Toward a definition of Christian identity: Using the interpretive lens of creation, fall, and redemption in Christian counseling
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This dissertation examines the relationship between Christian identity and the biblical themes of creation, fall, and redemption. Chapter 1 covers the thesis of the dissertation, reasons why the dissertation makes a helpful contribution to the field, a definition of terms, background information, methodology, and delimitations. Chapter 2 develops a framework for understanding human nature, in light of creation, fall, and redemption, that will function as a lens for our later discussion on identity. With each theme of redemptive history, we look at the biblical narrative, the image of God, and a psychology of the theme. Chapter 3 focuses on identity. This chapter provides a survey of the modern psychological resources on identity, a Christian critique of secular identity research, and a proposal for a new definition of identity. Particular attention will be paid to Erik Erikson and James Marcia because their work has been highly influential on identity research. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 apply the biblical themes of creation, fall, and redemption to identity, respectively. The goal of each chapter is to apply the theological content of chapter two to our proposed definition of identity from chapter three. By doing this, we form a more distinctively Christian approach to identity. Each chapter is divided into two parts: (1) a discussion of self-representations (the me-self) and (2) a discussion of Christian identity formation. Chapter 7 focuses on the Christian counselor's role in helping Christian clients understand and change their identity. Six strategies are presented to demonstrate how to apply the ideas of this dissertation to counseling. The point of this chapter is not to provide an exhaustive list of strategies, but to offer just a few examples of how Christian counselors can facilitate identity change.