THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS DOUBT by Philip M. Helfaer

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS DOUBT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Despite the title, this is not so much a dissertation on the dynamics of religious doubt as an illustration of it via a dozen case histories of the causes and effects of such doubt among both liberal and conservative Protestants. Helfaer prefaces his case studies with a relatively brief analysis of Protestant theology vis a vis the sociological and psychological makeup of Protestant theological students (the subjects of the studies), and with an explanation of the Freudian principles applied in his investigation. His thesis is that religious doubt generally represents not so much the rejection of, or the attempt to reject, religious beliefs, but a search for beliefs which correspond more closely to perceived needs. As a corollary, one may conclude that religious doubt, far from being a ""temptation against faith,"" is often an invitation, or at least a prelude, to deeper faith. There is much in Helfaer's work to enlighten clergymen and religious counselors, though the unrelenting professional terminology will discourage those without training in psychology.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1972
Publisher: Beacon