State of the Dead and Holistic Ministry

One of the fundamental components of the Black church is that it has been called a “All Comprehending Institution.” By that, it is one that deals with the whole being. The Pastor in the Black Church had to do more than his or her white counterparts. The pastor might dabble into educational endeavors of people, health, and politics. The pastor was to help the whole person and not just the spiritual endeavors.

In other words, you cannot separate someone’s physical, emotional, and other needs from ones spiritual ones. Sometimes we say that we must engage in works of social betterment because it opens the door to evangelism. However, I think we must engage in these acts because our very doctrine, the belief that you cannot separate the physical from the spiritual, requires us to engage the whole person in ministry.

We cannot place these physical concerns above spiritual ones, but neither can we do the opposite if we are to minister to the whole person. So the teaching of the state of the dead not only provides a theological basis to attack any kind of dualism. But also because we cannot separate mind from spirit from body then we must recognize that ministry to a human being must include ministry to the mind, body, and spirit. This means that we cannot fall into the trap of eliminating physical concerns and only dealing with physical ones. This doctrine can serve to promote social action because it makes social ills just as important as issues of individual piety.

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