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Observed Aversion to Raising Hell in Pastoral Care: The Conflict Between Doctrine and Practice

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This paper explores complexities in the relationship between beliefs about hell and the practice of Christian pastoral care by clergy. It tests the hypotheses that observed aversion to raising the topic will be greater the more inclusive the minister's doctrine; that sensitivities are a strong motivation for the carer to seek a doctrinal 'loophole' to avoid it; and that inability to reconcile one's beliefs about hell with aversion to raising the subject does not mean that a minister will necessarily follow through on the implications of his/her doctrine. The data is derived from a postal survey of clergy in Scotland, conducted across the Trinitarian denominations. It is concluded that a model of applied-theology is ameliorated even by its proponents in the context of hell and pastoral care.


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