Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Sexual misconduct on the part of clergy is not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless the Church in general lacks a concept of restoration that provides spiritual and emotional healing of an offender within the context of the redemptive community of faith. This dissertation is intended to demonstrate how Scripture, church history, theology and psychology support restoration of fallen clergy. The dissertation will go on then to describe what a process of restoration would include.
The dissertation begins and ends with case studies. Both cases deal with actual events though names and some details have been changed. The first case demonstrates some of the problems a person encounters when true repentance exists but the church provides no climate of healing. The last case is an example of what could happen when a church creates a context for redemption.
The Introduction gives a broad overview of the literature that relates to various aspects of the discussion.
Chapter one provides three biblical case studies: Saul, David and Peter. The purpose of chapter one is to examine the failure of each individual and how God dealt with each one in relation to his leadership role.
Chapter two is an examination of the case of the Donatist controversy in Church history. The controversy, though it became very complex over time, dealt initially with failed clergy and provides a historical case study in support of restoration. Chapter three examines the theological outcomes of the Donatist controversy in relation to the contemporary context. Augustine wrestled with questions regarding the nature of the Church. The conclusions that Augustine came to regarding the Church have implications for dealing with fallen clergy.
Chapter four focuses on the arguments for and against returning fallen clergy to pastoral ministry. The principle New Testament passages that appear to deny a fallen pastor the possibility of a return to ministry are examined and discussed.
Chapter five details the components or spiritual elements that are part of a restoration process. It is argued that the faith community must be a part of the process in order for the offender to be healed and restored, since the faith community provides the optimal environment for spiritual and emotional restoration.
Hutchinson, Carol, "A Process of Restoration for Clergy Guilty of Sexual Misconduct" (2005). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 356.