Russell (Rusty) Hoffman

In regards to the first two chapters, I found the extreme case examples and the cases from another culture and mind-set to be difficult for me to relate and understand. Certainly none of our approaches to our religious life are perfect. We all have times when we have ‘idolatries’ in our belief systems. We all fall into superstitious and magical thinking sometime. I suppose in counseling one is often dealing with extremes. But whenever we are stressed, our faith is challenged and the shortcomings of our theology are exposed.

Some quotes that jumped out at me were: “Ultimate values get obscured by proximate, temporary things.” and the contrast Dr. Oates made between a religious world view that “lays hold of the Eternal” vs an idolatrous religion. The person who is pondering ‘realization of our finitude, mortality in the face of death, and encounter with meaningless is one who is dealing with ‘ultimate values.’

He says the person whose religion is healthy demonstrates humility, capacity for self-criticism, critical thinking and is willing to change his mind. Sick religion is uncritical, self-centered, not humble or teachable.

I liked his description on page 34 of the pastoral approach as being a comforter, helping the person to ‘feel free to pour out his complaint to God.’

Rusty Hoffman