Why?” rather to ask, “What shall I do? How shall I respond? Who can I help?” Hence, a first tenet of resilience is not to be surprised by the reality of suffering, but to embrace it supernaturally as a “cleverly disguised opportunity.”
A second tenet of resilience relates to the development of spiritual reflexes, which allow us to respond in healthy ways to the storms of life. The Swiss philosopher and theologian Paul Tournier said, “We fall the way we lean.” Given that we know that we will have tribulation, it makes good sense to be leaning in the right direction—drawing nigh to God, knowing that He will also draw nigh to us in our time of need. Part of leaning in the right direction is clearly putting on the armor of God, maintaining comprehensive personal fitness, and developing the right spiritual, mental, and emotional reflexes that predispose us toward the healthiest possible responses to trauma.
Robert Preston Taylor was a Chaplain assigned to the Philippines in 1941, not a great year given the numerous Japanese invasions in the Pacific. Chaplain Taylor soon found himself on the Bataan Death March with 68,000 other Allied prisoners of war. On the march, he became a friend and helper to many, often carrying others to prevent the reality of a Japanese bayonet should they stumble to the ground.
Arriving at the POW Camp with less than half of the men that started the march, Chaplain Taylor continued to minister to his fellow prisoners, both physically and spiritually. He heard by the prisoner grapevine that there were guerillas outside the wire who could assist with medical supplies. Soon, he began sneaking out at night to obtain urgently needed medicines, particularly ointments to control the tropical infections which would afflict even the smallest cut. One night he was caught, thrown into the “hell box,” a small pit in the jungle with bamboo thatch for a roof. Without food, he would catch drops of water from tropical rains to sustain himself – for days, then weeks. Finally, the Japanese pulled back his bamboo roof, blinding him with the bright daylight. Several of his fellow prisoners pulled him out of the pit, steadying him on failing legs.
In a moment that pastors and caregivers will understand, Chaplain Taylor’s fellow prisoners gathered around him and one asked, “Chaplain, what’s the good word?” Chaplain Taylor could have easily said, “Really? I’ve been in the hell box. Give me a break!” But he provided a much more gracious reply, “Men, do not doubt in the dark what you believed in the light.” What’s that Chaplain? “Do not doubt in the dark what you believed in the light.”
This story highlights the importance of preparation, using the “light of day” to figure out what we believe, what is our calling, who are our true “911 friends,” what is the opposition, what are our tools to fight future trauma, and ultimately what are our “actions on contact” (our Stop-Drop-Roll reflexes) to allow us to respond well to our day of trouble. When the car wreck happens, the diagnosis occurs, or the betrayal happens—it is too late. We must figure out what we “believe in the light “ahead of time, so we do not doubt in the dark of night, depression, despair, and even depravity.
A third tenet of Resilience in Troubled Times addresses how to Weather the Storm. Psalm 57:1b refers to “hiding under the shelter of God’s wings until the destruction passes by.” When the chaos of trauma hits us or those we love, this is sometimes all we can do—call out like David, “In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried to my God for help” (Ps 18:6a). Aligned with this appeal to God’s protection in crisis is an equally important call for immersion in God’s Word, which I refer to as “Put in the IV.” In the midst of personal or collective crisis, a ten-minute devotional won’t get it—we need continuous infusion of God’s nutrients into our spiritual bloodstream… music, Bible study and reflection, inspiring and God honoring books and movies.
As well, in crisis, we should seek to maintain routine: sleep, diet, exercise, human interaction. Finally, related to Weathering the Storm, it is important to Remember Our Calling and to continue to live it out, even in the midst of tribulation. While we all have distinctives to our individual callings from God, we hold in common the mandate to reach out to others in various ways (“comforting others with that which we have been comforted”—2 Corinthians 1:4) and to continue to grow in the Lord, even through adversity . . . or more aptly, particularly in adversity.
A post-Vietnam study conducted by Tedeschi and Calhoun at the University of North Carolina (2016) validated the proposition of “Post Traumatic Growth,” a secular convergence with the truths of Romans 5:3-4— “. . . we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope . . .” The point is that resilience is a critical life skill, and growth through adversity is a key part of resilient living.
Regrettably, the scope of this article requires me to land the plane. For now, we must defer discussion of resilience principles related to post-trauma recovery and learning and adapting in preparation for future storms. These concepts are further expanded in Resilience God Style, and are summarized in the Resilience Life Cycle (2020) shown below:
Resilience Life Cycle
- Building Resilience Before
- Weathering the Storm
- Bouncing Back After
Finally, many resilience coaches urge one to run faster, jump higher, grit it out longer. Trauma by its very nature exceeds human bounds and capabilities—hence, the need for Resilience God Style – “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
May each of us live resilient lives in troubled times, and may we help others to do the same—God Style!
What led you to major in Social Work?
