(The State) Life & faith: New book explores pastoral truth-telling

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Frank G. Honeycutt, senior pastor of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in downtown Columbia, took a three-month sabbatical to write his latest book “The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations.”
The title is drawn from a line by writer Flannery O’Connor, a Southerner who pondered faith and spirituality in her novels and short stories. Honeycutt employs his favorite authors and theologians and his own pastoral story to explore ways pastors and lay people can speak honestly and effectively about living out the Christian faith.

This week, Honeycutt answered questions from The State about his new book...:

Question:You suggest that too many pastors practice avoidance, failing to speak the biblical truth to parishioners about the nature of belief in Jesus Christ and what that means about living a Christian life. How does a pastor learn to speak with pastoral integrity?

Honeycutt: There is a huge siren call among clergy — myself included — to try and make everyone happy. Stanley Hauerwas (Duke Divinity School) has famously referred to the pastor as a “quivering mass of availability.”

Many of us arrived at seminary as “pleasers” and do not like to rock the boat. The challenge is sometimes trying to please people who really do not want what Jesus wants. That’s a rather toxic mix. “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” asks Saint Paul of the church in Galatia. There can be a lot of relational fallout to pastoral truth-telling that may require an immense amount of time to sort through. It’s easier to lie low on so many issues and count the years to retirement. Jesus is our pastoral guide here. He spoke the truth in love in his ministry. Both words are important. Truth and love. It is easy to speak the truth in any number of damaging ways that have little to do with love.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

Posted February 26, 2011 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Presumably, the corollary is that the pastor/priest must also be open to “hearing” the truth spoken in love by others (including laypeople). Since none of us are perfect, we must be willing to be discipled as well as to disciple. Ordination doesn’t exempt one from that discipline.

Catholic and Reformed

February 26, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
2. Hursley wrote:

The way I read this article, it seemed that the focus was not so much on an elite ordained ministry as on the need for that order to live up to its call and vows. All Christian life is about listening to the Trinity. The New Testament and Apostolic Christianity do not posit a new “caste,” beyond reproach. However, the ordained are supposed to speak with the authority of the whole Church, not just their personal feelings or opinions. To speak that way requires remarkable humility… something possible only by being immersed in the scriptures and the mind of Christ to a degree increasingly rare in our church today, with its emphasis on “availability,” “affirmation,” and identifying with various ideologies.

February 26, 1:47 pm | [comment link]
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