Human Trafficking, The Bible and The Church

Image result for modern day slaveryWhilst the philosophical battle against slavery might have been won, human trafficking is very much a problem for our time and continues to spark rigorous debate amongst Christians wrestling with what God’s justice might look like today. Can the Bible, whose teaching on slavery is so at odds with our contemporary worldview, inform efforts to end human trafficking, and if so, how? Marion L.S. Carson is the author of Human Trafficking, the Bible, and the Church, published by SCM Press in May. We asked her to reflect on some of the themes of the book.


How did you come to be writing on human trafficking and the Bible?

I’ve been involved in Christian anti-trafficking work for many years, mostly with the European Baptist Federation.  I also teach Biblical Studies and so I’m always interested in how people are using the Bible in their life and ministry. As I’ve travelled around I have listened to colleagues involved in anti-trafficking work and have noticed that people are not always consistent in their use of the Bible For example, Christians are the first to say that that human trafficking (slavery and exploitation) is wrong, and that they should be involved in combating it. Yet the Bible does not say this at all. In fact it contains passages which support slavery. For example, Jesus never says that slavery should be abolished, and in Colossians 3:22  slaves are explicitly told that they should obey their masters. It seemed to me that if Christians believe that Scripture is formative for their faith, we should at least try to make some sense of all this.

I also noticed that most Christians seem to equate human trafficking with prostitution, but this is only one aspect of slavery, and I was curious as to why this should be so. I came to realize that many people think the Bible says prostitutes are a special case (they tend to quote examples like Mary Magdalene), and that God has a special love for women in prostitution. It is because of this that many Christians throughout history have tried to reach out to women in prostitution (for good in many instances but also, to our shame, for ill). At the same time, however, I kept hearing stories of churches which were shunning women who had been involved in prostitution (whether as a result of coercion or not) on the grounds that the Bible says the church should be pure and of good repute in their communities. So I was coming across a lot of confused thinking and double standards. It seemed to me that while Christians could back up any argument with a reference to Scripture, there is little “joined up thinking” with regard to prostitution, which is so much a part of modern slavery. So I wanted to try to figure out what the Bible does have to say on this issue, and how it can inform our practice today.

Is the Bible really a useful tool in thinking about slavery, given that it has been used both to oppose and support the practice?

The answer to this question is yes – the Bible is a useful tool in thinking about slavery, but in this case we need to get beyond looking for the “plain reading of the text” which is so often our “default hermeneutic”. If we don’t do this we will get into all sorts of difficulties, especially with passages like Leviticus 25:44-46 and 1 Timothy 6:1-2 which so obviously assume that slavery is acceptable. But we also have to ask what we should do with texts like these? Of course, it helps to recognize that these texts reflect the views of people who lived in times very different from our own. But we can learn so much from the nineteenth century Abolitionists,  and indeed the slaves themselves, who saw clearly that these texts have to be weighed up against wider Biblical ideas, especially Jesus’ teaching on the law of love. When we do this, we see that it is impossible to square the view that other people may be treated as objects or commodities with the teaching on the image of God, the story of the Exodus, and the “Golden Rule” that we should treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. When we do this we see that freedom and redemption are at the very heart of Scripture, a message which followers of Jesus simply cannot ignore.

Some people would say that the Bible isn’t vocal enough in its criticism of slavery. How would you respond?

It could seem that way from our perspective today. It seems so obvious to us that slavery is wrong, and it can be frustrating that the Bible doesn’t shout this message from the rooftops. However, there are some things which can help us to understand why it doesn’t do this. First, I think we have to remember that very many voices from many different times are represented in the Bible, many of which represent those who were struggling to learn to live as the people of God in their cultural settings and with limited understanding. They, like us, saw through a glass darkly.

Second, slavery was such an accepted norm in these societies that any demand for abolition would simply have been dismissed as ridiculous. If Jesus had spoken out directly against slavery, he would have been ignored or thought mad, and this would have taken away from the central message of the Gospel. The more we listen to his voice in Scripture, however, the more we see that slavery and exploitation must be incompatible with the message of love and redemption, and we wonder why it took Christians nearly two thousand years to make the connection.

How do you think churches are doing at opposing modern-day slavery?

