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Pastoral Theology in the Class [Paperback]

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Book Description

1 Jun 2005
Too often pastoral care is uninformed by historical practice and is overly influenced by psychological theory and practice, according to Andrew Purves. At least one consequence of this is that it is often disaffiliated from the church's theological heritage. Purves examines Christian writers from the past who represent the classical tradition in pastoral theology--classical in the sense that they and their texts have shaped the minds and practices of pastors in enduring ways. He reflects on texts from Gregory Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Martin Bucer, and Richard Baxter. He includes a brief biography of each author, introduces the major themes in the writer's theology, and discusses the issues arising for pastoral work.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1 edition (1 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664222412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664222413
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.4 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Andrew Purves is Professor of Reformed Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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First Sentence
It was a dark, cold winter night when I was called to the home of a member of my former congregation. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Highly recommended. Five key pastoral figures from Church History are reviewed with biographies and major emphases of their pastoral theology. A great combination of theology, history and practical advice from the great pastor-theologians of the past.

One of the author's central contentions is a defence of the 'classical tradition' as opposed to the received wisdom of modern pop-psychology pastoring. He makes a good case, revealing underlying differences of approach, backed up with quotation from the masters of the trade. Nevertheless the focus of the book is positive: offering referenced and well-grounded advice for those engaged in pastoral care today.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clue for Clergy: Read one "old" book for every "new" book 26 Mar 2004
By Kerry Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Andrew Purves has given us a marvelous little book on pastoral theology. His approach is based on three assumptions. The first is that every pastor needs also to be a theologian--that is, needs to be in a reflective and prayerful dialogue with the doctrine that grounds Christian ministry. But pastoral training in recent years--and this is the second assumption--has focused so heavily on psychological theory that traditional theological underpinnings have been underemphasized. (This isn't to say that psychological training isn't good--of course it is!--but merely that the temptation is for it to overshadow anything of theological substance.) Happily, however (here's the third assumption) noncontemporary theological sources have a great deal to teach us about pastoring. Purves follows C.S. Lewis' assumption that books from the past are helpful because they challenge the frameworked assumptions that we just naturally take for granted--hence Lewis' rule-of-thumb that every reading of a new book should be complemented by the reading of an old one.
In keeping with his three assumptions, Purvis seeks to reinvigorate pastoral theology by reexamining the thought of five "traditional" theologians--Gregory Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Martin Bucer, and Richard Baxter--who offer refreshing insights into pastoral roles, responsibilities, and identities. Purves admits that other theologians could've been selected (Luther on religious doubt, for example, or Augustine on marriage), but he thinks the five he focuses on are both representative of the tradition and instructive.
Purves' book is a wonderful combination of theory and application, and it reawakens in the reader (or at least in this reader) an appreciation of just how pertinent ancient, medieval, and early reformation theologians are to the nitty-gritty of daily pastoral care. A valuable resource, and highly recommended for every clergyperson who could use a refresher on what it means to be an ordained servant of God.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-challenging perspectives 17 July 2009
By Robert Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Reading this book definitely reminds me of a saying along the lines of "When you think you're doing well, read some of the Church Fathers. You'll conclude that you're doing nothing." Purves here serves up a juicy and satisfying look at five systematic treatments of pastoral theology from throughout the breadth of Christian history. They are written in four different languages and cover the gamut of church leadership and pastoral responsibility. Much of the advice is incredibly practical: Baxter, for instance, had dinner with every family in his church once a year, and ensured that the conversation turned to the Gospel every time. A lot of the book also looks at heart matters such as what it means to be a shepherd of the flock and a 'physician of the soul.'

Purves keeps bibliographic info on each author to a minimum, and says basically nothing about historical context. This serves his practical purposes well. His summaries are fair, respectful, varied and very lucid. The book is deeply challenging and does not attempt to be a work of systematic theology. The works by Nazanzus and Pope Gregory are readily available on the internet (try Wikimedia), the Baxter work is available (and Baxter was British), but the work by Bucer is highly obscure in English - a fact that Purves discusses (and laments!) in this book.

My only real criticism of the book is that I felt Purves could have used more space giving us more of the voice of the original authors (particularly Bucer who's impossible to find!) I appreciate that the book is very slim and compact in its present form, I just felt that some extra length from the authors themselves would have been well spent. His concluding chapter seeks to highlight the major themes from the book. This would have been an incredible opportunity for Purves to go on and outline points on a road map for how a church can take those themes forward into its own ministry - although doing this is probably beyond the scope that Purves set for himself.

Overall, this lean and punchy book succeeds admirably at what it seeks out to do. The selection of works is top-notch, and the work is completely unencumbered by theological and historical controversies and disagreements. It gives a fascinating and refreshing perspective on pastoral work - one that is so neglected and so different from modern views which focus on a psychologist being the counsellor, rather than the Holy Spirit. This is therefore a brilliant 'second' reading or 'background' reading for pastoral study - but be warned that it will challenge your heart!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must Read for Pastors and those entering into ministry. 31 Mar 2013
By alfonso almeda - Published on Amazon.com
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A book that would give you a perspective on how the classical fathers have thought what entails to pastor a flock.
4.0 out of 5 stars Summary of five wise pastors--particularly Gregory of Nazianzus 14 May 2014
By Jason Kanz - Published on Amazon.com
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I am taking my final course for a certificate in biblical counseling through the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, which is entitled Counseling in the Local Church. Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition (2001) by Andrew Purves is one of the required texts. In this short text, Purves explores pastoral care and what we might now call counseling or soul care through the works of five men separated by over a thousand years: Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Martin Bucer, and Richard Baxter. I suspect that even most well-read evangelicals have little knowledge of these men, except perhaps Richard Baxter.

In each case, Purves provides a short biographical sketch and then explores aspects of their works that contribute to pastoral care and shepherding. Although there was wisdom in each, I was particularly drawn to Gregory of Nazianzus, the earliest of them. Purves wrote, "according to Gregory, the pastor is a healer, even more so than the physician for the pastor treats a sickness that is a deeply subtle foe of healing a sickness of the soul" (p. 17).

Also, in the chapter on Gregory, Purves makes this point: "the godly pastor is not only a psychologist and rhetorician, but above all else also must be a theologian" (page 22). I would love to see this wisdom penetrate the pastoral office today.
5.0 out of 5 stars Book arrive in great condition. Although this was required reading for my ... 19 July 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Book arrive in great condition. Although this was required reading for my class, I'd recommend all in church leadership to read too.
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