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Compassionate Ministry: Theological Foundations [Paperback]

By Bryan Stone (Author)
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Item description for Compassionate Ministry: Theological Foundations by Bryan Stone...

Understanding God as all-compassionate, and Jesus as the Compassion of God, this book provides a model of a compassionate church as a "liberating community:" people who, knowing what they believe, work and worship together in the service of humanizing praxis in their own community, and in the world at large. Finally, this ministry call for "compassionate evangelism" which proceeds itself from the community, as a more holistic and historical approach than that offered by current models. Orbis Books, 168 pages. Paperback.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Orbis Books
Pages   168
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.4" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.53"
Weight:   0.67 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 13, 1996
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  1570750696  
ISBN13  9781570750694  

Availability  1 units.
Availability accurate as of May 28, 2017 02:50.
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More About Bryan Stone

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bryan Stone is E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at the Boston University School of Theology, where he is also cofounder and codirector of the Center for Practical Theology and founder of the Center for Congregational Research and Development. Stone has written books such as Faith and Film: Theological Themes at the Cinema, and served as editor for the Journal of Christian Theological Research.

Bryan Stone currently resides in Hartland.

Bryan Stone has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Explore Your World (Nomad Press)

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Compassionate Ministry: Theological Foundations?

Biblical Foundations and a Liberation Perspective  Jan 13, 2001
This book is born out of Dr. Stone's work with a church community he helped to found in Texas. It shares with the reader some of the insights he gleaned, presented in such a way as to make them applicable to others hoping to do relevant ministry with the poor.

Stone does not pull any punches in his book. He questions whether it is possible to truly claim to be Christian when one does not enter into the suffering of the people. In short, he concludes that one cannot. Thus, the task of the church is to be one with those who suffer, one with those who are oppressed, and one with those who are disempowered. The purpose of this enterprise is to empower the poor, to make those who are told that they have no means by which to affect change realize that God struggles with them - that God's church struggles with them.

Stone's own Process and Liberation theological background shows through in this work, and some will find the book more, or less, appealing because of this. Nevertheless, however one may hold these influences, the book is particularly interesting because of the degree to which he ground his approach in his own Wesleyan Biblical tradition. He creates a bridge between these various schools of thought and offers a challenge to all concerned.

Some will take offence at Stone's strong assertions. But it is high time that we have books written from a more radical perspective that reclaim Scripture and authoritative teaching. The watered down hedgings of others are put to shame by Stone's fidelity to the Biblically grounded approach of his Wesleyan heritage.

A Challenge to the Church  Nov 16, 2000
North American liberation theologian Bryan P. Stone provides an important contribution to an understanding of Christian ministry in his book COMPASSIONATE MINISTRY (1996). Stone argues for a reflexive understanding of the relationship between theory (theology) and practice (ministry). Through the exercise of creative imagination, Christians move from theological conviction to action in the world. Through the practice of spirituality (which aims for living the whole of life in response to God), Christians find resources for critically reflecting on their theology and ministries, thereby enriching the church's theological self-understanding as a community called to serve the needs of a suffering world. Fundamental to Stone's argument is the conviction that "what we do shapes and determines what we think," and that "what we think and believe shapes and determines what we do" (p. 52). Theory and praxis are thus flip sides of the same coin of Christian ministry.

By elucidating the process of how theology informs ministry and how ministry may shape theology, Stone's commitment to standpoint epistemology surfaces. "Where we stand," he writes, "makes a difference in what see," "in the way we think," and "in what we hope for" (p. 5). Social location shapes perceptions and theological interpretations of reality. Given this epistemological perspective, Stone voices a concern. If experience shaped by social location becomes the sole determinative factor in shaping theology and practices of ministry, then Christian theology collapses into a "a mere rationalization of what we already do and where we already stand" (p. 5).

Stone's proposal for overcoming this problem is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the book. This is the invitation to make a concrete commitment to the poor, the suffering, the marginalized, the victimized, and the oppressed. Making this move entails two consequences. In the first place, it means taking the "view from below" by listening to the poor and the powerless and by shaping the practices of ministry in solidarity with their needs (p. 13). Related to this is a second consequence: a preferential option for the poor and the marginalized in Christian ministry. It is the responsibility of Christians, Stone argues, "to adjust our wants in accordance with their needs, and to work together to place the full resources of the church and society at the disposal of relief, empowerment, justice, and community" (p. 16).

Stone provides theological warrants for this fundamentally liberationist conception of Christian ministry from the biblical doctrine of creation. This doctrine teaches an understanding of human beings as created in the image of God, a view which entails a creative and social conception of freedom as intrinsic to what it means to be human. Any person or social policy that compromises or deprives persons of this image-of-God freedom is a fundamental assault on their personhood and thus sinful. Going one step further, Stone draws on the biblical distinction between knowing God and knowing about God to argue that the exercise of compassion in the interest of justice - and not merely participation in the practices of piety - is the primary sign of friendship with God (p. 46). As Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21 NRSV). "To know God," Stone concludes, "is to practice justice and to take up the cause and defense of the poor and the marginalized" (p. 49).

The real rub of a liberationist conception of Christian ministry and the compassion it must embody is its threat to the way many churches go about the daily business of being the church in the world. If one takes seriously Stone's conception of compassionate ministry as the attempt - aided by God's grace - to restore the imago Dei in persons by extending God's compassion to and living God's solidarity with the poor and the suffering in our society, then the priorities and budgets of most churches will literally be turned on its head. This is a revolutionary proposal. It prophetically calls most Christians and churches in our society to task for their failure to live the gospel. It also requires a fundamental reorientation and adjustment of ministry such that the wants of the relatively affluent are consistently subordinated to the needs of the weak, the vulnerable, the poor, and the victimized. And this means that the daily activities of ordained and lay ministers, the budgets of churches, and the agendas of vestries must actively embody the example of the One who came not to be served but to serve.

"Quite simply," Stone writes, "it is the effectiveness and faithfulness of ... ministry in carrying out God's justice and compassion that allows me to qualify that ministry as a Christian ministry" (p. 50). Some religious organizations, he notes, are "so busy being Christian" that they fail to extend God's compassion to the needy, while many so-called secular institutions that "never garnered one conversion to Christ, placed one Bible in a sack of groceries, or required a single homeless person to listen to a sermon before providing food and lodging were nonetheless counted as God's friends" (ibid.). After an honest examination of conscience and church practice in light of the overwhelming biblical mandate to serve the poor and the needy, it is difficult to simply shrug off Stone's criticisms.

If it is taken seriously, Bryan Stone's conception of compassionate ministry can serve as an impetus for Christians to examine their personal and ecclesial priorities and values to see if they conform to the moral preferences of God revealed in Jesus Christ and the scriptures. At a minimum, this requires ministers and their congregations to ask the following questions. "How is what we are doing or not doing affecting the poor, the suffering, the marginalized, the victimized, and the oppressed in our community?" "What can we do to more faithfully express the compassion of God in our ministries of inreach and outreach?"

Excellent book!  Apr 15, 2000
This is a very challenging book! Good biblical foundations for a Christian commitment to the poor and for building community. Highly recommended!
What a crock. Mr. Stone should get a life.  Mar 14, 1999
Stone completely misses the Biblical teachings. He tries to exhort compassion from a view so narrow a sheet of paper could not fit through.

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