Photo by Jack Sharp

In his book, Pastoral Ministry, Deron Biles posits Ezekiel 34 as the quintessential guidebook for the Shepherding functions of the Pastor.  Biles reminds the pastor that preaching is only one of his important duties.  He writes, “One can feed en masse from a distance, but one only strengthens up close and one at a time.”

The call to pastoral care is fundamentally an incarnational task.  Internet sermons and blog posts can achieve only so much.  And when rightly understood, caring is an obligation for every Christian, not just the pastor.  While pastoral care in the 20th century suffered from an entanglement with the secular healing sciences, a renewed effort has arisen to recapture pastoral care as was practiced for centuries.  Namely, bringing the truths of God’s Word to bear on the lives of fellow saints–a true love of Christian neighbor.

As we begin to emerge from the cocoons we’ve erected during this Coronavirus pandemic, I pray we will once again lean into the up close and personal ministry of pastoral care.  I pray we will find the scriptures sufficient to address the problems of our day and the sin that encumbers our witness.  I pray the church once scattered-in-place may become the church now gathered in worship.

“Pastoral Care has been viewed mistakenly in the past as superficial do-goodism; as a crutch for life’s cripples; as God’s psychiatry aimed at ‘peace of mind’; or as a form of faith healing that might save us from suffering, fear, and death.” –C.W. Brister in Pastoral Care in the Church

“Freudian psychoanalysis turns out to be an archeological expedition back into the past in which a search is made for others on whom to pin the blame for the patient’s behavior.  D. Elton Trueblood’s indictment does not seem too strong: ‘The entire basis of human responsibility is undermined.’” –Jay Adams in Competent to Counsel

“Before Freud, the study of the soul was thought of as a spiritual discipline. In other words, it was inherently associated with religion. Freud’s chief contribution was to define the human soul and the study of human behavior in wholly secular terms. He utterly divorced anthropology (the study of human beings) from the spiritual realm and thus made way for atheistic, humanistic, and rationalistic theories about human behavior.” –John MacArthur in Counseling

“Today clients in swelling numbers seek therapy not because they feel bad but because they do not feel good.” –William Clebsch in Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective

On the interaction between psychotherapy and the cure of souls – “The empiricist has no meager service to render, but the religious guide has no reason to go into retirement.” –John McNeill in A History of the Cure of Souls

“God’s truths turn man’s wisdom upside down.” –John Babler in Counseling by the Book

“But for the attainment of full health of personality, man must find a harmonious relationship in the realm of spiritual values. The primary obstacle to his entrance into this realm is what the Bible calls sin.” –John McNeill in A History of the Cure of Souls

“We see here [The New Testament] more vividly than elsewhere that the cure of souls is never merely a method, even a method derived from a doctrine, or a task for certain hours in the week, but that it involves both the faith we live by and all our daily activities and contacts.” –John McNeill in A History of the Cure of Souls

“Humanity’s true identification resides in the heart of God and was reflected in the face of Jesus Christ.” –C.W. Brister in Pastoral Care in the Church

“The Christian preacher’s goal is to challenge boldly all of human life with the truth of God’s Word.” –C.W. Brister in Pastoral Care in the Church

 “Christian pastoral care is the mutual concern of Christians for each other and for those persons for whom Christ died.” –C.W. Brister in Pastoral Care in the Church

 “The faithful ministers of Christ must not lightly give up on anyone.” –Martin Bucer in Concerning the True Care of Souls

 Mutual Edification and Fraternal Correction as a characteristic of Protestantism “has often been erroneously interpreted as religious individualism.” –John McNeill in A History of the Cure of Souls

 “…our Lord Jesus, now in his heavenly nature, is with us and rules and feeds us from heaven; this rule and feeding, that is, the work of our salvation, he exercises among us through his ministers, who he calls, ordains and uses for that purpose.” –Martin Bucer in Concerning the True Care of Souls

 “Timeless, in this case as in many others, is a reward for taking the past seriously.” –William Clebsch in Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective

“The deliberate absence of symbols” in marriage vows or creedal statements “does not dispel the demands symbolized” –William Clebsch in Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective

“The more you are detached from ignorance, the more you are attached to willful disobedience.  It is nothing but willful disobedience which destroys the fear of God.” –Tertullian

“Public offenses require public repentance” –John Knox

“The difficulties of discipline have led to its too easy surrender by the churches.” –John McNeill in A History of the Cure of Souls









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