The role of the cross as a transformative symbol in Christian counseling
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This dissertation explored the role of the symbol of the cross for Christian counselors utilizing an overview of significant theological issues and psychological theories. Chapter 1 introduces the study of the symbol of the cross, the primary theologians, and selected psychological theories. In addition, the qualitative research methodology was outlined. Chapter 2 sets the theological foundation for the study of the cross. An overview of significant issues related to religious symbols, an introduction to semiotics, Scriptural theology based on Paul's theology of the cross, and review of theological perspectives on the meaning of religious symbols and the symbol of the cross. Alister McGrath's Evangelical perspective was presented as foundational for the research. Chapter 3 developed the psychological theories utilized for this project. These included Carl G. Jung's analytic psychology, Donald W. Winnicott's object relations theory, John Bowlby's attachment theory, and John Ashbrook's neuropsychology perspectives. Theological analysis and applications for each psychological theory were offered from John McDargh, Tim Clinton, Gary Sibcy, and Lee Kirkpatrick. Chapter 4 presented an overview of Charles Spurgeon's life story, with emphasis on his conversion and preaching ministry. The impact of the cross on his life was illustrated, as was the centrality of the cross in his sermon text. Chapter 5 summarized the results of the QSR N6 qualitative analysis of Spurgeon's sermon text from John 13-21. Occurrences of the word "cross" were identified, coded, and evaluated in light of the theological and psychological foundations. Themes were identified and application suggested based on the theological and psychological discussion. Chapter 6 suggested application of the results to Christian counseling as themes from Spurgeon's sermons, theological understandings, and psychological perspectives were incorporated. Specific discussion focused on the atonement, attachment to God, self-esteem, forgiveness, and guilt. Chapter 7 summarized the research utilizing a case illustration and outlining specific applications of this research for Christian counselors. Further development and integration of the theological and psychological issues identified in this research were suggested.