Many pastors today see themselves primarily as counselors, leaders, and motivators. Yet this often comes at the expense of the fundamental reality of the pastorate as a theological office. The most important role of a pastor is to be a theologian mediating God to the people. The church needs pastors who can contextualize the Word of God to help their congregations think theologically about all aspects of their lives, such as work, end-of-life decisions, political involvement, and entertainment.
Drawing on the depiction of pastors in the Bible, key figures from church history, and Christian theology, this brief and accessible book offers a clarion call for pastors to serve as public theologians in their congregations and communities. The church needs pastors to read the world in light of Scripture and to direct their congregations in ways of wisdom, shalom, and human flourishing. The Pastor as Public Theologian calls for a paradigm shift in the very idea of what a pastor is and does.
“This is a timely, more than timely–urgent–book. Kevin Vanhoozer, one of our leading theologians, protests the ‘putting asunder’ of theology by American pastors. A ‘great chasm’ has opened up as pastors, more often than not, abandon their vocations as theologians in their congregations for careers in which the secular culture calls all the shots. It was not always this way. Vanhoozer and Strachan skillfully fashion insight and discernment to bring us back to what the church ordained us to do.” – Eugene Peterson
“Preachers today must present biblical truth to people who are more and more resistant to it. The skillful preacher must understand something of the history of ideas and the baseline cultural narratives of our day in order even to be comprehensible to them. Not only that, but preachers in our cities must often speak to people from several diverse world cultures all at once. I’ve come to the conclusion that ministers need more robust theological education and training than they did when I came into the ministry forty years ago. This book is an important, ringing call for working pastors and preachers to exercise a higher level of theologically informed leadership in our churches.” – Tim Keller
“There’s not much wrong with the practice of pastoral ministry that can’t be cured by a good dose of theological refurbishment. This book gives strong impetus for construing the work of the pastor as authorized, energized, and sanctified by the pastor’s theological commitments. A spirited, Spirit-filled book.” – William Willimon, Duke Divinity School
“For years I have told students that they were too smart for the academy, that they should stretch themselves with the harder intellectual work of the parish. And here I thought I was being original. Vanhoozer and Strachan show the original and eschatological unity of two things that modernity has tried to pull apart–the vital parish and the learned pastor. Suddenly the job seems harder and more blessed than ever.” – Jason Byassee, Boone United Methodist Church, Duke Divinity School
Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, University of Cambridge), one of the leading evangelical theologians in the world, is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He previously taught at Wheaton College and the University of Edinburgh. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Everyday Theology, The Drama of Doctrine, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, and the award-winning Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible.
Owen Strachan (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also directs the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement and serves as a Fellow with the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the coauthor of The Essential Edwards Collection and the author of Risky Gospel.
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