AbstractThe anticipated A.I.D.S. crisis in Southern Africa presents an opportunity for the Christian church to respond positively rather than merely to react negatively. This requires both a theological understanding and a pastoral response. Theologically, A.I.D.S. may be seen as an object lesson in the interrelation of natural, personal and historical evil. Although both the Old Testament and the New Testament warn against a simplistic doctrine of individual retribution, there are also several different ways in which the A.I.D.S. crisis may indeed in some particular cases be seen as a judgement of God while in other cases it is rather a horrifying event. Other relevant issues include matters relating to justification and sanctification and the wider ethical issues of discrimination and human rights, of "public" and "private" morality. The Church's pastoral response should include both "corrective" education to remove irrational and fearful ignorance and also "preventative" education to encourage a monogamous lifestyle. Pastoral ministry must be "redemptive", appropriate to the varying needs of persons with A.I.D.S., of their families and friends and of professional care-providers. The Church cannot ignore the A.I.D.S. crisis, but must respond to it both Biblically and pastorally.
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