The Center for Pastor Theologians is a broadly evangelical organization dedicated to recruiting, networking, and resourcing pastor theologians to provide faithful written, intellectual and theological leadership on behalf of the church, in light of the cultural challenges and opportunities of the late modern world.
The late modern world presents the church with a new set of intellectual and theological challenges — challenges that are invariably freighted with significant ethical implications. Questions regarding human identity, sexuality, technology, bioethics and beyond, all press in upon the church. The pastor community is, by nature of its vocation, the inevitable theological and intellectual leaders of the church. But pastors have, in the main, ceased to view their calling in such terms. This lack of theological leadership within the pastoral community imperils the church and undermines her mission in the world.
Operating within the historic evangelical tradition, the CPT believes the contemporary bifurcation between the pastoral calling and theological formation has resulted in the loss of a distinctly theological and intellectual identity within the pastoral community. The CPT seeks to resurrect this identity. In an age that has rightly emphasized the relationship between social location and theological formation, our vision is to bring together a unique kind of pastor theologian—not simply those particular pastors who desire to pursue a theologically informed parish ministry, but even more, pastors who feel called to function as writing theologians for, and on behalf of, the broader ecclesial community.
Toward this end, the CPT hosts four ecclesial theologian Fellowships—each representing a small nucleus of pastor theologians from nearly every major Protestant tradition: Lutheran, Pentecostal, Episcopal, Baptist, Messianic Jewish, Presbyterian, Free Church, Methodist, Church of God, and independent Free church traditions.
The majority of our CPT Fellows are young pastors who have—or are completing—terminal degrees from some of the finest theological institutions in the world (Cambridge, Oxford, University of Chicago), and all are committed to bringing the strengths of their respective traditions into conversation with the Great Tradition, with a view to being shaped by, and shaping, the theological reflection of the broader ecclesial community.
Each Fellowship meets annually for a three-day working symposium (Monday evening through Wednesday lunch) at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, near Chicago. The Symposia bring together a diverse body of both pastor theologians and ecclesially sensitive academic theologians, with a view to establishing collegial relationships and collaborating on theological projects relevant to the life of the church. Meals, lodging, and travel expenses (as needed) are covered by the CPT.
The Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology is published twice annually by the Center for Pastor Theologians. The essays contained within the Bulletin are drawn from the papers presented at the Center’s bi-annual theological symposia for pastors. As such, each volume of the Bulletin focuses on a single theological theme relevant to ministry and the life of the church. Spanning a wide ministry context (rural, urban, small church, mega church) and the breadth of evangelical denominational affiliations (Baptist, Anglican, Wesleyan, Reformed, Lutheran, Independent, etc.), the majority of our contributors are evangelical theologians and scholars whose primary vocation is pastoral ministry. It is our aim that the Bulletin model robust ecclesial theology — theology that is born out of a parish context and driven by parish questions and concerns.
The Center for Pastor Theologian’s annual theology conference exists to reconnect theological scholarship and pastoral ministry. Toward this end, the CPT Theology Conference seeks to facilitate conversations between pastors, academic theologians, lay leaders, and ecclesial theologians, with a view to constructing theological proposals for the betterment of the church and her mission in the world.
The CPT is a government recognized not-for-profit organization (501c3). For more information regarding the CPT, please contact Gerald Hiestand at ghiestand[at]pastortheologians.com.