Annual Convention of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies

The sixth annual convention of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies was held this year on March 31 and April 1, at Pine Rest Christian Association grounds. The formal program was in the chapel and in the multi-purpose room of Children’s Retreat and the meals were served at Cutlerville Christian School. The accommodations and food were excellent, the atmosphere a hospitable one. One could be pardoned, I think, for feeling happy, proud, and thankful to think that this is in a sense “Ours”.

The meeting was opened with devotions led by the Rev. Mr. Miller. Chaplain at the Ypsilanti State Hospital. After the appropriate hymn “He Leadeth Me”, Mr. Miller directed our attention to Scripture and the thought that the spirit of Truth would lead us in all truth—emphasizing here the word “all”.

Dr. Gelmer A. Van Noord expressed words of welcome; Dr. Carl Kromminga, President of the session, made introductory remarks and then handed the gavel to the presiding officer, Rev. E. Alan Richardson of Chicago. He, quite characteristically, spoke with unusually scholarly insight on the need for better communication between those disciplines which are more or less directly concerned with personality problems. He not only emphasized the need for better definition of terms and better understanding of semantic problems, but also the need to define the meanings of change, the goals, and the methods of the respective disciplines in the approach to personality problems. With this as an introduction, Mr. Richardson proceeded to moderate a symposium on “Personality Change: Criteria and Methodology”.

The participants were:

Rev. H. Steele of Holland, as pastor,

Dr. K. V. Kuiper of Grand Rapids, as psychologist,

Dr. T. Monsma of Pine Rest, as psychologist,

Dr. R. F. De Haan of Hope College as educator.

Each spoke with clarity and in considerable detail for their respective fields. In the afternoon their respective presentations were discussed by Rev. R. A. Jager of Grand Haven, Dr. R. Moses of Bethesda Sanatorium, Mr. P. Lucasse of Calvin College, and Mr. M . De Vroome of Grand Rapids Christian High, each in his own field. Dr. J. Plekker presided.

Much of the discussion pointed to the need for a clarification of the difference between “normal” growth process within certain given types of environment and that due to an internal change from normal. The discussion broadened out to a point at which we were discussing 1 – the effect of college and seminary training on the personalities of students, 2 – what effective measures could be taken in altering personalities which showed signs of beginning change to abnormal, and 3 – the place of love in its broader aspects in the whole matter of normal or abnormal personality development. 4 – The change away from “dominic” cited as an indication of the loss of directive authority of the clergy. 5 – Discussion of the validity of psychological tests in evaluating change and as a predictive agent in matters of growth or therapeutic effectiveness. 6 – The effectiveness of a psychiatrist as a person, a symbol, or as one with a directive philosophy in the therapeutic process. 7 – The importance or unimportance of our Christian education (present school system) in producing change in the personality for good or bad.

After the above symposium, we concluded that we would do well to return to the topic of a few years ago, “What is a Christian approach to the understanding of personality structure?”

After the annual dinner and special music by members of the Pine Rest nursing staff, Prof. Kromminga gave the presidential address. He pointed out that in his opinion we had. so to speak, “arrived” as an organization and that we should think in terms of more impact and organized work. He suggested, for instance, a biannual chapter or sectional meeting and more frequent communication through a bulletin. Somewhat in conclusion, he suggested that we select a formal research project for a research fellowship. There was much discussion relating to the practical implementation of this suggestion.

During the morning session of the second clay, after devotions led by the Rev. Mr. Vermeer, we listened to a very thorough and enlightening paper on “Alcoholism – a Moral Issue or a Disease”, delivered by Rev. Dr. Elton Holtrop of Battle Creek V. A. Hospital. The figure 75,000,000 users of alcoholic beverages and 5,000,000 alcoholics indicated the importance of the issue and the tremendous social, physical, and spiritual loss amounting to astronomical figures if these can be measured in dollars all indicating the moral aspects of the problem of alcoholism not only for users, but for nonusers. Further, the speaker pointed out that abuse rather than temperate use was the definitely un biblical thing. recognizing, of course, that one must heed the scriptural admonitions regarding Christian liberty and the giving of offense. Further, that one must distinguish the “Alcoholic” with his own personality traits, from the simple excessive user, thc drunkard, and the symptomatic user.

Dr. J. Jellema of Grand Rapids, with his considerable experience in treating alcoholics, was the discussant. He helped to clarify the problem and to point out the importance of the faithful friend or the patient neighbor in approaching this problem. The conclusion was that the intemperate use on the one hand and refusal to accept treatment for the specific disease of alcoholism on the other hand, are the real moral issues.

The afternoon session was devoted to an excellent presentation of a case study by the Pine Rest staff. This provoked a great deal of discussion of the importance of real parental love in the earliest days of life, the place of pastoral leadership in the life of the growing child, the conflicts over real and delusional guilt, the role of acceptance in the therapeutic process, and the time and place in the process for religious therapy or pastoral counseling. Actually, the problem of personality change in this case returned us to the first day’s discussion bringing into a practical setting some of the more theoretical postulates of the symposium. The president for next year is Rev. Alan Richardson. The newly elected. Board Members are Dr. Daling of Calvin College, Dr. De Haan of Hope College, and Mr. Besteman of the United States Department of Public Health (Virginia).

The meeting closed with words of appreciation and farewell until, God willing, next year. Our organization is growing, our concepts are crystallizing, our horizons arc increasing. We seek a larger membership.

Respectfully submitted, W. H. Rooks Nato; This is submitted for publication in this journal. Others were

assigned other journals. Official proceedings of this year’s and past years’ meetings can be obtained at cost from Dr, Cornelius Jaarsma, Secretary, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.