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 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, setting forth a positive alternative picture.
In addition to pastors, this book will be invaluable to seminary students training to be pastors and to their professors. It includes pastoral reflections on the theological task from twelve working pastors
If the phrase pastor as public theologian makes you giggle a little you're not alone. The modern day pastor is preacher to be sure . . and a counselor as well as a CEO. . . but a theologian??!! That is the claim of Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan. At least, that is what they believe a pastor should be. And to be honest, I kind of agree with them. That is if you define these terms as Vanhoozer and Strachan have in The Pastor as Public Theologian.
To put this term into its proper context, Vanhoozer and Strachan define a pastor as one who builds up people in Christ. They define theologian as someone who seeks, speaks, and shows "understanding of what God was doing in Christ for the sake of the world". This pastor-theologian is public because he is "involved with people in and for community". This definition of a pastor as public theologian sets the stage for the rest of the book and for what the authors are calling for pastors to become.
The book starts out with a sizeable introduction (31 pages!) followed by some prefatory remarks by Josh Moody on seven ways in which pastors can do the work of a theologian. Part one includes a couple remarkable chapters by Strachan about the theology and history of the pastorate. In part two, Vanhoozer brilliantly outlines both the purpose and practices of the pastor theologian.
What I found especially helpful were the brief essays following each chapter in which real life pastors share their perspective one what was just discussed. This is where a lot of the practical and "brass tacks" dialogue takes place and it is what ties the main arguments to the every day work of a pastor.
Overall I really appreciated this book. Pastors who are discouraged over the lack of theological vision in the pastorate will find encouragement in this book and those who are trying to decide between an academic or pastoral career will be happy to learn that the two are not mutually exclusive- but a part of God's design. What I appreciate most is that the authors are not encouraging theology for the sake of intellectual pursuit, but for the edification of the body- a pursuit to which every pastor will be able to relate.