Psychotherapy and Christianity: Methods and Challenges

Psychotherapy and Christianity: Methods and Challenges

Jeremy Lim (HELP University, Malaysia) and Ke Hui Chuah (HELP University, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6073-9.ch012

Abstract

Christianity is counted as one of the biggest religious groups in the world, numbering at over 2 billion individuals who identify themselves with this religion. As of the 2010 census, the Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal reported that an estimated 9.2% of the population in Malaysia identified themselves as Christians. In numerical terms, this equates to approximately 3 million individuals spread out all over the Malaysian peninsular as well as Sabah and Sarawak who consider themselves part of the Christian church. This chapter intends to do four things: 1) provide a brief history of the church and Christianity, 2) acquaint the reader with basic Christian beliefs, 3) provide insight into the methods and challenges of working with the population in Malaysia drawing from both local as well as international literature, and 4) provide the implications of the methods and challenges of working with the Christian population.
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Introduction

He answered, “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” - Luke 10:27, NIV

Worldwide, Christianity (including Protestants, Roman Catholics, and others) is counted as one of the biggest religious groups in the world, numbering at over 2,000,000,000 individuals who identify themselves with this religion (BBC, 2011). As of the 2010 census, the Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal (2010) reported that there is an estimated 9.2% of the population in Malaysia identified themselves as Christians. In numerical terms, this equates to approximately 3,000,000 individuals spread out all over the Malaysian peninsular as well as Sabah and Sarawak who consider themselves part of the Christian church. This essay intends to do 4 things: 1) provide a brief history of the church and Christianity, 2) acquaint the reader with basic Christian beliefs, 3) provide insight into the methods and challenges of working with the population in Malaysia drawing from both local as well as international literature, and 4) provide the implications of the methods and challenges of working with the Christian Protestant population.

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Brief History Of The Church

For many people, Christianity is synonymous from its founder from whom the name derives from – Jesus Christ. The following contains a short exposition on both the story of Jesus Christ and the history of the church as a means to provide the reader a basis for which to approach clients. This approach is presented from a Protestant point of view.

The Bible, Christianity’s holy book, teaches that Jesus Christ (which means Yeshua the Messiah i.e. the Savior) was born in Bethlehem, Israel, to a virgin called Mary. Christians believe that Mary was pregnant not by human or physical means but by direct divine action through the Holy Spirit (BBC, 2009a). Jesus himself represented the fulfillment of prophecies of other parts of the Bible and was believed to have been born over 2000 years ago (approximately 4-7 BC) (BBC, 2009a; Robinson, 2008). The Bible covers Jesus’ early life in brief and Jesus’ public influence in detail in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, reputed eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life (BBC, 2009a). During this period in the public sphere, Jesus gathered many followers, foremost of whom were the 12 disciples who later went on to lead the early church (BBC, 2009a). The climax of Jesus’ story is when the religious leaders, critical of Jesus and believing him to proclaim falsehoods, apprehended and crucified Jesus (crucifixion is an ancient Roman means of execution, where the condemned is nailed to a cross and left to hang until he/she suffocates) (BBC, 2009a). However, the Bible teaches that three days after Jesus’ death by crucifixion, Jesus was raised to life again by the power of God whereupon he was taken up to heaven a few days later after having spent time with many eyewitnesses (BBC, 2009a).

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