I recently received a letter from a young Christian college student asking how the things she was studying in a social psychology class related to basic Biblical doctrines regarding man and creation. As I prayerfully considered her letter three points came to mind. I believe that careful reflection upon the subject matter of social psychology (and other social science disciplines as well) clearly reveals confirmation of at least these three basic Biblical truths. The first of these is our basic helplessness apart from God. In the words of Paul, "what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (I Cor. 4:7). Modem scholarship in the social sciences certainly confirms this Biblical truth. Without God we can do nothing. We become slaves of our pleasures, habits, environment, etc.
This truth is communicated in the social sciences in the form of the idea that we are products of our environment and that to a great degree we are bound to the situational context. The second important Biblical truth testified to by modem scholarship is our fallen and sinful nature. Research findings showing man to be noble and virtuous are few and far between if not totally nonexistent. The idea of sovereign and noble man as "the captain of his soul" are unscriptural holdovers of the Renaissance rebellion against the sovereignty of God and the truth that "no one is good except God alone." (Luke 18:19). The third point is one I do not know exactly how to word. It follows, I believe, from the scripture passage, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." (Gen. 1:26) Man in God's image has a great intrinsic desire to know, create, understand, control, predict and have meaning. One can find all sorts of evidence of this image in the research findings of social psychology. Paradoxically perhaps but also related to God's image in just the same way is man's love of rest and security. We want freedom and flexibility but we also want structure. We want to know and understand but we also want to trust and believe without knowing as little children. We want mysteries both solved and unsolved. This, of course, is why we can never be satisfied apart from God, and your studies in the social sciences will testify to that. Godless man is restless and dissatisfied.
Paul D. Ackerman