Lots of great work is being done throughout the world. Many Christians are involved in rescuing an helping victims, and in political lobbying. This work goes on quietly and behind the scenes, and often churches don’t know about it. Not everyone can become actively involved in this way, of course, but there is a lot more that can be done to raise awareness and prevent people being trafficked in the first place. The trouble is that for many living in comfort in the West, human trafficking is so hidden that we think it doesn’t concern us (although there is a good deal of it around us), and so it becomes something of a “minority interest”. However, in other countries, like Eastern Europe and Africa for example, human trafficking is an everyday reality which affects people’s lives, threatening communities and families. In these settings, however, slavery and prostitution are seen as shameful, and are seldom talked about. In both cases, therefore, churches could be doing a lot more to help prevent slavery by raising awareness, getting people to talk about it, and helping vulnerable people to recognize the risks. Unfortunately, however, Christians have a tendency to make their own community identity and preservation their first concern, rather than getting alongside the “least of these”, and this attitude can hamper our ability engage with injustices like human trafficking.

What impact are you hoping the book will have?

I’m hoping it will make people think about human trafficking and how they can get involved in anti-slavery work. I’m also hoping that people who are involved in anti-slavery work will look at Scripture more deeply, and understand what and why they are doing a bit more. Amongst activists, I’ve noticed that the Bible often gets missed out, and more training is given on psychology, law and social work practice. I’ve nothing against this, of course, but I do think that if we say that we give the Bible a high place as Christians then we need to be reading it. Christian activists need to recognize that in the Bible they have centuries of wisdom enshrined in these texts which can inform and enrich their ministries.

I’m also hoping that it will help Christians to think about how they read the Bible. It is so easy to use Scripture to support your own agenda, as we see clearly in the case of the slave-holders of the nineteenth century. It’s also easy to give up reading because it can seem so confusing and difficult. If we learn to see the great variety that is in the Bible and think about the whole story rather than “proof-texting” we might be able to get a lot more from it.

 What sort of action can individual Christians take?

There are lots of things we can do. We can take the time to learn about what is going on in the world, and become involved in charities which are involved in tackling modern day slavery, for example Anti-Slavery International or the International Justice Mission. We can pray for projects and support them materially. We can make our church communities a welcoming and safe place for victims of slavery and exploitation. We can support for fair and just trade practices, and boycott businesses which are known to exploit their workers. During the Abolitionist campaign, many people refused to buy sugar, and this had huge impact as it directly hurt those who profited from slave labour. We can also examine also ourselves with regard to our attitude to money and power. Are these more important to us than being “slaves of Christ”, who did not consider his status something to be grasped, but humbled himself for the sake of humanity (Phil 2)? If all Christians examined their attitudes in these areas, and were willing to seek justice before their own self-interest, I believe we could be a real force for change in the world.


Marion L.S. Carson is a freelance theologian and writer who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. She is secretary of the European Baptist Federation’s Anti-Trafficking Network.

Human Trafficking, The Bible and the Church is available to preorder now from SCM Press

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The Image of God, Personhood and the Embryo

9780334055211This month sees the publication of The Image of God, Personhood and the Embryo. The book engages with the contentious and sensitive questions around what theology might have to say about the moral status of the embryo. The author, Calum Mackellar, is Director of Research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, and Visiting Lecturer and Visiting Professor in Bioethics at St Mary’s University in London.

In today’s guest post, Calum Mackellar tells us more.


Discussions concerning biomedical developments relating to the human embryo never really leave headline news. Even very recently, new debates have arisen concerning the possibility of lifting the 14 day limit during which it is possible to undertaken embryonic research in the UK. This is because scientists are now able to grow embryos beyond such a limit and some are proposing that, doing so, may be in the interest of biomedical research. But this would then mean having to reevaluate the moral status of early human embryos.

In other words, because of new utilitarian demands, the ‘special moral status’ of the human embryo is continually coming under pressure to be reconsidered and questioned.

For example, in 1984, Lady Mary Warnock (one of the main architects of the UK embryology legislation) commented, in her report that led to the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, that the embryo ‘ought to have a special status’ under UK law.[1] But in December 2002, her position had changed significantly indicating instead: ‘I regret that in the original report that led up to the 1990 legislation we used words such as ‘respect for the embryo’ … I think that what we meant by the rather foolish expression ‘respect’ was that the early embryo should never be used frivolously for research purposes’. [2]  Adding: ‘you cannot respectfully pour something down the sink – which is the fate of the embryo after it has been used for research, or if is not going to be used for research or for anything else’.[3]

This example demonstrates how an entity, which was understood as having a special status in the 1980s, is no longer considered to have such a status and, in fact, is seen to have lost all moral status. From this perspective, it is apparently only the biomedical research (and not the embryo) that should now be respected in the UK.

