Towards a Narrative of Hope and Resilience: A Contemporary Paradigm for Christian Pastoral Ministry in the Face of Mortality
AbstractAnalysis of current pastoral care practice, particularly of Christian pastoral care providers and chaplains, reveals a contemporary lacuna in Christian theological frameworks which contributes to North American Christians’ inability to connect a theological understanding of death with the experience of their human finitude despite the presence of considerable literature on death and dying. This gap deprives many Christians of the possibility of finding a unique and specific source of hope and strength within their own faith tradition for facing crisis. This thesis provides a methodology and theological foundation for a uniquely Christian contribution for facilitating hope, resilience--even transformation--throughout the various stages of life until the time of death. Extensive analysis of Christian views of death, as contrasted with non- Christian views, examined through early Christian writings, late Medieval and early Reformation texts, and the late twentieth century work of Moltmann contributed insights into theological frameworks to remedy the gap and also uncovered themes, metaphors, and language that could be important as Christians interpret life experience and dying. The thesis then utilized three contemporary fields of study to apply the insights into a practical ministry model: (1) research in resilience; (2) Narrative Therapy as developed by White and Epston and utilized by Christian therapists; and (3) hermeneutic theory from Capps, Browning, and Gerkin. Insights from these sources were critically evaluated for application in pastoral counselling, support, and education to help people, both in crisis and when facing death, find a substantial hope that transcends the reality of what they are experiencing. This thesis proposes a distinctively Christian response to death that enables people to retain a sense of their own worth and dignity in order to live meaningful lives until they die. Many people find 21st Century healthcare impersonal and non-empathetic; the work of this theses is intended to be important for helping people regain their sense of self and identity, thereby supporting healing and resilience. In addition, the thesis proposes pedagogic and theological reflection methods that would enhance the practice of chaplains in a rapidly changing healthcare environment that will increasingly require them to demonstrate how their practice enhances the wellbeing of those they serve and provides a contribution that is unique and has value to the healthcare system.
CitationSmith, A. J. (2014). Towards a narrative of hope and resilience: A contemporary paradigm for Christian pastoral ministry in the face of mortality. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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