Thursday, February 28, 2008

Non-Therapeutic Ministry

Dr. George N. Malek, a well known Church consultant in South Africa, a psychologist and theologian, states: "Ministry is not a therapeutic encounter, but the encounter with the Holy. Rapport establishes friendships and 'therapeutic alliance'. Ministry stands on its own every time." (Malek G N 1997:9). QUESTION: Is ministry a "therapeutic alliance"? Or does it facilitate an “encounter with the Holy”? What is the difference?


Steve Hayes said...

I've never heard of this Malek guy, but what he's saying sounds pretty weird to me.

But what does he mean by "ministry"?

Thomas Scarborough said...

Dr. Malek was director of the Ecumenical Pastoral Institute in Cape Town. The last I heard, he was involved with Princeton Theological Seminary’s distance learning programme. As I understand him, he sees the possibility of a direct encounter with God, whatever that should mean. The quote clearly has its source in Rudolf Otto. This stands in contrast with e.g. the approach of J. Robert Clinton, for whom ministry is a “relational process”. Put simply, ministry may be seen as introducing people to God, or perhaps one could say invoking God in their situation (in whatever situation they happen to be) -- or it may be seen as a transfer of wisdom, information, experience, and so on. Certainly those two may overlap, but there is, I think, a fundamental difference between them, and a fundamental difference between ministry based on the one or the other approach.