Previous | Next

Spring 1996 · Vol. 25 No. 1 · pp. 63–64 

Book Review

Between Jerusalem and Athens: Ethical Perspectives on Culture, Religion, and Psychotherapy

Alvin C. Dueck. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995. 262 pages.

Reviewed by Dale R. Anderson

Between Jerusalem and Athens is an attempt by Dr. Dueck to bring contemporary models of integration back to their ethical roots. He offers a “starting point” for Christian psychologists who feel caught between the sacred and secular cultures. He calls this perspective the Reign of God. Dueck provides a series of discussions of various ethical topics as they influence the culture, the Church, and the therapist.

Dr. Dueck speaks from experience, having been a world traveler, minister, professor, and psychologist. He has a unique blend of academic credentials and experience including the Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, his doctorate at Stanford University, pastoring, teaching, and directing a counseling program.

{64}

His comments on culture raise many questions, generally about Ethic vs. Ethos: Do we have the underlying beliefs to create our moral rules, or do our rules create our beliefs? Do we have ethical resources in our American culture? Should conservative religious psychologists push for a Christian national policy on the family? What is the role of the biblical story in healing? He frames his ideas by saying that if the Reign of God applies, then this is the way it should be.

He takes a critical stance of a psychology that has turned individuality into individualism. A duty of the Church is to provide a “primary community,” one in which the professional can find his identity. Dueck also reveals how psychology has caused the Church to confront issues it would rather deny.

According to Dueck, the therapist who remains morally and professionally ethical encounters obstacles and issues in his daily practice. Speaking as a therapist, in his final chapter, he becomes more personable, disclosing his own “joy and struggle of relating ethics to culture, community, and character” (p. 220). This was very helpful and should possibly be read first because it allows the reader to see the person behind the abstract terms.

He quoted MacIntyre regarding the nature of character for the therapist, saying that they (those with moral character) embody moral and metaphysical ideas and theories, giving them existence. His struggle comes in trying to communicate internalized ideas to readers who are not as well acquainted with these abstract ideas as he is. Pilgrims, who do not know the ways of the ethicist and philosopher, will find themselves lost, somewhere between Jerusalem and Athens.

The book is publicized as being useful to both students and practitioners, but I found it hard to understand. There are gems of truth here, ideas that can stimulate discussion, especially at the philosophical and abstract levels. To get to those gems, however, the reader must mine his way through an idiosyncratic and often passive writing style. Its best use might include a graduate level philosophy or ethics course, but it is too complicated for undergraduate.

There have been other attempts in literature to use a metaphor that would provide a sense of continuity and wholeness to the integration of psychology and faith. Since psychology is as diverse as the cultures it tries to understand, a new perspective, such as this, may fill a void by telling the story of how God reigns in a way that is uniquely meaningful.

Dale R. Anderson Psy.D.
Tabor College

Previous | Next