Friday, May 29, 2009

Chrysostom on pastoral care: deceive the sheep, but not against their will

Chrysostom, the early church father, is amazing;

but must be read carefully and carefully.
He often uses rhetorical devices/satire/diatribe/first order discourse/prosopeion/role playing (as Paul in Romans 7) to make a point.
In "On the Priesthood," for example, in the context of advice on pastoral care, he seems to be recommending "deceit"......(no, he is not a televangelista) and then seemingly contradicting himself by encouraging gentle the context of soul care.

For one, all teaching is in a sense holy deceit. We all use techniques (story telling, non-sequiturs, syllogisms) to encourage people into the temporary disequilibrium that will cause them to stretch and grow.

Eugene Peterson suggests that Jesus told truth literally lying (the very definition of a parable).
But parables are metaphor-truths designed to hijack us into new levels of understanding.
And he flat out said they were told so that the stubborn would NOT believe.

And how true it is
"For the (pastor) does not exist who can compulsion cure someone against their will."

For if deception is under all 'circumstances wrong, and it is never lawful to use it when it be needed, then I am ready to submit myself to any court you wish.. ...
A timely deception used with a right purpose isattended by such profit that many men have often been brought to account through being straightforward. If you will examine famous generals from beginning of time you will find that I most of their triumphs are successes due to deceit...For Saul's daughter could not have rescued her own husband by any other device from her father's hands except by misleading him...Why, my good and dear friend, this is the very reason why I myself said before that it is right to use deceit not in war alone, nor towards enemies alone..

He may justly be called a deceiver who performs the act for unjust ends, since oftentimes it is needful to deceive and to gain great advantage..

Great is the power of deceit, provided only that it be not applied with guileful intent ; or rather it is not right to call such action deceit..

I COULD have explained at greater length that it is possible to use the power of deception for a good end, or rather that it is not right to call such an ..

Shepherds have full power to compel the sheep to submit to the art of healing when they do not endure it of their own accord. It is easy to bind them when ...

But in this case it is needful to make such an one better not by compulsion, but by persuasion. 105. We neither have had authority granted to us by law to to restrain sinners, nor, had they given it to us, should we know how to use it.... For the man does not exist who can by compulsion cure someone against their will.

-Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, Book 2, section 3

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