Thursday, January 30, 2014

Theology AND Ministry

Theology and Ministry are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand. It's not like there's theology AND ministry as though the two were two completely separate and unrelated categories. Theology and ministry are as two sides of the same of the coin. I think it's absolutely crucial that we keep this in mind whether we are "doing theology" or "doing ministry." In order to do either properly, you have to do both.

Recall the greatest theologians throughout the Church.
Christian bloggers, blogs about theology, philosophy blog, theology of ministry, photo of Saint Paul in prison
Paul: Think of all the theological material and rich literature found in the letters of Paul. So much of our Christian theology comes from Paul and is developed by Paul. And there are very intelligent, academic, scholars who study all the intricacies and minutia of Paul's letters and Paul's theology, and write giant books about it. But Paul himself was a pastor and a missionary. He was a minister! Paul was not some lofty academic theologian at a prestigious institution sitting and writing in an office full of books, who only cared about academia and scholarship. (Some of the time he wrote from prison.) Rather, Paul was a pastor! And the theology that we get from Paul is theology that is communicated through pastoral exhortations as he wrote to churches. Paul's theology was of course integral part of who he was, but he did not separate his theology from ministry. Rather, his theology led him to ministry.

And Paul isn't the only one. Think of other scholars who were also ministers:

Athanasius, Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, Anselm, Aquinas, Calvin, Jacob Arminius, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Piper, and N.T. Wright.

The most significant theologians throughout the church have all been involved in ministry. Thus, this phenomena of academic theologians who simply write big books on Paul but have nothing to do with ministry is absurd, because it has very little precedence throughout the history of the Church and it goes against the very heart of who Paul was and what he was all about! Similarly, ministers who "just want to do ministry" and do not get into the depths of theology need to realize that you can't minister to someone without knowing/doing theology. Superficial, cliche, pat answers only go so far before people need more substantive theological robustness, and all the great ministers of the Church studied and had a good grasp on theology.

Let's not separate ministry and theology, rather, let us actively and continually join the two together.  

Faith Colloquium : A Blog about Theology, Philosophy, Church, and Culture

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