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Gregory of Nazianzus was an Eastern Church ecclesiastic and theologian who lived from 330 to 389 A.D. A champion of orthodoxy at the Council of Constantinople in 381, he also had an abiding interest in the clergy of his day. The following material is excerpted and adapted from an oration he delivered in 362 that has come to be called In Defense of His Flight to Pontus. The main argument is a defense of Gregory's ordination to the ministry, an ordination he at first felt was imposed upon him by his father, but later came to embrace wholeheartedly. Much of the letter deals with Gregory's idea of what pastoral duties entail.

Guiding man, the most variable of creatures, is the art of arts. Pastors have been called the "physicians of souls," and compared with physicians who treat the body. But as difficult as treatment of the body is, it pales in significance when compared with soul work.

Physicians work with bodies and perishable, failing matter. Ministers work with souls that come from God ...

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