Pastoral Ministry in History -- By: James F. Stitzinger

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 06:2 (Fall 1995)
Article: Pastoral Ministry in History
Author: James F. Stitzinger

Pastoral Ministry in History1

James F. Stitzinger

Associate Professor of Historical Theology

The biblical pattern for pastoral ministry derives from both testaments of the Bible. Deviations from that pattern crept into the church during the second century A.D., and continued, becoming increasingly severe into the Medieval period of the church. Nevertheless, isolated groups continued their efforts to follow the biblical pattern. These included Chrysostom and Augustine in the early church and the Paulicans, Cathari, Albigenses, and Waldenses during the Medieval period. The Reformation period witnessed a broader return to the biblical pattern through the magisterial reformation of Luther, Calvin, and others and through the Anabaptist reformation. During the Modern period, Puritan leaders such as Baxter, Perkins, and Edwards have led a return to biblical principles in pastoral ministry. Bridges, Morgan, and Allen were nineteenth century examples of biblical ministers. The late twentieth century has produced others, including Lloyd-Jones, Adams, and MacArthur.

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In God’s gracious sovereignty, He chose to reconcile believers to Himself through Christ. In His marvelous plan He has committed to them the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18), based upon His Word of reconciliation (5:19). The office and function of the pastor has a key role in this ministry as he proclaims the mystery of godliness. His

functions have a close association with the church, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15–16).

The duty and privilege of pastoral ministry has resulted in the development of the discipline of Pastoral Theology within the broader framework of Practical Theology.2 It has also produced a long procession of individuals who have filled the pages of church history in responding to God’s call to be faithful pastors and ministers of the truth. Sadly, traditions3 not measuring up to the standards of biblical scrutiny have skewed and embellished much of what has been called ministry.

A plethora of mind-sets and often conflicting traditions emerge in a study of pastoral ministry in history, though all traditions claim a lineage going back to the apostolic age. In every generation some have sought to return to the basic fundamentals of primitive biblical ministry. This pursuit of the “true church” or primitivism ha...

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