Reply to nicole and sadira chpl 500 | CHPL 500 – Introduction to Chaplaincy Ministry | Liberty University

 You must post 2 replies of at least 200 words each by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of the assigned module/week. For each thread, you should support your assertions with at least 1 citation in current Turabian format. Each reply should incorporate at least 1 citation.  

 Reply to Nicole

A SWOT analysis of the chaplain duties and responsibility from AD 1200- AA 1600?

During the medieval times, military chaplain’s presence was essential to the soldiers.  The torment of facing death caused some to seek spiritual care in order to have peace and forgiveness of sins just in case it was their last day in battle.  For example, Herbert Fitz Matthew an officer in the military summoned one of the chaplains to make a full confession and to receive the viaticum. 1  When considering the SWOT analysis, the need for the chaplain’s ministry is a strength.  From the chronicles point of view, Herbert’s actions helped to prepare him to meet his death on the next day at the hands of the Welsh. 2 

Several leaders provided requirements for the chaplains duties while working with the soldiers.  Pope Gregory IX listed the following duties for military chaplains to follow which consist of chaplains were to listen to the confessions of the soldiers, assign penances, carry out the other sacraments, provision the last rites, moral encouragement, and give sermons.  In regard to the SWOT analysis, Pope Gregory IX instructed the chaplains on what to say to make the troop feel better which appears to give the chaplains very little control in allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through him or her which can be considered a weakness within his or her ministry.  According to Mark 13:11 (NKJV) which states “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” 3 

When Pope Innocent was in leadership, he authorized the recruitment of priests and bishops to serve with the army for three years which in regards to the SWOT analysis provided an opportunity for the military chaplains to have a ministry within the military.  When looking at the threat of the military chaplains duties during medieval times, it was reported by Richard and Aelred that Archbishop Thurstan committed himself to sending parish priests into the battlefield with rural levies who were getting ready to fight the Scots. 4  The chaplains were required to bring crosses, relic, and banners into the field.  While the army were fighting, the chaplains stood high behind the line.  This required duty appeared to be a threat to the chaplains lives as they fulfilled what was required of them.

Did the nature of the enemy make a difference during the wars of the three kingdoms (1642-1649)?

The three kingdoms consist of three sets of enemies in three wars which included one civil war and two wars of conquest.  “Religious matters played a central role in all three conflicts, and fore all three, parliament made provisions for chaplains part of the army.” 5  The cause of the war was based on Charles who attempted to impose the Angelican prayer book on the Scots which caused the war in Scotland.  “Religious and political differences divided antagonists in ways that are frequently difficult to disentangle, regardless of whether the wars were national, tribal, or civil.” 6  The conflict was not only political but there was a denominational division between Protestants and Roman Catholic.  

This division changes the nature of the war because there was more than one enemy and the reasons were more than political while causing chaplain to have to walk on the edge when helping certain soldiers.  This can cause the chaplains to be ineffective or make it difficult for some soldiers to get aid from a chaplain.  When looking at both Protestants and Roman Catholics, the Roman Catholics were more of a threat because of their degree of violence while the Protestants were more of greater concern to some armies than others.  The nature of the enemy definitely made a difference.  Chaplains found it easier to deliver sermons to the Roman Catholics whereas the enemy being political disloyal co-religionists whom chaplains has to be careful when providing aid to them. 7 The division between the army could be damaging while causing the chaplains to be cautious on the extent of their duties while being mindful of their destination.  For example, in Ireland any Protestant minister can do the job whereas chaplains in Scotland who were considered troublemakers in England were used to help the commander escape fighting other Protestants.  This is the type of division and use of religion that made the war complex.  I believe some used the religious aspect to maneuver through the war which is evident in the commander using a chaplain to escape war while basing it on religion.  

It had to be extremely difficult for chaplains during this time.  When you have many enemies not only on the outside but within the army, it can be extremely difficult to trust anyone which can change the dynamics of the chaplains duties within the military during this war between three kingdoms.


