Relationship – The Foundation of Pastoral Education

The Kingdom of God is found in relationships. This statement presents an alternative message to a declining American Church – a church that tends to be Fatherless, with a Fatherless Jesus. Though there exists the belief in the Father and that the Son has a Father, there is not the internal map that steers the church’s ministry bringing bonding, community, and family in a new way of being to the watching world.

Unity, Interdependence and Fruitfulness

C. S. Lewis’ said: “I believe in the sun, not merely because I see it but because by it I can see everything else.” Like the sun, the Trinity allows us to see reality as a first family community consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The results of this family community are unity, interdependence, and fruitfulness. Paul firmly believes that the idea of family comes from our Heavenly Father. “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name…” (Ephesians 3:14-15).[1]

Life in Relationship

The Trinity offers four axioms of meaning which provides a foundation for pastoral education:[2]

  1. God exists in relationship
  2. All that God does is for the purpose of relationship
  3. The life of the Church lives within God’s life
  4. The lives of persons are fulfilled in relationships

When we say all that God does is for the purpose of relationship, we are not talking about something separate from the kind of life that God has, one of love and freedom for one another. All humanity is addressed by the Father, through Jesus Christ, to respond to the invitation of the God who reconciles, creates community, speaks to us, and calls us His own, His family, His body. Those who live and share out of the life of this “relational” God in the world express the vision of what love looks like; not as a feeling within one’s self, but as a creative, diverse community of persons who are enriched by being together and sharing their life together.

[1] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to The Ephesians (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1961), 67.
[2] Marty Folsom, “Relational Theology Volume II: A Primer” (Martin E. Folsom, 2013), 62-67.

Written by Wess Pinkham, V.P. of Academics, Dean
March 26, 2020

Dr. Pinkham brings a dynamic, holistic approach to relational theology and decades of educational administration experience to his role as V.P. of Academics and Dean with Shiloh University.

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