The ingredients of the psychological certainly exist. They are among the most important and interesting features of our inner life, which includes thought patterns, personality, emotions, and individual motivations. But is their conceptual holding tank—the psychological—a real and useful category, or is it unnecessary and unhelpful for understanding humanity? Is there a distinct part of us that is not spiritual and not biological—but psychological? I suggest that what we know as the psychological is an expression of our bodies and spirits.
Yes, I am raising the trichotomist perspective again. It was popularized by Clyde Narramore in the late 1950’s when he announced the following:
The problem here is that Scripture does not identify separate psychological problems that are divorced from our bodies and spirits.
I raise this question about the psychological because it is a category that tends to be partitioned from Scripture and its active oversight. Notice, for example, that in Narramore’s formulation the psychological is outside the domain of pastoral care and, as a result, Scripture itself. This means the psychological is disconnected from, or peripheral to, our connection to God. This disconnection should arouse our suspicions. Berkouwer writes,
“We may say without fear of contradiction that the most striking thing in the Biblical portrayal of man lies in this, that it never asks attention for man in himself, but demands our fullest attention for man in his relation with God.”
Anything that falls short of this falls short of a biblical view of the person.