Bergen, D.L. “The sword of the lord: Military chaplains from the first twenty-first century.” The University of Notre Dame Press. (2004): 89-91.6

 Reply to Sadira

  1. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses,   Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the chaplain’s duties and   responsibilities from AD 1200 – AD 1600 (Bergen, ch. 3)

During   the four hundred year time period between AD 1200 and AD 1600 the chaplain’s   responsibilities have been growing and changing to meet needs. Like today, chaplains   in this time period had various strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and   threats. The greatest strength a chaplain had was the duty to “provide moral   encouragement to the men through sermons. Even as early as Medieval days the   military had a need for a chaplain and the tools they brought. Chaplains were   used to perform specific duties as in “hearing confessions, assigning   penances, providing moral encouragement and other sacraments.”[1] The duties   of the chaplain were highly significant before an army proceeded into battle.   The chaplain’s duties were depended on to encourage the troops but to also   give them an opportunity to confess any sins so that in the possibility that   they were killed, they would have confessed and be given last rites. At this   time, there seemed to be discord in what a chaplains duties should include.  The author made a point to announce that at   this time chaplains were expected to hear confessions, assign penances, and   carry out the order of sacraments”[2] While Performing weddings, funerals,   and other issues. Chaplains were required to exhort men to behave properly as   Christian soldiers and teach the troops by example to maintain a proper   spirit of Christian fear of God.[3]

From   the reading, an observation I made is being a chaplain is an officer of peace   then and now. This means that they do not carry physical weapons or fight in   combat. Instead, chaplains are responsible to be equipped to fight spiritual   battles using the power of the word. Like today, Christian soldiers expect   that the chaplains are able to guide and be an example for the unit they are   serving. In any war or battle, soldiers are searching for word that   encourage, uplift and bring hope. They need the chaplain to provide an opportunity   to confess their sins and hear a prayer that not only provide hope but also   provided victory. Chaplain’s duties are being able to be there and give   encouragement to soldiers in unwelcoming conditions and less than desirable   aspects through their careers.

One   of the weaknesses presented to a chaplain would be the inability to provide   empathy in times of confessions. While there is a human connection that   soldiers may desire for reconciliation the chaplain can only offer the   personal piece.

One   of the opportunities a chaplain has when speaking with soldiers is the release   of sin amongst the troops, “if at any tie [the troops] should fall in to sin,   they should recover through a true penance.” [4] Because soldiers could feel convicted   about duties carried out, there could be many mental struggles and internal   battles could leave trauma with a soldier. In this time period, chaplains   were regarded very holy as people had more fear for the divine and especially   being able to audibly hear, “you are forgiven.” Was something that many   soldiers desperately needed to hear to overcome the fear in their hearts.   Lastly, Threats that chaplains would have to deal with was that they are easy   targets. They can be targets and easily harmed or the sources of what   educates them could be harmed.

  1. Did the nature of the enemy make a   difference during the wars of the Three Kingdoms (1642-1649)? (Bergen, ch, 4).    

The   nature of the enemy definitely made a difference in the wars of the three   kingdoms. It was said that “it was clear that if the enemy was, or could be,   constructed as being Roman Catholic, a greater degree of violence was   believed to be justifiable, violence supported by chaplains who identified   the enemy with the enemies of God.”[7] This is what defines the enemy and   what provides intrusion of religious beliefs, these people were ready to   fight for what they believed in and the influence of the chaplains and their   impact on religious and political issues. Like today, denominations are a   changing pillar and is stemmed from the beginning of the main differences had   between the protestant church and the Catholic Church.

With   war being Anglican Church (pre-Reformation, Roman Catholic) Vs. the Puritan   Church (post Reformation), It was biased and the disagreement still has a   bearing on today. The sad outcome is that Chaplains were not held in such   high regard but rather played and used as bargaining tools. It was these   circumstances that made people take a deeper look into how a chaplain should be   regarded. It was imperative to start investigating how exactly a chaplain   should react on a deeply delicate matter where the enemy itself wasn’t in   complete opposition to the goals of the people who fought against them. Like   today’s religious leaders, the Chaplain would need to be well versed and   equipped with many scriptures and reasons to go to war.  By being equipped soldiers could feel   confident and comfortable with the word of God and his will.



            Bachrach, David S. “The Medieval Military Chaplain and His Duties”. Edited by Doris L. Bergen. The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Century. Notre Dame:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.

            Laurence, Anne. “Did the Nature of the Enemy Make a Difference?” Edited by Doris L. Bergen. The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Century. Notre Dame:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.

[1] Bergen, Doris L. The Sword of the Lord Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Century. Notre Dame, IN. University of Notre Dame Press: 2009.

[2] Ibid. 70.

[3] Ibid.90

[4] Ibid. 96.

[5] Ibid. 94.

[6] Ibid. 92.

[7] Ibid. 75.

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