Thursday, May 25, 2006


Ascension Day

Hello, dear friends! For my "experiential" module, I'm going to examine how the concept of a ministerial priesthood is worked out in my faith community - one or both of them, anyway. In order to do that, I need to have some kind of theological notions of the pastorate and/or priesthood. Can anyone suggest to me some good books on the spirituality and theology of, and formation for, the priesthood or pastoral office? Feel free to suggest titles from catholic/anglican, orthodox, or protestant perspectives; it would be helpful for me to check out a broad number of things, since real people (in this crazy, mixed up post-modern world) aren't always wholly dealing with a protestant or catholic understanding of ordained ministry.

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Matthew Francis said...

Hello from Canada, Kyle,

In 1725, when he was about to be ordained (there in Oxford), John Wesley was given one book by his father, which he was told to "master." It was Chrysostom's "On the Priesthood."

I've read it half a dozen times (it's short), and found it to be a rich book, and written with good ole' St. John's vigorous intelligence, faith, and wit, too.

Matthew Francis said...

Methodist Thomas Oden's "Pastoral Theology," is also excellent, as well as Eugene Peterson's pastoral theology, particularly "Working the Angles."

A said...

I'll add a nod to "Working the Angles" too. An excellent book.

Charles said...

Hey Kyle,

From a Catholic perspective, I'd recommend "Priests for the Third Millennium" by Bishop Timothy Dolan. From an Anglican perspective, "The Christian Priest Today" by Archbishop Michael Ramsey.

Both available via Amazon and Amazon UK.


A said...

Henri Nouwen's In The Name of Jesus and The Way of the Heart both deal with the question of what is a pastor/priest and who they ought to be as well.

Caelius said...

Read St. John Chrysostom's "On the Priesthood." There is some debate about whether the work is primarily focused on the priesthood or the episcopate, but Chrysostom gives one much to think about with respect to the sacramental and pastoral duties of both Orders.

If you read one Patristic work on the subject, I would advise you to read this one.

Caelius said...

Ah, I see it was already recommended. Good.

Richard de Chico said...

Well, dang me if everyone hasn't beaten me to the punch already. I have most and say "Amen" to them.

I will mention that Tom Oden's Pastoral Theology is one that I have used with aspirants to the presbyterate who have done some pre-seminary formation at my parish. Very helpful, as it grounds the pastoral task in the Tradition rather than in the social 'sciences'.

Perhaps also George Herbert's _A Priest to the Temple_ for a little Caroline flavor, or perhaps a little more Roundhead perspective (in honor of your new coif) Baxter's _The Reformed Pastor_.

I remember being taken some years ago by John Snow's _The Impossible Vocation_, with its discussion of the turn to the therapeutic in pastoral formation and its limitations.

Of course, I suppose there also might be some fiction of interest as well, such as Cather's _Death Comes for the Archbishop_.

And what about movies? That would be an interesting thread. "The Mission" comes quickly to mind. As does Terminator II, of course.

Kyle said...

Thanks, everybody. This is really helpful. I have been interested in moving over to 'classical' views since so much of 'pastoral theology' does seem to be interested in talking about therapists rather than Christian pastors...

Tim said...


I know I'm kind of 4 years late here, but I have a suggestion.

"The Hammer of God" by the now sainted Bishop Bo Giertz. It is written from a Lutheran perspective. I've only read pieces of it- really amazing, IMHO.