Pastoral Care and the Unity of Theological Education

Oden, Thomas C. "Pastoral Care and the Unity of Theological Education," Theology Today 42 (April,1985): 34-42.

Thomas Oden makes a case for viewing contemporary instruction in pastoral care as an example of both the current disintegration of the theological curriculum and the potential reunification of that curriculum in the future. Oden claims that pastoral care, like all other disciplines in the curriculum, has estranged itself from "the central, integrating spirit of holistic, orthodox Christianity" by succumbing to the lure of specialization and by borrowing uncritically methodologies from the cultural context that exclude reference to scripture. <p>In order to rectify this situation, Oden suggests that those involved with theological education must free themselves for a "modern chauvinism" that assumes that the pre-modern is inferior to the modern. They must include readings in classic pastoral works of the church in their courses and study these titles with the same vigor as students are asked currently to read the classics in psychology. Students could learn from the former an approach that spurns compartmentalizing the disciplines contributing to pastoral work. <p>This would in his view profoundly influence biblical studies as scripture would be seen as a complementary source of insight and direction to that of modern psychological theories. Historical studies would be pressed to focus on pastoral issues. Theological would be moved to attend to service to persons, and all of the curricular disciplines would acquire a shared focus on the integration of ministry's many facets.