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WHY PASTORAL? Clergy members are usually one of the first, if not the first, persons to be asked for counsel on family problems and domestic violence issues. Historically, clergy have played an important role in the guidance of their parishioners. They are seen as honest, familiar, and understanding. Moreover, those with strong religious faith may view clergy as their ideal resource since the clergy understand their moral and spiritual beliefs. In fact, because people are religious, clergy are often frontline mental health counsellors. One of the most common problems that ministers encounter are marital problems. Marital problems often include domestic violence issues. Studies have shown that individuals and families that seek counseling on marital problems do not initially disclose that violence is a problem in their relationship. Clergy often struggle with the tension between salvaging a marriage and protecting victims of spouse abuse. Unfortunately, most clergy are often unprepared or lack sufficient training to help victims of domestic violence. Thus, dealing with domestic violence requires special training and ministry. That’s why it must be viewed from a pastoral perspective. What is Pastoral Theology? (Thomas Oden) Pastoral theology is that branch of Christian theology that deals with the office and functions of the pastor. It is theology because it treats of the consequences of God’s selfdisclosure in history. It is pastoral because it deals with those consequences as they pertain to the roles, tasks, duties, and work of the pastor. Pastoral theology is a special form of practical theology because it focuses on the practice of ministry, with particular attention to the systematic definition of the pastoral office and its function. Pastoral theology is also a form of systematic theology, because it attempts a systematic, consistent reflection on the offices and gifts of ministry, and their integral relationship with the tasks of ministry. Pastoral theology is distinguishable, yet inseparable, from exegesis. historical and systematic theology, ethics, liturgics, and psychology of religion. Even though it interweaves insights from all these disciplines into its understanding of the practice of ministry, it deserves to he viewed as a distinctive discipline. As theology, pastoral theology is attentive to that knowledge of God witnessed to in Scripture, mediated through tradition, reflected upon by systematic reasoning, and embodied in personal and social experience .It seeks to give cleat’ definition to the tasks of ministry and enable its improved practice. Because it is a pastoral discipline, pastoral theology seeks to join the theoretical with the practical. It is theoretical insofar as it seeks to develop a consistent theory of ministry, accountable to Scripture and tradition experientially sound and internally self-consistent. Yet it is not merely a theoretical statement or objective description of what occurs in ministry. It is also a practical discipline, for it is concerned with implementing concrete pastoral tasks rather than merely defining them. Its proximate goal is an improved theory of ministry. Its longer ranged goal is the improved practice of ministry.
considering his or her gifts. possibilities and personal life-style. capabilities. The Nature of Pastoral Ministry The goal of pastoral ministry is to minister as Jesus Christ did. Pastoral ministry therefore. Since it involves a community. People seek God for many reasons. and the ultimate model of ministry. One should note that not all who engage in full-time ministry are ordained ministers.2 • • • • • • Pastoral theology is defined as a practical theological discipline which focuses on the ministry or care of souls. and what is believed he could have done if he were in the world today are generally considered as guiding principles of pastoral ministry. • • . experiences. even if a certain financial remuneration may be part of it. to God. talent and time to full-time ministry for the salvation of souls. Service of God and neighbour is the bedrock of all pastoral ministries. Pastoral theology scientifically and systematically orders the process through which people are led to God. skills. One should be accountable to the Christian community for the pastoral ministry exercised within it. and apply the scriptures and theology to the practice of ministry. There are many non-ordained or lay ministers who with full dedication and much self-sacrifice. every exercise of pastoral ministry is public. What Jesus Christ did during his earthly life. The pastoral minister is primarily accountable. and so tries to be honest with himself or herself and with others in exercising pastoral ministry. The Role of the Pastoral Minister • • • The pastoral minister is one who responds positively to a call or vocation from God The pastoral minister is one who is authorized or commissioned by an ecclesial community to engage in pastoral assignment or pastoral service. in order to discern whether or not these are in consonance with the demands of the specific ministry to which he or she feels called. pastoral ministry has service (diakonia) as its primary target. Pastoral ministry is therefore. should usually be aimed at meeting the ordinary running cost of providing pastoral ministry. give their energy. Since Jesus Christ came to serve and not be served. Pastoral theology reflects on the scriptures and theology in the light of ministry or care of souls. tendencies. not private action. and need a pastoral guide who can bring the word of God to bear on their concrete life situations. The pastoral theologian has the task of structuring a Christian assembly in such a way that ministry can be carried out effectively. One who feels called to engage in a certain pastoral ministry should earnestly search his or her inward self. takes place in the context of a Christian community. not targeted at financial gain. what he commanded. Pastoral theology trains the minister to read the signs of the times. as part of the community service towards the promotion of the kingdom of God. limitations. Such financial remuneration where applicable. since Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd of the Christian community. It is also the duty of the minister to be accountable to the ecclesial community in and through which pastoral ministry is carried out. attitudes. in good conscience.
