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Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry [Paperback]

Thomas C. Oden
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 18.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st ed edition (20 Nov 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060663537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060663537
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.7 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Movies and television show us faded stereotypes of the dissipated pasto office, often either a deceptive, money-grabbing, cornball funda bigot in a white suit or a hip, chic superliberal frantic to accommodate to pop culture. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5.0 out of 5 stars :) 21 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I used some of this for a paper I wrote and found the work very good, practical & helpful. As soon as I used the quotes I needed I bought it. Have never done that before
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I confess I did not read the whole book, but what I read I really liked, and I plan to read the rest soon. The book was well written, well laid out, and thoroughly covered important topics. Pastors of all kinds should read it and wrestle with the issues. Should be on all our shelves!
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My! How Times Change! 9 Mar 2004
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
As a young ministry student I read this book for a class in pastoral theology. I remember how I highlighted numerous passages. I wrote little commentaries in the margins. In some places I agreed with the author, but in the majority I took the author to task. "This is wrong! This is short sighted! This is unscriptural! This is biased! etc."
As a middle-aged pastor I picked up my old copy and re-read it. Once again, placing my little commentaries in the margins, "He was right! Boy, was I dumb! Amen! Ouch! Preach it Brother! etc."
I think it took me a little while to catch on. This book is a classic. Every pastor should own a copy. No pastor should judge the book until he or she has spent a few years behind the sacred pulpit. I have no qualms about recommending this book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good addition to your pastoral library 15 Mar 2002
By Eric N. Landstrom - Published on Amazon.com
Oden begins following through with his agenda for theologian's office first laid down in his book, Agenda for Theology (now published under the title, After Moderny, What?), by providing biblically oriented resources for the pastoral office. Oden unpacks the role of the pastoral office that it holds within the church by distilling the best ideas of the two millennia of ecumenical Christian thinking concerning what pastors are and do. Pastoral Theology provides the foundational building blocks of the pastoral office essential to the practice of ministry. Oden's book is primarily geared forthose who are interested or planning on entering the pastoral office. This book is also an informative resource for those interested in understanding what the clergy do and what pastoral care encompasses. For the American evangelical, this book (which now seems to have become a series of books) as well as "Biblical Eldership" (Alexander Strauch, 1995) and John MacArthur's "Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry" round out the pastoral library by presenting the Wesleyan, Brethren, and Reformed views of the teaching office within the church. I hold Oden's work the best of the bunch purely from the standpoint that he takes the time to include a historical survey of the teaching office throughout his work.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Admirable job, but not always entirely coherent. 28 Jan 2006
By William T. Brewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although Oden has extensive background in the modern methods of ministry, he has largely eschewed them in favor of ancient beliefs and practices grounded in scripture and tradition.

Almost every paragraph bears witness with extensive references to ancient sources.

Pastoral Theology has five major sections: (1) Becoming a Minister, (2) The Pastoral Office, (3) What Clergy Do and Why, (4) Pastoral Counsel, and (5) Crisis Ministry. The introduction addresses the question, "Why Pastoral Theology."

In chapter one, Oden cites or implies five reasons for producing his book: (1) promote inclusion of women in ordained ministry, (2) reaffirm the roots of pastoral theology in tradition, (3) oppose the "lawlessness" of contemporary theology, (4) reinvigorate the study of pastoral theology, and (5) foster an ecumenical understanding of pastoral theology. Although he does an admirable job, the results are not entirely coherent.

For example, his preoccupation with the ordination of women interchangeable with that of men is problematic if the goal is to strengthen the roots of pastoral theology in the NT and tradition. Oden nevertheless makes the attempt. In trying to reconcile those competing goals however, he responds more to modern concerns than ancient ones. In doing that, he necessarily distorts the meaning of some well-known passages. For example, Oden absolutizes Gal 3:28 to argue for radical equality even though the verse is clearly limited to the idea of inheritance. He understands submission in Eph 5:21-33 as mutual despite the presence of three hierarchical examples (husbands/wives, parents/children in 6:1-4, and masters/slave in 6:5-9). He takes women praying in 1 Cor 11:1-16 as sweeping warrant for female leadership even though the passage clearly indicates women had to have a symbol (i.e., a covering) while praying lest their behavior be considered out of order. He considers Phebe, the famous "deacon" in Rom 16:1, as proof of gender equality in the early church when a more holistic account of female ministry would see unencumbered women (single and widowed) as having more of an assistant role than a deaconship interchangeable with men. He understands the role of women in Phil 4:2-3 as wide-ranging leadership rather than the labor Paul actually calls it. Examples like the preceding could be multiplied many times over. In the meantime, the preceding misunderstandings are furthered by Oden's reliance on dynamic equivalence translations that bias the reader toward dubious conclusions. In the end, Oden admits the difficulty of holding his two concerns (tradition and innovation) together and resorts to a "deposit of faith" argument that in essence gives novelty the weight of tradition.

