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Care of Souls: Revisioning Christian Nurture and Counsel 11.1.1998 Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801090639
ISBN-10: 0801090636
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David G. Benner is professor of psychology at Redeemer College (Ontario) and a practicing clinical psychologist. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including the Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling Dr. Benner is also the founding director of the Institute for Psychospiritual Health, an international network of scholars and practitioners.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; 11.1.1998 edition (December 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801090636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801090639
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Soul care involves nurture and support as well as healing and restoration. Soul refers to the whole person, including the body, but with particular focus on the inner world of thinking, feeling, and willing. The author describes soul care through the ages, and also shows how relevant insights from modern psychology can be an integral part of this much needed activity. The description of Jesus as the model soul shepherd, the comprehensive description of what Christian spirituality is, the comparison of various forms of Christian soul care (i.e. Christian Psychotherapy, Spiritual Direction, Pastoral Care), and the guidance for both how to give and receive soul care are excellent. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to go deeper in their relationship with God, and also for those who want to help other people to do the same.
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One distinctive of biblical faith is that each human being is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). One practical implication of this image doctrine is that when you speak with someone, it is like speaking to God himself. In fact, many times God speaks to us through the people around us. A second practical implication is that each and every human has intrinsic value in the eyes of God[1]. Between the hint of the divine and this intrinsic value, every individual has an interesting story to tell—if one takes the time to listen.

In his book, Care of Souls, David Benner implicitly understands and accepts the doctrine of the image. He writes:

“Care refers to actions that are designed to support the well-being of something or someone. Cure refers to actions that are designed to restore well-being that has been lost.” (21)

One only cares for something of value. In this case, we are talking about souls which he defines as:

“soul as referring to the whole person, including the body, but with particular focus on the inner world of thinking, feeling, and willing.” (22)

This is the Hebrew understanding of soul (nefesh or נַפְשִׁ֖י) which is quite distinct from the Greek understanding from Plato which divided a person into body and soul[1], which were truly divided (11).

This body and soul unity is important in Benner’s thinking especially when he delves into the distinction between the conscious and non-conscious parts of our inner life. He writes:

“Caring for souls is caring for people in ways that not only acknowledge them as persons but also engage and address them in the deepest and most profoundly human aspects of their lives.
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Format: Paperback
In "Care of Souls," Benner proposes to explain "soul care" in its totality. He does so by examining the ideal characteristics of soul care providers, presenting his own definition of "dialogue," and explaining in detail the distinctiveness of "Christian spirituality." Unlike typical counseling techniques, Benner suggests that "providers of soul care" ought to offer "judicious advice, suggestions or offerings of direction" (155). He reasons that if dialogue is based on an "authentic relationship of care" then offering "ideas" and "suggestions" are expected (155).

I found the "seven characteristics of Christian soul care" helpful because I used the list to measure my own "qualifications" (207). Benner states that soul care providers should be "spiritually mature," which includes descriptors such as "personal holiness" and "well-developed habits of prayer" (209). The term "personal holiness" seems vague because it might be misconstrued as "holier than thou." The "demands of Christian soul care" are realistic and should be expected from all "soul care" providers (212). I think counselees expect (and deserve to get) truthfulness from the counselor; and counselors should "continue to grow" through continuing education, but more importantly they should continue to grow in their relationship with Christ in order to remain effective in their Christian counseling practices (213).

I found Benner's presentation of the future dilemma of "soul care" to be very troubling. According to Benner, soul care is not clinical or therapeutic (in the secular sense). Even though it is not clinical, soul care that is provided by a lay counselor will be seen as "substandard" and if it is promoted as "distinctly Christian," it will not be taken seriously (215).
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An excellent read for those who need to know the connecting points between contemporary Christian spirituality, counseling, psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis and mentoring with their respective origins and influences. The subject material is thorough enough with sources included for academic use yet accessible enough for the layperson: kudos to the author and editor! Lastly, the last sections of the book bring the content from what was mostly an intellectual overview to a place of practical, relational application.
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This book is amazing. It can be a hard read due to the scholarly level. In my case I being exposed to all types of scientific scholarly studies from different fields so I find it fascinating, very realistic and helpful for the new and the not so new pastor or Christian counselor.
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