Thematic Development of a Theology of Care in the Context of HIV and AIDS

“The researcher proposes the use of a spiritual model in dealing with PLWH in the Plateau Mission Hospital because this will help to address some of the unresolved theological issues that come to the fore when addressing matters concerning the health and illness of people living with HIV and AIDS. The researcher does this with acute awareness of the importance of integrating other approaches in the care and support of PLWH. For a holistic approach to be effected, the social development, medical, psychological and holistic systemic approaches to care must be considered. The holistic systemic approach used by the biomedical personnel and other caregivers should regard the person as a relational and social being acting within a cultural context. On the other hand, the biomedical model serves us with accurate diagnoses and sophisticated methods of treatment within which modern medicine is practiced. Similarly, the psychosocial model considers the influence of the social environment not only to the challenges that PLWH face, but also on the care they should receive. However, research has shown that there is an increasing need for holistic care in health care systems. This calls for the inclusion of spirituality within the developing bio-psycho-social approaches in addressing health and illness, particularly for people living with HIV and AIDS, in order for them to attain holistic healing” (SuneTd,

Maters’ Dissertation).

” The philosophical framework is found in an integration of two paradigms, namely social-constructionism and postfoundation-alism. The article concludes with a research case study from the HIV/AIDS context. Practical theological research is not only about description and interpretation of experiences, but it is also about deconstruction and emancipation. The bold move should be made to allow all the different stories of the research to develop into a new story of understanding that transcends the local community. According to the narrative approach, this will not happen on the basis of structured and rigid methods, through which stories are analysed and interpreted. It rather happens on the basis of a holistic understanding and as a social-constructionist process to which all the co-researchers are invited and in which they are engaged in the creation of new meaning” (Muller, J.)

“The narrative or social-constructionist approach on the contrary forces us to firstly listen to the stories of people struggling in real situations, not merely to a description of a general context, but to be confronted with a specific and concrete situation. This approach to practical theology, although also hermeneutical in nature, is more reflexive in its approach and method. It takes the circular movement of practice-theory-practice
seriously and brings it into operation. Practical theology, according to this approach, indeed becomes part of “doing theology” and takes the social- constructions, within actual contexts, seriously. The practical theologian in this case, is not so much concerned with abstractions and generalisations but rather with the detail of a particular person’s story” (Muller, J)

” The following quote from Pattison (in Willows, D & Swinton, J (eds) 2000:42) gives expression to this approach to practical theology:

Pastoral theology (practical theology – JM) at its best, like cultural anthropology, is probably a small scale enterprise, which pays minute attention to particular situations and is more remarkable “for the delicacy of its distinctions not the sweep of its abstractions” (Geertz 1991, p 25). It needs to pay minute attention to seeing and understanding a particular phenomenon and to listen before moving into carefully chosen words. Contextually and situationally sensitive HTS 60(1&2) 2004 295HIV/AIDS, narrative practical theology pastoral theologies will be modest in their claims and assertions. This is a welcome feature amidst the past grandiosity of many theological enterprises which have sought to control and order the world rather than to understand it and to set particular individuals and communities free.” (In Muller, J)

” This is why I am not writing a practical theology with reference to HIV/AIDS, but a practical theology, developed out of HIV/AIDS. It is the particularity of a practical theology that gives it life” (Muller, J)

“In practicing this kind of practical theology, I feel connected to both the paradigms of postfoundationalist theology and that of social-constructionism. These two paradigms developed in different fields, both aiming at the same objective though: a third way, a way out of being stuck in modernistic or foundationalist (fundamentalist) science and theology on the one hand, and the fatalism of some post modernistic approaches, on the other” (Muller,


“Although HIV/Aids is a worldwide phenomenon, the challenges they pose are always related to the particularity of peoples, cultures and spiritual traditions as well as the broader political and economic contexts that impact on behaviours, attitudes and social values. Here the author presents a practical and prophetic theological response to the challenges of HIV/Aids in Papua New Guinea—which have reached epidemic proportions. In particular, he explores how healing must not only be concerned with those who suffer the disease but needs to include the healing of communities, churches, gender relationships and the wider society. [Editor]” (Phillip Gibbs)