Current Thinking in Pastoral Theology

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The recipients and providers of pastoral care live in complex contexts in which they are shaped by not only Christian faith but multiple social, economic, political and cultural factors. This article traces current thinking in pastoral theology by eschewing the limiting of pastoral to ecclesial contexts and, instead, considers the more encompassing interests of pastoral-practical theology. Using the analogy of networks, three nodes of interest are identified in current literature: the parameters, coherence and dynamics of pastoral-practical theology. The scope of the discipline is discussed. Pressing challenges of normalcy and loyalty to traditions and experiences are explored. Questions of how people connect with God and with one another are considered. It is concluded that pastoral-practical theology is discomfiting because it complexifies experience, practice and doctrinal traditions. It is presented here as a discipline that looks not for one correct interpretation but inquires into how and why interpreters arrive at different understandings of similar practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-333
JournalThe Expository Times
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • methodology, pastoral care, hermeneutics, normalization, spirituality


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