The postmodern context in which the church currently performs its duties, necessitates a reconsidering of its pastoral practice. This venture is undertaken by introducing the social constructionist paradigm as a thought form for therapeutic and pastoral approaches. The social constructionist perspective proposes a non-referential, non-descriptive and communicational view of language. Language does not mirror the world, but we create the world we know and inhabit through joint communicative action. This constructionist view of language has radical implications for the way we practice therapy and pastoral care. It invites a move away from expert knowledge, professional diagnosis, essentialist thinking and therapeutic master narratives. It encourages a not-knowing position, multiple descriptions of the reality experienced as the problem, a narrative understanding of identity and the development of local meaning in the therapeutic conversation. If the above mentioned implications of social constructionist thought for pastoral practice are taken seriously, the following question emerges: What is the role of the Bible in a pastoral approach which aligns itself with social constructionist commitments? Does this sacred text allow the pastor to hold a not-knowing position and the development of local meaning in conversation? The question is addressed by explicating the Protestant Orthodox view of Scripture as authorative, perspicuous, sufficient and dependable. This view of Scripture is critiqued by reviewing the complex and challenging developments in modern literary criticism, which give rise to generating alternative descriptions of the status and identity of the text we Christians call ‘The Bible’. These alternative descriptions result in a postfoundationalist view of the Bible. In conclusion a set of values for pastoral therapy, as informed by social constructionism, is formulated. A focus group joins the venture by reflecting on the values. The final chapter is a rumination on therapeutic narratives and context.
Thesis (DD (Practical Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.