Chaplaincy and the Bible

I started a career in ministry 20-some-odd years ago. At the time, I considered a number of opportunities within the bigger arena of ministry.

It is possible to be a missionary, a pastor, a musician (I knew that one was out), an educator, or a number of other options, but one thing I did not consider was being a chaplain. The reason why I moved away from chaplaincy was the knowledge that in this form of ministry one is expected to minister to people with a generic identity. If the person was of a different theological perspective or ecclesiastical tradition than you, then play the role to meet their needs.

I don’t disparage the ministers who take on this task. Nor do I believe it a grievous wrong of them to behave differently than their core identity to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of others. But I also know I do not do ‘generic’ well. When a person asks me for my perspective, they get my perspective rather than an answer measured by what they need to hear.

I will strive to make that answer Biblical. I will try to be led by God. But ultimately I know that answer will come out of my personal relationship with God. Anything else would leave me feeling dishonest.

Chaplains recognize this tension, and know how to balance these two different concerns.

Recently I heard about a chaplain, a hero among chaplains, who was being chastised because he was asked what the Bible said on a topic and he answered. His answer was not so much an opinion, but a review of what the specific statements of Scripture on the topic in question. The Bible is not politically correct. He is being disciplined for accurately answering a question on what the Bible said. Or to put that another way, the Navy has decided that some parts of the Bible are not acceptable for use by their chaplains.

So we must have turned a corner, a horrible corner. The military is now officially censoring the parts of the Bible they do not like. Since that is the case, how long will it be before the government at large begins telling churches what parts of the Bible are no longer acceptable?

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