Christian Distinctiveness

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Christian Distinctiveness

We live in a time in which it is increasingly intellectually credible to work at interrelating religious belief with a scholarly and applied discipline such as psychology. The Enlightenment rationalism and dogmatic empiricism that were in vogue several decades ago could hardly allow for such interchange. But today's intellectual climate includes the broad phenomenon of postmodernism, the rise of instrumentalist and critical realist approaches to the philosophy of science, and even specific empirical findings on the positive relationships between religious practice and mental health and between values and psychotherapeutic outcomes. These developments leave plenty of room for interaction between Christian faith and practice on the one hand and the discipline of psychology on the other.

Our commitment to Christian distinctiveness is more than just a reaction to contemporary trends in scholarship, however. It is a reflection of the historic commitment of the entire institution, a commitment that has endured when the intellectual trends have not been so comforting. "Wheaton College [as a whole] serves Jesus Christ and advances His Kingdom through excellence in liberal arts and graduate programs that educate the whole person to build the church and benefit society worldwide. . . . Wheaton College seeks to relate Christian liberal arts education to the needs of contemporary society. The curricular approach is designed to combine faith and learning in order to produce a biblical perspective needed to relate Christian experience to the demands of those needs" (Catalog of Wheaton College).

The Graduate School specifically exists to "relate Christian education to the needs of contemporary society." Further, its mission is to "enable the committed Christian student to formulate and articulate a biblical and global understanding of life and ministry and to apply it to service for Christ and His kingdom. The emphasis of the graduate program throughout its history has been on practical scholarship -- scholarship totally rooted in the final authority of the Scriptures but practical so that educated and trained Christian leaders are equipped to relate to the real needs of people today" (Catalog of Wheaton College). We seek to train psychologists to understand and value human diversity, to demonstrate a commitment to underserved populations, and to be agents of reconciliation wherever oppression and injustice exist.

In conformity with these broad goals of the whole institution and of the Graduate School in particular, the doctoral program in clinical psychology is founded upon a concern for interrelating Christian belief and practice with the best of contemporary scholarship and professional standards in the discipline of psychology. We are forthrightly concerned with producing graduates who will be distinctive as Christians in their practice of professional psychology, whether that practice be in an overtly religious context or not. The doctoral program at Wheaton College conforms to the Community Covenant and the Statement of Faith, which provide a framework for our life together as an academic and spiritual community.

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