Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pastoral Theology

"I got a physical car" makes about as much sense as "I am studying pastoral theology." What other kind of car is there? An immaterial car? Maybe you just sit in your immaterial... oh, wait, you can't sit in an immaterial anything, you'll just fall right through. Anyway, you sit there, and, well, you drive along, there's immaterial fuel in the immaterial gas tank... moving you, in the immaterial car, immaterially.

So, what is this theology which is not pastoral? Is it anything different from, maybe, what a blueprint of a car is to an actual car? Sure, we can do theology without getting to the pastoral part, but it is like designing a car without ever building it. So what? Sure, nice design, but if you can't drive it, then what good does it do you? So it is with theology, if you cannot pastor with it, then you are missing something. Either it is not biblical, since "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," 2 Timothy 3:16, or it is not finished and will become able to be used pastorally when it is complete.

What do you believe about anything? Can you take that belief and use it in preaching to teach, reprove, correct, and train those around you in righteousness? Do your beliefs come out in Gospel-like ways? Is the reproof filled with reminders that Christ has payed for their sins? Is the correction surrounded by the the reminder that we have the Spirit of God, by whom we are able to do what is right? Or do you preach law? That is not pastoral, that is Pharisaical. That is preaching an incomplete theology, since it is not filled with both truth and grace. If what you have causes mere despair, then what you have is not the truth of the Gospel. If what you have causes mere despair, then it is not the truth of the God who saves, and it is not the truth about the God who became incarnate in order to save us from the despair of sin leading to death.

Pastoral Theology: a tautology.
Ivory Tower Theology: an oxymoron.

Perhaps this is only the case in Christian Theology, but even then, the point is, pastoral theology does not distinguish the sort of theology one is doing from other sorts when it is being done in a Christian context.

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