Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)




This paper proposes a response the following question: What is the best approach for ministers to use in ministry to the suffering? The paper examines the question in light of culture in the United States in the twenty-first century. Many people face a crisis in their faith due to a misconception that God allows suffering to happen to good people. Three covenantal theories: limited retribution, telic vindication, and theocentric consolation, appear throughout the Old and New Testaments and in the history of the Church. This paper proposes theocentric consolation as the proper paradigm for ministry to those who suffer. Chapter 1 deals with the responses to suffering in the Old Testament including scrutiny of the three covenantal theories and the proposition that theocentric consolation offers the most appropriate approach to ministry for those who suffer. Chapter 2 highlights the responses to suffering found in the stories of Jesus, the writings of Paul, and in the book of James. Each covenantal theory of suffering is also found in the New Testament. Chapter 3 describes the covenantal theories of limited retribution, telic vindication, and theocentric consolation as they have been espoused and taught throughout church history. The chapter specifically examines the doctrines of Calvinist, Wesleyan, and Catholic theologies in regards to suffering because they constitute the majority of believers in the United States. Chapter 4 presents a theology of suffering. Its narrative of the theme of covenants in Scripture demonstrates theocentric consolation as the proper foundation for a ministry to the suffering. A simple theodicy is proposed at the end of the chapter. Chapter 5 relates some common inadequate approaches to suffering in the United States, and it concludes with the claim that theocentric consolation offers the best approach to ministry to those who suffer and some practical ways to use it.

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