The Pastor and the Theological Task
First Things has posted an article at their “On The Square” page by Gerald Hiestand, Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology, on “The Pastor as Wider Theologian, or What’s Wrong with Theology Today.” The article addresses the present lack of theologically inclined pastors, a staple of the historic Church, and calls for a paradigm shift in which pastors become the Church’s most significant theologians. I wanted to draw attention to this article because the issue is near and dear to my own heart and sense of vocation. Here’s an excerpt:
The ecclesial renewal of Christian theology will not take place apart from a concerted effort to reestablish the pastoral community as the church’s most significant body of theologians. The pastoral community must once again become serious about the duties of the theological task—study, prayer, writing, and theological dialog. The pastoral community as a whole must once again don the mantle of theological responsibility for the wider church.
I am not simply stating that pastors must become more theologically informed, or that pastors much preach with more theological precision. True enough, but this will not solve the problem. 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.
We must stop insisting that pastorally sensitive theologians and theologically sensitive pastors choose between theological scholarship and the church. Theologians not only belong to the church, they also—in the main—belong in the church.
Amen! Be sure to read the whole thing.