Another area of embryonic research which is causing significant debate, at present, is the creation of human-nonhuman interspecies embryos. To do this, human cells are combined with nonhuman embryos which are then gestated in order to create animals with human organs which could be used in transplantation. But questions then arise relating to the moral status of the created human-nonhuman interspecies embryos, especially if some of the human cells could give rise to brain cells.

In this regard, one of the ethicists working on this project in the US, David Resnik, was adamant that clear guidelines were necessary indicating in 2016, with respect to human-mouse research, that: “The specter of an intelligent mouse stuck in a laboratory somewhere screaming ‘I want to get out’ would be very troubling to people.”[4]

Such a mouse, of course, is very unlikely, but if the research did mix human and chimpanzee embryonic cells, the possibility of something being born alive (a humanzee) may eventually be a reality if researchers tried hard enough.

These examples demonstrate that there is a real need for clear understanding of what gives entirely human, and partially human, embryos moral status. Moreover, from a Christian perspective, this would mean seeking to recognise whether they may reflect the image of God and thus be considered as persons.

Needless to say that a lot has been written, over the past decades, concerning the moral status of the human embryo. Even more has been published, over the past centuries, about the image of God in humankind. Interestingly, however, the combination of these two great themes has not, as yet, been developed to any significant extent. This is surprising since, from a Christian theological perspective, any discussion relating to the moral status of human embryos cannot be dissociated from a consideration of the image of God that gives true value and meaning to all persons. It is because of this shortage that  The Image of God, Personhood and the Embryo was written.

This topic, of course, will inevitably be sensitive and debatable including amongst the Christian theological community. But there remains a need for thoughtful new arguments as well as discussions to be presented based on serious theological analysis and the very rich Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox arguments on the concept of the image of God. Material that can be used by all the different stakeholders in helping this important conversation move forward in a constructive manner while being informed by the latest scientific results.

In this respect, the book does not represent a study on the image of God as such. Many publications have already addressed this complex and important matter. Instead, it examines the manner in which the moral status of the human embryo may be considered and articulated from these different studies relating to the image of God. An image that can only be better defined but never completely understood since it reflects the mystery of God.

The book examines widespread arguments concerning (1) substantive, (2) functional and (3) relational aspects of the image of God and how these may inform discussions about the moral status of the human embryo. Each time, the topic of the image of God, the associated notion of personhood and how both these concepts can be applied to the arguments concerning the moral status of the embryo are considered. This will eventually show, however, that these three common perspectives may be insufficient, on their own, to adequately discuss whether the image of God can be recognised in human embryos.

To address this problem, the study will then investigate two relatively new angles of (4) the creation of humankind by God and (5) the incarnation of the Word of God and how both may better inform the image of God and personhood. It will subsequently be argued that these can be far more useful and relevant when seeking to discuss and understand the true value and worth of human embryos.


[1] Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1984, p. 63.

[2] House of Lords Hansard, Volume 641 Part 14, Column 1327, 5 December 2002.

[3] House of Lords Hansard, Volume 641 Part 14, Column 1327, 5 December 2002.

[4] Antonio Regalado, Human-Animal Chimeras Are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms, MIT Technology Review, 6 January 2016, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/545106/human-animal-chimeras-are-gestating-on-us-research-farms/


Until 30th April, The Image of God in the Embryo is available at a special offer price. Find out more on our website. 

John Swinton live webstream, 26th April

On Wednesday 26th April, we’re looking forward to welcoming Professor John Swinton for our first ever live webstream. John Swinton is the Michael Ramsey Prize-winning author of Dementia: Living in the Memories of God. John will be talking about Becoming Friends of Time in conversation with Ed Thornton, Assistant Editor at the Church Times.

To whet your appetite, here’s a quick video interview we filmed with John at the AAR conference in San Antonio last year:

The webcast will begin at 5pm on the 26th April, and you’ll be able to view it via our Twitter page.

