Epistemology and the use of scripture in pastoral care and counselling
Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation explores the topic of epistemology and the use of Scripture in pastoral care and counseling. It examines the epistemological foundations of all theology and ministry in order to provide clarity and guidance for pastoral care within our current early twenty-first century context. The key problem that is implied in the topic ‘Epistemology and the use of Scripture in pastoral care and counseling’ is the following: What normative and methodological role should the Bible play in the counseling situation and what is the basis for this role? This problem essentially deals with the interaction between biblical and extra-biblical data in the pastoral encounter and how they are to be related. The following dynamics exist in systemic relationship: understanding and use of Scripture; epistemological foundations; theological method; ministry practices. The key assumption is that theology and pastoral care must deal with epistemological concerns, and that failure to do so has negative consequences. An indissoluble link exists between theory and practice: the elements of epistemology, methodology and practice should be consistent and in line with each other. This serves as a vital criterion for the integrity and validity of the various theories and practices that are examined and proposed in this dissertation. Pastoral care and biblical counseling are examined in terms of these dynamics. Comprehensiveness in epistemology, basic theological method, and pastoral practice is recommended. This is proposed as the best response to specific challenges posed by our current postmodern and pluralistic context. This research argues that it is possible to have a comprehensive and inclusive approach to knowledge, with a related comprehensive and organic practice of biblical counseling, while retaining an emphasis on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the key normative role of the Scriptures, all within a valid epistemological grounding. The issue of validation or warrant for this proposal is neither strictly foundational nor relative. It exists somewhere in between and finds its locus ultimately in God. Such a stance is firmly placed within the dynamics of faith as it interacts with reason and experience. There is therefore no ultimate, empirical proof that can be given, but this is true for knowledge and truth claims in all disciplines and realms of knowledge.