Well, we are finally at the end of my Psychology Class series. If you want to start from the beginning, here's the link for the introduction post. If you haven't read the series, nothing in this post will make sense.
In the introduction, I promised that I would conclude by explaining my own behavior with regard to my requirement to take this class (plus two more). As I was going through the class, I noticed one peculiar thing about the psychological theorists: they would develop a theory and seemed to apply it to everyone, except themselves. The Behavioral theorists performed experiments and theorized that all behavior was the result of the environment. My question to them is simply this: "What environmental factors caused you to do the experiment?" The theorists never attempted to answer such a question. These theorists seemed to act as if they, themselves, were "immune" to or "above" their own behavioral theories. I've noticed this with some other theorists in other disciplines, but I won't go into those right now. This is why I felt that it is important that after I posted the series, that I analyze myself based on what I have posted.
My resistance to taking the extra classes was simply based on my emotions and limited perspective. My emotions: I was so deeply committed to the idea of graduating four months sooner, that I was not able to see that these extra classes might actually do me some good in other parts of my life. This speaks to the strength of emotions. Emotions are usually the first to react to any idea (prior to thinking something through reasonably). If I had taken the time to think through the advantages of the extra classes, then I would not have had as much emotional resistance.
As soon as I could put my emotions to the side, my mind was open to the possibility that these classes might not be so bad. As I mentioned in the introduction, I really should do more of letting God guide me. His perspective is complete, while mine is extremely limited (hence my unfounded, emotional reaction). I showed, in first few parts of the series, that I believe that the Cognitive perspective encompasses all the perspectives. It can explain peoples' behavior based on the fact that they have a limited perspective. I took that further to say that when a person does not have a complete perspective, it may cause unwarranted (and flat-out "wrong") reactions (such as mine), along with further actions to those reactions (the defense mechanisms show up quite often here).
If you remember, you will recall that I mentioned that the Cognitive perspective, even though it encompasses all the other perspectives, undermines its own reliability. It does this because it is a limited perspective, yet states that limited perspectives cause people to behave in ways that may not be in accordance to reality. The way that this undermining can be overcome is to realize that God is omniscient, and he guides us when we do not have all the information (if we allow him). When I was able to realize what was actually going on, I was able to change my attitude toward and my behavior in these classes.
Many Christians struggle with simply trusting God to lead their lives (myself included). We want to know every little detail and understand every possible outcome before we make a decision. We want absolute control over our lives. This behavior is explained in the fallen nature of man. By default, we crave absolute control. By default, we resist help. By default, we think that we can somehow "make it" on our own. By default, we are prideful. By default, we are stubborn. Just because we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, does not mean that all those things disappear- we are still sinners (even after the initial acceptance), and are constantly in need of Jesus Christ. When we recognize that fact, then all those default positions are reduced (they still don't disappear, though).
Our emotions are the most powerful barrier between us and our recognition of truth. Through this class, God has opened my mind to see that I can't be as rigid as I have been in the past. I have observed that I don't get as intellectually frustrated with people when they are staring at an answer, yet can't see it. I understand that emotions cloud people's vision (including my own). This understanding has helped me to see where the Holy Spirit works on the unbeliever- at the emotional level, to open the heart and the mind to the truth. Until the Holy Spirit removes the emotional barrier for the unbeliever, the unbeliever will continue to rationalize away answers provided to his questions. However, as an apologist, I must never refuse to "provide an answer for the hope that is within me"; that answer may be the final one that is needed for the Spirit to break through the person's emotional barrier.
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