Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology & Psychology

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What is at the root of the problem of humanity?

Is it pride or lack of self-esteem?

Do we love ourselves too much or too little?

The debate about the human condition has often been framed this way in both theological and psychological circles. Convictions about preaching, teaching, marriage and child rearing, as well as politics, social welfare, business management and the helping professions, more often than not, fall on one side or the other of this divide. With theological and psychological insight Terry D. Cooper provides trenchant analysis of this centuries-long debate and leads us beyond the usual impasse.

Humanistic psychology has often regarded traditional Christianity as its archrival in assessing the human condition. Cooper demonstrates how the Christian doctrine of a sinful and fallen humanity sheds light on the human condition which exhibits both pride and self-denigration. Bringing theological insights ranging from Augustine and John Calvin to Reinhold Niebuhr together with the psychological theories of Freud, Jung, Carl Rogers, Gerald May and Karen Horney, Cooper guides readers through the maze of competing claims to a resolution which affirms Christian conviction while critically engaging modern psychological theory.

A model of the proper integration of Christian theology and the discipline of psychology, Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance will be of special help to students and practitioners of psychology, pastoral counseling and clinical psychology.

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Editorial Reviews

Trey Buchanan
"In Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance, Terry Cooper has managed to provide a lively and fully Christian view of human nature and its limitations that avoids sounding both overly simplistic as well as too academic. He intentionally tills the middle ground between self-love and self-hatred that has often typified theological discourse among evangelicals, and in doing so unearths a view of the self that resonates both with the biblical tradition and with modern psychology. Well researched and clearly written, this book will challenge readers to think deeply about their own self-understanding as part of the spiritual task of knowing and abiding in God."
Jack Balswick
"Citing relevant theological and psychological literature Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance,is an example of integration at its best and should prove to be useful reading in a variety of courses at the Christian college and seminary level. At the same time the book is very practical and offers insight to any Christian confused by the current simplistic and contradictory arguments for either pride or self-contempt as the underlying problem of modern persons. As an unexpected plus, the book adds to an understanding of male-female differences in regards to sin and spirituality."
Mark A. Yarhouse
"This is a book of uncommon depth. Terry Cooper demonstrates admirable insight into the human condition, drawing upon both theology and psychology in ways that can only enhance our understanding of pride and self-acceptance. Cooper reminds us that pride and low self-esteem can be two sides of the same coin, and in so doing, he offers us a theologically and psychologically informed account of some of the key facets of what it means to be human. "
Don S. Browning
"This book gives vital new life to the conversation between psychology and theology. It is a brilliant analysis of the relation of sin and pride, useful to the classroom but relevant as well to pastors and clinicians."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830827282
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 6/5/2003
  • Pages: 190
  • Sales rank: 750,056
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry D. Cooper (Ed.D., human development counseling, Vanderbilt University; Ph.D., theology and psychotherapy, St. Louis University) is professor of psychology at St. Louis Community College--Meramec and adjunct professor of religious studies at Webster University. He is the author of Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance.
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Table of Contents

The Direction of This Book1. Pride and Self-Contempt
Psychological Critics of the "Low Self-Esteem" Argument
Social Critiques of Self-Centeredness
Rogers and Niebuhr as Representatives of the Debate
Reenactment of the Pelagian Controversy
The Larger Issue: Sin and Self-Acceptance2. Pride As the Primary Problem
Anxiety and Pride: Niebuhrian Theological Psychology
Differences with Augustine
Niebuhr and Freud: The Deceptive Nature of Sin
The Primacy of Pride
Warning About Equating Narcissism with Niebuhrian Pride
Summary3. Pride, Sensuality and Addiction
Sensuality, Concupiscence and Addiction: From Augustine to Gerald May
Back to the Pride Versus Self-Contempt Conflict
But Is Pride the Problem for Everyone?4. Pride and Self-Loss
Pride and Self-Loss: Socialized to Sin Differently?
Social Versus Individual Sin
Conclusion5. Self-Acceptance and Humanisstic Psychology
The "Gospel" of Humanistic Psychology: The Actualizing Tendency
"Natural Goodness": The Organismic Valuing Process
Incongruence and the Emergence of the Undervalued Self
Reclaiming the Despised Self
"Theologizing" Carl Rogers?
Pride and Low Self-Esteem Intertwined?6. Pride and Self-Hate: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Basic Anxiety
Three Neurotic Trends to Alleviate Anxiety
Common Bonds in All Three Movements
The Idealized Self
Three Responses to the Idealized Self
Pride and Self-Hate
The "Search for Glory"
Neurotic Claims and Entitlement
Genuine Self-Esteem and Neurotic Pride
Horney's Contribution to the Pride Versus Self-Contempt Debate7. Anxiety, Sin and Self-Understanding
Integrating the Pride and Self-Contempt Perspectives
Back to Niebuhr and Feminist Understandings of Sin
Pride and DistrustPride and Sensuality: A Confusion of Terms?
"Manly" and "Womanly" Sin
Equality of Sin, Inequality of Guilt
Anxiety and Its Relationship to Sin
Sinning Out of Strength as Well as Weakness
Select Bibliography
Author Index
Subject Index
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