David Dockery, editor
B&H Academic, 2017. 446 pp.
Imagine being set upon by a trial magistrate. The judge asks for proof of your importance in the trial of an overall misunderstood activity.
That is the task the various authors have been given in Theology, Church, and Ministry (edited by Dr. David Dockery)—to show how their disciplines work towards intellectual rigor and spiritual nurture in the matter of theological education.
First comes the section on the place of theology as an intellectual discipline, as a ministry calling, and as an aid in spiritual formation. The recognized undergirding for theology is that God is God and we are not. The study of the word(s) of God (theology) must consider the place of faith, the use of the mind, the communion of the saints, and primarily the work of God (or more rightly, GOD as revealed in Jesus through the Spirit and as expounded in written word in the Holy Scriptures).
Theology is then severally defined as Biblical, Historical, Systematic, and Practical. Throw in an unexpected bit about apologetics and ethics (a side biscuit for those involved in Systematic Theology) and you have a broad scope of theological ministry preparation.
Finally, the book ends with questions directed towards the place of theology in the practical out-workings of preaching, evangelism, mission, worldview formation, and cultural engagement. Of particular interest is a final chapter on Global approaches to theology as differentiated from a Western approach.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
If I were to suggest an audience for this compilation, I would suggest the following people: those who are systematic, those who are avid students, those who love argument, and those who need a rationale for the various theological disciplines.
This book fills in what seminary profs wish we had learned while we were at seminary. When you feel like you have a hole in your educational background, check out the applicable chapter in this volume.
On the other hand, this book seems to be written expecting that we need to bolster the place of theology in the matter of educating our pastors. Each chapter seems to be a justification for the discipline being considered.
As with any compilation, each chapter is either a separate treat or an unsavory dish. While some chapters seem pugnacious, the assortment of authors are good at the craft of writing and use words well. A strong plus in any edited/compiled work is the ability to read a number of authors and decide which one’s books you would pursue for your reading pleasure.
One final note: the final chapter on Global Theology is what I would consider the stepping off point for the next read you may want to do. While Western Theology is quite structured,the current approach may miss some of the strengths of a global theological perspective which includes human identity in a shame based culture, Christ as the Healer, and an emphasis on Christ dealing with the existential and pressing (and possibly “oppressing”) issues of our world.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
This Lifeway Pastors review was written by Ron Baker.