The fundamental issue behind Oden's egalitarian interests is (1) whether the relationship between men and women is an economy of differing natures, virtues, and obligations reflecting the divine economy, albeit distorted by the Fall, or (2) whether the economy (subordination, hierarchy, etc.) itself is the Fall. Oden would apparently favor the latter. For him, progress would appear to be the undoing of gender distinctions. Ordination of women alongside men fits that pattern. A better view would be to see the central challenge of Christian life as redeeming the fallen economies of human life- male and female being the most problematic with marriage and then church live being the most intense arenas. In that light, ordination of women would abandon one of the most important arenas in which the Christian faith must be worked out.

The issue is more than simply theoretical. The gender-consciousness, or lack thereof, of pastoral theology is a serious matter with practical effects that make different approaches to shepherding more or less helpful to different socio-economic groups. To wit, shepherding that appreciates the importance of gender will be more successful among disadvantaged groups than a gender-neutral alternative because gender is a powerful motivator to the kind of moral behavior needed to bring order out of the chaos that plagues lower classes disproportionately. Higher-class groups, in contrast, can better afford egalitarianism despite its negative effects. Even so, wealthier classes do not escape the consequences of going against nature. One example would be the production of fewer children -- and more dysfunction among those children who are produced.

Pastoral theology must also take into account the difference between the Christian faith and the Christian religion. The Christian faith has a prophetic role that stands in judgment on human institutions, including the church. The Christian religion, on the other hand, is not much different from all religions in trying to accommodate faith claims to felt human needs. The Christian faith is the theological basis for ministry- the Christian religion is not. Oden acknowledges the difference, but doesn't consistently follow through. The result is that his pastoral theology is often more grounded in religion than faith.

Oden's strong points are in the theological bases for visitation and discipline- two neglected aspects of ministry. Visitation enriches both pastor and recipient. It is the way in which the "shepherd" knows his "sheep" and the "sheep" know their "shepherd." It is the personalization of ministry. The pastor can go (visit) where other professionals would be out of place (e.g., a dentist) because the pastor is not seeking a profit.

Visitation is also one venue for discipline or admonition. Admonishment is probably the most neglected aspect of pastoral care, viewed by some as old-fashioned if not outright destructive. That's because religion has accommodated secular values (e.g., right to privacy, self realization, and autonomy) that are antithetical to the values that make community possible. Admonition and discipline are chief among those values that enable real community.

Pastoral Theology concludes with a 34-page bibliography, a four-page, triple-column list of names, a fourteen page, double-column index, and a three-page, triple-column index of scripture references. Despite its rather disappointing embrace of egalitarianism, it is an impressive work suitable for anyone who seeks a better understanding of pastoral theology.

-- Bill Brewer

Oden is an elder (pastor) in the United Methodist Church and a professor of theology at Drew University. He is the originator and champion of "paleo-orthodoxy," a term Oden coined to describe a return to the patristic roots of Christianity. His book, Pastoral Theology, pursues that end.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 11 July 2014
By jknight963 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book very helpful resource for every minister
5.0 out of 5 stars Pastoral Handbook 9 Dec 2013
By Sue - Published on Amazon.com
This book is a keeper... a treasure. There is no other book in my library that I have marked up more. "Pastoral Theology" should be mandatory reading for all pastors and leaders of His Church. This book is a fine compliment to Oden's Systematic Theology series which I reviewed earlier. They set the standard as far as I am concerned.
I read the book in an attempt to better understand the role of the Pastor and am grateful I did. I especially love the section that leads with "we should not confuse matters of faith with time-conditions, culturally-determined matters of social custom." The book is broken down into five main sections - Becoming a Minister, The Pastoral Office, What Clergy Do and Why, Pastoral Counseling and Crisis Ministry. The book will assist all students of Apologists such as myself. Not much more I can say but read it.
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