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Care of Souls in the Classic Tradition by Thomas C. Oden

Thomas C. Oden teaches at Drew University Theological School, Madison, New Jersey. Care of Souls in the Classic Tradition was published in 1984 by Fortress Press. This book was prepared for Religion-Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.

In relating therapeutic counseling to the classical Christian pastoral tradition, the author draws upon his own personal psychological journey and offers the theological assertion that psychotherapeutic empathy is analogous to and reflective of Godís unconditional love.

Chapter 1: Recovering Lost Identity
The task that lies ahead is the development of a postmodern, post-Freudian, neoclassical approach to Christian pastoral care that takes seriously the resources of modernity while also penetrating its allusions and, having found the best of modern psychotherapy still problematic, has turned again to the classical tradition for its bearings, yet without disowning what it has learned from modern clinical experience.

Chapter 2: Why Gregory?
Building on a brief summary of Gregoryís life and career, the author outlines the Popeís distinctive approach to pastoral guidance that integrates the pastoral and the theological with an astuteness that anticipates modern psychological developments.

Chapter 3: Case Studies in Pastoral Theology
The interpersonal dynamics of pastoral counseling focus on a principle of variability that is based on empathetic listening to the specific situation of the counselee in order to communicate Godís corrective love. This is demonstrated in a selection of examples from paradoxical case studies of the diversities of pastoral counsel.

Chapter 4: Ironies of Pastoral Counsel
This chapter continues the exploration of Gregoryís dipolar method of counseling by focusing in detail on several prototype cases in order to reveal his theological method of pastoral practice.

Conclusion: Preaching and Pastoral Care
Even though the pastor in preaching must deal simultaneously with persons of widely different needs, pastoral care can and must be attempted through preaching. Gregory offers direction in this complex and difficult task.

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