OK, this is an unfair juxtaposition but while I have your attention let me say one thing: future pastors, while you are training, as much as you may think taking more homiletics classes will benefit you and your parishioners, if possible, opt to take more courses on ethics.
Yesterday, Dr. Jerome Wernow, a local bioethicist, guest lectured in the philosophy class where I am a student. It was like participating in a real life version of Season one, Episode #121 “Three Stories” from the TV show House, M.D. on Fox. Wernow mixed real stories and scenarios with philosophical dialogue and pastoral sensitivity. As I sat there I thought to myself that if I ever find myself pastoring (something I pray to avoid) it would be classes like this that I would be grateful to have taken, not most of the classes that are shiny and interesting to modern seminarians.
I have heard a few good sermons in my life. I can probably count on one hand all the sermons that I have remembered over the years. But I can remember dozens of occasions when pastors intervened in situations in my life where they either did serious damage or brought life and healing. Often pastors think their sermons matter more than they do. Let me tell you as a pew-sitter each weekend I usually forget what you said by Wednesday, but I will remember for a long time how you handled fragile situations.
I’m going to repost ok? Thanks, 1) cause I know you’ll be okay with it and 2) because I enjoy your blog. 🙂
What if the sermon is ethics 😉 ?
I know what you’re saying, Brian. My little question is half-joking.
@Bobby: It may be that the sermon is an ethical activity. Actually, that may be a interesting approach to homiletics. Sadly, I think, much of what we call homiletics today is more or less training in performance.
I agree with you, unfortunately; in fact this totally irks me, as it appears, it does you. I think Vanhoozer’s book “Is There a Meaning in This Text” and his point on reading Scripture with an ethically enriched and moral responsive understanding could easily be applied to preaching the text; in fact, shouldn’t this really be what motivates preaching in the first place (and not only motivate but frame . . . the whole speech act thing applies here as well 😉 ).
I think you are right on with the need for good training in ethical issues for the pastoral ministry (and maybe more than one class?) – what do you do if someone has to pull the plug or gets in a massive accident and whose life is hanging by a thread? What about that couple that lets you know the doc said the baby in the womb has downs? and on and on. they happen and none of us ever know what to do.
I wonder if “trained” people even know what to do in the scenarios you mention. It seems to me that if the body were to be the body — and they often are in these situations — that this becomes part of God’s grace, which is sufficient. I’m not saying you’re not saying this, but it seems like (often) in our society; that we have become the “land of the experts,” when I’m not sure that that’s always the answer — you know what I’m saying?
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be experts and training, but that I think we place too much stock in this (at points).
What I am trying to say is hard to nuance here, but do you catch my drift? I wonder where theology and ethics ought to meet?
Bobby, you are right, there are no easy. Probably better for me to refer to training in terms of exposure to the issues and given basic principles for thinking about various ethical issues. Even so, you can’t replace the Body of Christ being God’s grace in difficult situations, as varied as they are.
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