Forensic Psychology and the Holy Spirit

On October 21st I’m going to be preaching a sermon on God’s truth in forensic psychology. Ten minutes ago I sent this (now redacted) email to our sermon research team (two theological geeks and one pathologist). Feel free to chime in if you’d like.

“Dear M, Z and M,

In preparation for our meeting on the 16th at the church office at 7:30 pm, I thought I’d throw out a bit of homework.

Basically the plan is to preach M’s vocation (and the vocations of others who do work of a similar nature – oncologists, pathologists, others who’s jobs include mostly bringing bad news).

When I asked M to summarize what he did, he wrote this;

“My job essentially consists of identifying neuro-cognitive impairment (i.e., impaired concentration, memory, speech/language, decision-making) associated with brain pathology and predictive of disability. In other words, 99% of the time I have bad news and the only good news would be if an individual is less impaired than he/she thought, but still impaired.”

Some of the questions I want to bring to M’s profession/vocation are;

1. How does what he does reflect the image of God?

2. What facets of his work are similar to facets of how God works?

3. What passages of the bible or theological doctrines come to mind as you consider his calling/vocation?

To further prime your theological pumps, here are some thoughts M sent me last year (when the idea of preaching on this topic first came up);

“Does a person whose job it is to search for pathology, work in a role similar to the Holy Spirit who convicts of brokenness , sin, impurity? In turn, the pathologist is intimately reminded and convicted by the Holy Spirit of what is unholy and  the need for healing, remediation, reconciliation, resurrection.  Unlike jobs filled with the beauty of creation, the pathologist is reminded daily of the futility of our attempts to be whole without God, never able to forget that we and the otherwise beautiful creation around us is fallen and remain so without the hope of resurrection.”

If Michael is on the right path (and I think he is), then the questions become;

1. How does what he does inform how God’s Spirit does what it does?

2. How can how the Spirit convicts inform how Michael does his job?

3. Are there ways Michael can know and experience God’s convicting presence in the very act of doing what he does at work?

That’s it for now.  Thanks for engaging this process.  See you next Tuesday.


(image – Picasso’s self portrait 1972)

2 thoughts on “Forensic Psychology and the Holy Spirit

  1. JVS

    Most excellent insight amanda! While hard to say, prophetic truth was ultimate meant to bring about good (remediation, healing, restoration). There is something about incisively naming reality that is critical to the process going forward. And tough to do? Think about the prophets who where told to prophesy knowing that the people would not listen; that it wouldn’t make a difference or bring the healing (I think it was Jeremiah).

  2. amanda

    I’m struck rather immediately by the similarity in the vocational calling of the pathologist and the old testament prophets– I don’t imagine either is/was overly excited about bringing te news they’ve been given to bring to their hearers. Both probably find themselves recipients of negative emotions….

    I think one of the heaviest burdens of the prophet–perhaps even more than bearing bad news–was living in a constant awareness of how broken the world was (and is) and sharing not only creations ache for God, but God’s ache for creation.

    Maybe entirely tangental-but struck me nonetheless

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