A Theological Primer for Youth Ministry

That’s the subject of my article in Immerse: A Journal of Faith, Life, and Youth Ministry.  Below is a taste.  You can preview the article at the Immerse website or, if you’re smart, subscribe!

In standard Protestant seminaries and divinity schools, departments are regimented along the fourfold “theological encyclopedia” model of the 18th century: biblical studies, church history, systematic theology and practical theology.

And in most seminaries, the hierarchy of power follows the same pattern. The biblical studies professors usually have the most power and the practical theology faculty the least. In fact, some seminaries get away with hiring retired pastors to act as adjunct professors in the practical theology department and teach classes on preaching, pastoral care and other hands-on ministry courses.

If you sense a bit of a chip on my shoulder regarding the place of practical theology in the academy—and in the church at large—you’re right. And I’m not the only one. A lot of us in practical theology feel like the unwanted stepchildren of the “real” theologians in the systematic department.

What Is Practical Theology? Part One

Among my most popular posts from my old blog were those on my working definition of practical theology.  As I am engaged in the section of my dissertation in which I establish my version of practical theology, I’ll repost the series here at BNet.  Enjoy!

I do get asked on occasion, “What is practical theology?” Lots of people are pretty sure they know what systematic, dogmatic, and biblical theology are, but less are sure exactly what practical theology is.

At Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Richard Osmer has developed a model of doing practical theology that is extremely helpful in this regard, so I’ll describe it over the course of a few posts. His is what a philosopher would call a “wide, reflective equilibrium model” — that is, he’s not trying to reinvent the wheel but to describe the field of practical theology as it currently stands.

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