Book Review: Pastoral Care Under The Cross (Eyer)

Pastoral  Care Under the Cross is a book by Richard Eyer that is written primarily towards pastors. According to Eyer on page 148, “The premise of this book is that it is not the task of pastoral care to eliminate suffering but to help  suffering people interpret their suffering from the perspective of the cross.”  Eyer goes on to say on page 149, “What makes the theology of the cross absolutely essential in pastoral care is the danger each person faces who attempts to take matters of suffering and helplessness into his own hands and out of the hands of God.”
            While it is easy to believe that Pastoral Care is primarily about praying, reading scripture and the ministry of presence, the theology in which pastors operate within and in light of will have drastic impacts on their ministry.  In other words, doctrine drives practice.  One’s doctrine impacts their worldview and their worldview impacts their linguistics and actions.  Thus a pastor who operates out of the context of a theology of glory will have a drastically different approach to ministry than a pastor who operates out of the context of cross theology.  The way one uses prayer, the way one prays, how one applies scripture, and the way that one approaches those in suffering will be drastically different between pastors operating under glory versus pastors operating under the cross.  The reason why this is true is that our theological epistemology drives our spiritual care. Thus in this short book, Eyer attempts to lay out the theology of the cross in all aspects of pastoral care.  The theology of the cross impacts not only our role as pastor but also helps us embrace those that are suffering in a manner that we don’t try and move them out of suffering but help them understand the suffering in light of the cross. 
            Personally, I believe this book is spot on.  Not only does Eyer have the theological backing of people such as Martin Luther, he also has very practical examples that help the reader visually see the difference between glory spiritual care versus cross spiritual care.  Furthermore, he does a nice job of fleshing out the implications of our relativistic, autonomous, and narcissistic culture that has an aversion to death and suffering.  This results in the pastor not only giving pastoral care that is contrary to popular secular culture but he will also be giving pastoral care that is different from spiritual care providers that operate from glory theology.
Eyer’s thoughts on the bottom of page 141 summarizes things quite nicely, “Where is God when I need him, ‘the theology of the cross answers, ‘He is on the cross, where you need him most.’”

CLICK HERE to order the book.

Join in the conversation on Facebook, by CLICKING HERE.