The Minister and the Care of Souls
by Daniel Day Williams


The Faculty of the Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, invited me to give the Sprunt Lectures in 1959, and requested that they deal with the theological foundations of pastoral care. This book gives in substance the content of the lectures. They are a theologian’s attempt to analyze the issues involved in the pastoral task. I write as theologian and minister, and claim no special competence in the field of pastoral counseling. I have, however, had the privilege of many years’ discussion with those working in this field. I gladly record my debt to Arthur Cushman McGiffert, Jr. and Anton Boisen, whose course, "Experience and Theology," in The Chicago Theological Seminary opened up the relation of theology to psychology for me; to Seward Hiltner, Granger Westberg, and my present colleague, Earl Loomis, with each of whom I have taught courses on the relation of psychiatry and theology; and to William Oglesby of Union Seminary, Richmond, not only for his encouragement in the project I was undertaking, but for helpful criticism of the lectures. The positions taken here are of course my own.

A word should be said about two terms. The Latin cura can be translated "care" or "cure," but I prefer "care of souls" because we can always care even when we cannot cure. The "minister" is the ordained person, called by the Church to its leadership in that office. I have used the word "pastor" when the special task of caring for the spiritual needs of the congregation and of individuals is in view. But of course the minister is always a pastor, and the pastor a minister, These are functions as well as offices, and in the broader sense every Christian may be minister-pastor to his neighbor. I have tried to keep this also in mind, and in the last chapter to examine the setting of pastoral care in the life of the congregation.

To know the hospitality of Union Seminary, Richmond, the gracious welcome of its faculty and students, and the loyal and responsive hearing which is given to the Sprunt Lectures is to experience the reality of the Christian community and be sustained by it. I am deeply grateful to President and Mrs. James A. Jones, and to all those who made the occasion of working out this book a memorable one. To my wife I am especially indebted for her critical and competent preparation of the manuscript.

Daniel Day Williams

Union Theological Seminary

New York