Pastoral Care For Those Experiencing An Epistemological Crisis

Chances are that you have never heard of an epistemological crisis. Don’t worry I will be the first to confess that the terminology is a bit confusing. Even though the terminology is confusing, it is a very common occurrence in the church and every pastor and lay leader should familiarize himself with it. 

A common example that authors have shared in describing an epistemological crisis is with a story of a wife discovering a hand written note from another women in the pants pocket of her husband. The note says, “I Love You.” This new knowledge, if accepted, has drastic consequences. In other words, the inescapable result of these three simple words on a note will bring into question the truthfulness of what her husband says about their marriage and the status of the marriage. The note will also bring into question her marriage values, her behavior and feelings towards her whole family. The conflict between her prior knowledge and the new knowledge collide, which creates an epistemological crisis. As a result of the collision, she may accept the new knowledge, which could potentially bring about an alternative reality and reveal that she has been living in a lie for countless years. She may also reject the new knowledge or try to rationalize it away so that things will stay relatively the same, with the exception of possible lingering doubts. Painfully she may choose to neither fully accept nor reject the note but try to absorb the new knowledge into her prior knowledge, thus attempting to hold the two truths together in an obviously painful contradictory unit. 

As we can see from our example above, epistemological crises have large ramifications for individuals and this is also true for churches. As we will see in the following sections of this document, when the Scriptures are continually revealed to the church, parishioners will also experience epistemological crises. These crises will occur as God’s truth conflicts with and undercuts other sources of truth that they accept and perceive to be the norm. Thus this subject demands our utmost attention for proper and compassionate pastoral care.  CLICK HERE to read more.

The previous material is from the introductory portion of a recent paper that I wrote titled, "Pastoral Care For Those Experiencing An Epistemological Crisis,"  You can access the full paper in PDF format by CLICKING HERE.

A special thank you is needed for the following gentlemen in their review and editorial suggestions of this paper.  

   -Rev. Robert Overgaard,
   -Rev. Ken Narvesen

Gentlemen, your insights were most appreciated and valued.

I hope you enjoy the paper, I enjoyed writing it.   As you learn more about the intricacies of epistemological crises and worldview conflicts, may you also contemplate ways that you might pastorally serve with compassion and integrity in the midst of these situations .    

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Matt  


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