Pastor-Theologians: The Need of the Day

Excerpts from an important article: The Pastor as Wider Theologian, or What’s Wrong With Theology Today

"Pastors, not professors, should be setting the theological agenda of the church.

"The present bifurcation between theological scholarship and pastoral ministry accounts for much of the theological anemia facing the church today."

"Simply put, the questions facing clergy are not always congruent with the questions facing professors. This is not in itself troubling. We need not discount the validity of either set of questions. What is troubling is the fact that nearly all of our theologians have entered the academy, expending the greatest part of their energy answering academic questions. And when academic theologians do get around to addressing ecclesial questions, they tend to do so in academic ways. The chronic “disconnect” between the academy and the church is the inevitable result."

"Historically, the church’s most influential theologians were churchmen—pastors, priests, and bishops."

"Theology has largely left the local church."

"Who will gainsay that theology—on the whole—has taken an unhelpfully academic turn? "

"Thus academic theology has become unhelpfully nuanced—a more sophisticated, gentlemanly discourse that can get away with flying at 50,000 feet. It often lacks a bare-fisted, take-no-prisoner, prophetic, pulpit voice. And yet, in reading the work of past wider theologians such as Athanasius and Calvin, one encounters theologians who draw weekly, if not daily, connections between their most profound thoughts and the lives of average people. Pastor-theologians, by means of their vocation, are best positioned to remember the inherent preachy-ness of theology."

"Rather, an entire paradigm shift is needed. Pastor-theologians, not academic-theologians, must once again become the leading theological voices of the church. We ask too much of our academic theologians when we ask them to answer—from the outside, as it were—the pastoral questions facing the church."