You can join in the conversation using the hashtag #BFOT, so do tweet your questions and comments in advance or during the discussion on the day.

“The bittersweet truth of Easter…”

9780334053590Bob Mayo’s The Parish Handbook offers a poignant and heartfelt reflection on parish life; its joys, its struggles, and its rhythms. In this extract he reflects on the Church’s task at Easter.


In the Easter story Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is inextricably linked with his progress towards Jerusalem. He leaves his childhood home in provincial Galilee to go to the big city, the centre of power. Jesus’ message needed to be spoken in the temple for it to be understood: ‘I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem’ (Luke 13.33). The temple was the fulcrum for the old and the new order. It was from here that Jesus drove out the traders (Matt. 21.12) and it was here that Peter preached about the new world order after Pentecost (Acts 2.46).

As Jesus led the way towards Jerusalem, the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid (Mark 10.32). John Inge (2003, p. 49) wrote that in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ biography is represented by his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem: Galilee is seen as the sphere of revelation and redemption, and Jerusalem is seen as the place of rejection (though ultimately leading to resurrection).

The events of the Easter week happened in an atmosphere of social and political volatility. Without a sense of the chaos of Jerusalem, the quietness of Gethsemane and the barrenness of Golgotha, there is no feeling of progression through the events of Holy Week. The week is marked also by Jesus’ gradual process of separation from those around him. After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem he left the city to go to Bethany, where he spent the night (Matt. 21.17) – no sooner had he arrived than he began to distance himself. At the Last Supper, he pulled back from the crowds to be with the disciples. In Gethsemane he left the main body of the disciples to be with Peter, James and John. At Golgotha he was alone on the cross. The fact that he was killed outside of the city walls provides us with the overriding image of his rejection.

Easter is an attitude and Christmas is an event

The task of the Church is to tell the story. Children can offer new insights into familiar themes. Sarah (aged 8½) says that she doesn’t think that it was very nice of God to send his Son to be crucified. In one sentence she has put her finger on the penal substitution debate – ‘Why’, she is saying, ‘should Jesus be punished (penalized) in the place of sinners (substitution), to satisfy the demands of God’s justice?’

Being an Easter people means living out the Easter weekend in how we relate to others. I can live the rhythm of an Easter weekend in a single day. Good Friday grief comes with Jimmy knocking at the door. He is just out of prison. He has nowhere to stay and is sleeping rough. I sit with Jimmy till past midnight waiting for a case-worker to come and find him and to take him to a hospital. Easter Sunday joy comes with Sarah who has her baby in two and a half hours flat. She is not able to get to hospital in time and the child is born on the bedroom floor. With a genius for understatement the relieved mother describes it as ‘quite exciting’.

We either mourn or else we rejoice and are glad (Matt. 5.4; 12). We are hot or cold but we are never simply dull, grey or pragmatic in how we respond to people’s suffering and vulnerability (Rev. 3.15–16). When we respond to pain by simply looking for a solution to suffering – with offers of help or to respond to grief with attempts at distraction – we are increasing the isolation of the person in need because we are denying the reality of what has happened to them. We are trying to protect them from crucifixion in the hope that there is a straight route to resurrection.

The bittersweet truth of Easter Day is that just as Jesus needed to die in order to live again, so also do we need to be born again to see the face of Christ. We trivialize what a person might be suffering if we tell them simply that God is in control and everything will come right in the end – ‘all they have to do it to trust’! Jesus had to go through the crucifixion before he experienced his resurrection, and so also might they.

Friday

On Good Friday God shows himself to the world through the eyes of a suffering man. There is nothing attractive in him (Christ) that we should desire him (Isa. 53.2). Stripped back to the bone, to the raw heart of Jesus’ obedience, people are left free to respond to the salvation story in whatever way they choose, be it rejection or belief; as says the hymn – it is ‘just as I am without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me’.

Suffering and weakness draw out extremes of response in people. The crowds were either shouting Hosanna or else calling for Jesus’ crucifixion. People react similarly to feebleness or disability. They are kind and supportive or embarrassed and uneasy. They are rarely in between. Jesus’ crucifixion frees people to be their better or worse selves.

