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Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology & Psychology [Kindle Edition]

Terry D. Cooper

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Book Description

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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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2029 KB
  • Print Length: 190 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (20 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001HL0E1G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #813,547 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pride and self-contempt...together? 15 Aug. 2005
By Dan A. Newberry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cooper does an outstanding job of comparing Augustine/Niebuhr's view of pride as humanity's primary problem with Carl Rogers's stance on self-contempt as everyone's dilemma. The author deftly merges the two theories to make it something other than an either/or situation. A tension is easily recognized between theology and humanistic psychology, but Cooper with the help of writings from an early 20th C. psychologist, Karen Horney, show us that people with pride have a hidden self-hatred & people with low self-esteem have a hidden pride system. And he courageously tackles the feminists' rejection of pride, which they predominantly consider to be a male problem, regarding women's issues with surprising results - an anxious greed vs. greedy anxiety comparison. Cooper maintains that all anxiety stems from inner fears about how we relate to ourselves & not so much from external pressures. As a consequence, we expend too much time trying to nurse an idealized self rather than experiencing our genuine self, according to Cooper.

Read this book with a highlighter in one hand. You'll want to refer back to several statements eventually. In short, I felt pretty dang naked, but it was absolutely liberating. I think that both Christians and humanists will enjoy reading this one.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pride breads Contempt 27 April 2006
By Wil Roese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some such as St. Augustine and Reinhold Niebuhr believe the fundamental problem with people is too much pride while others such as Carl Rodgers believe the maim problem is a lack of self-esteem. Terry Cooper does an excellent job of bringing these apparently mutually exclusively views together. He starts with Kierkegaard's anxiety which leads to pride and the substitution of ourselves or others for the center of our lives. This leads to an idealized-self. When we are are not able to live up to our idealized-self it produces self contempt. Terry shows that pride and self-contempt go together. There is always some self-contempt even in the most proud and there is always some pride even in the most self-loathing.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book! 30 Nov. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're interested in or concerned with the intersection of Christian theology and modern psychologies, this book is for you!

Focusing primarily on the Catholic- Augustinian theological tradition, as represented by Reinhold Niebuhr, and the humanist psychological school of thought, represented by Carl Rogers, Dr. Cooper raises the question of which of these seemingly disparate approaches better understands the problems of human nature and behavior. In the course of answering this basic question, he takes us on a stimulating tour of both approaches- highlighting their unique strengths and weaknesses in the process. He discusses at length the work of psychoanalysts Karen Horney and Rollo May, and then asks whether they might offer prospects for understanding and incorporating both Niebuhr and Rogers. Finally, Dr. Cooper offers his own synthesis and conclusion.

This is seriously one of the best books I've read on this topic- and I've read quite a few. Dr. Cooper is fair, balanced, and concise in his presentation of others' views and insights, and his analysis is thought- provoking. Having struggled with some of these insights myself over the years, I have found this book invaluable in articulating and helping to frame my experience. I really can't give a book higher praise than that- read it!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful 9 May 2007
By Heber Farnsworth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was very impressed with this book. This isn't a self-help book per se. Instead it is a good review of the history of thought on this subject by scholars (both of psychology and theology). It also presents very useful insights into how to think about human behavior as it relates to self-esteem, guilt, shame, and sin. It's not an easy read but it's worth the effort.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it low self-esteem or pride? 27 Dec. 2010
By Debulai - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book begins with a scenario that is right out of my life and I suspect the lives of many others where you find yourself arguing with someone about whether the unpleasant behavior of another friend is prompted by their low self-esteem/self hatred or by their pride/arrogance. This book resolves that argument.

As other reviewers have noted, the author addresses this issue in the most lucid manner by comparing and synthesizing the work of (primarily) theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, humanistic psychologists Carl Rogers and Rollo May, feminist theologians such as Judith Plaskow, and psychoanalyst Karen Horney. He makes it easy to see that, indeed, these are two sides of the same coin.

I think that many who are plagued by low self-esteem are - at least somewhat - aware of their grandiosity, but this book clarifies the process and describes the elements that create this neurotic state of being...this idealized self whose demands can never be satisfied...that falls into despair and depression when the mask slips off.

Finally, on a personal level, this book has assisted me on my own journey towards self-acceptance and given me both insight and encouragement.
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