The Reciprocating Self: Human Development in Theological Perspective

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On the basis of a theologically grounded understanding of the nature of persons and the self, Jack O. Balswick, Pamela Ebstyne King and Kevin S. Reimer present a model of human development that ranges across all of life's stages: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood, elder adulthood. They do this by drawing on a biblical model of relationality, where the created goal or purpose of human development is to become a reciprocating self--fully and securely related to others and to God.

Along the way, they provide a context for understanding individual development issues--concerns, tensions, worries or crises encountered by the self in the context of change. Awareness of these issues is most pronounced at developmental transitional points: learning to talk and walk, beginning to eat unassisted, going to school, developing secondary sexual physical features, leaving home, obtaining full-time employment, becoming engaged and then married, having a child for the first time, parenting an adolescent, watching children move away from home, retiring, experiencing decline in physical and mental health, and, finally, facing imminent death.

Throughout, Balswick, King and Reimer contend that, since God has created human beings for relationship, to be a self in reciprocating relationships is of major importance in negotiating these developmental issues.

Critically engaging social science research and theory, The Reciprocating Self offers an integrated approach that provides insight helpful to college and seminary students as well as those serving in the helping professions. Those preparing for or currently engaged in Christian ministry will be especially rewarded by the in-depth discussion of the implications for moral and faith development nurtured in the context of the life of the church.

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Editorial Reviews

F. LeRon Shults
"The Reciprocating Self offers an outstanding integration of theological anthropology and social scientific theories of human development. The authors demonstrate a hermeneutical sensitivity to the philosophical turn to 'relationality' that has so deeply impacted contemporary discourse, as well as a passionate concern for facilitating transformation in religious communities. Both theologians and psychologists will benefit from this interdisciplinary exploration of the dynamics of reciprocity that shape the relations of human persons to each other in fellowship with the trinitarian God."
Stephen G. Post
"It would be difficult to imagine a book that does a better job of weaving together the very best science on human development over the life course with a reliable Christian theology of the Trinity. This deep integrative writing at the interface of lifespan psychology and theology is extraordinary. Throughout, the book has a wonderful practical emphasis that makes it a remarkable resource for pastoral counseling and for the Christian psychologist. The authors deserve immense credit for creating an integrative vision that will be of great use to the competent psychologist who is also the committed Christian."
Ray S. Anderson
"Combining years of experience, breadth of scholarship and theological insight, the authors present a coherent and cohesive new paradigm for understanding the process of human development as simultaneously including social, spiritual and psychological reciprocity of personal being. Drawing upon the relevant theories of human development as well as of current theological reflection on the nature of human personhood as a dynamic 'imaging' of a trinitarian Creator God, this book sets a new base line for the next generation of students and scholars who wish to study, practice and write as Christians who are also caregivers. This book ought to be required reading for those preparing to be Christian-oriented counselors and therapists and must reading for those who already are."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830827930
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Pages: 334
  • Sales rank: 877,357
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack O. Balswick (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is senior professor of sociology and family development at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He has twice received an American Senior Fulbright Scholar Fellowship.

He has been associate editor of the Journal of Marriage and Family, Family Relations, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and Review of Religious Research. He has authored or coauthored articles in over seventy professional publications and has presented papers at conferences around the world. He is author or coauthor of seventeen books, including Men at the Crossroads, The Family: A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home, The Gift of Gender, Social Problems: A Christian Understanding and Response, Relationship-Empowerment Parenting, Authentic Human Sexuality, The Reciprocating Self: Human Development in Theological Perspective and A Model for Marriage: Covenant, Grace, Empowerment and Intimacy.

Pamela Ebstyne King completed her doctorate in family studies at the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. She also earned her masters of divinity at Fuller. Her undergraduate work was done at Stanford University, and she returned there for postdoctoral study.

She is assistant professor of psychology at Fuller and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She has published articles in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Developmental Psychology and Applied Developmental Science. She is coeditor of the Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence.

Kevin S. Reimer (Ph.D., Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary) is dean and professor of psychology at Fresno Pacific University.

Reimer did his postdoctoral fellowship in moral psychology with Lawrence J. Walker at the University of British Columbia. He is published in the areas of cognitive, developmental and personality psychology. He has received research grants from the Fetzer Institute and the John Templeton Foundation and is ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA.

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Table of Contents

PrefacePart 1: Toward an Integrated Model of Human Development
1. The Developmental Dilemma
2. The Reciprocating Self: A Trinitarian Analogy of Being and Becoming
3. Reciprocating Relationships
4. The Reciprocating Self and Developmental Theory
5. The Reciprocating Self in Social ContextPart 2: Life-Span Stages
6. Infancy: The Emergence of the Reciprocating Self
7. Childhood: The Reciprocating Self Goes to School
8. Adolescence: More Reciprocity Than You Think
9. Emerging Adulthood and Young Adulthood: The Solidifying of the Reciprocating Self
10. Middle Adulthood: The Generativity of the Reciprocating Self
11. Late Adulthood: The Senescing of the Reciprocating SelfPart 3: Building the Scaffold: Applications for Ministry
12. Special Issues in Human Development: Morality
13. Differentiated Faith: Spiritual and Religious Development
14. Turning Steeples into Scaffolds: The Reciprocating Religious Community
Names Index
Subject Index
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