Introduction to Pastoral Care

Cover of “An Introduction to Pastoral Care” by Charles V. Gerkin

Cover of “An Introduction to Pastoral Care” by Charles V. Gerkin

By Charles V. Gerkin

(p90) The Social Gospel movement—a product of theological liberalism’s optimism about the possibility of transforming a social life governed by the rule of God’s righteous kingdom—gradually gave way to the realism of neo-orthodoxy. The question is how to combine concern for the individual and concern for social transformation?

1. The art of listening (hear within): to invite self-disclosure and communicate acceptance and non-judgmental care.

2. Capacity to observe (look around).

(pp104-105) …pastoral practices in vogue during any particular time in history have most often been closely related to or been a direct outgrowth of emphases in theology that characterize their time. Currently, we are in a transitional period, theologically speaking.

(p105) There is an urgent need to a new model for pastoral care practice. Describes a typology of theological models developed by historical theologian George A. Lindbeck:

1. Propositionalist. Includes all of traditional orthodoxy and some neo-orthodox theology. These theologies function as informative propositions or truth claims about objective realities. The property of these models are that they directly correspond to what is true and real; they simply describe with is. Therefore the primary purpose of pastoral care within this model is to articulate the propositional truth applicable to the situation inn the expectation that the hearer will accept and believe it. [The facts of God] Note: (p109) this view is based on an outmoded philosophy.

2. Experiential-expressivist. Is rooted in the assumption of a common core of human religious experience that may have diverse forms of expression in various cultural contexts. In this model, theological tenets are less analogous to scientific statements than to art, poetry, and asthetics. The goal here is to analogize a person’s or family’s experience with theological symbols. [The universal experience of God] Note: (p109) Is considered too individualistic to get a core theology, plus, Christianity is communal in nature.

3. Cultural-linguistic. Views religions as comprehensive interpretive schemes to interpret self and world. Adopts a certain cultural scheme to interpret the world. Provides pastoral care by providing people with a storied context of ultimate meaning for their lives. It involves meeting a connection between the varied stories of life and the grounding story of the Christian community. Pastoral care becomes the community of faith’s living expression of that grounding story. [The culture of God]

Thus, pastoral care became primarily an effort to facilitate the connection between life stories and the Christian story, and vice versa (p112).

Link to VTS catalog

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