Editorial Introduction Chaplaincy: Ministering In Caesar’s House -- By: Steve W. Lemke
JBTM 9:1 (Spring 2012) p. 1
Editorial Introduction Chaplaincy: Ministering In Caesar’s House
Steve W. Lemke is Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, and JBTM Executive Editor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Chaplaincy, Faith, And The Public Square
It seems that almost every week there is some article or news account about the challenges that our military chaplains are experiencing in attempting to fulfill faithfully their ministerial calling within military structures that are increasingly hostile to faith traditions. Lawsuits have arisen from chaplains who felt that their First Amendment rights to free religious expression and to freedom of speech have been circumscribed. Chaplains have been told what they can and cannot say. The recent repeal of the longstanding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy regarding the practice of homosexuality in the military has also created unique challenges and tensions for evangelical chaplains. Chaplains face a new day in many ways about how to maintain their own ministerial calling and beliefs with integrity while still staying within the parameters of a secular government agency.
The Apostle Paul was a First Century version of a prison chaplain and military chaplain. He shared his joy with his Philippian readers that his imprisonment in a Roman military prison had not hindered his ministry, but in fact had opened up the opportunity to witness to the Roman imperial Praetorian Guard soldiers (Phil 1:12-14). The Praetorian Guard soldiers were an elite military group who served in Caesar’s house and in other key roles for the Roman government. Paul’s imprisonment provided him with the unique opportunity to minister to them and share the gospel with them.
Such is the opportunity for ministry afforded for our military chaplains. They can minister to soldiers in unique situations and locations that are inaccessible to a local church ministry. Military chaplains are embedded in military units, and thus can build relationships and trust with them. They are uniquely positioned to assist military personnel in times of crises and challenges. They provide an incredible ministry to our military personnel, and greatly enhance the morale and well-being of our soldiers. Of course, not only do our military chaplains provide an incredibly valuable ministry, but so also do hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, chaplains for police and
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other emergency responders, and market place and industrial chaplains. All these chaplains serve outside the traditional church, working in a secular setting like Paul, ministering to the soldiers who served in Caesar’s house. Indeed, in servi...
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