The church is facing a theological crisis. The crisis being that there isn’t much theological work being done in and for the church especially by those who have biblically been instructed to be those that are to teach the local church.
The Pastor as Public Theologian by authors Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan seeks to reclaim the identity of the pastor as a public theologian or as is described in The Pastor Theologian a local pastor theologian. This work defines the responsibility of the Christian theologian as one who “is to seek, speak, and show the understanding of what God was doing in Christ for the sake of the world” (17). This responsibility is part and parcel of what it means to be a pastor theology is not optional. Those who serve in the role of pastor have been called to be the theologians of their local congregation. Strachan’s chapter tracing the historical trajectory of the pastor as theologian readily demonstrates that the by and large the role of theologian has been tied to that of the pastor.
What sets the work of Vanhoozer and Strachan apart is the practicality of their work. Whereas The Pastor Theologian, which I reviewed earlier, seeks to give call for a renewal of an ecclesial pastor theologian the authors in this book have a broader focus which in fact is foundational for the work of an ecclesial theologian. Vanhoozer demonstrates the practicality of the public pastor theologian for the local church in the third chapter. Pastor-theologians are for life and death in this world where many are bound by anxiety and seek to address it with the ultimate reality which is seen in the death and resurrection of Christ. Pastor theologians lead the local church in growing into the fullness of Christ. Vanhoozer addresses the practical realities of being a pastor theologian and the implications of it in the areas visitation, preaching, catechesis, corporate worship, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper. In addressing visitation Vanhoozer guards against the notion that the pastor theologian can fulfill his role in the privacy of the study.
At the end of each chapter pastoral perspectives are given by those who embody the concept of the pastor theologian, and this is one of the key strengths of the book. A pastor reading this book without those perspectives would be tempted to thing the vision put forward by the authors is nothing more than the wishful thinking of academic theologians.
For many this book will bring about a needed paradigm change in how they view their role as pastor. I have thankfully been mentored and educated by men who have embodied the role of pastor theologian. Many pastors don’t know who they are and what they are supposed to do, they adopt secular views of leadership and apply them to their role. This book serves as a corrective to many of the problems plaguing pastoral ministry in contemporary truth. My hope is that this book will find a wide readership and that churches and pastors would be awakened to the true nature of a pastor’s work.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Academic through the Baker Academic Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.