Pastoral Decisions in the Hard Cases

Michael R. Button

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 1/1/1994

Issue: Baptism (Vol. 14, No 1, Winter, 1994)

This article will explore the tension between pastor as change agent and pastor as caregiver in the practice of holy baptism. Special concern will be focused on those "hard cases" that so often defy our policies and challenge even our best pastoral wisdom. What response do we make to the Archie and Edith Bunkers who come bearing their grandchildren to us to baptize without the consent of the parents? What conditions call for an "emergency baptism"? What balance do we strike between meeting people where they are and calling people to the new obedience? How can we minister to individuals while being responsible to the entire people of God? Where, when, and how does theology help or hinder our pastoral decision-making?

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