The Return of the Pastor-Theologian

Here is an interesting article by Gerald Hiestand  on the Reformation 21 site: Ecclesial Theology and Academic Theology: Why We Need More of the Former.

He is the executive director of The Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology (SAET). It looks like there are some good things for congregational elders and others on this site. I must say, I like the way he thinks. He says:

 There is a need, I believe, to resurrect the pastor-theologian paradigm. Not because academic theologians are incapable of producing ecclesial theology (quite the contrary), but because the pastoral office uniquely positions one to think both theologically and ecclesially…There is a need to counter the sentiment that says, “Deep, penetrating commentaries and books on the atonement–that stuff is for the academy. Pastors should stick to writing pop theology and Christian living stuff.” God forbid! Expounding God’s Word and reflecting on the nature of the atonement, etc., needs to be brought back into the domain of the church. We need a return to the days when pastors wrote theology that was richly theological, deeply biblical, historically informed, culturally aware, prophetic, and intelligent–not so it would be accepted by the academy, but so it would renew the church. The ecclesial theologian has not gone entirely extinct but, it would seem, he has become an endangered species.

When serious theology is disconnected from the concerns of a pastor and is no longer written in the social context of the church it will (and has) inevitably become somewhat artificial and sterile. When the concerns of a pastor are disconnected from serious theology and peer evaluation, the ministry can degenerate into moral truisms, empty cliches and pragmatism. The pastor-theologian is certainly an ongoing need in the Lord’s church.

It seems to me that this is exactly the kind of serious churchmanship that the 9 Marks organization has also been attempting to encourage and actively pursue for some time now. May their tribe increase!


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