Pamela Ebstyne King
This paper summarizes a Christological and trinitarian anthropology in order to propose a developmental teleology that offers a vision for being and becoming human. From a Christological perspective, Jesus Christ is the perfect image of God, and becoming like Christ as distinct persons is God’s intention for all of humanity. How humans are conformed to Christ occurs through and results in mutual, reciprocal relations with God, humans, and creation. Drawing on Christology and the doctrine of the image of God, I propose that living as reciprocating selves is God’s telos for humankind. As such, the significance of conformity to the image of God in Christ, human diversity, relatedness, and reciprocity are discussed in light of humankind’s relationship with God and one another. As humans respond to God’s love and participate in the ongoing creating, redeeming, and perfecting work of the Trinity, humanity assists in building God’s kingdom and glorifying God. This formulation does not limit the imago to a singular substance, quality, ability, or disposition that mirrors the image of God, but favors a malleable understanding of imaging God that enables humans to participate in the life of the triune God and become more Christ-like as unique selves. From this standpoint, imaging God is not only relational, but dynamic, functional, and directional. Although this telos is an eschatological goal, implications for Christian psychology are discussed.
Neurodiversity and Thriving: A Case Study in Theology-Informed Psychology
Author: Leidenhag, J. & King, P. E. Abstract: The concept of ‘neurodiversity’ to speak of conditions such as autism, dyslexia, and others as differences, not disorders or pathologies, relies on a robust account of human flourishing that can incorporate these conditions. Conceptions of illness and well-being are always partially theological, whilst also having to be grounded in the empirical realities of the present time. Therefore, positive developmental psychology is a particularly apt field for developing a theology-informed psychology. This article argues that recent work in theology-engaged psychology of thriving, as opposed to subjective flourishing, is the best approach…
Hindsight in the 2020’s: Looking back and forward to positive youth development and thriving
Author: King, P. E., & Mangan, S. Abstract: Positive youth development (PYD) started as a field of practice before it became a field of study. With a heightened awareness of the necessity of a framework for the thriving of all youth and all societies, the chapter considers the purpose of PYD and consequently revisits the concept of teleology, offering a revised understanding of telos, or the ultimate goal of a given construct—in this case, of PYD. It refines and updates the current notion of thriving to not only emphasize adaptivity and relationality as central to thriving but also…
Back to the Future: Volf’s Eschatological Vision of Flourishing for a Psychology of Thriving
Author: Pamela Ebstyne King, Rebecca Ann Baer Abstract: In this article, we aim to explain how Miroslav Volf’s theology of flourishing provides a new vision for psychologists. As the Henry B. Wright Professor and Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Volf is recognized as one of the most influential living theologians. His recent work offers a theology of human flourishing based in an eschatological vision of God’s homecoming, the unification of the Creator with His created. For Volf, the end provides a telos, a purpose, and direction, for current human life. He asserts that although…
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