The Mission Statement of Eastern University’s Psychology Department
The departmental mission statement parallels that of the university as a whole, while reflecting the particular character of psychology as an academic discipline and profession. The Eastern University mission statement includes commitments a) to scholarship and teaching; b) to Scripture; c) to the Church; d) to evangelism; e) to social justice; f) to the local and global community; and g) to practicing within the university community the values of caring and compassion, justice and integrity, competence and affirmation.
We affirm that the central calling of our department is to aim for excellence in teaching and research, consistent with the best past and present exemplars in our discipline. We do not, however, undertake such a task uncritically, for we reject the assumptions of metaphysical naturalism and the autonomy of reason that characterize much of mainstream psychology, and the assumptions of individualism and moral relativism that accompany much of applied psychology. We affirm that while the Bible cannot be treated as a psychology textbook, nevertheless it contains a God-revealed world view which provides foundational assumptions about the nature of personhood, and foundational principles for social life. By means of these we judge existing theories in psychology and strive to craft better theories.
We are committed to developing the potential of our students as Christian scholars and practitioners of psychology. We reject the dualistic assumption that one’s life as a scholar or professional is separate from, or only marginally relevant to one’s calling as a Christian, and affirm that a well-developed world view should inform our Christian graduates’ professional activities as a whole. Because we affirm the working of common grace in all human beings, we believe that psychology can and should inform theology and church practice. In reciprocal manner, however systematic and practical theology must be allowed to inform psychological theory and practice. At the same time, because we affirm the finiteness and fallenness of all human beings, we reject utopian theories about individual and social life, whether these originate in the discipline at large, or among Christians within it. We practice allegiance to theories and methods with a healthy sense of tentativeness, knowing that we live ‘between the times’ and that ultimately it is only God in Jesus Christ who will restore societal and individual mental health in a new heaven and earth.
Despite these qualifiers, we are committed to preparing graduates for confident service to the academy, the church universal, and the local and global community, knowing that eschatological hope both calls and empowers us to erect signposts pointing toward God’s restored rule over all things. We are committed to the prophets’ call for justice, particularly to marginalized groups, and call upon our students to tithe their professional expertise in the service of this goal. We are also committed to Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations, but emphasize the need to contextualize such efforts with cross-cultural sensitivity, and to recognize the inappropriateness of treating either the classroom or the counseling session primarily as a forum for evangelism. Finally, while recognizing our own limitations and potential for sin and error, we are committed to the task of being caring role-models and mentors to our students, as individuals and as cohorts, with regard to the commitments outlined above.