Of course, by writing we refer to the kinds of reflections, essays, and exams students will have to complete in the seminary classroom. But writing also encompasses the many modes of communication and self-discovery that creative expression can unlock. Writing Theologically introduces writing not just as an academic exercise but as a way for students to communicate the good news in rapidly changing contexts, as well as to discover and craft their own sense of vocation and identity. Most importantly, it will guide students to how they might begin to claim and hone a distinctive theological voice that is particularly attuned to the contexts of writer and audience alike. In a collection of brief, readable essays, this volume emphasizes the vital skills, practices, and values involved in writing theologically. That is, how might students prepare themselves to communicate effectively and creatively, clearly and beautifully, the insights they gather during their time in seminary? Each contribution includes practical advice about best practices in writing theologically; however, the book also stresses why writing is vital in the self-understanding of the minister, as well as her or his public communication of the good news.
“Did you convince the reader that you know what you’re talking about?” (Page 11)
“Commentary keeps the reader caught up, making plain how the evidence contributes to the assertion’s validity. It is the explanation, elaboration, interpretation, and analysis you use to illustrate your point. Your commentary (C) reinforces the link between your assertion (A) and evidence (E) for your readers: A←C→E. Put differently, your commentary ensures that your reader does not get lost in the depth of your point (assertion) and the breadth of your data (evidence).” (Page 16)
“It is a mentality that foregrounds what you claim to know (your assertions), how you know it (your evidence), and how your reader can better grasp it (your commentary). Theological writing is about sharing with your reader what you have come to understand about God’s activity. Thus, body paragraphs are the building blocks of greater insights and greater exchange.” (Pages 18–19)
“Reverse outlining is a method in which you write first, outline second. Instead of telling the body of your writing how it should flow and what the content should do, you let your free writing and revision tell you what is emerging from the mire of words and ideas. As the proverbial saying goes, ‘And a little child shall lead them.’3 Let your child’s draft tell you what you want to discuss.” (Page 51)
“Smooth writing cannot make up for a lack of substance. You want readers to finish your work thinking, ‘Now that was thought provoking!’” (Page 12)