We close our survey of Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, with today’s post … but on Thursday I’ll offer a brief critical interaction with the book. This chp gets down to brass tacks with what ministry, when conceived as union with Christ, looks like on a daily basis.
The chp is called “Having Hitched a Ride: Ministry Today.”
“From the beginning of my ministry I have known that the discipline of pastoral theology has largely lost its way, finding its identity in pastoral counseling theories and practices” (123).
First, it begins with our own formation in Christ, and here Purves speaks of classical spiritual disciplines and appeals to writings like Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care and Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor and Eugene Peterson’s Five Smooth Stones.
Every ministry is constrained by the ministry of Christ. The issue is always to discern the Lord’s actual ministry at work.
1. Announce the love of God. God is love, therefore all ministry announces the love of God. Here is his way of putting it: “Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus who is God loves you.
2. Care for the person: the quality of relationship matters because theological discernment can only arise out of that relationship.
a. Bearing witness to Christ: preaching isn’t an occasional task; it is the center of everything we do (he says). We bear witness. “The defining matter of the church’s life is not to convert and bring people to faith (the evangelical heresy!) or to bring in the ethical commonwealth (the liberal heresy!). The defining matter for the church’s life … is to bear witness to Jesus Christ” (132). This means looking for the declarative moment, but it is not the same as didactic/teaching. One must discern to join the person’s life and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
b. Interpreting the life situation: not developed extensively, but his point seems to be to help others discern the presence of Christ and the significance of the gospel for the individual person’s life.
c. Symbolic action: again, not developed, but he believes in sacramental acts and symbols as significant for pastoral care.
Thursday I’ll give some critical interaction.