Pastoral Versus Psychological Counseling in Bioethics
Posted: 3 May 2010
Date Written: 2010
This introduction discusses the various respects in which the turn to psychotherapy and psychology in pastoral counseling touches on issues of bioethics (as the content of such counseling) and medical morality (insofar as the spiritual dimension addressed in pastoral care impacts the medical condition of those cared for, and the various kinds of psychotherapy relate to the therapy offered by medicine). A short characterization of each essay contained in this issue of Christian Bioethics highlights the major subjects on which these essays agree and disagree. These subjects concern the significance of psychotherapy and psychology for (1) reaching out to parishioners who are estranged from the church, (2) criticizing religion as a whole, and (3) remedying certain distortions for which pastoral care and counseling have been criticized in some Christianities. Problems that arise from the incompatibilities between different sorts of theological and psychological accounts of human flourishing and their suggested solutions are considered. The introduction, then, concludes by briefly discussing the different understandings of tradition and church that inform the various post- and extra-Enlightenment positions adopted by the authors.
Keywords: bioethics of pastoral counseling, Christianity's place in the secular society, freedom, psychological versus theological concepts of human flourishing, respectful acceptance
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