The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis

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9780830815593: The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis

Too often in the life of the church, theological reflection and the practical matters of leading and serving have been considered independently. The result has been the impoverishment of both Christian faith and Christian practice. In this groundbreaking book Ray Anderson reflects theologically and practically on preaching, worship, ethics, social justice, therapy, family, homosexuality, burnout in ministry, reconciliation in relationships and theological education itself. The result is The Shape of Practical Theology, a new and renewing foundation for engaging in Christian ministry. Anderson lays out his threefold goal as follows:

  • to define more clearly the shape of practical theology as truly a theological enterprise rather than mere mastery of skills and methods
  • to demonstrate the praxis of practical theology as critical engagement with the interface between the word of God as revealed through Scripture and the work of God taking place in and through the church in the world
  • to deal with practical pastoral theology from the perspective of those who are on the "field of play" of life and ministry, where preaching, counseling and teaching does affect for many persons the outcome of the game
Illuminated by stimulating discussion and helpful case studies, The Shape of Practical Theology is aimed at seminary students, at Christian educators, and at working pastors and counselors. Anderson's work, fascinating and fruitful, brings together the Word of God with the Spirit of God in the ever-changing context of real-life ministry.

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About the Author:

Ray S. Anderson (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is senior professor of theology and ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he has taught since 1976. He is also a contributing editor to Journal of Psychology and Theology. He has written many books, including Judas and Jesus: Amazing Grace for the Wounded Soul (2004), The Soul of God: A Theological Memoir (2004), Spiritual Caregiving as Secular Sacrament: A Practical Theology for Professional Caregivers (2003), Dancing with Wolves While Feeding the Sheep (2002), The New Age of Soul: Spiritual Wisdom for a New Millennium (2001), The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis (2001), Living the Spiritually Balanced Life (1998) and The Soul of Ministry: Forming Leaders for God's People (1997). Anderson's articles and book reviews have been published in a wide array of scholarly and popular periodicals.

Review:

"This is exactly the kind of book my students are thirsting to read. Anderson faces the real theological issues such as postmodernism, the nature of a 'praxis' theology, theological hermeneutics and theological anthropology as well as crucial ministerial concerns such as clergy burnout, homosexuality, forgiveness, the nature of Christian counseling and ministry to the family." (Christian D. Kettler, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Friends University (Witchita, Kansas))

"This book represents a constructive step forward in understanding the relationship between practical and dogmatic theology. Anderson offers important insights which draw the discipline beyond its more formal descriptions into a distinctively trinitarian formulation. Those who teach in this area will find in his fresh and exciting proposals for the practice of ministry a welcome resource." (Michael Jinkins, Professor of Pastoral Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary)

"Theology lives; it really does. Ray Anderson persuades and convinces us. He takes us on--pastors and teachers are his target--insisting that until theology lives in us, in our words and actions and prayers, it cannot rightly be called theology. He boldly gathers the large and complex world of Christian ministry and shows how it becomes a lived response to the Holy Spirit's action among us." (Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College (Vancouver, British Columbia))

"Anderson has written a hard-hitting Christocentric interpretation of practical theology, which that field badly needs. Case after case he marks out a sensitive, sophisticated, biblical and theological approach to concrete ministerial situations. The approach behind this book has the potential to revitalize ministry at all levels of the Christian life." (James E. Loder, Mary D. Synnott Professor of the Philosophy of Christian Education, Princeton Theological Seminary)

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