A Review of “Theology, Church, and Ministry: Handbook for Theological Education”

9781433645839

Published: 2017

What do you know about your pastor’s theological training? What does a seminary teach–preaching, Biblical interpretation, languages, administration, counseling? In Theology, Church, and Ministry, 22 contributors provide an overview of topics in contemporary theological education as well as a brief history of how theological training has developed.

Overview and Organization

One of the challenges of those deeply involved in theological studies is developing spiritually while developing intellectually. Timothy George, the writer of the forward, observes that “[Evangelicals] have often been contrarians and reactionaries. We have found it difficult to hold intellectual rigor and spiritual nurture in equipoise.” Doing both demands clarity of purpose and direction, as well as the intentionality of mission. This book aims to integrate these purposes and demonstrate how students of theological can remain faithful to their calling.

The thrust of the book is understanding the role of theological education of ministers while exploring each of the topics. It is an excellent primer on the purpose (more so than the content) of many theological subjects. Several chapters survey the theological contribution of the Old and New Testament. Later chapters help clarify the distinctions and purposes of historical, systematic, and Biblical theology. There are additional chapters on Biblical languages, apologetics, missions, ethics, and worship.

The book is loosely organized in three sections: An introduction to theological education; the shape of ministry preparation; thirdly, the church and ministry. As explained in the preface, “There has been no effort to conform the chapters to a uniform approach. Each author, dealing with his or her subject, has been given the freedom to shape the chapter in light of an overall purpose, which is to show the importance of theological education for the church, and the importance of each subject for the work of theological education.” Though I rarely spend much time on the questions at the end of chapters in books, the reflection questions provided helped tie together each of the chapters.

Application

The taxonomy and sub-branches of theological disciplines can be overwhelming for those trying to develop a mental framework of a pastor’s teaching. Each week there may seem to be a new myriad of topics and subtopics within the bigger picture. In addition to understanding the education of ministers, this book will also help readers develop a grasp of the breadth of Christian theology and serves an excellent springboard for going deeper on any of the subjects for any theologically-minded Christian.

Theological development is imperative for ministers since they have the responsibility of delivering the Word of God to their congregations. The direction of their studies determines how they handle and interpret the Bible. Theological education also extends to lay leaders, pastoral search committees, and anyone who wants to correctly handle the word of truth. Remembering that spiritual development and intellectual develop do not have to separate endeavors, the more we learn about how each theological subject contributes to correctly handling God’s Word, the less likely we are to view theology as abstracted from rightly relating to God.

Thank you to the team at B&H Publishing for a copy of this book for review

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