A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, August 21, 2015

What Happened to the Pastor Theologians?

I've been saying for some time that a pastor is her or his congregation's resident theologian. Douglas Webster of Christianity Today reviews the book Pastor as Theologian. He writes,

Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson like to tell the story of a girl and her father strolling through a church graveyard. The daughter reads the headstone inscriptions out loud to her father. She comes upon one that lists "Pastor Theologian." She pauses, then announces, "Papa, they have two people buried here!"

Hiestand and Wilson are pastors at Calvary Memorial Church outside Chicago and cofounders of the Center for Pastor Theologians. They have made it their mission to repair the modern breach between local church leaders and advanced theological study. In The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision (Zondervan), they identify a need for pastors who write and preach top-notch theology for the entire body of Christ. They envision at least some pastors becoming 21st-century Augustines, Luthers, and Calvins.

"Today," Hiestand and Wilson write, "we find ourselves in a context where to be a theologian is, almost by definition, to be a professor in the academy. And to be a pastor is, almost by definition, to be anything but a theologian." Most pastors act as "passive conveyors of insights from theologians to laity. A little quote from Augustine here, a brief allusion to Bonhoeffer there. That's all."

It hasn't always been this way. Hiestand and Wilson note that many early church fathers-- Ambrose, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Athanasius, and so on-- were both churchmen and leading theological lights. The pastor theologian, in short, has "a robust and storied place in the history of God's people."
The entire review can be read here.

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