Historical and Legal Foundations for Chaplaincy

Our Work of the Chaplain passage of Scripture for this episode is 1 John 3:17-18 which says, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from Erwin Lutzer. He said, “Christianity demands a level of caring that transcends human inclinations.”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is “Historical and Legal Foundations for Chaplaincy.”

The development of chaplain ministry has its roots in ancient history. Religious men and women often accompanied armies into battle as priests. In Judeo-Christian history, from the settlement of Canaan through the period of the judges, spiritual leaders provided encouragement and compassionate care to people who were constantly in crisis. Chaplains sailed with Sir Francis Drake in the sixteenth century and fought with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. They prayed through human suffering, encouraged in despair, and officiated over ceremonial events. They have counseled and consulted for kings, parliaments, and governments — for the incarcerated, the sick, and the disenfranchised.

Today, chaplains are found in many settings — military, healthcare, law enforcement, institutions, business and industry, resorts, racetracks, gambling casinos, job corps, shelters, rescue missions, professional sports teams, factories, and corporations. Placement is limited only by a lack of imagination.

Chaplains come from a variety of faiths, professions, and ministries. They may be laity — men and women who respond to God’s call to provide care and compassion to hurting people in their communities or through specific organizations. They may be ordained clergy, counselors, teachers, social workers, or psychologists. Chaplains may also be full-time vocational ministers, committed to spiritual care through an institution. Chaplains function as an extension of the church, hired by an institution, providing ministry to the institution and its employees and clients.