Saturday

Easter Saturday is the only day in the liturgical year on which the Church commemorates disappointment and failure. The disciples would have had no knowledge of what would happen 24 hours later. Their situation could be no worse. Stunned by the violence that happened the day before, the disciples would have wondered about what Jesus had said to them previously. If, as he said, he was the Light of the World, why was he left isolated, despised and rejected, repudiated by the people of God whose mission he sought to fulfil? Why did he now rest dishonoured and decaying in a grave with the wicked (Isa. 53.3, 9)? Jesus’ death on the cross would have seemed to his disciples to be the end of all their dreams.

Easter Saturday offers safe spaces to people who have been disappointed. Every school child who has been bullied, every person whose marriage has ended, every worker who has been laid off can take comfort from Easter Saturday. It is a day of disappointment when people can live with what has gone wrong in their lives because they know that theirs is a part of God’s overarching story that will culminate in the Easter day of resurrection.

Sunday

The idea of Christ rising from the dead strains our credulity to the limit. One can appreciate C. S. Lewis’s sentiments when he expressed a sympathy for Lazarus ‘to be brought back’, he said, ‘and have all one’s dying to do again was rather hard’. The idea of life through death is the paradox at the heart of the Christian faith. ‘I am not afraid of death’, says Woody Allen, ‘I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’

The Church is charged with offering to people the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, physical resurrection, and a transformed framework for engagement with the world. Resurrection is not simply comfort for the future. It is a way of understanding the world as it is now. Our Easter attitude is redemption of catastrophe, transformation through suffering, and ultimately resurrection to new life.


Bob Mayo is a vicar of Shepherd’s Bush and a part-time member of staff at St Mellitus and at St Michael’s Llandaff (as well as being chaplain to Queen’s Park Rangers). He teaches Ministry Skills and Youth and Community Work in both institutions. He was Director of Youth Ministry Training at Ridley Hall and one of the co-authors of Making Sense of Generation Y (CHP 2008) and The Faith of Generation Y.

What is Pastoral Counselling?

268628_oundations in pastoral counselling fc1c (002) (1)Later this month, we’re publishing Foundations in Pastoral Counselling, by Neil Pembroke. Neil has more than twenty-five years of practical experience, teaching, and research on pastoral care and counselling. His book offers a completely new approach to its subject, through an integration of philosophical ideas, theological thought, and psychotherapeutic psychology. Pembroke’s book sets “a new level of scholarship and sheer professionalism in a complex and challenging field” according to Margaret Whipp, Lead Chaplain for the Oxford University Hospitals. We asked Neil to tell us more about the book.


Tell us about yourself – how did you end up teaching pastoral counselling?

It’s a long story. Here’s the short version. There were two very significant events in my life that stirred up in me a deep desire to pursue psychotherapeutic psychology and counselling theory in depth. First, in my teens a person who was very close to me was often anxious, depressed and suffering from low self-esteem. When things were quite bad for her, it was suggested that she seek professional help. I was very sad that the advice was dismissed out of hand; it seemed obvious to me that things were not going to get better on their own. It was the first time that psychotherapy really came across my radar screen. I took myself off to the local library to get some psychology books out and I read them avidly. My aim was not to equip myself to offer the therapy (!) that was so badly needed. I just wanted to understand how it all worked.  The journey had started.

The second experience came when I was serving for four years in a lay ministry placement. At that time, I had no formal theological or ministry education. The parish priest was a really good mentor in many respects, but he had little idea of or interest in pastoral counselling. I remember asking him about a male parishioner who was suffering from clinical depression. I was very interested to know how my mentor was going about offering care and support. I was totally unprepared for his answer. ‘Well, he said, I try to get him laughing’. ‘And how do you do that?’ I inquired. ‘I abuse him. I tell him he’s a stupid so-and-so. I call him for everything under the sun. Eventually he starts laughing.’ ‘Pretty unorthodox’, I thought to myself…’Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be doing that. But thanks anyway.’

The priest would talk with me for hours about leadership, worship and liturgy, and mission, but he hardly said a word about how to be a good pastor. When I was doing my pastoral rounds and people raised personal concerns and distress with me, I had little idea of how I should respond. That really troubled me.

When I went into formal theological education, I took every course I could get on pastoral care and counselling. I found it all so fascinating. Finally, I decided I wanted to specialise, so it was off to Edinburgh to work with the wonderful David Lyall on my PhD.

So what is counselling?