Growing up in Caracas, Venezuela with my missionary parents, I knew that I wanted to help people in some form or another. Something drew me to the hurting people around me that our mission was helping, and I soon developed different abilities to assist those people. Through this form of ministry, I knew that my calling to serve others was clear, I just did not know how I would do it yet. Before long, I was helping my church in creating an outreach club for underprivileged families who had been left homeless due to landslides. We played, taught, and loved those children through the difficult times, and that was when I knew that I didn’t only want to help people, but I wanted to help children most of all. Soon, I had narrowed my career call to social work, and it has been a Godsend since I started my education.
- What do like most about your major?
I feel so fulfilled by God because of social work. I have finally found something that gives a name to the feelings to help that I have. I love my major because it gives me something to seek God in—giving His words in the Bible life to me. Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” This truth has given my life direction because the only true way I can understand the love of God is by loving the people He has put in front of me. What I love is that although it is a career, social work is also a mission field, a field of broken people, and because of it, I have a chance to bring Christ into their lives. I think that is what I love most about my major; its more than a job—it’s a calling.
- What has been your favorite class at LU?
I don’t think that I could pinpoint a favorite class of mine since they all just build on top of each other, each better than the last. I have had ethics, a class on social policies, and even learning a whole class on the impact of chemical dependencies. But I think one that I enjoyed a little more than most was my practice class with individuals and families because it finally gave me pointers on how to talk well to clients, and even friends, in general. In that class we learn how to ask the right questions to get deeper than surface level conversations so that the true meaning behind someone’s words can appear. It is a difficult art, but it is worthwhile, especially in this helping profession.
- What are you doing in your current internship?
Recently, I had the opportunity to complete my Senior, 400-hour, internship at a non-profit in the community called Patrick Henry Family Services (PHFS). This wonderful organization was started decades ago as a boys’ plantation and group home and has continued to develop into a non-profit that works with families, children, counseling, and a multitude of different ministries and services. I am really enjoying learning about what it takes to run a non-profit like this one, especially learning how it can affect a community when it is run with the right intentions (like PHFS does). They are fully relying in God to help them accomplish their goals and they are constantly meeting them. It is a wonderful experience that I will be sure to bring into my career one day.
- What are your plans, post-graduation?
Lord willing, I will be graduating in May of 2020, but upon graduation, I am simply following where the Lord leads and puts into my heart. Although there are multiple schools on my radar that have graduate degrees, I have recently been accepted to an MSW (Masters in Social Work) in Maryland and I hope to graduate from them in a year. I do not know where God would like to take me, but I am searching for any social work opportunities that have to do with children, whether that be in the Departments of Social Services, Child Protective Services, foster care, counseling, or an abundant of different fields that I could pursue. Overall, I am just immensely thankful for the professors who have helped me get to where I am today and for the upcoming callings that God has for me.
Reflections from the Dean
Kenyon Knapp, Ph.D.
Dean of School of Behavioral Sciences
Remembering Abba Father
After Aaron told Pharaoh God’s message—“Let my people go”—and Pharaoh refused, the Lord brought the 10 plagues on Egypt: frogs, gnats, flies, Egyptian livestock death, boils, hail, locusts, darkness for 3 days, and the death of the Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 7–12). So, after 430 years of captivity (Exodus 12:40), the Israelites marched freely out of Egypt, with the Egyptians giving them silver, gold, and clothing (“plundering the Egyptians”) and begging them to leave. If anyone had seen God “kick keister” on the bad guys, it was the Israelites at that time
Yet, as some of you know, due to disobedience, it then took the Israelites 40 years to walk some 250 miles to the Promised Land on a hike that should have taken them 2 weeks. On top of that, Numbers 14:30 records that only Joshua and Caleb (and their families) survived and made it to the Promised Land (as God said) “because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly . . .” Everyone had seen God’s miracles in Egypt, but when hardship in the desert came and they explored the Promised Land, all but Joshua and Caleb said that it was too hard to enter into the Promised Land. There were too many enemy cities, too many giants . . . yada, yada, yada. Instead, Joshua and Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30).
Now, as much as I am getting sick and tired of talking about COVID-19, here are God’s people (us) again in a new land, per se, with a new challenge, a new threat to our security, our health, our jobs, our finances. What are you saying today in the face of this recent pandemic? Like an infant who has not yet developed object permanence, many of us cry when we cannot see our Father God during these times of new challenges. So, what does Object Permanence mean with us towards God?
Part of Christian object permanence/maturity is to REMEMBER who God is. According to www.blueletterbible.org, the Bible uses the word, “remember,” 166 times (in the NIV version). The cure to so much of what ails us today is not to just know more about COVID-19 (yes to clean hygiene, etc., of course), but to remember and focus on who God is because “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV).
Anyone for “perfect peace” today? Remember the Lord—who He is and all He has done! Selah.
Faculty New Book Release
The Dream Home
How to Create an Intimate Christian Marriage
But Children Matter
Successful Children’s Ministry Volunteerism Strategies
Kenny Warren, PhD
John Knox, PhD