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.