A hermeneutic of learned helplessness : the Bible as problem in pastoral care

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Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch
This paper attempts an exploration and description of a hermeneutic of learned helplessness. Drawing on insights from both psychology and theology, it problematises the interaction that an individual believer can develop with the Bible and living a life of faith. Attempts to account for this situation involve biblical interpretation, the church and the pastoral care context. The body of the paper consists of four chapters, describing the four pillars supporting a hermeneutic of learned helplessness. The first chapter highlights certain of the difficulties that develop when the authority of the Bible is abused. The second chapter looks at the vocation of the pastor, and notes how lack of accountability and limited self-awareness can result in inadequate and harmful biblical interpretation. The third chapter highlights the negative effects of the neglect of emotion on individual faith and interaction with the biblical text, referring specifically to women. Finally, the fourth chapter identifies the tendency to regard morality as expressed primarily through behaviour, and to use the Bible as a book of rules. The combination of these four factors generates an environment in which a hermeneutic of learned helplessness can quickly develop in a Christian believer. This paper is an attempt to more clearly define my observations following work in the context of pastoral care and counselling. It is hoped that by clarifying the nature of the problem, this will prove to be the first step toward finding possible solutions.
Thesis (MPhil (Old and New Testament))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
Helplessness (Psychology) -- Religious aspects -- Christianity, Pastoral theology, Bible -- Hermeneutics, Bible -- Feminist criticism, Dissertations -- Old and New Testament, Theses -- Old and New Testament