When the pastoral tradition has quoted Scripture. reason. The best pastoral insight is derived from lived experience of ministry. instruction. It puts them to the test. often demeaning assumptions of our own limited modern cultural consciousness. rigorously. Rather. Many modern pastoral writers have looked cynically. it has viewed it as an authoritative text for shaping both its understanding and its practice of ministry. and benefit. tradition. When understood in this way as canon (a measurement of appropriate teaching) long agree upon by ecumenical consensus. and to reflect systematically on the cohesive ordering of pastoral wisdom. harmonies. Otherwise we easily become entrapped in the narrowed. and systematic development of a sustained. What is needed is not a long list of detached aphorisms. and sociocultural environments. it ever-changing surrounding ethos. biased. internally consistent pastoral reflection. In this we fully share the narrow pride of our own modern cultural ethos. disdainfully. Since the gospel addresses us in a particular here-and-now situation. its political context. the texts of Scripture become something more than an object for our optional perusal or incidental historical investigation. and experience. so the working pastor does not have to go through the hazards of trial and error experimentation at the expense of dazed parishioners in order to catch up with the wisdoms of the past. in order to understand ministry. This includes factoring into our conception of ministry not only our own existential experience and personal story. utilizing a wellknown quadrilateral of sources for understanding God’s self-disclosure in history: Scripture. to argue cogently. it proceeds by the same method as any well-formed theology.3 Method of Pastoral Theology (Oden) What are the sources from which reasonable guidance can be derived for the work of the pastor? By what method shall pastoral theology proceed? Since pastoral theology is theology. but a gathering. We do not put Scripture under our examination. and even ignorantly on these historical achievements. Scripture examines our prior understandings of ministry. It implies an ongoing process of trying to understand the address of Scripture in various historical settings. and dialects of that experience. It is not without historical experience. historical situations. Pastoral theology lives out of Scripture. but also the experience of others we know who have been engaged in ministry. Personal and social experience forms the fourth branch of the quadrilateral of theological method for pastoral theology. Pastoral ministry has been activated in extremely varied political climates. Tradition at bottom is the history of exegesis. We do well to listen carefully to the richly varied voices. A crippling deficit of modern pastoral care has been its intense resistance to premodern pastoral writers. according to criteria alien to it. The application of reason as a criterion for pastoral reflection implies an effort to think constructively. and consistently. They are the Word of God. rather than as a timeless abstraction. Scripture provides the primary basis for understanding the pastoral office and its functions. organizing. addressed to us for our healing. pastoral theology seeks to be critically aware of its own cultural situation. it is impossible . Accordingly.
Later Christian texts also condone male violence against women and the domination of women. mental and emotional abuse that women suffer from as a result of violence have a tremendous impact on the health and well being of women. There are victims of sexual violence who question God's presence as they deal with extreme suffering in the context of their faith. This does not imply an uncritical acceptance of surrounding cultural assumptions. repeatedly battered. But how can the Church proclaim the GOOD NEWS when violence occurs with its own community and among its members. For the Christian victim of sexual violence. Effects of violence maybe fatal as a result of severe injury. beaten. Vashti (Esther 1). When religious teachings are used to justify domestic violence. concepts of forgiveness and evil arise in new ways and must be addressed. such as when women are physically injured. and probably the persistent widow in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 18)2. held captive. The physical. Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11). they become a tool by which batterers assume and maintain power and control over their partners. . Violence may affect the reproductive health of women through the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. psychosomatic symptoms. Suzannah (Daniel 13). Tamar (2 Samuel 13). sexual dysfunction and reproductive health complications. raped. but rather a serious listening to emerging contemporaneity. More so. as a theological issue. or forced to work or provide services against their will.4 properly to conceive of ministry apart from studied awareness of its current context. eating problems. the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19). Violence against women occurs when the human rights of women are violated. For example. homicide or suicide. the right of chastisement was the enforcer of women’s subordination in marriage. and teachings which are used to legitimize violence against women. that is violence against women. verbally abused and completely under the control of their husbands or partners. WHY ETHICAL? A question of justice and accountability Violence against Women is a Human Rights Violation. texts. When women are trapped in violent marriages or homes.g. anxiety. traditions and teachings have been used both to justify and to denounce the use of violence against women. WHY THEOLOGICAL? The church proclaims the GOOD NEWS. Christian Scriptures contain story after story of violence against women: e. domestic violence must be understood as sin. Unplanned pregnancies may sometimes become risk factors and lead to more aggression and abuse. religious beliefs. The Church has to recognize that there are religious beliefs. Throughout history. Abused women are more likely to suffer from depression. Dinah (Genesis 34).
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