Counselling is a skilful and compassionate whole-of-person dialogue with someone who is in confusion, pain, and distress. Theorists and practitioners often talk about it as a language event and leave it at that. Obviously speech is very significant in the counselling encounter, but so too is embodied presence. It is unhelpful to think of counselling as two Cartesian disembodied minds engaging each other.

Let me mention one more fundamental element in counselling. I’ll introduce it by noting that we often pursue something in counselling practice because it constitutes a personal shortcoming or blind-spot. I have typically been stronger at offering acceptance, compassion, and empathy, and less comfortable with the other pole, namely confrontation. I’m very aware that one cannot be an effective counsellor without skill in facilitating self-challenge. It’s an area that has featured in my research and writing ever since my PhD days, and this book is no exception.

What’s different about the approach pastoral counselling takes in a theological context as opposed to that found in healthcare or education?

In the introduction to the book I mention that my first teacher of pastoral counselling, Homer Ashby, asked a similar question and that that has always stuck with me. In fact, we had to write a term paper on it.

There are four points that stand out for me in answering the question, what’s ‘pastoral’ about pastoral counselling? First, pastoral counselling needs to integrate into its therapeutic ministry the spiritual therapy of the Church. The pastoral counsellor has available to her or him the rich resources of the church: the Bible, the classic spiritual writings, prayer, and worship.

Second, the pastoral counsellor demonstrates her theological commitments by engaging in reflective practice that draws not only on psychology and counselling theory, but also on the Christian heritage.

Pastoral counselling, third, is a work both of the individual pastor and of the community of faith. The secular counsellor works most often in isolation. Pastoral counsellors are blessed with having (ideally) a supportive and nurturing community as an additional resource.

Finally, I contend that pastoral counselling is a holistic ministry that attends to the psychological, spiritual, and moral domains. Increasingly, practical and pastoral theologians are rejecting a ‘silo approach’ to ministry in which there are specialists who only deal with the life of the spirit, or with the psyche, or with moral issues.

What’s different about your approach in this book?

There is obviously a place for relatively straightforward how-to books on counselling in general and on pastoral counselling in particular. But I have never felt an inclination to write one of these. In this new book, I do talk about practical issues like identifying the steps needed to work with the metaphors that a counsellee uses or how to take an indirect rather than (the more common) direct approach to facilitating self-confrontation. I also give lots of personal examples and case studies by others. So there’s definitely a practical element in the book, but I wanted to do something other than simply write a step-by-step guide to learning the art of pastoral counselling.

What I offer is a way to think deeply about the personhood and spirituality of the pastoral counsellor and how she or he goes about offering a faithful, compassionate and skilful presence when engaged in counselling. In order to help us think at depth, I set up a three-way conversation between philosophy, theology, and psychotherapy.

And what can philosophy teach us about pastoral counselling?

The question is obviously being asked because it’s not common for philosophy to feature heavily in books on pastoral care and counselling. I think, though, that it’s a natural move to draw in various philosophical insights. After all, a number of the founders of leading counselling/psychotherapeutic approaches have taken this line. Carl Rogers referred to Martin Buber as his ‘favourite philosopher’. Rogers saw strong connections between his ideas of acceptance and empathy and Buber’s notions of confirmation and inclusion, respectively. Albert Ellis and others in the cognitive therapy movement drew on the ideas of the Stoic philosophers and utilized a Socratic method. Michael White and David Epston engaged with the poststructuralist thought of Foucault and Derrida in developing narrative therapy. And of course existentialist therapies are informed by the thinking of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Marcel, and others. 

Not only is it a natural move, it’s also a very fruitful one. When it comes to thinking about counselling, there are enormous riches to be mined from the work of some of the truly great thinkers in human history. I have learned more from Emmanuel Levinas on acknowledging otherness, more from Simone Weil concerning deep attending, more from Martin Buber about a genuine meeting with another person, than I have from all of the writers on counselling and psychotherapy taken together. I hope that readers of the book will resonate with my own experience in this regard.

You can preorder a copy of Foundations in Pastoral Counselling with a special prepub discount of 20% via our website.


Don’t forget to go to our Twitter page  at 5pm on Wednesday 26th April, where we’ll be livestreaming, via Periscope, a conversation with John Swinton, whose latest book Becoming Friends of Time  is out now. Join the discussion, and send your questions, with the hashtag #BFOT.