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.
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Read more from Kevin Vanhoozer with the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible.
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 H. Peterson, professor emeritus of spiritual theology, Regent College, Vancouver
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 40 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, pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
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, professor of the practice of Christian ministry, Duke Divinity School
Kevin J. Vanhoozer is the Blanchard Professor of Theology at Wheaton College Graduate School. He was previously research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) where he taught from 1998 to 2009. From 1990 to 1998, he was senior lecturer in theology and religious studies at New College, University of Edinburgh and previously taught at TEDS from 1986 to 1990. He is the editor of the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, Theological Interpretation of the New Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey, and Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends.
Owen Strachan is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and is a fellow with the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the coauthor of The Essential Edwards Collection and the author of Risky Gospel.