Reviews of
Authentic Love:
Theory and Therapy

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Authentic Love: Theory and Therapy

Reviews - Page 6


Perhaps the most significant factor in J. Brennan Mullaney's new book, Authentic Love, is that it does not bifurcate the person, i.e. as either spiritual or as physical/psychological, but as the whole "human". Mullaney is true to who he himself is, as every professional and author ought to be. He is a "Christian therapist" and, as such, boldly asserts an understanding of the person which is "both/and" rather than "either/or".

Too easily the various professions would like to believe they have the "answer" ...whether that be economics, astronomy, politics, theology, psychiatry, chemistry, medicine, physics, or whatever. There are always opposing views which often appear to fail to realize that every viewpoint may have both a valid and an invalid understanding. What is important is an amalgamation, if not a coalescence, so that we develop a comprehensive if complex understanding rather than any exclusionary conclusion. Mullaney has done this brilliantly in that he does not exclude psychiatry/psychology nor does he advocate only a narrowly focused theological view of human problems or needs. The theological issues he propounds are profound and probe the essence of the Christian meaning of "created in the image of God" while he also recognizes the need for therapeutic assessment toward the modification of volitional (or non-volitional) human behavior. Mullaney affirms his Christian viewpoint but does so without challenge of contradiction or conflict with other religious traditions. It might be said that Mullaney moves beyond diagnosis and treatment to deep understanding and potential renewal.

Perhaps the most difficult concept of this book to comprehend, yet critically essential to understanding Mullaney's approach, is "le pointe vierge", the core, the essence, the deep, deep, deep center of individual identity Without knowing "le pointe vierge" we are wandering aimlessly; with knowing our "le pointe vierge" we are, like a gyroscope on a spacecraft, guided precisely in our orbit. What that boils down to is the identification of a single force, concept, ideal (callit what you will) that controls and motivates human behavior. What "force" exceeds all others? Because of cultural semantic baggage it may not be easily understood or translated but there is no other concept that comes close...it is love.

— Rev. Dr. Vernon B. Van Bruggen, Ret.
Sanford, North Carolina
B.A., Valley City State University, Valley City, North Dakota, 1960
M.Div., WesternTheological Seminary, Holland, Michigan, 1962
D. Min., McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, 1981
Presbyterian pastor of churches in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio, 1962 to 1978
Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of New Brunswick, Trenton, New Jersey, 1978 to 1998


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